The most versatile model I have ever shot is Lauren Garcia.
I think of models as I think of actors: some actors are amazing at playing one kind of role; other actors are pretty good generalists – you’ll see them in a lot of different roles, they won’t bother you nor will they blow your mind. Then you have diamonds. Stars. Pearls on velvet. Actors who can pull off any kind of role and you can’t help going WOW! Their versatility is an asset for storytelling: an actor who’s able to seamlessly play heroes and villains and winners and losers can masterfully drive the audience through the most baroque twists of the plot, while leaving their willing suspension of disbelief perfectly intact.
For me, models are the same. Some can amazingly embody particular esthetic styles and be mediocre with others. You need a certain vibe, you just know who to call. Some others are pretty good at everything, and these models are incredibly valuable as well because sometimes you just don’t know what the shoot will be like. And then, you have those models that, no matter what you’re going to go for, you know it will be amazing. Lauren, of course, partakes of the latter kind.
She first reached out to me about six month ago, to shoot digitals.
We met at FD Studios, did thirty seconds of small chat and got to work. When both the model and the photographer know what they are doing, digitals take less than half an hour. Shoot, check, reshoot, check, done. We had some time left at the studio, so we goofed around a bit. 20 more minutes of creative brainstorming had already sold me onto Lauren’s exceptionality.
We decided we were a nice fit and since neither of us had shot much anything because of the springtime and early summer restrictions that had just been lifted, we drove to Melrose Avenue to try some urban inspired shots.
By the time we were done on Melrose I had it clear that one of Lauren’s super powers was the aware capacity to tune into different facets of her kaleidoscopic heritage, so that she can activate and blend then ones that are most fitting for the vibe and the scopes of the particular image that’s being crafted. Just as photographers edit images, Lauren – who’s also a mental health advocate – is able to edit herself from the inside out and nail that perfect look.
I worked with Lauren twice again since our first shoot, and her esthetic versatility still remains undefeated. Our second shoot aimed for a sophisticated look in luxurious Palos Verdes, and she blended instantly. Not as a chameleon would do: she does not blend with the background. She seizes the background and shines out of it.
Lauren was also my last shoot of 2020. I had seen an outfit she posted on her Instagram and I wanted to shoot it in a kind of Wednesday Addams / Voodoo Queen esthetics. We went back to FD Studio and Lauren did her magic again. She went in, tuned herself, and came out.
We stepped out into the studio and back into the time machine, to explore a completely different visual inspiration less than one hour afterwards. We actually wanted to try some drone shots in the wilderness, but the vicinity of the LA County Sheriff training facilities in Elysian Park made us desist, and we opted for some ground photography instead. It was the Age of the Aquarius.
Every time I go through my archives and look at Lauren’s photos, I can hardly believe it’s the same person. Lauren can switch from street to high fashion, from seductive to playful, from inspired to candid in the blink of an eye. I like happy photos, and Lauren can flash the most disarming smiles, but also masters a very convincing RBF that I won’t share lest she resents me.