In August of 2011, then-chef Lauren Bath came across an interesting little app called Instagram. It changed her life. [Olympus Promotion]
Instagram was barely a year old when Lauren Bath first discovered it. While she’d used a camera to take the usual family and friends snapshots, when it came to creative expression it was her work as a chef, rather than photography that scratched the itch. But that changed when she stumbled across Instagram. ‘Instagram was about photography,’ she said, ‘and I started to experiment with that medium.’
Three Strikes Alternate
It turned out that others liked her experiments. Within 18 months she’d built a following of 200,000. Along the way she began to acquire a few clients who were impressed by her travel work. Not one to do things by halves, she decided to take off the chef’s hat and adopt a title that previously didn’t exist.
‘Basically “professional instagrammer” is a title that I made up when I quit my job and I was trying to define what I did,’ she said. ‘People often asked if I worked professionally for Instagram but for me the name just symbolised that I had effectively monetised my Instagram reach, before that was a thing. ‘
‘Having had a career as a chef, and being 30 years old when I quit my job, has put me in great stead in this career,’ she said, adding, ‘I understood the importance of business, having run profitable kitchens for years, and I knew that in order to quit my job I needed an income. Many creatives struggle to be fairly paid for their work but for me it was black and white ““ I didn’t have a job, Instagram was my job and I needed to be paid for my work. I was also mature enough and understood the importance of relationships and professionalism.’
Horse Head Pink
Lauren started out capturing images on her iPhone, moved to a big DSLR for a time and then, in 2015 she moved to an all-Olympus system. ‘I started on the OM-D E-M1 Mark I but the second I laid my hands on the Mark II it was love at first sight and that’s what I shoot with now.’
Asked how Olympus has changed her working life, she said ‘It’s so light and that means I can bring more lenses away with me, which has given me a lot more choice in my work. My favourite guilty pleasure? Packing my 300mm f/4 in the kit, even if I may not use it.’
As someone who find herself photographing two or three weeks out of the average month, she has refined her kit down to the essentials. ‘Typically I carry two bodies (OM D-E M1 Mark II) and the standard pro kit of 7-14mm f /2.8, 12-40mm f/2.8, and 40-150mm f/2.8, plus a handful of prime lenses. I just got my hands on the new 17mm f/1.2 and I’m very excited to play around with it.’
Shooting for the original Instagram square format came easily to Lauren. ‘I fell in love with square images from the day I downloaded Instagram. I’m fairly OCD, so the idea of all that symmetry makes my heart sing. Ever since Instagram opened the platform up to landscape and portrait images I’ve posted a non-square twice ““ and hated both uploads,’ she laughed.
‘I always shoot for the square but edit in all orientations for my other social media platforms. I therefore edit a landscape first, then crop out the square and then resize for Facebook and finally go back to the original and crop out a portrait for Steller and Instagram stories.’
Closer Tent and Milky Way
Leaving yourself open to photographic opportunities is also part of the Lauren Bath philosophy. ‘I love to rock up to a new destination and experience it exactly like a tourist would. This way my images are never contrived or copied, and my stories and adventures are genuine.’
Lauren’s succinct advice to aspiring Instagrammers is to get the prerequisites right. That means having ‘professional camera gear, a good attitude, an excellent work ethic and good friends around you. It can be a cut-throat industry but it’s important not to compare yourself to others and to be willing to put in the hard work.’
Visionaries & Storytelling, presented by Photo Review and Olympus: