Working major events and photographing for world-renowned magazines, it would be an understatement to say that Lauren Engel is on the cusp of making it big in the photography world. Engel shares her secrets to success, the challenges she has faced and adventures along the way.
ZIELEY: You've worked events like New York Fashion Week, GALORE and Adidas. Which has been your favorite to photograph at?
LAUREN ENGEL (LE): Definitely Galore, just as I was about to leave I bumped into Skrillex & Diplo. I went to support my friend perform and didn't know so many celebrities would turn up - Nick Jonas was there and models that I've been following for ages like Ashley Smith.
Z: Those are some major names in the entertainment world. Do you ever get star struck?
LE: Once in a while I get nervous when I'm shooting someone I really admire, but not often.
Z: What was it like shooting backstage at New York Fashion Week?
LE: Super hectic, you try to not obstruct anything that's happening but still be able to snap a good pic. The show I enjoyed the most is Parke & Ronen - male models walking in underwear! But also the layout of the stage and the whole backstage itself was very open with large windows and sun shining in - great for pictures.
Z: You have worked so many incredible jobs. What has been your most memorable shoot?
LE: Beats by Dre. The whole day I followed around Dr. Dre and Kendrick Lamar, taking photos of them. Just seeing the world they're in is crazy, and I got to have a tiny taste of it!
Z: That's incredible!
LE: Yeah, I was with them the whole day. First they had a conference in HMV (His Master's Voice) - a record shop, where everything was timed, down to when Kendrick and Dre goes down the stairs. After that we had dinner at Admiralty, one of the business/shopping districts in Hong Kong, in the hotel where they were staying. I became friends with the Beats by Dre videographer who travelled with them and got to visit their room - it had a personal bathtub overlooking all of Hong Kong! Just before midnight we made our way to the club Volar where Kendrick was performing. Crazy day!
Z: Working with such huge clients, how much planning do you do for each shoot, and how much of your photography just happens naturally on set?
LE: Normally I start planning shoots two weeks in advance; the best shoots often require good planning. It's crazy how much work goes into planning a shoot - finding the perfect team, location, and model. Then everything else is chemistry on set; pictures turn out amazing when everyone is on the same page.
Z: What is the most difficult type of photo to take?
LE: People who don't want their pictures taken but for some reason I need to (laughs). I love working with people who have great energy and we're on the same page with everything - we have the same idea with the mood of the shoot, type of poses, concept of makeup, styling.
Z: It seems like you do a lot of portrait photography. Do you like shooting portrait or landscape photos better?
LE: I'm definitely more of a portrait person - I love photographing people. Landscapes are fun to shoot too though because they make me dream and inspire me to travel.
Z: What is your favorite picture that you've ever taken?
LE: Even though I mainly focus on fashion photography, I like my travel pictures the most. My favorite one is shot from the top of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
Z: When did you get your first camera?
LE: Around the age of 15. I got a small red Olympus camera and a year after that I moved onto getting a Canon 500D which I actually used for a year before getting my current Canon 5D Mark I - an investment but it will last me a while! Currently I also use Canon 50mm f/1.4 and 35mm f/2.5 lens to shoot most of my work. I might get a zoom lens but for now the primes have me all set!
Z: You've been in photography for a long time, was there anything specific from your childhood that made you interested in photography?
LE: I got inspired to start photography from seeing Nirrimi's pictures. The way she tells stories is amazing. I love the way she photographs her lover, strangers she meets on her way, and her daughter...it's stunning.
Z: Looking back at when you first started photography, is there any advice you wish you were given or that you would give to aspiring photographers now?
LE: To be more picky with what you shoot. It's cliche, but honestly quality over quantity. My portfolio now is less than a quarter of all the shoots I've done.
Z: What do you think has been the biggest contributor to your success?
LE: Timing. To shoot with the right people at the right time. I had to catch bloggers before they went overseas and became internationally known or models before they got big.
Z: Does anyone in particular inspire your work?
LE: Mostly photographers: Kesler Tran, Henrik Purienne, Ted Emmons, Zoey Grossman. I can look at their work forever!
Z: At this point in your career you've already accomplished more than most. What would be a shoot that would love to do, but haven't gotten the chance to yet?
LE: Probably if I could shoot a campaign for Urban Outfitters or Nasty Gal.
Z: What do you enjoy most about being a photographer?
LE: Meeting and photographing people who change the world.
As her various accomplishments, drive, and adventurous spirit show, the sky's the limit for Lauren Engel. For more of Engel's work, visit her website: www.engelauren.com. We can't wait to see what she does next!
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