THROUGH THE LENS WITH LAURA MURRAY

Today at LES, we delve into the world of photography and design with Laura Murray, who has mastered the complexity of both professions. Based in Colorado, Murray has a keen eye for photography and specializes in weddings and has recently dipped her toe in design. She is currently designing and renovating a 1930's Spanish home and we are fascinated with her ability to juggle both professions with such creativity.  Join us as we have a glimpse through the lens with Laura Murray. 

1. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to the world of photography and design?

I was formally trained in theoretical mathematics & economics, but quickly realized after working a few years in the corporate tech space that I was more drawn to art & entrepreneurship.

When I was a child, my mom would always go out of her way to stop into antique shops when we traveled but I never appreciated her dedication to the arts until I was an adult. Now, I can’t get enough design inspiration and I’m the one dragging my husband & kids into those out-of-the-way antique shops! ;) 

Photography quickly became my focus in the creative world and I have worked as a full-time photographer for the past 14 years.

2. When styling a photoshoot , what are your go-to must haves for the perfect shots?

For me, It’s all about the location & the lighting as it sets the tone and the mood. Location and light come first, everything else falls into place after that. 

Some favorite on-location spots I’ve shot at recently for photography jobs are Hotel Peter & Paul in New Orleans, all over San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, and at Dunbar Ranch in Aspen.

Cutting Garden

Kristin Yezza

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Vintage Marble Sculpture

Vintage

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3. What made you get into design after years in photography? Do you see a lot of overlap between photography and design?

As a photographer, I don’t usually touch design as much as I wish. I found that I was showing up to shoots with other people’s designs, sometimes which were in alignment with my own personal style, but other times not.

Designing my own home became a personal project & creative outlet. And I realized it’s quite fun to occasionally be my “own” client for a change.

4. What are some of the biggest challenges you find in your design projects? 

The biggest design challenge is often budget because it’s easy to dream up options beyond the project scope. But when budget & vision align, it’s magic. Sometimes the constraint of budget pushes for more creativity, though. It feels almost like a puzzle and it can be an intriguing challenge to solve. 

 

5. Do you have a last step in “finishing” a vignette or scene you are photographing?

My favorite light is ambient light and my process is to keep shooting until the light fades. My last step in “finishing” a vignette is to keep making small tweaks and adjustments until the light is no longer good. I especially love to shoot at golden hour. 

6. Let’s talk about your most recent project, the 1930’s Spanish home you have been renovating, how did this idea to design and renovate a home arise? 

In 2020 almost all of my photography jobs got canceled or postponed and I suddenly found myself with a very empty calendar. My mind doesn’t sit well when idle so I began browsing Zillow. I came across a 1930’s Spanish style home with gorgeous bones that was currently on the city’s “Neglected and Derelict” list! 

I wasn’t in the market for a new home, nor did I feel comfortable jumping into the unknown with the current state of the world, but a couple short months later, we were the proud owners of a major renovation project! 

There was mold and asbestos, the roof was leaking, the pipes had burst, and the living room was sinking into the foundation. The house had sat empty for several years and during that time criminals had broken windows all across the main level. Then, when they entered the home they lit fires in the kitchen to stay warm. It was all a mess, to say the least.

But something with this home spoke to me and over the next 2 years, we brought it back to life. It has been one of my biggest passion projects to date.

 

Trophy Vase

by Kristin Yezza

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Thinking

by Lauren Skunta

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7. Backpacking on number 6- Will you be the photographer for the space? If so, did knowing in advance how you want the space to be photographed, affect how you designed and renovated it?

I have been photographing this space since day one, in all of its many evolutions. Sometimes my images are for lifestyle/interior brands, other times it’s just a quick snapshot on my phone when I see beautiful light in our everyday lives, and other special times it’s photographs of momentous days like birthday parties for our kids and Christmas morning as a family. 

I designed this space in a way that reflects my eye as a photographer. Pre-renovation it was lacking in beautiful, abundant light.

We removed the 2nd floor library directly above the front entrance to let in more light and to make the entrance feel more spacious. We installed an L-shaped wall of glass in the kitchen. We widened the windows in as many places as possible (we had to replace many of them anyway because they were broken by those criminals!). And we uncovered windows that had previously been covered up by drywall.

I chose colors, textures, and materials that would reflect the light but also would be kid-friendly as I have 3 young (and wild!) boys.

One of my favorite decisions was the plaster stairs. The stairs needed to be brought up to code and due to some constraints, the only option for the stairs would be tile (which I didn’t want), carpet (which would have gotten so dirty by our boys!), or plaster. We chose a medium gray plaster color and it hides dirt, isn’t slippery, and is also visually interesting (and fits the Mediterranean style of our home). I have been surprised with how well it has held up to the everyday wear and tear of our family. 

8. Tell us a little bit about your personal style ? Do you have any specific design philosophies that you look to?

My personal style has happily evolved over the years and I’m currently most inspired by intentional minimalism. I admire the “capsule collection” philosophy where you have a minimalist collection of clothes to wear / accessories for the home that you can combine together in a variety of ways. In my home, vessels, candles, chairs, and stools make their way around to all the different rooms throughout the year with different pairings each time. I try to do the same for what I wear. I buy wardrobe staples with clean lines and quiet tones that I can mix and match with the season and occasion. 

 

Isolated n.11

by Canoa Lab

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Arches

by Robert Farber

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9. What are your favorite sources of inspiration?

As cliche as it sounds, I’m always inspired by travel. We recently visited two homes designed by Luis Barragan in Mexico City with guided tours given by local architecture students. They dove deep into Barragan’s intentions for each space and it made me go introspective with my own intentions for my spaces.

 

Flowered Square Vase

by Kristin Yezza

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Lark

by Karen Quirion

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SHOP LAURA'S PICKS