It’s hard to come up with new ways to talk about the same shit. For journalists, artists and raconteurs of 2012, it’s an everyday challenge to be original. We need to work on dozens of platforms, simultaneously integrating photography, words, video, graphics and code into a larger than life digital storytelling strategy, just so we can be heard, just to break out and through from the rest of the noise.
My favorite thing in the world is when I discover a young, stellar storyteller who makes me feel, in the most contemporary of ways – through my iPhone, through a blog post or even on Facebook, really! – that she’s whispering a legend in my ear, all curled up by a bonfire. Meet Laura Austin.
by Matt Petricone
First of all, we asked Laura to pick 10 images from her photography portfolio and to caption them, and here’s what she came up with:
LA: I shot this one using a Polaroid Land Camera… I will probably always love the way film looks over digital. I actually shot this while I was assisting on a shoot and asked the model and my friend Saori if I could pull her aside for a picture of my own. This is the result.
LA: Jared Eberhardt in the middle of a road trip from Salt Lake City to Big Sur. Road trips are my favorite times to shoot photos.
LA: Everyone asks me if this is Photoshopped… it isn’t. I caught this in the middle of a snowboard contest I was shooting at Mt Hood in Oregon. The view up there is obviously incredible. I would like to think this is how clouds are made.
LA: An amazing house on stilts I shot on a trip to Nantucket.
LA: Self portrait. These are always tricky because it is difficult to get the focus just right and back in front of the camera before it takes a picture. But I loved how the sheets are in focus, and I am not.
LA: Another road trip photo I shot outside of Salt Lake City in the salt flats for an interview I did with my friend Josh Mills for ESPN.
LA: This was part of a catalog shoot I did for Rhythm at the Salton Sea. One of the most surreal places I have ever been.
LA: Another shot from my Nantucket trip. The wind was so strong you could lean against it. Love how it looks like he is riding a wave.
LA: I shot this in the middle of a snowboard movie tour that I tagged along on with the Rome Snowboards team. I was in a van with 6 dudes for a week. This is team rider Laurent-Nicolas Paquin juxtaposed in a nice hotel room half way through the trip.
LA: This photo was taken in the middle of the best worst road trip ever where nothing else could have gone wrong. But it made for some incredible photos. Including this one of my friend Matt Petricone in the streets of a tiny little town with a gem we found at a thrift store.
LF: What makes you tick / what makes you click?
LA: I just like creating in general. The web adds an interesting aspect because you can reach such a large audience and receive instant feedback with anything you put out there for the most part. Anytime I hear people are inspired or their perspective is changed by something I put on the internet whether that is a photo or a random web post, it makes all the work I put into what I do worth it. As cliché as it sounds, it is cool to know that you can have that sort of effect on people. Essentially that is what keeps me motivated to do more.
LF: When’s the first time you found yourself on a mountain? How did you get into snowboarding?
LA: Well I grew up in small mountain towns for the most part up until I moved to California a few years ago. As you can imagine, there isn’t much to do in a small town so I picked up snowboarding as simply something to occupy my time (and I think I wanted to be like my older brother). Skateboarding also played a large part, I skated in the summers and once snow fell it was an obvious transition. I first got on a board at the age of 7 and after that it didn’t only occupy my time, but my lifestyle, my group of friends, and ultimately my career choices.
by Matt Petricone
LF: Loved your article; “10 reasons why you should go on a road trip” on the Burton Girls blog – any word about this?
LA: Haha, I’m glad you liked that one. I have a feeling most people relate road trips to the horrible things where you are stuck in a car with your family for days on end heading somewhere you probably didn’t want to go in the first place. Some of the best travel experiences I have had have been on road trips. The journey to your destination becomes the adventure. Plus they make for amazing photo opportunities. I would just encourage people to travel in general, there is a lot to see out there.
LF: Being a world traveler, how does any given city influence your craft? Is your work a product of your environment?
LA: Good question. I strongly believe that people in general are a product of their environment when it comes to personality, interests, style, etc. Lately I have been drawn to shooting wide open, mostly empty landscapes, normally with just one person in the frame. I think that has to do with the fact that I now live in California (a very congested place) and so now an open field etc is something that is foreign to me and therefore am more intrigued by it. Whereas when I was living in Vermont, I appreciated urban environments more. Funny how that works, you always want what you don’t have right?
But on another note, I think living around California and Los Angeles in particular has kept me motivated to do more. There is an endless amount of opportunity out here.
by Jared Eberhardt
LF: What camera are you (loving) shooting with right now?
LA: If I am taking shooting seriously then I will use my Canon 5D… a big ol’ bulky DSLR camera. However the camera I ALWAYS have on me is my little Panasonic Lumix GF1. A powerful camera in a small package, you never know when a photo opportunity will pop up. My goal is to shoot a lot more film this year, there is an asthetic that I love about film that you simply cannot achieve with digital no matter how good you are with Photoshop/Lightroom. Then of course there is my iPhone, that is strictly for Instagram though. The cameras on those things are too damn good.
LF: What’s on your playlist right now?
LA: Oh man, my taste in music is all over the place. The answer to this question is very dependent on what type of mood I am in and what I am doing while listening to music. I have a different playlist for every scenario I can think of.
LF: Who / what inspires your style?
LA: I kind of answered this in a previous question. My style has a lot to do with my environment. Not only my environment now, but the ones I have previously lived in. The people I surround myself with have a lot to do with it as well, I love to be around creative/passionate people who might open my eyes up to different things or perspectives.
LF: You live and work in a male-centric industry. Do you get along better with men or women better?
LA: Haha. Male-centric, you have got that right. I have always been one of the guys ever since elementary school where I would rather play tackle football or skateboard than play dress up or talk about boys. So working with predominately men is very natural. I hate to use the typical stereotype but men seem much more straightforward. Females are still pretty foreign creatures to me be perfectly honest. That is something I need work on. I have been wanting to shoot more photos with women as the subject, that might help.
LF: Do you believe in true love?
LA: I definitely believe in love, and it isn’t something I take lightly. I would never use that word unless I really mean it. However if you are referring to true love as “soulmates” then I don’t think that is true. There isn’t just one person for you out there. There was one point I had never thought I could love again after a very bad breakup with someone I thought was “the one”… but since then I have been proven wrong.
LF: What gets you off – literally and figuratively?
LA: Getting deep huh? I’m going to turn my answer to what I am attracted to, which in turn if everything works out right will get me off… talent and passion. You need to be passionate about something, and it doesn’t have to be the same things I am passionate about.
LF: What do you have coming up? Any exciting project you want to share?
LA: I’m always planning and scheming… there are a few things I have in the works that I can’t really talk about at the moment. Hopefully an art show in there somewhere, and then of course a winter full of bouncing around from mountain town to mountain town for my full-time job at Snowboarder Magazine.
LF: How fast do you live?
LA: Most of the time, too fast. You need to step back every now and then, take a break, appreciate where you’re at… then you can get back to your incredibly fast life.
Laura Austin’s Links