January 23, 2012

Interview: Liz Lamoreux

I lovingly refer to Liz Lamoreux as a creatrix because beauty blossoms forth from her hands. Her photography is soft and exquisite, layered with textures of what is real. I'm so delighted to share our chat with you today. Let's welcome:

When did you begin to develop an interest in photography? Take me back to those first years and if you could, tell me about the paths you explored to expand on your craft.

My parents actually gave me a Canon T50 when I was in third grade. It was a camera for beginners, so even though you could change the lenses (and my dad would let me use his “grown-up” lenses when we would go to beach on vacation), there were very few settings. I used this “beginner” film camera as my main camera for almost 20 years until I got my first Canon Rebel in 2003. Growing up and in my teens and early 20s, I was the person in my group of friends who often had a camera with her, but I never thought of myself as a photographer even though I have boxes of photos I took over the years. It wasn’t until I started blogging in 2005 that I began to really see the camera as a creative tool that was helping me process my experiences in the world. Reading blogs and connecting with other creative women in the blogging world deeply inspired me to take more photos and begin to think of myself as a photographer.

The biggest way I have expanded my skills over the years has been to simply take my camera with me on my everyday adventures and use it. I am not a person who has a lot of patience for reading manuals; I like to experience and experiment on my own and I like to just take photos. That said, whenever I see my friend VivienneMcMaster, she usually gives me another quick “big girl camera” lesson, so in the last two years I have begun to take the camera off automatic and adjust the settings. It is so much fun to be more “in charge” of my experience as a photographer. This has also encouraged me to take my dad’s old Canon out on my adventures and to pull out the T50 to play with film again.

Do you feel as though your photos reflect or reveal pages of your own story? How so?

Almost every photo I take reveals a piece of my story. When I was writing Inner Excavation, the mantra I kept telling myself on repeat was: Everything you create is a self-portrait. And I really believe this. So whether I am taking a photo of myself using the self-timer or a photo of the rocks along Puget Sound or a photo of my daughter’s hands or a jar of pink buttons in my studio or my friend’s Polaroid camera plus her mug of tea, there is a piece of me in each of these photos. I believe this is true with any art form including writing, music, and visual art.

I use my camera to process my experiences, which helps me to reveal more of my story to myself. For example, the series of mirror self-portraits I have taken during the last year and a half called What Is Real has given me the gift of processing how I truly feel in a moment. I don’t worry about smiling or trying to “look pretty.” Rather this series is about being honest with myself about the challenges of being a work-at-home mom to a baby who had open-heart surgery at four months old. Taking this series of photos and pairing each photo with a few words about how I am doing in that moment has been a light in the darkness at times.

What do you love to photograph most? If you had to step out of your comfort zone, what would you photograph?

A few years ago, I had this funny moment with a friend at an art retreat. I was watching all of these women take portraits of one another, and even though I was carrying my camera with me everywhere during the retreat, I realized I hadn’t taken any photos of anyone else…but I had taken quite a few photos of me. So I said aloud, “I think I am a self-portrait photographer.” And at the time, my friend laughed. Not in a rude way, but she laughed because it really was such a funny thing to say amidst all those portrait photographers. Later in my room back at the cabin, I looked in the mirror and snapped a self-portrait and stood in the truth of this statement. From that moment, I began to live from a place of owning that I am self-portrait photographer. Months later, I began to write a book about it. So to answer your question: I really like to take photos of myself. Self-portraits invite me to feel deeply seen by the one person who knows me best: me. And that gift has pushed me to know myself and support myself in ways that have simply changed my life over the last seven years.

I also really love to take photos at ground level. There is something about seeing the world from the unique view of the ground that makes me very happy. So I often put my camera right on the ground and snap a few photos.

To answer the second part of this question, I guess the obvious answer is that taking portraits would really push me out of my comfort zone. The only person I take portraits of is my daughter, and I am learning a lot as I take them. Still, the thought of being a photographer for an event is something that seems pretty challenging to me. I guess I don’t like to feel under pressure with photography and I deeply admire those who are able to capture events so beautifully.

