By Scott Mitchell
Arts & Entertainment Editor
There is a depth to Lauren McClure that runs deeper than her eclectic talents and fashion sense. She speaks as a philosopher would — focusing on the metaphysical more than the clearly definable, and admiring art and the journey it has taken her through.
McClure, a former Brookhaven College student who attended from 2003 to 2005, is a professional writer and photographer. Currently employed by Pure Sculpture, a studio that commissions and sells sculptures, McClure uses both of her specialties on a daily basis.
The road McClure traveled to this point in her artistic career deviated from the standard order of higher education. Through many gigs and a few extra college courses at Brookhaven prior to receiving a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Texas A&M University, McClure took a very active approach to refining her identity as an artist.
“I didn’t have the courage to call myself a photographer or an artist until I spent a lot of time in the classroom with these really good people and really good professors at Brookhaven,” McClure said. “They taught me to not fear that that was some title beyond my ability.”
At Brookhaven, McClure enrolled in artistic classes, such as visual arts coordinator and gallery director David Newman’s photography class. She said Newman helped elevate her photography career beyond the occasional snapshot of a friend.
Newman remembered a distinctive project that McClure worked on as his student.
“McClure was working on a project photographing places where she had lived and their neighborhood context,” Newman said.
“As the work progressed, she developed a greater sensitivity to nuances of form and the use of salient detail as synecdoche for larger experiential reference. I encouraged Lauren to regard her work as significant.”
Until McClure attended Brookhaven, photography had never been a primary professional focus of hers. “Photography came out of nowhere and was a fluke of personal interest,” she said. The part of photography most attractive to her was the chemical processing of film in the darkroom. She enjoyed having access to the darkroom at Brookhaven so much that occasionally she would enroll in a class so she could keep using it.
Even today, McClure is a fanatical film proponent. “I never shoot digital, personally. I haven’t for four or five years,” McClure said. For her personal enjoyment, McClure shoots primarily medium-format film on cameras produced by Miyama and Holga. She sometimes uses a vintage film camera to inspire interest from her clients, but has not found Dallas to have the most accommodating clientele for the old process versus the instantaneous nature of digital photography. “It’s very hard to find a client in Dallas who will pay for film. They want to see it. They want it quick,” she said.
While photography is an important personal hobby as well as a source of income for McClure, it has also been the main source of her creative struggles.
Writing was something McClure said came more naturally to her. It was not often an endeavor for which she needed to sit down and struggle with a piece for long nights. But, as a photographer, she struggled with her approach, wondering whether she needed a gimmick in order to separate herself from others in the field and establish a clientele. Soon she found that exposing others to what she enjoyed was enough to gain clients. “I swore I was only going to write and keep shooting for myself personally,” she said, “but work kept coming in.”
Despite McClure’s initial hesitance with professional photography, her résumé includes clients such as McDonald’s and Borden Dairy Company. Her work has appeared in Edible Dallas & Fort Worth, among other publications.
McClure’s first major struggle with photography came in the form of a big-budget client. Along with 30 other people, she was tasked with an entire photo- graphic production. She called it a “baptism by fire.” She said: “Being creative on demand is difficult. They expect me to be a god of creativity.”
McClure said she is excited to be where she is now professionally. At Pure Sculpture, she does everything from copywriting to website design to product photography, often with extreme time constraints. “It’s a small company, so I wear lots of hats,” McClure said. “I’m very glad I made the decision to do both writing and photography. It exercises both sides of my brain.”
In addition to the steady, salaried job McClure holds at Pure Sculpture, she takes on occasional freelance jobs. From wedding to food photography, McClure is able to pick whichever job she desires.
Though photography wasn’t her first artistic interest, McClure said she finds it hard to decide which of her talents she enjoys more. “It probably would change depending on when you ask me,” she said, “probably even depending on morning or night.”