Lauren Max’s work is a very special pick that will inevitably bring you joy and untold creative inspiration. A Seattle based photographer with a flair for documenting the dynamic sparkle of the everyday, and a personal favourite of ours, Lauren’s photographs are intensely loveable, gritty, and truthful. Using a mix of traditional film and digital techniques, this photographer produces images that make us want to up and move to the pacific northwest in search of better times and days and days of straight chillin’.
At fourteen years old, Lauren Max picked up her mum’s old Canon A1 35mm camera and began taking photographs in an attempt to crystallise the colourful low-key moments that we tend to forget as we grow older. Drawing influence from her location, and from her lifestyle, friends and contemporary American trends, Lauren’s photographs not only document independent youth and the alternative suburban chic of US life, but reflect and comment upon the development and rising popularity of subcultural throwbacks and the sublimation of certain aesthetics into mainstream pop culture. You only have to look to Instagram and trending coffee table publications to see how far the booming popularity of DIY images and lo-fi photography have affected our likes and lifestyles.
Lauren’s photographs evoke free-spirited adventure and lucid, visionary rebellion in contemporary settings. From relaxed road-trip documentary sets to staged stories featuring tulips, vintage gear, swimming pools, goth make-up, bloody knees, and shopping trolleys, every image is fizzing with personality and context. When she’s not creating fantastic scenes of equable journeys through graveyards, diners and parking lots, Lauren works with stylists, brands and other creatives on fashion photography. She’s worked with the likes of Nylon Magazine, Wieden and Kennedy, Nordstroms, Dumb Eyes Creative Agency, The Stranger Newspaper, and City Arts, to name a few.
Fashion photography can really overdo it when running with a certain theme and often lacks a sense of realism. Lauren’s collaboratively styled and curated portraits on the other hand, are sincere and well-executed examples of how a branded set can tell a real life story. The styling is relaxed, florals are offset by stark walls, bricks and green branches, concrete and gothic accessories.
While we often associate fashion shoots with a high levels of twee or sexed-up lounging, Lauren Max keeps it real. Any scattering of blossom framing her shots is humble and her use of urban landscapes is less ‘derelicte’ more realism. Her photographs employ a collection of contrasting textures and hues shot in organic light. An engaging sense of harmless voyeurism and grit are offset by a charming gaudiness, natural landscapes and air of happy providence.
“I’ve established in my photography a tone of optimistic irony, I like to think of my style as bringing balloons into a graveyard–adding levity to the heavy.” – Lauren Max
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Words: Emily Beeson | @younggoldteeth