“They say youstart out shooting what’s directly around you,” saysphotographer Lauren Dukoff. In her case, it just happened to be artistand folk singer Devendra Banhart, with whom she’s been bestfriends ever since a high school English teacher noted their similarwriting styles and introduced them. Blessed with unprecedented access tothe photogenic neo-hippie during his rise to fame, Dukoff built herportfolio traipsing through Topanga Canyon with Banhart and his merryband of indie musicians.
Dukoff was raised in Malibu, California inan artistic household: Her mother works for the Santa Monica Museum ofArt and her father is a director and a photographer. Mostly self-taught,Dukoff credits her mentor, photographer Autumn De Wilde, as a guidingforce. De Wilde, in turn, compliments Dukoff’s ability to gain hersubjects’ trust: “She is extraordinarily observant withoutmaking people feel watched or hunted.”
Dukoff’sstripped-down imagery is steeped in nostalgia; one almost expects along-haired John Lennon to walk into the frame. Conjuring thisclassic-rock era comes with its own anachronistic methods—Dukoffshoots with film and a Mamiya 645—and a sense of responsibility tocarry the flame for “rock doc” photography. Her photos havebeen published in Rolling Stone and Spin and were recentlyexhibited at the Hammer Museum. She says the show was great, except forone thing: “There were a lot of penises and my grandparents werethere.” 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 thismoment will be preserved as a sort of public photo album for her and herfriends. “When you find someone you connect with, you hold ontothem tight,” she says. Or, in Dukoff’s world, you take aphoto.