Photographer of the Month: Lotus Carroll
Lotus Carroll is an artist. Through her images, and her word-smithery, we discover a different perspective on life and the world around us. She brings smiles and thought to countless thousands of people through her posts on various social media networks, and teaches and educates many through the various communities she has helped build and foster. It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Lotus Carroll: Artist, Mother, Creative, Encourager, Inspirer, and my wonderfully goofy and gorgeous friend. She makes our world a more amazing place.
If I said it 100 times before, expect 1000 more
She was no longer able to take flight
Her dream world rises inside
How did you get interested in photography?
I've created art all my life, using many different mediums. As a kid I had toy cameras and then slightly nicer ones as I got older, a nice film SLR when I was in college, and later digital cameras. My interest in photography is foremost an interest in creating, responding to the world around me and my own emotions regarding the things I see and experience. These things drive me to make art, and photography just happens to be the genre I've settled into most comfortably and happily at this point in my life.
Some kind of explanation would be nice
Sink and disappear
All her hollow memories float away one by one
How long have you been a photographer?
I've had cameras since I was a little kid and I've always enjoyed taking photos to document, tell a story, and express myself. However, I didn't truly focus on the art of photography and really improving my skill from beginning (envisioning or seeing something) to end (processing and "delivering" a final product) until the past few years of my life. So the answer to that could be thirty years, or 10 or 5 or 3, depending on what your definition of "photographer" happens to be.
She sensed tortured souls and bittersweet memories
I've never stopped wanting to run away forever
You make everything beautiful seem true
What is your favorite place to photograph? Or subject?
That is a really hard question for me to answer. I really do like to photograph everything - life. Again, I'm creating art both to document the world and my experiences and to express my feelings and even some universal emotional concepts that I think can be portrayed with photography. There's really no end to what I want to see and capture, in this sense. I think, basically, real world photography is what I most enjoy - and that ranges from architecture to landscape and everything in between.
I have come to particularly enjoy urban exploration in the past year or so - there are such rich stories that can be told in abandoned and mostly forgotten places. There is hope and beauty as well as devastation and tragedy in them that begs to be documented and expressed. Many of them will be torn down eventually, and so it seems even more interesting to capture them while they are still accessible.
I also enjoy self portraiture. Many people tend to think of this as a rather narcissistic endeavor, but I started taking self portraits so that I would be included in the story I was telling, rather than absent… not because I was so enamored with myself. Eventually this became a way for me to really express so many things - emotions, frustrations, opinions and so much more. And the conditions are ideal: I never have to pay my model, she always wants to work on a project just as long and hard as I do, and she takes direction without me ever having to say a word, flawlessly executing exactly what I had in mind.
As a side note, I tend to enjoy injecting humor into my photography, no matter what the subject, on a very regular basis. Related to this, I started doing a "Bathroom Selfie" project several years ago. I actually started it to parody what I thought were awful and cliche self portraits that people were taking of themselves and sharing online at an increasing rate. It's a sign of the times, I guess, and it's a humorous project that I've enjoyed continuing. I've been delighted that others have joined me in this project, and many of them are even taking bathroom group portraits together. It's all for the humor, really, and that makes me happy. Over time, I've had a lot of fun taking more and more unusual and interesting bathroom self portraits.
Back to a bit of a more serious discussion of subject matter, I'd say that landscape, particularly sunrise/set has a special place in my heart, as well. I'm a nature freak. The beauty of the natural world astounds me to no end. I've been really fortunate to have seen and photographed some gorgeous places, like Death Valley and Virgin Gorda. Shooting locations like that makes me realize how big the world is and how tiny I am as a part of it (in a good way). And it makes me want to share it all the more with people who may not be able to make it to those places themselves. But I also like to get up close and personal with the intricacies of nature, like a spider climbing upon a dead leaf, a droplet of water clinging to a petal, or that sexy way a flower curves toward you suggesting something more than the advent of Spring.
In short, give me more of everything, everything.
Sing me sweet lemon drop lullabies, baby
Will you just sit there while I lose my grip
I will walk beside the one who brings the light
Hold Me In Your Arms Forever
There's A Light At The End Of This
How can photographers help change/impact the world, while they are traveling?
