Laure Joliet

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP: I grew up in LA, specifically and most viscerally, in my grandma's backyard watering plants and helping in the garden and running around naked. But I also grew up in Paris, chasing pigeons and hanging out with my other grandmother. My grandmothers were pretty great.

My parents and I went back and forth between LA and Paris for most of my growing up (my dad is the French one) but I'm really a Californian at heart. My great-grandparents and my grandparents all built houses here; it's in my blood. But I'm grateful that along with a suburban upbringing I also got to travel a lot as a kid and see that there are lots of different ways to live your life. That everyone does it differently.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST BECOME INTERESTED IN PHOTOGRAPHY: My parents are both creative and definitely nurtured that side of me. I took a lot of drawing and painting classes but when someone handed me a camera I basically never looked back. Taking pictures was so much faster than drawing! It satisfied that impatient part of me.

My dad gave me my own camera, a red Konika, when I was 9. I loved taking pictures on trips of weird details and piles and messes and collections in people's homes. I loved sharing pictures and stories when I came back to LA. So from the start, it was about sharing and somehow keeping a part of each place with me as I traveled.

I also think that this big blue trunk in our living room had a lot to do with my interest. My mom was a model in the 70's and worked a ton with Guy Bourdin. Growing up, I would sit on the floor and go through that trunk full of magazine tears that my mom had saved. I would just pore over all these incredible fashion photographs. It's a wonder that I didn't end up going into fashion photography. I just think overall I learned early on about the power of photography.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU: I love that when I'm shooting interiors, every shoot I do takes me into someone's world for a brief moment. I get to peek inside all of these different lives and meet so many interesting people who have chosen totally different paths. I spend a day or two with them and have such an adventure just getting to know their space and a little bit of their story. I love that.

When I was at CalArts I discovered the work of Uta Barth and Wolfgang Tillmans - their way of working with and photographing the world around them really appealed to me. They gave me permission to pay attention to the mundane, the everyday and to find value and beauty there; especially to notice the details and imperfections. That really, the magic is in the details.

Also, I'm getting back into reading and it's the most amazing thing. The internet slowed me down for a decade but I was always a really voracious reader and now that I'm forcing myself to put my phone down and read, it's just incredible what happens to my sense of time and imagination.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE IMAGE THAT YOU'VE TAKEN: I started playing a game with myself on shoots. I try to find the shot that would otherwise get overlooked. That exercise of looking and noticing keeps me inspired for every shot and when I find it, it's generally my favorite.

I remember being in a house and working on a portrait of the dining room and then noticing these incredible shadows all over the floor coming from the plants growing outside the window. Or doing an entertaining shoot and suddenly noticing that the mess the stylist had created while making the pie was actually so beautiful. Those are the moments and shots I remember and that give texture and life to the whole set of images.

WHAT ARE ONE OR TWO OF YOUR FAVORITE MOMENTS FROM PAST SHOOTS: I was finishing up a 3 day shoot of an amazing house in Hawaii. There were 4 of us left at the end and we hopped into a golf cart to get the last shot--the exterior of the house at sunset from a couple of roads away. We'd had some grey rainy days during the shoot and even earlier that afternoon the weather had threatened to turn very wet but all of a sudden the light was just so beautiful, just totally lighting up the landscape and the house. We got the shot and then we took off in the golf cart all the way down to the beach and watched the last bits of light play out over the ocean.

IF YOU WEREN'T A PHOTOGRAPHER WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD: Professional Instagrammer. (That's different, right?)

WHAT SONG GETS STUCK IN YOUR HEAD MOST OFTEN: I'm a sucker for pop music so a lot of times whatever is in my head is probably the worst, most embarrassing song you could imagine.

WHAT IS YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL: I don't know if she's my spirit animal but she's my favorite animal--my cat, Hazel. She's a rambunctious Abyssinian who perches on my shoulder, plays with water and follows me around like a puppy. She sleeps under the covers and chirps at birds. She's pretty charming.

IF YOU COULD ONLY EAT ONE FOOD FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE: I have the worst sweet tooth. People have described to me the sensation of feeling sick after too much dessert and I just cannot relate at all. I never get to that point, there is always room for more. So it would have to be some kind of cake. Probably chocolate.

WHAT IS THE ONE ITEM OF CLOTHING THAT YOU WEAR MOST OFTEN: Bensimon sneakers! They were the shoe I grew up wearing and sort of like the Converse of france. Now I own a ridiculous amount of them, basically in every color. They've become a part of my shooting uniform. I like the slip-on kind best.

WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING YOU'VE EVER DONE: When I finished art school I had no idea how to apply what I learned in the real world. So I went into production and eventually ended up as a producer at a visual effects company. Making the decision to leave that job (a well paying, benefits-giving job working with people I loved) in order to push myself creatively and attempt to build a career that would ultimately be more fulfilling, that was terrifying. I had to let go of all the things that were comfortable and allow things to unfold. Living with that uncertainty and trusting my own instincts, that was hard. Being years on the other side of the decision, it was the best decision I could have made.

WHAT IS YOUR SECRET TALENT: I don't know if it's much of a secret but I'm a pretty good baker.

WHAT IS THE STRANGEST THING IN YOUR REFRIGERATOR: I think it would be pretty shocking to people to see how much is rotting in my refrigerator.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO UNWIND AFTER A BUSY DAY: I really love walking in my neighborhood. LA gets a bad rap for not being walkable but where I live, I'm just minutes away from a wild hillside called Elysian Park. I love to go for walks at the end of the day as the sun is going down. You get beautiful views of downtown but you're in the wild. And also on Friday nights during baseball season you can hike out there and watch the fireworks being set off at Dodger Stadium.

Also just going to dinner with friends and talking about not-work. That's pretty fun too.

Laure Joliet

Laure on Set