We had the good fortune of connecting with Lauren Wuornos and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Lauren, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I’m from a 1990’s blue collar suburb in the Midwest where mostly everyone kept their head down, worked hard, and called the kids in for supper or sundown. I grew up in a multi-generational home with a lot of tension and feelings of loneliness.

Those experiences continue to influence my work in its own way. As an only child I often had to entertain myself. From a very young age I was blessed to see the world as magic. For example, one of my earliest memories includes swirling dust particles reflecting like lost relics in the sunlight.

That was almost 30 years ago so I think it’s safe to say that part of me will never change.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My work is inspired by ancient history and beliefs, vivid dreams, cinema, futurism, and the human experience. I enjoy exploring quiet moments through loud and colorful spaces. I often design my shots around colors, lights, and lines. When it comes to portraiture, catching those candid in-between movements between poses are key. It’s my way of stripping off the outer layer to really “see” people, if that makes any sense. When it comes to editing, I work with what’s in camera and amplify the mood I want to create through layers of color work. I see it as my own form of painting.

I’m proud to say that I’m self-taught and primarily work with natural light. I own one camera body and one lens. I work best when I can be physically fluid and share ideas as come, which works amazing for my lackluster attention span. I love shooting spontaneously and collaboratively while problem solving with whatever available light is at hand. Laying on the ground, climbing things, going where I’m not suppose to go (within reason) is worth it to me. Rain, blizzard, or shine, I’ll do whatever it takes to get the shot. I truly feel like I get to “play” when I have those opportunities.

With that said, my creative journey has been equally grueling and rewarding. I’ve deliberately used photography to overcome many challenges including clinical depression and social anxiety. On my worst days I would force myself to go outside with a simple goal. I had to find at least one thing to document that I thought was beautiful or mysterious. Some walks I didn’t find anything but the act of trying always made me feel a little bit better. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was training myself to find beauty everywhere and to literally read the world in patterns. Shapes, lighting, colors, objects, people, you name it. When the pattern breaks there’s usually something there.

Some lessons I’ve learned along the way include accepting the ebb and flow. There will be good days, bad days, good years, and bad ones too. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’ve come from. Lean into it. When things get rough you only get stronger, and when you’re stronger you have more courage. When you have more courage you begin to believe in yourself and at that stage anything is possible.

Know that big risks and small risks are 100% necessary and you will never, ever feel ready. Know that you will be rejected. A lot. But keep in mind that those opinions don’t define you. Nobody can take away from the fact that you had the guts to try, and there’s virtue in that.

Network however with whomever, but remember that kindness is the gift that keeps on giving. I’ve had many opportunities snowball just from being kind and for seeing people as people. Maya Angelou said it best, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Make work that makes you feel good and tune out the ones who can’t subscribe to that.

I want the world to know that no idea or creative challenge is too big for me. I want to create work that wakes up forgotten towns and snaps nine-to-fivers out of their routine commutes. I want to create work that brings more beauty into the world and remind us of all the ways we’re loved. But above all, I want people to know that I’m grateful my work has brought me anywhere at all and that I’m excited to see where my visions take me.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Hanging out with my cat Noodles would be the first and most important thing. It’s strange to think about during this Pandemic, but my friend and I would go hiking, and do a picnic at Lake of the Isles under my favorite Oak tree. We’d go to Isles Buns for their famous cinnamon rolls, and Glam Doll Donuts for another delicious sweet treat. A photo adventure needs to happen, and dinner or drinks at the following places. Troubadour, Nightingale, and The Lowry are a few favorites. Live shows at First Avenue or 7th Street Entry are always great. And the Minneapolis Institute of Art or The Walker museums are a classic as well.
My favorite people are the visionaries who live to break boundaries. I can talk to and be inspired by any person who is passionate about what they do.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to thank my grandmother for always being there to feed my curiosity as a kid through joint late-night ice cream reading sessions on the couch. I’d like to thank the friends and acquaintances along the way who believe in my work whether or not I forgot how to. Those words of encouragement is what keeps me going.

I’d like to thank my ancestors who work to help me achieve everything they wanted but couldn’t. I want to thank my higher self that opens my eyes to my strength and courage so that I can see how far I can push my work in order to explore new possibilities. I want to thank the thousand moments where the world allows me to see it for what it truly is. And lastly, I want to thank the British author Kit Williams for his surreal children’s book “Masquerade.” I would flip those pages before I could read and it showed me that the world doesn’t have to be boring.

Website: https://laurenwuornos.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/laurenwuornos

Other: Laurenwuornos@gmail.com

Image Credits
Ellieanna Resler, Vanessa Salour, Savanah Maleska, Ellie Drapp, David Chang

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