Behind the lens

Lauren Withrow: Here, There



Where are you based?

New York City

How do you make a living?

Freelance photo work and I also work at a café.

What camera do you use? Canon AE-1 Program, Olympus Stylus Epic, and a Canon 5D Mark iii

How has travel made an impact on your life?

I’ve grown to appreciate the little things, mostly, in regards to people, places, and experiences. I don’t need objects for happiness. It’s even brought me closer to the people around me. I don’t want to say it’s helped me “find myself”, because I already know who I am. But it’s impacted my belief in myself and has kept me curious.

What is your relationship to travel/adventure, and what does it mean to you?

Traveling is a very intimate experience for me, alone or with friends. It’s become one of the most important and necessary things I can do for myself. 

I hadn’t traveled much before I went to Oregon in 2013. It had always been with my family, but this was my first solo trip and it was to meet a bunch of kids from the internet. While I’m surprised my parents even allowed it, it turned out to be a very inspiring trip. This is Lissy on the beach. It was the summer, but the Oregon coast turns out to be always cold and always windy.

I found myself out in the desert in California with my two best friends and muses. I had just come off an intense surgery, shouldn’t have even made the trip, and certainly shouldn’t have been running around as much as I did that night. But laying under the stars, letting all worries and responsibilities fade away, we were allowed to be free. We were the only ones in the campgrounds that night and only we were there to see it all.

White Sands was the last location of the road trip I took with four of my friends. We had just come from Marfa and were trying to drive as fast as we could over to the dunes, and we barely made the sun setting. It was a rare cloudy day and the sky turned a vibrant pink. Sara and I rolled in the sand, taking photos for as long as we could manage in the dropping temperatures. My other friends continued photographing until the last bit of blue in the sky turned to black and we left for the hotel in the neighboring city.

This was the night I fell in love with West Texas. I’m born and raised in Texas, but this was untouched territory for me. The melancholy, the seclusion, the feeling of intimacy with the landscape was addicting. You feel at the mercy of nature and you must respect her. My friends and I had road tripped out to Big Bend and this was the first night we were there. At one point, I found that we were all looking in different directions as the sun set, and just barely I see headlights come from down the road.

We were leaving Big Bend and I wanted to get closer to the river and take some photos of aSara standing in it, but the more we were driving, the higher up we would climb away from it. By some strange luck, we took a pit stop as I had seen a landscape that I wanted to take a photograph of, and as I was, my friend’s noticed an abandoned building over on the other side of the road. Later we realize that we had stumbled upon the abandoned movie set we had been wanting to find. We knew it was somewhere in that area, but our phones were cutting in and out of service too much and we had forgotten to look up the specific location. But perhaps by an even stranger luck, the Rio Grande sat there, just a few hundred feet from the set.  

I remember we took quite a few pit stops from Big Bend to Marfa. This was one of them. Before this trip, I rarely photographed just landscapes, but being in such a beautiful place, I wanted to document it.

Lauryn and I were driving from LA to NYC this past June. Every day was so hot and we were craving a swim. As we passed the Colorado River, we found some turn offs where there was easy access into the water. No one was around so we ditched our clothes on the little beach and floated around. A couple kayak tours drifted by, but were far enough away that they didn’t see us. But a third tour came by, and to our surprise, they came up on shore right where we were swimming. But one of the men in the tour threw us our clothes and we left.

Lauryn and I have collaborated several times over the past couple of years, and it’s always been a feeling of magic. She knows and understands my style of shooting, what I’m looking for, and she inspires me, pushes my work to greater places. She is such a incredible muse. This was taken probably around 3 am in a motel in Austin after we had spent the day shooting out at Enchanted Rock, waiting for the full moon to rise.