Lauren Dukoff

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“They say you
start out shooting what’s directly around you,” says
photographer Lauren Dukoff. In her case, it just happened to be artist
and folk singer Devendra Banhart, with whom she’s been best
friends ever since a high school English teacher noted their similar
writing styles and introduced them. Blessed with unprecedented access to
the photogenic neo-hippie during his rise to fame, Dukoff built her
portfolio traipsing through Topanga Canyon with Banhart and his merry
band of indie musicians.

Dukoff was raised in Malibu, California in
an artistic household: Her mother works for the Santa Monica Museum of
Art and her father is a director and a photographer. Mostly self-taught,
Dukoff credits her mentor, photographer Autumn De Wilde, as a guiding
force. De Wilde, in turn, compliments Dukoff’s ability to gain her
subjects’ trust: “She is extraordinarily observant without
making people feel watched or hunted.”

Dukoff’s
stripped-down imagery is steeped in nostalgia; one almost expects a
long-haired John Lennon to walk into the frame. Conjuring this
classic-rock era comes with its own anachronistic methods—Dukoff
shoots with film and a Mamiya 645—and a sense of responsibility to
carry the flame for “rock doc” photography. Her photos have
been published in Rolling Stone and Spin and were recently
exhibited at the Hammer Museum. She says the show was great, except for
one thing: “There were a lot of penises and my grandparents were
there.” This year, Chronicle Books will publish Family,
Dukoff’s photos of Banhart and his loose-knit hippie collective.
As she pages through the golden-lit spreads, Dukoff marvels that this
moment will be preserved as a sort of public photo album for her and her
friends. “When you find someone you connect with, you hold onto
them tight,” she says. Or, in Dukoff’s world, you take a
photo.

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