Laura Brunow Miner is the founding editor of Pictory, an online photojournalism magazine that publishes big photographs grouped into stories. Anyone can submit one large, captioned image to each of Pictory’s editorial themes, from the moving, to the epic, to the stomach churning. In addition to her dayjob Laura also builds creative communities. Inspired by Foo camp, the annual American hacker event hosted by publisher O’Reilly Media, she has established Phoot camp, an annual creative retreat for photographers, and Eat Retreat for leaders in the Food Community.
I met her at the 2011 Do Lectures where we talked, clutching cups of tea on a blustery Welsh afternoon. I loved her focus on catalysing creative communities, her philosophy of the more you give the less you feel you need to take & always asking “what can I bring to this situation?”
THE LESSON: impulse control. Like many designers, I’ve always had a tendency towards obsessiveness, but getting a puppy last winter has helped change that. When you watch your teenage dog fixate on something she’s not supposed to (creepily stalking another puppy or staring down the cats) and just pray that she’ll let it go, it teaches you a lot about your own behavior. It’s helped me move on really quickly from inevitable issues like personal conflicts, getting overly attached to plans, professional disappointments, etc. I’ve realized, “I don’t need to win, I just need to keep moving.”
THE QUESTION: “How do I find peace in a system that’s so broken? Or are we even supposed to?”I’m feeling especially unsettled lately by the amounts of consumption and pollution around us. It’s a tough issue everywhere, but especially for communities that don’t have the resources for things like city-wide composting, or even recycling. It feels daunting, but I think a personal step I can take is to focus on buying things second-hand or from small, trustworthy producers — even though it requires breaking my cycle of cheap clothing addiction!
THE INSPIRATION: I’ve gotten a lot out of Creative Mornings, the lecture series for creative professionals started by Tina Roth Eisenberg, and my favorite one is from super talented photographer and storyteller Andrew Zuckerman. In his talk, He shares stories of talking his way into getting to interview folks like Nelson Mandela, and how anyone can be a good interviewer if you’re genuinely curious about the other person.