I first came across Lucy Laucht’s photography via Instagram; and after almost a year of keeping up with her travels, I decided I couldn’t not ask her for an interview. Her photos are beautiful, and she’s made a career out of her curiosity to discover inspiring, off-beat places. She documents her travels and experiences on These Foreign Lands, as well as contributing regularly to titles including Conde Nast Traveler, AFAR magazine, Travel and Leisure and Vogue Australia. In this interview, Lucy tells us a bit about her photography career, female imposter syndrome and her new line of handcrafted hats…
You have an incredible eye for capturing the simple but beautiful moments. Did you imagine a life of photography growing up?
Thank you! My mum and dad are both artistic and growing up in a creative home influenced my decision to study the arts. Looking back, I’ve always been interested in capturing a moment in time or expressing an idea—but it would be a while before I’d pursue photography as a medium for that.
It’s clear from your pictures that photography is much more than just your career – what makes it special to you?
I guess that I’ve always been intrigued with the idea of telling the story—which is why I ended up in digital marketing and social—and photography evolved as a medium for that.
Contrary to what I said earlier about your eye, your teacher in college told you that you had no eye for photography. Did that sway you at the time?
It really did. I must say that I was not a model student—always late (if I turned up all!) and I think he was majorly fed up with me. One day he said, you know, you just don’t have a talent for this so if I were you, I’d give up and study something else. So, I did. I was 19 and impressionable and had no belief that I could succeed because I was being told by an older man that I could not. Of course, the feminist in me now is beyond furious about that!
The major catalyst for picking up the camera again was losing my brother in 2010. He was an intensely creative soul, living in London studying at Chelsea art college and I inherited his cameras. Looking through the viewfinder of his camera felt like I was seeing things the way he did.
In a former life, you worked in digital development and social media at J. Crew in New York. Did this work prepare you to manage your own social media and digital channels?
I worked with an incredible group of people at J.Crew (literally every single day I would think, holy hell, these people are so talented!) and I learned a lot from Jenna Lyons. Most of all I gained an appreciation for trusting my gut—knowing what does or does not feel right—honoring that and showing up for yourself—and the value of having a consistent vision.
I’m assuming social media has played a considerable role in your career – what do you most like / dislike about it?
I love the real life, tangible connections that I’ve made. I’ve become friends and collaborated with amazing people. I have a strong network of nurturing, supportive friends because of the connections Instagram has enabled. I like how it has democratized photography in a sense. You don’t have to live in a big city to get your work in front of clients. What I mostly hate is how travel destinations seem to have become this weird photo checklist contest. I went to Horseshoe Bend in Arizona a few weeks ago and it was like a circus. People were literally hanging off rocky ledges desperate to get ‘the shot’.
You’re originally from the UK but married an Aussie?
We met at a noodle stand while backpacking in Bali ten years ago, a travel romance that never ended. We lived in NYC for seven years and we recently relocated to Melbourne, Australia.
You’ve said your soul is happier on the move – what is it you love so much about travel?
I can never quite articulate the feeling I get when in motion—it’s just happiness. I’m curious by nature and just being somewhere else is a powerful thing for me. Travel always provides me with an incredible clarity in terms of what’s important.
There’s a line of yours I read in an interview that struck a chord with me: “I fall in love with everywhere I go and I get terrible nostalgia for places I leave behind”. Do you feel like your heart is in more than one place?
Always. I’ve left pieces of my heart all around the world and a significant part of it remains in New York! I read a quote on Bruce Chatwin by author and editor Hanya Yanagihara where she says: “What has always bewitched me about him was how light he seemed to move though the world, how he understood, from a young age, that the idea of home is a fantasy, a romance of belonging that doesn’t actually exist”. That stuck with me.
In 2015 you packed up a 1985 Volkswagen camper van and did a road trip across America with your husband. What made you decide to do this?
Ultimately, we were curious to see a country we had called home for six years and knew precious little about. Inspired by John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley we set out across the country (sans poodle) to see America. Our trip coincided with the presidential election and it was an eye opener. It was also a trip of a lifetime. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Aside from photography, what fills you up?
Being around strong, creative women. I find that incredibly empowering and inspiring. And making, I feel very productive and centered when I’m creating something, whether it’s a photograph or writing or cooking.
You’ve recently launched a line of handcrafted hats – tell us about Tio y Tia?
Speaking of strong, creative women! Tio y Tia is a line of hats inspired by the American southwest, handmade by America’s oldest hat maker. It’s a new venture with two of my good friends. We’re all equally in love with the Southwest—those endless skies and sagebrush flats—and we just shot our look book in Utah and Tucson. It was a dream trip.
Two pieces of advice you would give to budding photographers?
I’ll give three things I’m learning as I grow as a photographer:
- I recently heard this quote and it resonated— “Looking good is easier than getting good.” It made me think of the times I’ve been too self-conscious to ask for help because I’m afraid that I’ll appear as if I don’t know what I’m doing (hello female imposter syndrome, which is a whole other topic!)
- Be selective about what you commit to. Knowing what feels good for you is key. Learning to stick up for yourself is important.
- Many people are skilled at their craft–but not everyone has the tenacity and fortitude to make it happen. You must get out there and HUSTLE!
What is it about the future that excites you most?
Launching a business alongside the hats (I’m not sure what it is yet, but I feel in my bones that I will discover it this year!). I’m about to study photojournalism—learning how to tell a substantive story that can impact change for good really resonates with me. Doing something that empowers and supports women in the industry—I can’t stop thinking about this recently. Ahh, and exploring my new antipodean home!