The home of Katie Marx and Greg Hatton. Photo – Lauren Bamford
The home of Katie Marx and Greg Hatton. Photo – Lauren Bamford
Proud Mary for Barista Magazine. Photo – Lauren Bamford
The home of Jen McCabe for Yen Magazine. Photo – Lauren Bamford
The home of Guy Matthews. Photo – Lauren Bamford
Portrait of Lauren Bamford in her studio. Photo – Keith Mason
Lisa and I ALWAYS have our eye out for talented local photographers, and I can’t quite believe it’s taken us this long to make contact with Melbourne-based snapper Lauren Bamford. Originally from Newcastle, Lauren spent time studying in Sydney before finally moving to Melbourne, where she’d been based for the past 10 years.
Lauren is a prolific and versatile photographer – after starting out as a passionate (and often unpaid) music / band photographer, in recent years Lauren’s folio has grown to include a broad range of interiors, food and lifestyle clients. Collaborating regularly with stylist Jason Grant and her pals Sarah Trotter and Romy Ash of Trotski & Ash helped Lauren make this transition. Now happily self-employed, Lauren’s client list includes The Guardian, Frankie Magazine, Dumbo Feather, Yen Magazine, Kinfolk, Sunday Style Magazine, and Inside Out – in fact her beautiful snaps are in Inside Out‘s latest issue (the cutest feature – ‘A Weekend with Miranda Skcozek’!). Recently, she’s also had the opportunity to work on a a few soon to be released books – she’s been working with Jason Grant on his next book with Hardie Grant, and is nearing the end of a cookbook shoot for Raph Rashid of Beatbox Kitchen/Taco Truck.
We love Lauren’s relaxed, ‘documentary-style’ approach to photography. Her favourite shoots use natural light, with subject matter that feels natural and real. Her passion for capturing the subtle nuances of everyday are perfectly exemplified in a new series of personal work Lauren is developing called ‘Locals’. This ongoing project, which began inadvertently during a trip through the Kimberley last year, has seen Lauren create a series of still life photographs featuring locally picked flora from the side of the road, in the ‘locally drank’ beer can! ‘I see it almost like my new take on travel photography, as I shoot it on location, using things only found locally’ she says. Lauren hopes to create a large series of photographs from around the world, which show off the diversity of these two things specific to each region – flowers and beer! (The results are unexpectedly beautiful – see a little further down this post for an example!).
AND ALSO. Lauren has another seriously amazing hidden talent – she makes the most beautiful ceramics! It was whilst planning her own wedding that Lauren fell into this slightly unexpected side project. She still considers herself ‘an amateur in the scheme of things’ bur we’re seriously impressed with her handpainted ceramic vessels, which are now stocked at Mr Kitly and Scout House. ‘I don’t want to pretend I know more than I do! I’m learning from my mistakes, and working on instinct’ she says.
Lauren has a mini exhibition of sorts at the new Scout House shop, which is opening on Fitzroy Street St Kilda early next month. Proprietor Orlando Mesiti has curated a collection of 12 of Lauren’s photographs, which will be framed and sold in store – keep your eyes glued to Lauren’s instagram account for all the details!
Tell us a little about your background – what did you study, did you always want to be a photographer, and what path led you to the kind of work you’re doing now?
Well it was a bit of a long and winding path. I became interested in photography during high school. We hit up the darkrooms in Year 9 Art, and I fell for the magic of the developing and printing process. Luckily for me, my Dad had a strong interest in photography so with access to his old cameras, advice and enthusiasm, my interest in photography blossomed. We turned our laundry at home into a darkroom and I started getting about taking photos at parties, gigs and the skate park etc. I actively took black and white photos all through my teens, and was dead set on being a photographer ‘when I grew up’.
After high school I moved to Sydney and completed a Photography course at Sydney Technical College in Ultimo. This took a few years, and at the time I found the course to be painfully boring (apart from the fun of working on large format cameras). It all but completely extinguished my interest in photography! I only assisted twice in that time, once on a catalogue shoot of tracksuits and watches, and then on a big Greek wedding – neither type of job appealed to me at all! Once the course was complete, I disappeared down a hole of mundane retail and office jobs for roughly six years.
How did you first start out in the industry, and what eventually led you to going out on your own?
