Lauri Lyons: Connecting Globally (part 2)
Lauri Lyons is a well known photographer in New York and around the United States. She has worked as a Photo Editor for several magazines and organizations, including the prestigious Magnum Photos agency.
Since branching out on her own as a photographer, Lauri's range has enabled her to shoot celebrity portraits, ad campaigns and documentaries. Her photographs have appeared in such publications as The London Observer, Stern, The Fader and Art Forum. She is the first black woman to shoot the cover of Fortune magazine.
Lauri is the author of two acclaimed books; Flag: An American Story (2001) and Flag International (2008). She was the commissioned portrait photographer for the book INSPIRATION: Profiles of Black Women Changing Our World (2012).
Lauri is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the online publication Nomads Magazine. She is also a contributing writer for The Huffington Post and her essays have appeared in The Wall Street Journal.com and U.S.A today.com.
HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN THIS BRIGHT, OBSERVANT AND CURIOUS? HOW WERE YOU AS A CHILD?
I think I was definitely curious, a bit more mature than my actual age. I think I connect dots really quickly, like; this thing over here makes sense because of this. I also always loved art and making things, creativity has always been my path. Because I was an only child and I was always surrounded by adults I think I caught on much earlier on a certain emotional intelligence. And I was sensitive as a child, picking up other people’s emotions, without being aware of this. The awareness of being gifted in this way came later, when I started becoming more interested in spirituality.
THIS BRINGS US TO THE NEXT QUESTION, BECAUSE WE WERE INSPIRED BY ALL THE BOOKS IN YOUR HOUSE REGARDING SPIRITUALITY AND PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT. DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU ARE PSYCHIC OR INTUITIVE?
I feel like I’m definitely intuitive. On a certain moment I realized I could call myself in some way psychic too. I always used to dream very vividly and more like I was observing my dreams, but I think it was back in 2012 or 2013 that I began to have intense, vivid dreams that seemed more like messages than dreams and I started feeling the urge to write them down. Once I had a very clairvoyant dream about a friend of mine. I had no clue about the context of the dream but it was very detailed about his family. So I emailed him and two weeks later he got back to me, impressed, how I could know all these details about his family and so on.
The dreams continued and nowadays I can tell the difference between having a regular dream or One that is a message that I have to send to people. Whenever I would send a description of my dreams, I would start my mail saying; “I know this sounds crazy (laughs), you don’t have to pay attention to this but I felt like I needed to send you this information and my interpretation of it”. There have been several times when people got back to me and confirmed it was something that was actually going on in their lives and my information had helped to guide them onto a clearer path.
Usually its about work, like new opportunities, or not repeating old patterns, in order to move out of a certain phase in their lives. I believe people mostly know what they have to do, but sometimes it can be hard to take action; I think that this is where I get information to pass on to them — it kind of shakes them a bit, and gives them the confidence to follow their own intuition to move forward.
HOW DOES YOUR INTUITION GUIDE YOU WHEN TRAVELING AND WORKING/PHOTOGRAPHING?
That is a great question! Looking back I see that I didn’t realize this, but unconsciously I have always been reading people's energy.
During my travels I almost never got into trouble, while my work was for a lot of travel documentary. I loved getting into neighborhoods in countries and communities where I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t know the language, or much about the place, and just would have my travel book and the internet (laughs). When I’m shooting, I’m constantly interacting with people. I usually follow my radar — I am really good with picking people on the street that would say yes to me or even allow me into their homes. Many provided information of what was safe or not, what streets to walk down or not to walk down.
I think my intuition and guidance is also a big part of my work regarding the inspiration I get, the ideas for what to work on next would be very clear and precise.
WHAT IS HOME TO YOU, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
I think home is, where I feel really relaxed, a really soft space. I think its also a state of mind, but there is something nice about having a space that is consistent, where you feel comfortable and have things that remind you of good memories. Especially when I’m in New York City, where there is a lot happening on the street all the time, it’s nice to have a place to go inside and have a sense of peace.
I love to travel but I actually don’t like to pack up and move and start new homes (laughs). I’m the kind of person that ideally would like to have a couple of homes in my favorite cities but I would leave them fully furnished as it is (laughs).
IS IT HARD FOR YOU TO BE ABROAD?
It's funny, I actually feel sort of more alive when I’m on the road because of new interactions and a sense of adventure. I’m fascinated by different people and places and the adventures that can occur, the crazy stories, the food, the smells, the colors. When I’m traveling all my senses feel wide open, and i’m absorbing everything I see.
I love being on the road, but at a certain point I get what I call travel delirium, where your mind gets a bit tired because of all the new experiences. After a while I need a break, and when I’m home, I like being home. I like the mix of the two, being home for a while and then leaving because when I’m home for too long it starts itching..
HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO GET IN TOUCH AND CONNECT WITH SO MANY PEOPLE BUT ALSO STAY IN TOUCH WITH YOURSELF?
Thats a great question, no has ever asked me that before. I don’t have a direct answer but I know once I finished one of my flag series, I had been to 9 countries, and I came back exhausted. I noticed months after that I was kind of to myself, and wasn’t really feeling people.
Energetically at the time I think that you can put out a lot of energy and you are absorbing people's energy as well. Usually when I come back at first I would have a “high” from it, but later I will feel more of a “low”. I used to think it was something physical, but the more aware of myself I became, the more I realized it is definitely emotional and energetically as well.
What I do now almost everyday is say some sort of prayer or do a meditation about interacting in the world, whether it is the phone or television or being on the street or in the subway, to protect myself from absorbing peoples energy. At the end of the day I would also do a clearing of energy. So this is how I try to keep my personal energy clean so that I’m not feeling, I don’t want to say overwhelmed, but not feeling unusual. If that makes sense to you (laughs).
IS THERE A DYNAMIC BETWEEN HOW YOU FEEL INSIDE OF YOURSELF AND WHAT YOU TRANSMIT?
Yes definitely. The last couple of years I have seen that my interest has shifted from photography into writing and being behind the scenes more, but now I’m getting the urge again to get more out into the forefront with producing images and being out photographing people on the streets. This is coming back and forth with years.
At times where I was more behind the scenes, my spirituality became more important than anything else, much more an internal adventure instead of an external adventure. But it sounds strange to people when they ask: “what are you working on” and I’m like; “you know, listening to astrology podcasts and things like that” (laughs).
I definitely have the feeling that the things that interest me show up in my art. I don’t know yet how and when, but now I feel that it is time to put all these things I have learned, about myself in particular, and experiences I’ve had internally, to put that into art, and share that externally.