One of the most fulfilling and fantastic aspects of Year Of The Scout is the human element: sharing thoughts, learning from conversations, and roping both friends and strangers into this crazy little project.
During the previous thirty days, I bent the ears of various writers, interviewed an intrepid travel show host, and forced a zombie movie date on a friend all in the name of journalistic science, so I knew I wanted to incorporate some of my many talented photographer friends into this month’s proceedings…and I think the following badge requirement gives me the perfect excuse:
#11. If there is a camera club in your community, visit its exhibits and discuss photography with some of the members. If possible, share in the club’s community activities.
Ah-ha! In an excited flurry, I conjured up some questions and popped them over to several local photographers, who shared their thoughts and work with me so that I may share it with you. Kicking off the fun is photographer Laurie Scavo. We met during Denver’s Monolith Festival in 2008, and she’s since relocated to Los Angeles, spending many of her non-daylight hours tucked inside the sweaty bosom of rock ‘n roll.
What is your earliest memory of realizing that you wanted to take photos and/or that you connected to photography as an art form?
I began shooting photos when I moved to Denver, CO in 2001. I was a freelance copywriter with a lot of time on my hands, so at the recommendation of an artist I admired, I bought my first digital pocket camera and started exploring the city. My addiction to shooting live music came when I stumbled upon a random Pete Yorn show in Boulder, CO. It was the first time that I had ever experienced seeing a national act perform in an intimate venue – and that’s when everything clicked. Literally. I became obsessed with documenting the live music scene in Colorado, and after a few years, The Denver Post took notice and I was hired on as a freelance photographer for their music section.
How did you go about learning your way around a camera?
While I was building-up my live music portfolio, I teamed up with a very talented art director and we started collaborating on zines, clothing, fashion shows, art installations, etc. This was when I began developing my style and learning my way around a camera. The cameras got better, the lenses got bigger, and the art/music/fashion gallery shows that we curated were groundbreaking for the Denver art scene. It was an amazing learning experience that I will always be grateful for.
What is your go-to camera and/or set-up and why?
My go-to camera is an old Canon 5D. It has broken so many times, but it keeps coming back. I love the image quality and the way it feels. The newer Canon models are not the same.
Do you have a preference between film and digital, and if so – why?
I love film, but I love the instant results of digital. If I could afford to shoot Polaroid everyday, that would be my dream. I feel like I do censor my creativity with film, however. I don’t try things as much, because I am afraid of wasting a frame. With digital, I can try a ton of things and delete any failed experiments without spending a cent. With this luxury, however, comes the inevitable overshooting and lack of quality. Shooting strategically without fear of failure is key.
Who is a photographer that inspires you – living or dead – and why?
Seeing any great photographer’s work in print is always inspiring to me. I remember the first time that I saw a handful of Diane Arbus’ images in the Denver Art Museum’s permanent collection – they were haunting and weird and unlike anything I had ever seen. One of my favorite photography books is Family by Lauren Dukoff. It’s a gorgeous story of music and art. When it comes to live music and unique musician portraits, the sheer volume of stunning images coming from Daniel Boud in Australia is a huge inspiration. His portfolio is vast and a great document of the live music scene as it has unfolded over the last decade.
What is one nugget of advice you’d give to someone interested in pursuing photography, whether as a passion or profession?
Find a mentor, find a muse, and find someone to collaborate with. I find that I am most creative when I have someone to bounce ideas off of and someone who inspires me. That being said, sometimes my best work comes about when I am alone. Very alone. Variety is important, I think.
Please link to one of your favorite photographs (i.e. one you’ve taken) and share the story behind it.
My stolenlyric.com project is a creative outlet that combines everything I enjoy: photography, music and travel. Every photograph I’ve done for the project documents a very specific time and place in my life, so trying to pick just one is tricky. Right now, this one is my favorite:
The story behind this image… I was traveling in Australia four years ago, right before moving to Los Angeles. I had just quit my day-job as a marketing director in Denver and I was traveling down under as a last hurrah before moving to the west coast. Bondi Beach was where this image was taken. A local swim team was training there and seeing their uniform bodies rush into the surf on this majestic beach crowded with families was so unexpected. I combined this image with one of my favorite song lyrics by The Editors and printed it on a big canvas. It now hangs above my bed and every time I look at it, the song runs through my mind and I am instantly back on vacation at Bondi Beach, toes in the sand, laughing, taking photos. It’s a visual document of one of my favorite days.
All photographs on this page by Laurie Scavo