Groove down Rakastella memory lane with Miami photographer Lauren Morell’s whimsical photo gallery

Photo by Andres Caro

You may have spotted Lauren Morell DeCanio’s wispy hair bobbing across a packed Miami dance floor, her small-frame zig-zagging through the sweaty crowd as she dexterously documents candid moments of love and laughter.

The Magic City-native is a nightlife photographer who cut her teeth shooting shows around town, despite her FIU film professor’s concern that she was using too much symmetry in her work. Instead of heeding her naysayer teacher’s warnings, DeCanio pressed on with unflappable vision and made that symmetry a staple throughout her portfolio. 

Dixon @ Rakastella 2019

Her instinct for anticipating when a DJ is about to full-throttle behind the decks, coupled with her ability to capture the twinkle in a musician’s eye, earned her the role of leading Rakastella’s media team during the 2019 festival.

We spoke to DeCanio about her background, creative process, and quarantine playlist, and asked her to curate a gallery of her favorite Life and Death photos.

Rakastella 2018

Tell us about your path to becoming a photographer.

The world of photography started incredibly innocently for me – my father gave me his Canon EOS Rebel film camera when I was a kid and kind of just said: “Go crazy.” I very naturally dove into the world of photography and absolutely fell in love. I purchased my first high quality digital full frame camera, and since then my collection hasn’t stopped growing – from polaroid, 35mm and 120mm film cameras, Super 8… the list really does go on. 

WillsPickled b2b Soul Clap and Danny Daze @ Rakastella 2019

How has your artistic process changed or shifted during quarantine? 

This is a tough one. My muse has and will always be live events, and the small fleeting moments within that world. Quarantine very clearly got in the way of that, but I’ve been able to shift my focus to areas of production that I never felt I had time for. I’m grateful to be honing down on video editing skills with a production company that focuses on commercial work. Silver linings, baby!

Life and Death’s clothing collection, Miami 2020

You’re in the studio working on your next project. What music are you listening to?

I made a point to venture into some styles of music I normally wouldn’t listen to during quarantine. A lot of rap, rock, and some ambient vibes. My go-to’s at the moment are OutKast, Against All Logic, Smino, or the INVT boys. Specifically – Last Land by John Talabot makes me feel all sorts of ways. 

Marie Davidson @ Rakastella 2019

How did you connect with the Life and Death team?

I was working with the Minimax marketing team in preparation for Rakastella 2019, and in a clutter of email threads, I “e-met” a majority of the LAD team. Though one celebratory night, as we closed in on preparations for Rakastella, I finally met Becks for dinner at Fooqs. We’ve been scheming ever since. 

Kristian Beyer b2b Dixon @ Rakastella 2018

What’s your favorite Rakastella memory?

It may sound cliche, but there really are too many to count. One moment I will never forget: Rakastella 2019 during the insane b2b2b2b sunrise set where pretty much every artist on the lineup took turns playing – I took a second from the mainstage and ventured to the beach, where hundreds of people were sitting watching the sunrise. It was the beauty of the people, who were all smiling with a soft orange hue on their face from the rising sun, and then this beautiful music playing nearby. One of those “wow, take it all in” kind of moments. 

Sunrise b2b All Star set @ Rakastella 2019

Life and Death just turned 10, what would you like to wish us? 

Life and Death is one of those labels that’s always up to something crazy and new. I wish LAD nothing but the best, and to keep thinking big. There are boundaries that need to be pushed, and I’m sure LAD has got it covered.

Frank Wiedemann @ Rakastella 2019
Dixon @ Rakastella 2019
Lauren Morell shooting Life and Death’s clothing collection, Miami 2020