I don't really think it is the duty of photographers to change/impact the world while they are making their art. But that's just my perspective. I operate more from the point of view of documenting and using photography as an art form to express my feelings and experiences. I strive in some way to say, hey, look at this thing that exists out here in the world, have you seen something like that? And do you know what? It reminds me of this feeling inside me… have you ever felt this way, too? So photography becomes a kind of expressive, therapeutic poetry-documentary hybrid for me. I suppose that in a way, I'll impact the world with my art when I share it over time if I touch the hearts of others with the emotion in my images. Or maybe not. I don't know.
Warp speed, bitches
Felt a little down and blue
It's Been A Little While Since I Vacuumed
Eenie Meenie Minie Mo, Out Which Window Will I Go?
Are there rules in other countries people need to be aware of about who or what you can or cannot shoot?
I'm sure there are, but I think I'm kind of a jerk because I'm usually more focused on the photos I want to get rather than what I am allowed to shoot or not shoot. I suppose that this can get you into a fair amount of trouble in just the right (wrong? haha) situation(s), but so far the worst I've gotten is people being annoyed with me / getting kicked out of places. I think that over worrying about what you're allowed to do will prevent you from making the art that you really want to make, though.
So You Can Always Find Your Way Back Home
Facing the sunrise together
Together We Can Take The Long Way Home
Any photography tips you want to share?
Consume as much art online and out in the world as you can. Additionally, consume as much life and experience out in the world as you can. Wander. Explore. Keep your eyes open to the world and don't ever, ever take the little things for granted. You can look all day long and not see. See. Really try to see! There is so much in every day you're not expecting - don't let it pass you by. That aware eye is your first step in making the photo you want.
Be in touch with your feelings and let your passion drive your art. Make what's inside of you. Seek and enjoy happiness in life. But when you're not happy, know that that's okay - every feeling you have is valid and all of them can inform your art. Use that to your advantage.
Don't worry about what other people think. It doesn't matter if your photos don't look like everyone else's or don't fit into some kind of "style" definition. What matters is for you to make the art that you were meant to make. Don't let other people stifle you or make you feel like there's anything wrong with your art. If they don't like it or it doesn't fit into their view of what should be made, expressed, or shared, that is their problem, not yours.
And I guess my photography tips sound more like I live in a van down by the river (Matt Foley, anyone?) rather than being specific, technical guides, but that's just because of the way I see and use the art myself.
No One Knows Where It Ends
In A Corner, If Only To Disappear
Lives Inside Her Own Beating Heart
Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
I always have more to share. I'll mention a couple of projects that I'm a part of for now.
I created a Community on Google+ recently called The Art of Self Portraiture that I co-own with Jeff Smith, creator of Selfy Sunday. We aim to help people learn and grow in self portraiture through this Community. We have a great team of moderators on board with us who are helping write tutorials and participate in challenges with the rest of the Community, and some amazing sponsors who are supporting these monthly challenges. Anyone who wants to get involved can join our community here: goo.gl/M7XTQ
I'm also the Director of Marketing for Drink and Click™, founded by Juan Gonzalez. This is a fun photowalking revolution, and it's pretty simple - we smashed photowalking and pub-crawling together. So we get a group to meet up at a venue, have drinks (not required), take photos and generally have a great time together as we move to a few different locations. It has been very well received, and while it started in Austin, TX, where Juan and I live, it has grown and we've now organized 24 (and counting) Chapters across the US and Internationally. There are events every month, as well as a monthly challenge so people can enter photos for a chance to win great prizes. Anybody with an interest can check it out at drinkandclick.com and if anyone wants to lead a new Chapter in their area they can email us at drinkandclick [at] gmail.com
She beats at the world with self loathing
Come on and cry me a river
All Her Hollow Memories Float Away, One By One
Drink and Click™ - A Photowalking Revolution
Prints/Merchandise available for sale at:
Plus One Collection 2011
Plus One Collection 2012
(Both of these are available at plusonecollection.com)
How We See It, 2nd Edition (blurb.com/bookstore/detail/3674785)
Lil' Galleries "Love" Show (lilgalleries.com)
Photo Talk Plus Co-Host 2012 (Show is no longer airing but has a home at phototalkplus.com)
Jordan Oram is the Photography Editor for Wandering Educators. He has a passion for encouraging and empowering others to realize the combinations of their unique passions and strengths. In April of 2012, with $250 to his name, he travelled more than 10 000 km, over 8 months, across Canada and back, to encourage people to rock out their awesomeness. Find him at www.maplemusketeer.com
All photos courtesy and copyright Lotus Carroll