Welcome to the Family

Photographer Lauren Dukoff celebrates her new book entitled 'Family' comprising portraits of her not so average friends and family.

Images from 'Family' by Lauren Dukoff. All photos
Images from 'Family' by Lauren Dukoff. All photos courtesy of Lauren Dukoff.
Lauren Dukoff is a native Californian based photographer who was first given a camera at the age of 12 by her father. She grew up following her father and family around on various film projects that her father was working on. Her resume boasts such claims as shooting for the cover of Rolling Stones Germany and Tokyo. Her photos have also appeared in Dazed, Nylon, Spin and other noteworthy magazines. We caught up with her to hear about her new book entitled Family and to hear what she has planned next.

Dazed Digital: So you recently came out with a book called Family? I am imagining you have been busy promoting that?

Lauren Dukoff: Yes, I have been doing some exhibitions with works from the book 'Family'.

DD: You just had a show in Paris?
Lauren Dukoff: Yes, at Galerie Chappe in Montmartre. The opening was a blast. Devendra was performing that night down the street at La Cigale so the opening became his after party as well. That made it a bit more interesting than just looking at my photos hanging on a wall. This was my first show outside the US and the entire experience was wonderful.

DD: How long have you known Devendra for?
Lauren Dukoff: Since I was about 13 or 14. We call each other brother and sister. My dad gave me my first camera when I was 14 and that was around the same time I met Devendra. So when I first picked up my camera the photos were often of him. Eventually he became comfortable in front of my lens so when he became a professional musician it was an effortless transition into a working relationship.

DD: Your youth was very unique in the sense that your father worked on movies, is that correct?
Lauren Dukoff: Yes, my father was a commercial director and cinematographer and still photography was kind of a hobby for him.

DD: Was your father the one you would attribute as teaching you photography?
Lauren Dukoff: My dad really taught me how to look at the world visually. I remember when I was 12, we were in Indonesia and the sun was rising and he said, “Hey Lo (that’s my nickname) why don’t you take a look through this?” He handed me a camera and I panned across the horizon. He taught me how to look at light and shapes.
I went to photography school in Santa Barbara for a year and learned a lot of technical stuff but eventually decided to drop out. I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of paying someone ridiculous sums of money to teach me how to be creative.

DD: I have to ask what cameras you shoot with?
Lauren Dukoff: I shoot with the Mamiya 645; I pretty much shot the whole book on that. I also work with the Mamiya RZ, which is a big portrait camera.

DD: Are you happy with how your book turned out?
Lauren Dukoff: I am actually surprised in hindsight. It started out kind of innocently just photographing Devendra and his friends. When I flip through the book there are some photos I can barely remember taking. I am proud of it but I feel I am still developing and learning new things. There is sort of nostalgia towards it already, even though it wasn’t that long ago.

DD: Who was your publisher?
Lauren Dukoff: They are called Chronicle Books and they are based in San Francisco.  I had a wonderful experience working with my editor Steve Mockus. He really held my hand through the entire process.

DD: Do you have any photography projects that you are leaning towards for the future?
Lauren Dukoff: Yes, on the photography side of things, I want to go out and document the American west. I just finished shooting so many musicians and I am really interested in getting out and seeing what is left of the American west and the cowboy today. I want to get in my car and go out and take photos the way I used to, before there were publicists and I could Google people. Not that I am complaining, I love my job. I just kind of miss that.
Other projects could possible include film? When Devendra was recording his last record I went up there with a 16 millimeter and filmed him making his last album and we edited it together and we made a little video of the making of the record set to a song. I wouldn’t say a video but more of a short. It was something I directed and I worked with Paul Hahn of Daft Arts, it was an exciting project working behind a motion camera.

DD: Is your dad nudging you toward getting into film?
Lauren Dukoff: I wouldn’t say nudging but when I told him I directed something, I could see a sparkle in his eye but I think he was trying not to show it too much. He doesn’t want to push it on me. 
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