How One Photographer Turned Her Hobby into Shooting for Fortune 500 Brands
By Jenna - 3 min read
Photographer Lauren Randolph (aka Lauren Lemon) has turned her love of photography into a full-time career shooting for major brands. She joined EyeEm’s Shooting for Brands Workshop at Month of Photography LA and gave her best tips for aspiring photographers to do the same.
Six months ago, photographer Lauren Randolph was asked by travel company Contiki to shoot a project in Peru. While there, she met and photographed locals after getting to know and complimenting them.
“I saw this woman dressed in traditional clothing for the Arequipa region. I asked for her photo, and she told me her name was Maria. I told her she was beautiful, and she was all smiles.”
“This wasn’t a high paying shoot by any means,” Lauren said during her talk at EyeEm’s ‘Shooting for Brands’ workshop at Month of Photography LA. “I really just wanted the chance to go to Peru. But a few months after this, I was approached by Nespresso after they saw my Peru images and they commissioned me to travel to Colombia with their CEO to document the coffee making process.”
Lauren’s love of color, people and places has led her to shoot for brands like Nespresso, Allbirds, Acura, Samsung, Disney, Gap and more. She’s turned her side hobby into a full-fledged career and shared her top tips on how she got to where she is now.
1. Be consistent on social media
Lauren decided to be ‘Lauren Lemon’ when she joined Flickr long ago, and it stuck. It’s now part of her personal brand identity and she goes by LaurenLemon on Instagram, Twitter, Vimeo, Facebook and Society6. Lauren says it’s incredibly hard for people to find you on social media if you aren’t consistent.
“Don’t put work out that you wouldn’t want to get hired to do.”
2. Share and shoot what you love
Lauren’s work consists of bright colors and intimate portraits of the people around her, which she quickly became known for and has now been commissioned to shoot.
“Don’t feed the machine and post a photo everyday for the sake of posting a photo. Don’t put work out that you wouldn’t want to get hired to do.”
This also holds true for any shoot that you complete for a third party. Delete the photos you’re not proud of before sharing with your client. Don’t give them anything you’re not proud of.
“I think it’s important to show yourself in your work. What Ishow in my portfolio is the work that people will recognize me from. Shoot what you love and you’ll get work that you love.“
3. Align your aesthetic with the brands you want to shoot
This is arguably the most important tip provided here. If you want to shoot for Nike, you need to have a portfolio of active shots. Get your friends in Nike gear and start shooting.
“I found out that a small agency I had previously worked with signed Mini Cooper as a client, so I posted on Facebook to see if any of my friends had a Mini - I was able to get a hold of one and asked some friends to do a mini roadtrip to shoot photos with this Mini. I ended up getting a job shooting for Acura through this where we went on a road trip through California and shot the mountains, ocean, forest and desert.”
4. Bring your camera everywhere
The easiest way to build your portfolio is to always have your camera: “I bring my camera everywhere, that’s probably why my portfolio is built with images I love.”
Lauren isn’t talking about lugging around lenses and DSLRs. She said she often just has her iPhone ready at the right moments.
“It’s not about gear, it’s about what you’re shooting.”
5. Be open and nice
Lauren stressed the importance of being open to projects that will build your portfolio. Her Peru project isn’t the only thing that’s led her to bigger shoots. She loves shooting at night and bringing her love of color into night photography.
It can be daunting to make your way into the industry and meet people. “Usually these big companies run with huge agencies and they already have a list of photographers ready, but you have to stand out.
Lauren says she makes sure to send something physical around the holidays to her photography contacts. She wanted to make something she knew wouldn’t get thrown away, so she compiled all of her Berlin U-bahn station images by color and made a flip book. Something that represents her work and creativity in a unique way.
“I guess the moral of all this is be willing to collaborate with many people, be willing to take on the role of creative director. People that know you and like working with you will continue to hire you. Be open and be nice.”