MEET FOOD PHOTOGRAPHy Studio Owner: LAURYN MANDRYK / by Julia-Marie Reyes

Picture island life, relaxing, and tranquil. Surrounded by blue waters, sun bathing with your fur pal Johnny Cakes. Sounds like the perfect vacation. Now, picture the life of a business woman. Fast paced and full of adventure. Luckily adventure is Lauryn's middle name. Who else could move to an island to live and seamlessly run a business remotely? Only this beautiful, positive gem could merge wander lust and entrepreneurship. Surrounded by talented photographers, she fell into her passion for food photography, giving birth to We Are Angry Sheep. Lauryn's background in management, planning, and production has made her a true success. We are so thrilled to share Lauren's fearless attitude and her secret Triscuit Nachos! 

Tell us about your art and how you got involved with photography.

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If you told me 10 years ago that my future self would own a Food Photography Production Studio, I would have reminded you that the only camera I own is on my phone, and that I live on Dunkin Donuts breakfast sandwiches & Triscuit nachos and have zero interest in who takes the photos that make me salivate at the thought of them.   But here I am!   

I entered the industry as a rep for stylists and hair & makeup artists; a role I didn’t know existed until I interviewed for it.  Here, I met my mentor & learned the many pieces of the photoshoot puzzle & how to wrangle them into one big pretty picture.  Later, I wrote & produced fashion shoots for local magazines, ultimately finagling my way onto the masthead as Fashion & Beauty Editor.  When the mag industry took a hit, I was surrounded by awesome photographers looking for representation & taking it as a sign, Angry Sheep was born.  After 2 or so years of managing multiple photographers, I connected with Food Photographer Gary Tardiff, a true authority in the field.  Gary & our food clients were so refreshing and in a moment where I wanted to simplify my life, I decided to re-brand into the niche market of Food & Beverage Photography and focus the business around Gary & his expert crew.  Now, Angry Sheep is a highly specialized team of Food & Beverage Photo professionals, producing advertising, packaging & menu photography for brands worldwide.

My role as a producer/creative liaison isn’t so much an art—unless you consider the mastery of the checklist an art form.  I like to think that my job lets the artists be artists; without the distraction of logistics, bids, marketing, emails, schedules, call sheets & invoices.  And even though I now live in flip-flops, I still eat Triscuit nachos & pretend I’m back in Boston kicking off Prada platforms after a long night out schmoozing at a fashion event (recipe: Triscuits, shredded cheese, microwave 30 seconds, add sour cream & salsa and serve in bed with an ice cold beer.  Just trust me on this one).  

What was a pivotal moment for your photography career?

Oh man, I don’t think I have one...Maybe my big moment hasn’t happened yet!?  For the most part, my career has been a completely unexpected & unplanned evolution.  Half the time I didn’t know what I was doing was a real job until I was doing it.

Most recently, my career took on a mega-change.  After a life is too short moment, my hubs & I decided we didn't want to be stressed & cold any more and said F* it, we are moving to an island.  Running Angry Sheep remotely is a new challenge, but I welcome it every day when I wake up to that view.

What has been your favorite set to work on? Why?

I have always enjoyed working on fashion shoots.  I love the thrill & responsibility of predicting the next big trend.  And the clothes!  Food may not be as glamorous, but the people I work with every day are amazing—so down to earth despite their unbelievable talent & success.  I don’t have to be on set as often anymore, but if I had to choose a day to be there, it would have to be a day where we are shooting ice cream!  

What is one of your proudest moments in your career?

I definitely think seeing my name on the masthead & bylines of magazines was the ultimate “I did it!” moment.   That one I had actually visualized for years.  I’ll also never forget the first time I saw Angry Sheep’s work in a store; it was an in store promotional poster for New Balance that happened to be our first booking.  Nowadays, since the re-brand to Food Photography, it never gets old seeing our photos on billboards, menus & packages on supermarket shelves.  It’s especially rewarding when the product makes it all the way down to the shelves of St. Croix!  

What are some other things you enjoy when you aren’t shooting?

There is a reason we chose island life…essentially, when we aren’t working we are on vacation.  I love anything beach related—hiking to them, snorkeling around them, laying on them with a frosty beverage.  So, we do a lot of that.  We being my husband Jason, who I fall in love with ten times over every day and Johnny Cakes, winner of the world’s cutest puppy award.   As a child of two former travel agents, I can’t get enough travel in my life.  We are perpetually planning our next adventure.  

What is your favorite part about being on set?

Honest answer: the catering.  The close second is watching a group of oftentimes strangers coming together to bring a super specific & unique vision lodged deep in someones brain to life in the perfect photo.

What does #createmoments mean to you?

#createmoments to me means making every minute count.  If someone took a snapshot of your life right this second, would it be a reflection of your dreamiest dream life?  Why not?  Plate every meal like it’s going to grace the pages of Bon Apetit.  Make every night date night.  Drink your morning coffee out of a mug that makes you smile.  To me, #createmoments means turning the word minute--a measure of time--into moment--a minute so beautiful it can’t help but become a memory.   Yes, I can hear how cheesy I sound and I 100%  have days that are anything BUT picture perfect, but when I have the patience to create, live in & savor the moment, I am a happier person.

What is one thing your fans may not know about you?

I have a tattoo on the back of my neck of my lifelong, mother-given mantra: “ free from fear”.  So badass (not really, I’m scared of anything that crawls; sometimes including children).  My mom has always told me to live life fearlessly; love without the fear of heartbreak, try without the fear of failure. It’s a constant reminder to go big or go home, do it fully & fearlessly or not at all.  And whenever I feel myself reeling it in & questioning my confidence, I think “Lauryn, it’s written on your damn body for life, you better live it!”.  

What advice can you provide for future photographers? 

As a planner, this career advice goes against every fiber of my body, but I could use the reminder anyway.  Don’t plan; follow what feels natural & right.  Are you determined to be a fashion photographer, but your fashion photos keep coming out like crap?  Let go of what you think you should be & your actual brilliance will show itself.  When I was a kid, I wanted to be the next Claudia Schiffer; I was destined to be in magazines.  Turns out, I would be, I just had to embrace that it was in a different way.  As you can probably gather by now, in life, I am a total hippie dippy when it comes to visualization.  Picture your happiest self, your perfect day & visualize it.  Meditate on it every day.  The world will figure out a way to get you there.  One of my quotes that I am marinating in right now: “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself”.

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Check out Lauryn in action:

Bookings: We are Angry Sheep

Instagram:@angrysheepfoodphoto

Twitter:@weareangrysheep

Linked In: @angrysheepfoodphoto

Facebook: @angrysheepfoodphoto