The person behind the camera is often the unknown factor of an interesting photograph. The vision behind the image, seeing the beauty and knowing how and when to capture it. My wife is a photographer and seeing her in action has made me realize the kind force that inspires and guides this kind of creativity. Much like music, as my good pal Nelson Slater would say, “you’ve really got to sneak up on it,” to capture its true essence. Although, it can also be a very calculated and thought-out process. These types of decisions are key and a good artist will know when to apply these techniques. Today’s featured artist, Bryce Laughlin, is a photographer and musician based in Columbus ,Ohio (after several years in NYC). He specializes in fashion, product images and portraits for editorials and websites. I met Bryce about 15 years ago and he has been an very important part of the ever-evolving Lost Treasures of the Underworld creative output. He is the brains behind screen-printing the first edition of Cheater Slicks “Bats in the Dead Trees” LP’s and then later the photographer and designer of this album’s reissued pro-printed edition. In many ways, he is the guy that helped shape the visual layouts of a lot of the early LT releases. Bryce is also the guitar player in a very cool band called the 10th Generation, Lieutenant Dance (High Fructose Porn Syrup era) and Sorta-Endso. It’s been a long while since we’ve hung out. I hear he has been taking it to the next level and has been doing some amazing work these days! I highly recommend checking out all of his many fantastic creations! And thank you, Bryce, for all of your expertise and helping the label put together some super cool releases!
LT: You’ve been primarily focused on photography all of this time. Much like music, it is not an easy way to make a living. What has following this road been like for you?
BL: It’s been an up and down ride, like a roller coaster. Early on while in college I worked hard to get fashion clients. I was primarily capturing soft-goods for websites and also photographing bands in live venues. I believe that is how we met each other. In winter (maybe in 2008?) you were playing a trumpet on the street with Ryan Mcauley, a.k.a Sgt. Saxophone and Ryan Jewel. I think that winter we were running into each other fairly frequently. That time was a bit of a Columbus music revival coalescing around Cafe Bourbon St. and Bernie’s Bagels (RIP). I worked with you on some projects after I had offered some help with layout in Photoshop on, I can’t remember what project it was, but soon after you asked me to help out with the printing of the Cheater Slicks BITDT release. Everyone’s connection to the annex location of Used Kid’s Records also brought us all together at that time. Around 2009-2010 I was working with Brandon Reichard. He was producing several videos with Times New Viking. I consulted and oversaw the film development on one video. After that I kinda became part of the production team around him. We worked on I think about five videos together during that time. As a splinter off of that we tried to work on a Zombie film in 2010, but it never fully came about. A small piece is some where on YouTube I believe still. Early 2010 my Mother also passed unexpectedly and I left school. In 2014 I moved to Brooklyn and lived there for a year. In 2016 I decided to finally put down proper roots in Columbus, Ohio and split a small studio with another photographer Olivia K. James. Within a year we both knew we needed a larger space with more client curb appeal. At the time I had been helping a neighbor remodel a building close to my apartment. We were able to eventually rent the space from our neighbor and created a new studio in the finished space. That was in January of 2018. In this space we built a studio with all the things we needed to tackle any job and grow as artists. We opened it up under the name Reverie Studio Columbus. Soon after opening, we invited photographer Emma Parker to split the space with us as well. The studio is also available as a rental space for other artists. We are currently working on our basement annex where I hope to have a darkroom for film development and print work built by the end of 2021. Our plans fell behind with the short comings of 2020.
LT: What was it that inspired you to dedicate your life to photography?
BL: In high school my mother was an amateur photographer who was trying to make a go at a professional career, but my family was never very well off and she wasn’t able to get very far. She ended up managing the photo department in our local Supermarket. We always had film around and she was constantly taking photos. My freshman year of high school, I picked up an Olympus Trip 35mm point and shoot style camera. I just started shooting everything around me. I also used an early Olympus digital camera around that time and started working with polaroids. At the time I didn’t really think of photography as an art form. I mostly wanted to become a film director and work in animation. My school had a very limited arts program, so I wasn’t able to get a lot of exposure to that. 3rd year we were able to take black and white film photography and I really enjoyed the process using a manual SLR camera. It wasn’t until I was able to enroll in post-secondary classes though Columbus State Community College working in a college level darkroom that I decided this would be a good career for me. From there I was committed and I just kept working at it.
LT: You once showed me how to develop film in a dark room (at a really cool place in Bushwick). Do you still capture images on film these days?
BL: I work with film almost always. Most of my personal work and family images are shot on film. I try to keep a few cameras loaded with film with me on any job. In 2015 I helped the Bushwick Community Darkroom finish the build out at the 110 Troutman space. Early on I was doing a fair amount of the customer development, splitting with the founder Lucia Rollow and photographer Keith Marlowe. If things had worked out differently I would probably still be in Brooklyn working with the Bushwick Community Darkroom.
LT: I saw you band play a great gig in Williamsburg many years ago. You are an awesome guitar player! Are you still making music these days?
BL: Music has kinda slowed down at the moment. In 2017 a rough cut of an album I made with my band Sorta-Endso was released on Bandcamp. It was a collaborative effort and included the first bassist of Psychedelic Horseshit, Jason Roxas. We both worked on writing the melodies. Currently I’m kinda exploring a more fast and hard style moving toward 70’s, 80’s punk and industrial sounds.
LT: Any new projects you’ve been working on, events or anything online that you’d like to encourage our readers to check out?
BL: Right now I focusing on surviving this economic, viral, and political nightmare. A few things in the works as far as working on creative projects with a friends band by the name of I the Virus. Please check out my website at www.brycelaughlin.com and instagram @brycelaughlinphoto