Well I moved to Melbourne for a change of scenery, and almost immediately my flat got burgled, twice! They stole all the camera equipment that I hadn’t touched for five years, but thanks to an insurance pay out I got to buy a brand new camera. With this new toy, my love of photography returned. I got caught up in the Melbourne music scene, taking photos at gigs, bands in the studio, portraits, album covers and anything related to that world. I got paid occasionally, but never enough to live on photography alone. However I persevered, and decided to branch out and begin exhibiting my personal work regularly (unrelated to music photography).
It wasn’t until the last couple of years that the type of jobs I shot became predominately interiors, food and lifestyle. Collaborating regularly with stylist Jason Grant and my Trotski & Ash gal pals (Sarah Trotter and Romy Ash) has certainly been the backbone of this transition. I am now happily 100% self-employed. Finally.
Citrus Salad for Svbscription. Styling – Sarah Trotter. Photo – Lauren Bamford
How would you describe your approach to photography, and what influences the style of your work?
The documentary approach to photography is my method. Keeping things natural, realistic and relaxed. Using natural light. Trying to avoid anything too staged. However now that I am shooting more commercially, this can’t be the only style I offer – but I am digging my heels in as much as possible! I’m sure many things influence my work subconsciously, and you can’t deny that trends in photography can be influential – I just always hope to retain a personal aesthetic that is unique to me.
Not only are you a photographer, but you also dabble in pottery and ceramics, with very impressive results! How did this hobby-turned-side-project come about?
Yes, well I didn’t see this one coming. We did ceramics in that same Year 9 Art class that I mentioned earlier, and I recall making the dodgiest coil pot (and not ‘good’ dodgy). So this new side project came about in the lead up to my wedding, a couple of years ago. I wanted to have a long table at the reception covered in the best cheeses, bread, nuts, fruits, olives etc in a collection of beautiful ceramics. The only thing is I didn’t have these ceramics, and attaining them seemed financially impossible.
So something I have always done when I can’t afford the real thing, is make it myself. At the time, I was working part-time as an art technician at a local high school. I picked up a few tips from the Teachers there, and squeezed some of my own creations into the students kiln firings. Bree Claffey, of Mr Kitly, was a guest at our wedding, and some of my little pearly bowls caught her eye. She asked me to make some to sell in her store, and I was so excited at the idea that other people thought what I was doing was good. Shortly after, Orlando from Scout House caught wind of my ceramic ventures, and also invested his faith and money into this potting hobby of mine. Funnily enough, Instagram has played a HUGE role in this avenue of my creativity. It’s amazing really.
I hand build and use conventional and unconventional molds, and am always experimenting with different clays, stains and glazes. I am such an amateur though in the scheme of things, so I don’t want to pretend I know more than I do! I’m learning from my mistakes, and working on instinct.
Ceramics by Lauren Bamford, 2014. Photo – Lauren Bamford
Ceramics by Lauren Bamford, 2013. Photo – Lauren Bamford
Can you give us an insight into the day in the life of Lauren Bamford? What does a typical day at work involve for you?
I am either on location at a shoot, running errands or working on my computer – or a combination of all of those things. So on a day working at home my typical routine, honestly, starts off with a little sleep in (What’s the point in being your own boss if you don’t stick it to the man?!). I grab a coffee and scone from my local cafe, Batch Espresso. The staff there are tops, as is the coffee and food, and I really enjoy my regular pop ins (I wonder if they feel the same, ha!). Then I press on with whatever retouching/emails/invoicing/wasting time on the internet I need to get done, which seems endless at the moment.
If I’m totally fried from my computer, I nick down to my shed and get the clay out. I put on some tunes, start playing around and see what happens. Before you know it, my husband is home from work and it’s dinner time! Walking into that shed is like entering a time vortex, where hours feel like minutes.
What are your top five resources across any media that you visit regularly for a bolt of creative inspiration, or just to be kept in the loop?
1. All of this is Rocket Science is a great resource for motivation. It’s interviews with contemporary photographers, and pictures of their surroundings. It’s always interesting for me to get a sticky beak at other photographer’s workspaces, methods and back stories.
2. Sight Unseen for similar reasons. It’s a good place to discover design and art that I haven’t seen before, and also get more of an insight into their practice.
3. Apartamento Magazine for reasons I have pretty much stated above
4. Ricky Swallows personal blog, Ready for the House – that man has excellent taste in all things.
5. Lula Magazine for its stunning fashion photography.
The home of Lyn Clay. Styling – Jason Grant. Photo – Lauren Bamford
Which other local photographers, stylists or creative people are you loving at the moment?
Antonia Sellbach is a very talented friend of mine. Across a few mediums spanning painting and sculpture, she creates excellent geometric, patterned work. She is also a musician (Beaches, Love of Diagrams), who I became friends with many years ago through photography.
