Family Photographer Interview | Gallery by Laura

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My friend Laura is a photographer in Summerville, SC, and we recently had a chat about all things family photography. We've known each other for about 6 years. I think we met at a portrait photography workshop, and have worked together several times on surprise proposals and events I needed a second shooter for. Photographers generally work alone and it's so important to have a community of other photographers to chat with, to be able to call when you need help, etc. I'm lucky to have Laura as both a friend and a colleague. Please enjoy this interview with Laura!

Sarah: How long have you been taking family photos?

Laura: In 2008, I knew I needed to quit my job in advertising because I was screaming in my car everyday after work. We were expected to work from home and check on accounts during holidays, one girl was asked to move her wedding because it fell on Black Friday. As a photographer I'm often working odd hours, but now I do it out of love! I needed a job that mattered to me and made a difference in people's lives. I quit my job to become an au pair in Germany (live-in nanny), I love kids!) I wanted to spend a year thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. That turned into a disaster, and I ran away! I spent 6 months burning through my savings in Europe, but I got to do my first newborn session in Germany.

When I returned to America, the economy had crashed so I didn't even bother looking for another full-time job. I worked at a portrait studio in the mall while I worked on building "Gallery by Laura Photography". I had a particular session that changed my thinking on photography. A family had gathered from all over the country to be photographed with their great-grandmother. She was taking a break from chemo and meeting her great-granddaughter for the first time. It hit me really hard, job was important to this family. It wasn't just about creating fun, pretty pictures anymore, I was documenting people's stories. I still have a picture from their photo session to remind me of why I do this.

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Sarah: What advice do you have for families looking to hire a new photographer for their family portraits?

Laura: Check for personality and consistency in their work! If you are looking to hire a photographer, talk to at least 2-3. Talk to them on the phone, see if you are a good fit for each other. Ask questions! You are paying for a luxury service, you should feel confident and comfortable with your photographer. I love when people tell me that talking with me put them at ease about photos!

Sarah: What questions should people ask their photographer before they hire them?

Laura: I am the one who should be asking the questions! I enjoy the discovery process of finding out why these photos are happening. Family photos are personal, the more I know about a family, the more I can show the special relationships within the family. I know the most important photo is the group shot, quickly followed by the grandparents with grandbabies!

Sarah: What kinds of products do you offer?

Laura: I love helping people use their photos! I offer collections that are designed for large families to share and make sure their prints get on the wall. A lot of time photos will stay online and never be put to use. My most popular option is a display box of matted prints. This way you have a finished piece of artwork right away. Sometimes it can arrive at your home before you do. It's a win-win and I do all the work for you!

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Sarah: Any tips to help families to have a successful session?

Laura: I always help families decide on what to wear. When people want me to help choose their clothing, it tells me that they are invested in the process and are looking for something memorable. These are always my best photos! A lot of people visit Charleston on vacation and have family members coming together from all over. I always give tips on how to coordinate clothes without making everyone wear the same thing. I want to help the "Moms" first and foremost. Let's be honest, they are the driving force behind these photos! If mom doesn't like how she looks in the pictures, then what's the point?!

If you are doing a family session while on vacation, try to schedule at the beginning of the week before you are sunburnt! I always reserve two days for the family so that if we have to reschedule our session because of weather we aren't messing up dinner reservations. Food is serious business in Charleston! I always send my recommendations for attractions and restaurants so families can maximize their visit!

Sarah: Where can people find out more info about your business? Laura: The best way to reach me is through my website

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