Images help tell photographer's tale of things she loves

Lauren Pond (laurenpondphoto.com) is a documentary artist who specializes in religion. She is the manager of Downtown's Fresh A.I.R. (Artists in Recovery) Gallery, and the multimedia producer for the American Religious Sounds Project, an audio-based research initiative led by Ohio State and Michigan State universities. She published her first book, Test of Faith, with Duke University Press in 2017. Pond has lived in Ohio for six years and resides in Beechwold with her two parrots. Here are a few things she loves (accompanying images by Lauren Pond).

Photographing religion
I don't come from a particularly religious background, but on some level I think that's what motivates me to photograph religion. I enjoy learning about people of backgrounds different from my own, and the camera allows me to connect with and portray them in a nuanced and personal way. I see photography not just as a form of documentation, but as an opportunity for dialogue and understanding.

Birds
I am an only child, and I think my parents compensated for that with pets: I grew up with a menagerie of dogs, cats, hermit crabs, fish, horses and other creatures. However, from early on, I felt a special connection with birds, especially parrots. Not only are they very intelligent, but they are emotionally complex, just like people. I enjoy learning about their personalities and earning their trust and affection. I now have two of my own: a Senegal parrot named Nubbins and a cockatiel named Sable.

The Columbus art scene
When I moved to Columbus, I did not expect to find such a vibrant art scene. I've been thrilled to meet and learn from a supportive community of artists practicing in a host of different mediums. I think there is palpable synergy here, too, and I know I've been inspired in my own work through collaborations with other artists. I also appreciate what the city has done to make the arts visible and accessible, as well as the number of funding and exhibit opportunities available.

Swimming/water sports
As a native of Southern California, I think I was destined to be in the water. I used to swim competitively and play water polo in high school. Now I swim laps (about four miles each week), mainly for my well-being. It's great exercise for the entire body, and the rhythmic breathing helps calm my mind.

Homemade mead
I discovered mead about a decade ago while photographing a Norse pagan community. In this particular culture, mead is considered a sacred drink, and it is used both in ritual and fellowship. Since then, I've observed and participated in the mead-brewing process, as well as tasted the results. I've learned that mead is not just “honey wine,” but a delicacy made with diligence and creativity. I enjoy its rich and varied flavors — even more so because I know the time and effort that goes into producing them.