In this series of blog posts we are introducing people who are speaking at and attending Inspire 2012. We are delighted to introduce Lauren Rutten of Lauren Rutten Photography. Lauren will be teaching a class geared towards mid- to advanced-level photographers called Is Your Heart in Your Art. What are you most looking forward to in your business this year? My business is in transition this year as I prepare to embark on what I'm calling my swashbuckling adventure. What that means is I'm planning on spending a significant amount of time traveling the world in late 2012-13. I'm in the early planning stages at the moment, so figuring out how to incorporate working opportunities on this adventure is a high priority. I am exploring ways of building business shooting destination weddings and portraiture, as well as in the non-profit sector. I am seeking opportunities to utilize my experiences I've gained through wedding, portrait and editorial work, as well as my teaching expertise, in service for documenting humanitarian and community building efforts.
What are you hoping to take away from the Inspire conference? I'm looking forward to learning from all the great speakers. I so rarely have had the opportunity to connect in person to the photography community. I just don't seem to get out from behind the computer nearly enough! Connecting and sharing with people who love to create… I can't wait to be inspired! And on a very practical level, I hope to learn more about SEO because I've been on the slow end of the curve with this.
What is the most difficult photograph you ever made? Why? The most difficult photographs I've created are when I photographed my mother & family during the final week of her life. I asked my family to create an image of all our hands together. It's our last family photo. The photographs from that time are very intimate and something I treasure though I have rarely looked at them.
What is something you are good at, besides photography? I write a poem or two that I've been told are quite good. I actually aspire to be a poet but it's probably not the best career move for my retirement fund.
What would be your dream photography assignment? Why? I've had this dream to ride my bicycle across America ever since I was about 12 years old. My dream assignment would be to photograph small town life while I take this rambling trip. I've seen a fair amount of the country and what I love most is being able to discover the little corner shops and small diners that only the locals know about. I am a firm believer in supporting small local businesses and hope that small town American never disappears. I would love to visit all 50 states and be able to spend time gaining understanding into the way lives are intimately woven together to create those communities. The final part of the dream is to have this paid for and published by the New York Times.
What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen? I photographed a NILMDTS birth session a few months ago. The mom was going to be having an emergency c-section with twins and they knew that one of the babies was not likely to live more than a very short time. I was asked to join the family in the OR for the c-section in order to create photographs of the babies together. I watched the entire surgery, shot photos as it was happening from both the parents position and as the babies were lifted out. It was truly awe inspiring. I saw this family become 4 and as they were holding the babies together the little boy passed on. The moment was so deeply tender and moving. It was the most present I think I've ever been in my shooting life and I will never forget witnessing this family go through something so simultaneously beautiful and devastating. The entire experience has left a lasting impression on me. I wrote a poem about the experience and each time I read it I cry and remember how precious life is.
What artists inspire you? Why? Andy Goldsworthy inspires me for his connection to his natural surroundings. I am amazed by his curiosity and how he explores ideas through the rhythms of nature. I find his work to be profoundly poetic, spiritual and moving each time I experience it. My entire being is engaged and so many questions come to mind when I see his work.
Some of the photographers who've inspired me over the years are Keith Carter, Sally Mann, Belloqc, Larry Sultan, and Graciela Iturbide. I find their work both intimate and magical. Each of these photographers impart so much story into a single image that I can discover something new every time I look at them. I also love all the fashion photography of Irving Penn and Richard Avedon from the 1940's through the 60's.
What thought or message would you put into a fortune cookie? I want to know what I know.