Lauren Rautenbach: Contributor Interview

1- Tell us a little about yourself, and how you became interested in photography! 

I am a full time photographer with my own studio, based in Cape Town, South Africa.  I have a broad portfolio, but like photographing people the most.

2- Are you formally trained, or self-taught? And what has been the best source of information along this journey (workshop, online forums, classroom, mentor, etc)?

I am a self-taught photographer, having had a camera attached to me, like another limb, for over 20 years.  They say the best way to learn is to do!  I have attended various workshops along the way, but have found a wealth of information from following online tutorials and by experimenting with other photographers.

3- What gives you ideas and inspires you to create such a broad portfolio?

I see the world as a continual source of images, there isn’t a time I don’t see potential in a situation.  From dead dragonflies and broken windows to the way the sunlight pours down a flight of stairs, anything can tell a story.


4- We are very impressed and thankful for the diversity of characters in your Arcangel portfolio. Where do you usually find your models? Do you carefully pose your photos or do you take a more candid approach? How do you direct your models, if at all? 

My models are from all over.  Sometimes I put out a call for models if there is a particular look I am going for, and other times I will come across someone who I know will translate beautifully on camera and I’ll arrange a shoot with him/her.  I plan my shoots to a certain degree, but I always let the session flow naturally and find inspiration as I go.
When I use actors as models I find there is far less need to direct the shoot, they just know how to put across an emotion perfectly.   But often my models are inexperienced and need a little help, so we take the shoot slow and try to find that comfortable spot.  I don’t use models who have been trained professionally as I find they often don’t translate well for story-telling imagery.

5- What are your favourite sources for objects, props and costumes? 

I love old things, so you will often find my styling includes vintage letters, books, etc.  When I find something interesting I put it aside to use for a future shoot.

6- Your historical shoots are absolutely gorgeous! What advice would you give photographers wanting to start shooting in this genre? 

Your historical shoots must be well thought out to eliminate historical inaccuracies.  Wardrobe and hair require a financial outlay if you want to create the most authentic scene. I’ve made a few mistakes along the way and it is costly so I urge you to do your homework!  

For instance, check that models for a medieval shoot are not wearing nail polish, or watch that there are no modern items in your background like a tarred road or contemporary signage that will be time-consuming to remove.


7- How important is Photoshop in creating your finished images? 

I use both Photoshop and Lightroom Classic but prefer Photoshop.  I have created an enormous library of presets and actions which I use for my images.

8- Personal development projects can be beneficial to a photographer’s growth and creativity.  Are there any challenges you’re setting yourself, or things you’re trying to learn right now?

I share my studio with another photographer who specialises in dance photography so I regularly hook up with him and try my hand at something different and out of my comfort zone.I spent 5 years with an NGO in an area called Langa, Cape Town, so I have a wealth of street photography images which I am hoping to put into a book one day.

10- What do you think the challenges are for the stock photography industry at the moment? What changes do you foresee over the next few years?

Stock photography is a fiercely competitive field and I think the challenge for stock photographers lies in creating uniquely creative images in an oversaturated market. Lifestyle based photography will remain in demand due to the continued call for more authenticity in marketing and advertising.  

Real and emotionally moving images tell genuine stories in our complex world, and hopefully the call for authentic imagery will result in the industry finding value again in rights-managed images.
The call for more diversity in stock images is reflecting this change and I personally feel it’s an exciting time to be providing stock images.


Click here to view Lauren’s portfolio.