Interview with Fashion Photographer: Shannon Laurine
Internationally published fashion and beauty photographer Shannon Laurine is by definition a one-woman show. Having earned her degree in makeup, Shannon quickly picked up a camera and learned the art of capturing moments in time. Now a makeup artist, photographer and editor it seems that there is nothing she can’t do. The self-taught photographer has since dominated the world of fashion and beauty. Published in media giants such as Cosmopolitan, VOGUE, Esquire, GQ and now SOCIAL, the Calabasas native talked to us about her favorite work, Instagram and switching roles between mother and photographer.
Shannon, where are you from?
What do you do?
I’m a photographer and makeup artist. I started doing makeup, I used to draw faces with charcoal and I didn’t want to commission my work, so my mom gave me the idea of going to a makeup school for both beauty and character makeup – which I ended up attending Makeup Designory in Burbank and graduated from there, so I started out doing fashion shows, photoshoots and film.
So how long into your career as a makeup artist was it until you started doing photography?
I was probably 7 years into my makeup career before i picked up a camera. Pretty much for me I think it was that I was really sick and tired of not getting my photos from makeup artist from photographers who said that they will give me photos for my portfolio. So my mom gave me a camera and she was like start shooting your work and I started shooting my work and then people were like oh you are good at this and I hated it at first.
At that point photography was totally unfamiliar to you?
Exactly, no one taught me anything, I had no knowledge at all but I just picked up a camera and started clicking and just looking how the light hit the highlight and shadows on the faces until it looked appealing to me.
Let’s talk about your transition into fashion because your fashion stuff is my favorite. Do you feel that when you moved into shooting fashion you really started to come into your own?
Yeah I mean it’s more me. The edginess that I like to shoot I can shoot it in a more fashionable way. I like looking at high-fashion, I like the clothes, I like the makeup and hair and you can’t get a high-fashion photo without all the aspects so it’s a production. I like the production end of things, but at the same time I could do that production by myself I don’t need have a whole team to do it.
In what facet of photography do you feel you have the most freedom?
In high fashion and beauty because I still like faces, I like to see emotions, I like to see how someone’s face says so much when it doesn’t really matter about their body or their size. There’s so much beauty in just the face and so you can just pull that out of anyone.
You are such a versatile photographer, so where are you now creatively?
Right now I’m focusing more on commercial photography, more advertising, more publications, campaigns, and celebrities but I am about to do a little twist on things. I’m creating my own style of my own niche and I want to start doing that style with every client that I do. Of course I’ll always do what they want to do, but then afterwards I want to go in my direction and do what I want to do.
What’s the best thing about what you do? What do you love the most about what you do?
Making people feel good about themselves, making them see themselves in different way.
What’s one of the most memorable reaction you’ve got to a photograph you’ve taken or something?
This woman I shot, she was dying of cancer and I photographed her and her daughters. I took portraits of them together. They were beautiful, she looked so glamorous like she could’ve been Coco Chanel. She saw the pictures and she broke down crying because she’s never seen herself look that way, at that age and after all the cancer. It was amazing. There was another girl I shot that’s overweight and hated her body and when I showed her her photos she couldn’t believe it was her. I showed her that it was her with the edits before and after. I changed her little skin imperfections but otherwise her hair and her body were completely the same, I don’t like editing people so that they no longer are themselves.
You’re a mom to two boys. Is it hard to turn your creative mind off and just be a mom?
It’s really hard to just juggle everything. Taking off one hat and put on another is challenging even during a shoot, if I’m doing makeup and then going straight in photography I have to take off the makeup artist hat then throw on the photographer hat, go home be a mom and then go back to photographer to edit pictures. There’s virtually no down time.
What do you do when you’re not shooting?
I love boxing. It’s my way of moving energy and relieving my stress.
Amazing. Let’s talk about a trend I see on Instagram right now. Which is a style of photography that to me is almost like “falsified reality” meaning we want our photos to look hyper realistic but not so realistic that they look imperfect. Do you know what I mean?
Right. We don’t want it to be real, but we want the photos to look as real as possible.
So basically, make it perfectly unreal.
Sometimes I have to essentially remake a photo to accomplish that look.
How is that achieved?
Literally pore by pore, doing highlights and shadows, making the skin even without losing the integrity of the little nuances in the skin. It’s an extremely tedious process compared to before when editing you could just liquify everywhere. If you deal with a model, that is an agency model, their job is to come to set with their face looking perfect, their hair will be perfect just like the picture that you see without makeup. Ready to go, which helps me do less editing on the back end. Everything these girls go through to achieve that is insane.
I’ve noticed that if you go on a high profile model’s Instagram page you’ll notice that the content that gets the most engagement is real, or photos that look real but if anyone is in the industry they know that, that’s not real. She didn’t just wake up like that.
I’ve literally had clients hire me to come in and shoot some of their Instagram advertisements with my cell phone. And I do. Because they need the photos to look organic.
So any advice to photographers on shooting in a hyper-realistic way while still keeping the integrity of the photo? How do you do that without changing it?
As a rule of thumb I feel like less editing is always more and honestly it also really depends on the client, because I can do photos with no editing. I just had a client that literally wanted no editing done to their images so knowing your lighting and your client’s needs will help you accomplish your goal much better than editing ever will.
Any other advice for newbie photographers?
Don’t worry about having expensive equipment. You don’t need super expensive equipment to take a good photo. Learn how to use your camera. Go outside, do some shoots, mess with the settings and the lighting until you start to understand cause and effect. I’m self-taught and I would do shoots in my apartment. I bought some cheap lighting and basically started trying to figure it out from there. I still have my Rebel camera that I got my first published shoot with on just the kit lens, nothing at all. I had no clue about cameras, I didn’t even know you could change lenses. Then I started asking other photographers and asking questions, I would go online and do research and the knowledge and skill came with time. Don’t be so technical. Just go out there and have fun.
Awesome Shannon, thank you. How can readers keep in touch with you and follow your work?
They can follow me on instagram @shannonlaurine or visit me at www.shannonlaurine.com