Retreat to Joshua Tree
A lot of things can lead someone to photography, for Laura Austin it was graphics design and snowboarding that led her to be passionate about this art form. From these two very different disciplines, she cultivated a very individualized sense of aestheticism and composition, constantly fueled by a need to travel to discover new places. For this Vuarnet Day, Laura Austin had carte blanche and she chose to take us to meet a friends’ couple living in iconic Joshua Tree, a distinct and wildly beautiful area in the middle of the Mojave Desert.
Photo Credit: Laura austin
Hello, Laura, can you introduce yourself?
Well, hello there, my name is Laura Austin and I am a photographer based out of Los Angeles … but always on the move.
You’ve been a photographer for many years now—would you let us know how you got your start?
I started off working as a graphic designer … well trained in composition, color, and aesthetics. After becoming tired of sitting behind a desk, I took a job as the online editor of Snowboarder Magazine where I was both writing and shooting. Snowboarding eventually felt like too small of a box, so I combined my knowledge of aesthetics from design and story telling from journalism into a new career path … photography, where I could tell stories visually. I made the plunge into freelance photography in 2012 and have been doing that professionally ever since.
What was the location for this Vuarnet Day?
These photos were from a trip I took out to Joshua Tree, California. Half of them I shot at my friend’s compound out there whom I make music with. He has a house surrounded by 6 different trailers/RVs that he rents out on AirBnB. I go out there pretty often when I need to escape Los Angeles. The other images are from this crazy place called Garth’s Boulder Gardens … which is sort of a hippie eco-sanctuary that hosts spiritual seekers, healers, and travelers … definitely a trip place.
There is a huge sense of freedom that emerges of the couple you photographed. Can you tell us more about them? What is their story?
Haha … that quite the insightful observation. Those are my friends Andy Noel and Tegan Butler. They are an amazing creative couple who do photo and video work together. Their relationship is the dream scenario for any creative couple … the perfect ying and yang each with a different set of skills that complement each other. Luckily they are always down for an adventure and were willing to come with me to shoot them.
What do you try to highlight or convey with your photography? When planning a new project, where do you start?
Hmmmm … with my personal work, the goal is to encourage people to get out of their comfort zone and go to experience the world for themselves. I’m not trying to encourage other people to become photographers necessarily … but the hope is to lead by example to show people that they can make a career out of something they love. As far planning projects, I just seek out experiences I think I will enjoy the most, document them, and see what comes of it. None of my work is to be premeditated.
Travelling seems to mean a lot for you, would you mind letting us know its importance?
Yes … for me travel is appealing not to just say, “hey look at all the cool places I’m going”. I use travel as a sort of catalyst to enlightenment and growth … especially solo travel. I see it as an opportunity to become more open-minded, aware, and conscious. As far as what it means to me with my photography, I am always more inclined to pick up my camera when I am seeing places for the first time. I need to travel to continue to be inspired and create.
What is your next destination?
Currently I am planning on staying in Los Angeles for a bit as I tie up a few personal projects I am working on. The past few years I have spent so much time abroad gathering so many experiences and photos. So I am forcing myself to stay in one place for a minute and create something with all of that, which is currently all culminating in a Solo Travel Guidebook I am putting together. But once I have all of that finished, the goal is to get to Japan this year … a place I’ve had on my bucket list for quite some time.
Finally, what is your definition of a Vuarnet Day?
Hmmm … well if it involves sunglasses then that must mean it will be outside. I am most at home in nature, so for me personally it would probably be spent driving to a beautiful place, hiking through the woods, and watching the sunset from the top and enjoying the reward of putting in the work to make it to the peak.