Here at DC Refined, we consider it our duty to show off D.C. in all its glory. And thankfully, that’s not a hard job. This city is amazing! But it never hurts to get a little help, and seeing the city through another's eyes is the best medicine.
With more than 55,000 followers, Laurie Collins' Instagram presence, @dccitygirl, caught our attention right away. Funny enough, her European travels as a young woman are what inspired her to pick up a camera, but it's her documentation of her hometown -- our fair city -- that have completely captivated us. She's the community manager for the @IGDC team, and her personal account makes us strive to explore even more of the city than we already do!
Without further adieu, it’s time to hand over the mic to Laurie. In the interview below, she offers insight into what prompted her passion for photography, her style, and plenty more.
What first inspired your interest in photography?
I was first inspired with photography when I traveled in Europe in my early 20s. I loved making memories of places I had visited.
When did you pick up your first camera and what was it?
My first camera was a Nikon film camera and I still have it.
What is your camera of choice today?
I love my Sony A7rii and it is my weapon of choice. And I do still use my iPhone X camera on the fly.
What's your favorite type of photography?
I love street photography and capturing city life. To me, it’s important to show Washington, D.C. as I see it on a daily basis. I want it to be different than what you would expect, for example, from a tourist site.
How would you describe your photography style?
Like any artist, my focus points change over time. It’s photojournalistic at this moment. It started with micro photos of insects and flowers. With encouragement to “look up” I began taking more photos of people, landscapes, and architecture. I like to let people know what my city is really all about with a touch of information that they might not find in travel sites. I try to provide an inside look at the beauty of each neighborhood in my city.
What photo are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the picture I took in Rock Creek Park. The roads were all closed and I had to hike a few miles to get where I was going. Along the way, I stopped at this bridge to take a break and decided to capture it.
What is your coolest or most memorable experience while shooting?
I was more than excited to have the pleasure of early access to the Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirror Exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum. When I stepped into each installation, I lowered my camera down and just stared. It had to be the most amazing experience I’ve had because I almost forgot why I was there. The colors were dazzling and the opportunity was priceless as a photographer.
Who or what is at the top of your photography bucket list?
I’d like to travel to London and spend a week walking the city streets, photographing the city and people, and soak in all the old architecture.
Where are your five favorite places to photograph in the DMV area?
Lately it has been neighborhoods, neighborhoods, neighborhoods—did I mention I love to walk around all the different neighborhoods? The combination of the different architecture, beauty and colors make for delicious photos. I love landmarks and memorials and I try to visit them at different times of day and during different seasons because the light changes and the number of people change with the seasons. Of course, the Tidal Basin is a favorite for me during peak cherry blossom season. It’s always a guessing game about their peak and I refer to it as “chasing the blossoms.” My network of friends like to let me know if they’ve seen trees in bloom so I can capture them. I return to McKee Besher’s in Poolesville, Maryland, annually to photograph the sunflowers. Despite the snakes, mosquitoes and bugs, it is just something I have to do. The towering field of sunflowers are calling out to be photographed. Rock Creek Park, and especially Boulder Bridge is a favorite spot. Rock Creek Park is respite from the city, right in the middle of D.C., and many tourists don’t know it’s there; wildlife, a rushing creek, old buildings, fields of autumn leaves, a heavy forest, all right in the middle of D.C.
Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers?
Shoot what makes you happy. You have to like your own pictures. Trust that with each experience your eye will improve and you will start to see things around you as potential photographs. Don’t be afraid to take more pictures than you need. It often takes lots of attempts, from different angles and heights, to capture what you actually see.
What's one of your hobbies outside of photography?
I’ve been known to play a mean game of mahjong which I play once a week with girlfriends. My daughter is an active hiker and sometimes I travel with her to beautiful places that are out of my comfort zone but are just magical. I am Greek so I do love to cook.
Don't forget to scroll back to the top to see some of our favorite selections of Laurie's work.You can see more of her photography on her Instagram @dccitygirl.