Sylvia Jeffriess is a gifted painter who isn’t local at the moment, but originally was. She has been New York based for a few years now. I am swooning over her recent paintings. We are talking about doing a trade at the moment, which is so exciting.
Karla Way is another local superstar, who creates stunning jewellery. I am lucky enough to wear two of her pieces every single day, my engagement and wedding rings. My husband thoughtfully took to Karla some uncut Australian sapphires, which my Grandparents had fossicked for in the ‘70s. He secretly had Karla mastermind a stunning engagement ring for me, with a scattering of those beautiful sapphires. What a couple of babes.
Interior image Hearth Architects. Photo – Lauren Bamford
What are you most proud of professionally?
A stand out moment for me would have to be my involvement in the Wired for Melbourne Sound exhibition last year, at the National Gallery of Victoria. It was a lead up show to the opening of Melbourne Now, and I had 10 or so photographs of mine framed and hung on the walls of the NGV for a month. It was a surreal experience to see the inner workings of such a major Australian gallery, and I learnt a lot from the many talented staff I came in contact with. There were some proud happy snaps the day I got to take my Mum and Dad along to the show.
What would be your dream creative project?
I think I am in the midst of working on some of those at the moment, in the form of some beautiful books for publishers Hardie Grant and Thames & Hudson. Coming out this September are two books for Hardie Grant.
A follow up book with Mr Jason Grant, which had us gallivanting up and down the East coast of Australia, snapping fantastic interiors and all manner of curiosities along the way. Jason is an old friend, so working together is like hanging out with the (annoying) big brother I never had!
Also through Hardie Grant is the aforementioned cookbook for Raph Rashid, Hungry for That, which I am still shooting at the moment. As you would expect, all of the food has been super delicious, and it has been a dream to work with food stylist Deb Kaloper – the way she creates colour palettes and compositions is an art form. The Hardie Grant team are very good at what they do, and I am so excited to hook up with them.
I hope to shoot many more books, as I really appreciate the satisfaction of being able to sink my teeth into a larger body of work as opposed to the limitations of some magazine work.
The workspace of Rick Amor for Dumbo Feather. Photo – Lauren Bamford
What are you looking forward to?
A couple of overseas jaunts this year, to Japan and the USA. There is a lot planned for both of these trips (work and play), and I hope to take the opportunity whilst I am abroad to continue a new series of mine called ‘Locals’. This is an ongoing series, which began inadvertently last year on a trip through the Kimberley. I’m creating a series of still life photographs, featuring locally picked flora from the side of the road in the locally drank beer can. I see it almost like my new take on travel photography, as I shoot it on location, using things only found locally. I hope to create a large series of photographs from around the world, which show off the diversity of these two things specific to that region – flowers and beer! I have had a great response to what I have done so far through Instagram (again), and have been selling limited edition prints as I go.
Also, a mini exhibition of sorts at the new Scout House, which is opening on Fitzroy Street St Kilda in early May. Orlando has curated a collection of 12 of my photographs, which will be framed and sold in store.
‘Locals’ – an ongoing personal series by Lauren Bamford
Your favourite Melbourne neighbourhood and why?
I have more than one favourite. Balaclava for its small country town familiarity and great butchers and bakers. Albert Park for its posh vibes. Brunswick and surrounds for its excellent food, coffee, stores and almost the entire population of my social circle. I could go on…
Where do you shop in Melbourne for the tools of your trade?
My most frequented would be Van Bar for film and other bits and pieces, eBay and B&H for online purchases. Northcote Pottery Supplies for all things ceramic.
What and where was the last great meal you had in Melbourne?
I probably sound like a broken record to my mates, but I really love to have a counter meal at the Middle Park Hotel. Living southside, the lack of good pubs is really frustrating. The Middle Park Hotel is pretty ‘sporty’, but I just block that part out. The pub itself is so grand and tastefully refurbished, and the food is top notch – and cheap! It blows me away, as it’s a bit posh and amazing, but still cheaper than a gross parma at any other local pub.
Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?
If I don’t have to dash off to a shoot, then I’m generally lazing around the house with my husband. He cooks us breakfast every single weekend (spoilt), and we just enjoy spending time together doing not much at all.
Melbourne’s best kept secret?
The spicy fruit bread at Firebrand Bakery in Ripponlea. They only bake it on Monday’s and Thursdays, and if you get in there at 3 o’clock, it’s straight out of the oven and still hot. Amazing.