Would you share three of your own tips to capture a great photo with the readers?

My biggest tip is to take photos of your everyday life. There is so much beauty to be found in the rhythm of living. From your morning cup of tea to the tree you see each day walking from your car to the office to the contrast of your new red shoes against the tile in the bathroom at a restaurant. Start trying to notice the beauty that rests in the moments of deeply living and then begin to capture those moments through your lens…whether you use a “big girl camera” or your iPhone. Just start shooting.

And find a friend who knows a bit more about your camera than you do and is willing to share her knowledge and start asking questions.

When do you feel most inspired to go shooting?

Because I am at home with my one-year-old-daughter Ellie Jane most days, I try to capture the day-to-day moments. We often head outside when it isn’t raining, so I go on “photography adventures” in my own backyard. The truth is that for my life right now, in many ways, I have to push myself to let go of needing to wait until I feel inspired to shoot and just grab the camera and use it. Having the camera in my hands is actually what often inspires me. Also, watching Ellie look at the world with such wonder pushes me to slow down and notice what she sees. This way of seeing the world with a sense of newness and joy is influencing my photography right now.

The iPhone and all the fantastic photo apps out there are really inspiring me to take photos throughout the day. And Instagram is just about my favorite social networking site out there. Love love seeing glimpses into the everyday world of people I adore and admire.

Would you share the links to the photographers or books that have guided or inspired you?

I was deeply inspired by the community that existed at Self-Portrait Tuesday many years ago (the site no longer exists). The challenge to take a new self-portrait each week changed my life.

Andrea Scher’s blog was the first blog I began to read years ago and her photography paired with stories of truth and beauty has always inspired me. I am also drawn to the way Ali Edwards captures and tells the stories of her everyday experiences.

I am so lucky to know several photographers who inspire me through their blogs and who have been so generous with their knowledge when we have connected at retreats. To name just a few: VivienneMcMaster, Kristen Perman, Darlene Kreutzer, Kate Inglis, Madelyn Mulvaney, Misty Mawn, Andrea Jenkins, Meredith Winn, and how the list goes on and on…

Dear Liz. Thank you for sharing parts of your photography journey here today. I will always be grateful for your encouragement to do what I love most in my corner of the world.

Bio: Liz Lamoreux is a retreat host, teacher, author of Inner Excavation: Explore Your Self Through Photography, Poetry, and Mixed Media, and the artist behind the shop Soul Mantras and Other Stories. She also teaches Create Space, an online course about being present and opening our hearts to all that we experience. She believes that we heal each time we unearth our stories and share them through creativity and in community.

And in this moment, she is probably singing in her studio as she listens to Paul Simon’s Graceland album and her one-year-old daughter plays with books and fabric scraps beside her, or maybe she is practicing what she teaches and they are both taking a nap.

*All of the photos in this artist feature have been posted with the permission of Liz Lamoreux.
*Artist & Bio photo of Liz by: Vivienne McMaster
*More on Liz's book: Inner Excavation


Tamara said...

this is a wonderful interview and thank you so much to the both of you for sharing it. i'm actually wearing a liz lamoreux necklace at this very moment! being such an inspirational artist...i enjoyed reading what inspires her. thank you.

kelly barton said...

i have learned so much from liz. she has this gift to spot on find the everyday. and i love that most.
we could be having coffee or taking timed shots on the beach, her love of the past and of finding that sweet spot is what makes her photography simply hers.

thanks for sharing liz with everyone.

Angie said...

Liz takes amazing photographs. Really enjoyed reading this interview a lot.


Janet said...

Enjoyed this ... didn't know Liz but planning to get to know her better - checking out her book at Amazon!! oh yeah...and eyeballing a soul mantra bracelet!

Thanks Bella


urban muser said...

beautiful post and interview. her work is certainly inspiring. i recently bought one of liz's soul mantra lockets on etsy and i love it :)

K8 said...

ah yes. Loved this interview and love Liz! big time.