You could call Margot Landen "old school."
First clue: She likes old movies.
"As a kid, I was obsessed with films," Landen says. "I would watch classics like Gone With the Wind over and over again and I'd pause and watch each frame — each was perfectly shot. It was beautiful storytelling."
Second: She takes pictures with an actual camera (no shade to smartphone users) and shoots on 35mm film (remember that stuff?).
"I was really into photography as a little girl," Landen says. "I saved up about $800 and I went out and bought a Minolta XD11 — I was in sixth grade. I'm a Nikon person now, and I still love shooting on film. ... You just can't duplicate that look in digital format."
And third: She thinks there's no place like home.
"New Orleans has a soul," she says. "It has a heartbeat that beats differently than any other city I've been to or lived in. There's a unity and togetherness here — everyone is passionate about the same things and that's why they don't leave."
Born in New Orleans and raised in Lafayette, Landen is a Louisiana girl despite stints living in Dallas (where she started her photography business) and Los Angeles. Photography gigs such as ad campaigns and weddings have taken Landen as far away as Singapore, but her love for her hometown always draws her back to the South.
Landen provided the photography for John Magill's book The Incomparable Magazine Street, published by locally owned River Road Press in October, just in time for New Orleans' Tricentennial celebration.
Landen had taken official photos for French Quarter Festival (FQF) on and off for four years, which is how she met Marci Schramm. Schramm helmed FQF for nine years before moving on in 2016 to co-manage River Road Press with founder and husband Scott Campbell. When John Magill, a longtime curator at The Historic New Orleans Collection, pitched the idea for a book about Magazine Street to Schramm and Campbell, Schramm knew who to tap for the accompanying photography.
"I took test shots for about a year," Landen says. "I spent about 1,000 hours (on the project) from start to finish."
She says working on a book was always on her dream board, "but it came a lot sooner than I had thought to hope." The book is available at shops all along Magazine Street, including Hazelnut New Orleans and Fleurty Girl.
Landen admits it's easy for photographers to "hide behind the camera," but she hopes to forge an open dialogue between photographers and other artists to create an even more influential product, much like her collaboration with Magill.
"Portraiture is something I'm drawn to," Landen says. "I'm fascinated by that human connection and breaking the seal to get to know someone and pull something out of them that you can't really see. It's impossible to fully capture them, but you can at least get a little love note."
- Photo by Karla Photography
Favorite restaurant: "Coquette."
Guilty pleasure: "Donuts and coffee from District Donuts."
Favorite place to shop: "Billy Reid. My personal style borders on classic chic and tomboy, which is totally the Billy Reid vibe."
Green or red streetcar? "Green."
Cafe Du Monde or Morning Call? "Morning Call. I have so many good memories of interactions with family and friends there."
Personal mantra: "Food, music, football and family."
Watch by Skagen — "If I could sum up my personal style in one object, it would be that watch."
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen — "I have at least a dozen copies all over the place."
Jo Malone cologne
Sugar tinted lip treatment in Rose by Fresh
Sugarfina's Champagne bears
Green tea — "I love No. Six Depot's teas, and the large blue bag of tea is from Japan — my brother brought it back for me. I have no idea what the bag says."
The Incomparable Magazine Street by John Magill
"The experience of working on the book was way more than I could have anticipated. I got to show the love and brag about New Orleans — the city I love the most."