Lauren “Ren” Morrison 

(Southern Methodist)

The International Photographer | 40 Under 40 Class of 2020

FAST FACTS

  • Style Icon
    Lauren Bacall, Grace Kelly and Iris Apfel.
     

  • Vacation Destination
    New York, Paris and Bosnia.
     

  • Favorite Season
    Fall and spring are tied.

GET TO KNOW REN

Ren Morrison has captured nearly every nook and cranny of the world as an international photographer. She’s snapped photos of politicians, executives, hotels, businesses – you name it! Learn more about her jet-setting career in her extended interview.

EXTENDED INTERVIEW

What inspired you to go into this line of work?

I’ve had a camera in my hand since I was little, so my passion began early. I was the yearbook photographer as well as the go-to for my high school’s informational brochures, but the flames were fueled in high school when I participated in my first competition and won top accolades. After attending New York University and graduating from Southern Methodist University with a degree in advertising and a public relations minor, my heart was not with those options. I was fortunate enough to begin working with another photographer and the passion was fueled again. I learned so much, especially the business side, but as the “B” photographer didn’t have much connection with the clients. After two years, I knew it was time to take the leap and go out on my own. I was yearning for that client connection. I was once told that 50% of freelance photographers would fold within their first five years and consider yourself lucky if you make it to 10 years. I knew I had what it took. I’m now in my 13th year.

 

What challenge did you overcome to get where you are today?

Even though it’s cliché to say, my biggest struggle has been learning how to balance my personal and professional life.

 

Did someone help you get to where you are today, like a mentor?

I never had one person specifically guided= me, but I am lucky enough to have had so many incredible people help me along the way. Women from all walks of life, all industries. They are my own personal board of directors. Women who offer advice, guidance on both a personal and business front, women who support me in all aspects of my job.

 

What do you love most about your job?

I’ve been blessed to photograph many C-level executives, former U.S. presidents, foreign dignitaries, celebrities and musicians, as well as weddings, births, album covers, restaurants, galleries and local hotel grand openings across the United States and abroad. To see a baby take it’s first breath, to witness a buttoned-up executive, politician or dignitary laugh when they think they can only be serious, to catch a chef prepare that first meal in the restaurant they’ve dreamed of for so long – it’s all candid magic.

Polka Dots or Stripes

Physical Book or Audiobook

Apple or Android

Left Brain or Right Brain

Describe yourself in three words.

Loyal, conscientious and moxie-driven.

 

Your life philosophy is…

Pablo Picasso said, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” I am constantly trying to learn more and improve myself personally and professionally, but I’m not afraid to step outside the box, break some rules or take a risk. I believe in going for it. You will never fail as much as your fear says you might. And it’s imperative to listen to those who have gone before you. I believe in giving back to others and my community. If at the end of the day you can say that you treated others around you well, did what you love and something you were afraid of, then you had a successful day.

 

What is the best piece of advice you received?

Be kind to everyone you encounter. Write thank-you notes. Look people in the eyes. Always show up. Be genuine.

 

If someone handed you an airline ticket to a place of your choosing, where would you go and why?

I am always up for any adventure anywhere!

 

What’s something you cannot live without?

My pup, Izzi.

Name a book you read that positively shaped you.

“Anne of Green Gables.” By Maud Montgomery. My all-time favorite book. Filled with growth and beautiful imagination.

 

If you weren’t working in the industry that you are, what would you be doing instead?

I can’t imagine doing anything other than being a photographer.

 

How do you unwind or relax after a long day?

I love to sit outside in my oversized sweatshirt and cozy pants, read a good book, have a glass of wine and watch the sunset over downtown and see all the lights come on. It’s gorgeous.

 

The most rewarding aspect of your job is…

The connection I have with my clients is wildly rewarding. They trust me with their most intimate stories of pain and happiness and of dream and fears. They count on me, come to me for vision and I get to be a part of so many incredible journeys. I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

 

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it – metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions – what would it say and why?

“Be kind. You never know who is fighting a harder battle.”

 

In the last five years, what new belief, behavior or habit has most improved your life?

My self-confidence is what has improved the most in the last five years. I no longer diminish my struggles, but I also don't take them too seriously. I know strife visits us all from time to time. I absolutely admit when I am wrong and smile when looking in the mirror knowing I have learned and grown from hard times. Instead of trying to block out certain moments from the past, I embrace them and take them with me as a reminder of how I became who I am today. I always try to remain light-hearted and move through stress and challenges with grace and ease. 

 

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

I love to take a pause and step outside for some deep breaths and fresh air. If I am home, I play with my dog, Izzi or, best of both worlds, take her for a quick walk. After that everything clears up and I am ready again.

 

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be money, time, energy, etc.)

I invest a lot of time in the community around me. I try to be as active as possible and serve others. I found many years ago that putting kindness out into the world is returned in ways you could never have dreamed.

Name a confident woman of character who you look up to? Why her?

This is the easiest question to answer, and the hardest because of the layers of beautiful reasons. My mom is hands-down the most confident woman of character I know. She is fiercely loyal to all, dedicated to everything she does, always shows up for everyone, fights harder than most, stands tall when she’s tired, challenges those around her to be a better person, loves adventure and taught me to travel the world at any opportunity, but also knows how to embrace the moment and relax and take in all the beauty around her.