words Zarah Cheng
All images from Lauren's portfolio.
It is rare that a photographer is able to capture the intimacy of the nude without also exposing the vulnerability of the subject. But Lauren Field does just that. Exploring male and female sexuality, the Oregon native is often naked herself, both physically and emotionally, as she photographs friends and lovers in their most honest state. Approaching photography with a meditative purpose, Field’s images are beautiful and sincere renditions of the human condition that are often forgotten amidst the constant motions of the city.
Where are you from?
Portland, Oregon! But I’ve lived in New York City for the last few years.
Describe your photography style.
An intersection between fine art, fashion, and documentary. I like to shoot my friends; moody trustafarians dressed in neutrals, outdoors and with 120mm film.
Many of the locations for your 2014 works are split between Portland, OR and New York City. How would you compare taking photos in the two cities?
My most honest work has been created in the Northwest. Photography takes time and is often a sublime and meditative experience. In Oregon, I have the space and patience to shoot and enter into the creative flow. I like to photograph people between breaths, when they have a moment to pause and make eye contact with me through the lens. The nature of medium format (manual everything) forces me to work slowly and for my subjects to hold still. I think this tension is evident in my work. I love New York but the city and its inhabitants are constantly in motion and at times can feel overwhelming and ingénue.
A lot of your images have nudity, but the photographs never feel exploitative. Why do you choose to explore this side of sexuality?
It takes a lot of trust for nude images not to be exploitative, but plenty of images are exploitative and voyeuristic without nudity and vice versa. I am interested in exploring female and male sexuality equally and I want nudity to be worn like clothes.
Do you ever feel vulnerable, as a photographer, shooting naked subjects?
I am frequently naked as well; it feels most natural to be sans clothes in a forest or lake and often I am in the company of a close friend or lover. If I feel vulnerable when I’m shooting, it isn’t because of nudity but because of the intimacy of the art. Photographing feels like making love to the world, or dancing — subject and photographer moving around each other like ballerinas in love.
What is the meaning behind the name of your series, Swan Dive?
Swan Dive is a song by Waxahatchee. It was initially inspired by the lyrics, “ and you’ll quit having dreams about a swan dive into the hard asphalt.” That being said, it quickly evolved into a summer series on what it means to be alive and alone in the 21st century. It is strung together by the movement of rising and falling: the intimacy of long drives through Oregon, running drunkenly through a field during blue hour, dressing and undressing.
Your images have this really incredible nostalgic, road trip vibe to them. What do the photos mean to you?
Photography means everything to me and I love everyone I photograph.
If you could speak to your audience about your work, what would you say to them?
That’s a tough question. I would say I have some fashion shoots lined up and that I am excited to take a fine arts approach to it. Making art is such a privilege, but it is something I can’t live without. I encourage people to pursue uninhibitedly, their most life affirming activities.
It’s Saturday night. Where will you be?
I have strep throat, so I will be in bed most likely, playing guitar and writing my friend, Molly, a letter.
Who are you listening to right now?
Krista Michaela. Her music is all your favorite childhood memories, shot on a super8 camera at golden hour.
What creeps you out the most?
Many things creep me out and most things give me anxiety. Taking Xanax gives me anxiety.