A few Saturdays ago, I met up for a shoot and brunch with my friend Lauren (Listor), who is the owner of Laurel Creative Photography (but please don’t call her Laurel). I feel as if only fellow Laurens would know this, but the name Lauren originates from the Latin word for “laurel tree”, which was used as a symbol of victory, fame, and honor. And since Lauren has become so esteemed in the blogging/influencer community, it’s the perfect name for her business!
I’ve been working with Lauren for about a year and a half, and we’ve become really good friends, especially because we live so close to each other in NJ. I really wanted to sit down with Lauren and ask her a few questions, so her clients and those just interested in her work can learn a bit more about her – she’s one of the best people I know, and one of the most talented. Read her interview and check out her work and I know you’ll agree! P.S. – photographs by yours truly with editing by Laurel Creative, at Turning Point Hoboken (how good do those breakfast nachos look?!)
When did you first decide to pursue photography, and why?
My decision to pursue photography started when I was a senior in high school and took senior portraits of eight girls in my class. In change, that led to shooting a wedding, which led to a another wedding… and another… And the snowball effect continued into portraits, and now fashion!
How would you categorize your work? What is your style?
I would say that I am a “natural light Wedding and Fashion photographer”. I also photograph events, editorial pieces, and styled shoots!
How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
I picked up a camera for the first time in middle school and am mainly self-taught. I was also fortunate to have had a Photoshop class in High School which allowed me to learn a few editing techniques. I started shooting weddings in 11th grade and learning mostly by doing! I also majored in Graphic Design and minored in Photography at Liberty University. Leveraging those photography classes was beneficial, but honestly, most of my photography skills have been self taught and come from A LOT of trial and error.
Among your career, which image, or set of images, is your favorite? Why?
Oh gosh, that’s a tough one! It’s SO hard to choose a favorite. I would have to say my favorite wedding I’ve ever shot was Fran & Dave’s wedding this past fall.
In terms of fashion, I can answer that simply by saying all of the photos on my Instagram are my favorite images! I try to post at least one favorite photo from every shoot I do. I consider my Instagram my highlight reel.
Whose work has influenced you most? Who or what inspires you?
I had the privilege of attending a National Geographic photography course in San Francisco during my senior year at Liberty. MY teacher was the world-renowned photographer Joe Mcnally. His fashion/editorial work is amazing and his knowledge of flash is incredible. I learned so much that week in San Fransisco.
My other photographer influence is 100% Stephanie Parsley. I had been following her for years on Instagram (I don’t even remember how I found her) but have always been inspired by her natural light photography, beautiful bold editing, and styled shoots. I totally fan-girled over her when I saw that she was in NYC for a week last spring, and was able to meet up with her and chat for a bit. Her work inspires me to break out of the photography box, put your model in something totally BOLD and CRAZY, and photograph it! I’m always inspired by her work and would love to collaborate with her one day.
What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
Hmm… man, Lauren, coming in clutch with the tough questions! I wish I had known HOW MUCH WORK photography is. It may seem effortless and easy from the outside, but what you don’t see is how many days I’ll work from 7AM to 7PM. I wish I knew how much hard work was ahead of me. But in the end, it’s so so so worth it.
What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started shooting bloggers?
I wish I had known how many outfits on average a blogger can shoot in an hour. It took me a while to figure out how many outfits I could quickly and efficiently do!
Among all the equipment you own, is there something you wish you hadn’t bought? Why?
I currently shoot with a Nikon d4 (camera body) and Sigma 35mm 1.4 art lens, which are my FAVORITE gear. I’d have to say that at first I thought that making little jumps from better camera to better camera was a good idea. In hindsight, I should have just made the PLUNGE years ago to the camera I have now. It would have made a huge quality difference and I think I’d be a year ahead of where I am now.
What is your favorite program for editing photos?
Adobe Lightroom! I have my own preset that gives all of my photos the same vibe
How do you balance working and shooting?
I work a part-time graphic design job for a creative company, roughly 9-2 daily. I do a before work shoot 7:30-8:30 AM (I know right, so early) every day. And then I shoot after work until sunset every day! The days are super long but worth it. I am absolutely in love with what I do.
What are your career goals?
I have recently been trying to verbalize my goals to make sure they are attained. I recently told my husband Erik, “I need to speak my goals more often… I’m saying it now, I want to shoot/get my work featured with Old Navy”. I feel as though my photographs/style align well with their campaigns and I feel like it would be a great fit (I also just LOVE that store)!
One of my goals for Laurel Creative EVENTUALLY is to have my own small office so that I can work somewhere besides my home and am forced to work normal hours. The tricky part about working from home part-time and having a small business, is that it’s tempting to randomly edit in the evenings or weekends. That’s not a good work life balance. I actually try not to do fashion photo shoots on the weekends (despite everyone’s dismay) because a good work life balance and down time is SO important for life and the creative process! I want to continue having interns, and maybe even a full time employee at some point down the road!
Do you plan on teaching? Do you currently teach (interns)?
Yes! I would LOVE to hold a few workshops in the future to teach bloggers how to take better photos in their apartments when they have low light! I currently have three interns, and I love showing them the ropes to photography! I could talk about photography for ages, so teaching is definitely down the road.
What’s the one thing that bloggers (or just clients in general) should never do when working with a photographer? AKA biggest pet peeve, girl
When working with photographers: Be patient. Most of us have “normal” jobs with our photography and our lives are a balancing act. Patience for photos is key!
Also, COMMUNICATE! It’s much easier for you to check your outfit/hair/makeup/background/ANYTHING before we start shooting then to Photoshop it out of 50 photos after. So communicate if you want something changed prior to shooting.
Another important thing…ALWAYS trust them and respect their art. DON’T just hire a professional photographer because they have a nice camera and you want to control the whole shoot. Hire a photographer because you like their photography/style/vibe/editing and not just because we have a “nice camera”.
Is there anyone that you haven’t worked with that you would like to in the future?
I would love to shoot with the Youtuber @alisha (Alisha Marie). I’ve been keeping up with her videos and vlogs since high school. I love her fun style and I think she would be so fun to shoot!
I would also love to take some couple photos of Joanna and Chip Gaines from the show Fixer Upper. I love seeing their genuine love towards each other on the show! I would love to take their couple photos on their farm in Texas! Would be the sweetest shoot!
What were some surprising places you got to shoot at in the past year?
Love this question! I shot at The Gershwin Theatre, a fire escape, so many beautiful NYC apartments, on a merry-go-round, and on the Manhattan bridge.
Travel plans for 2017?
YES! I love to travel for shoots, and I also travel for weddings! I’ll be headed to Miami, LA, Dallas, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Philly, and Boston!
What’s a website and/or blog you visit often?
I love Everygirl, as well as Pinterest (so much photo shoot inspiration!), and I also genuinely read my clients’ blogs!
What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue photography?
Find yourself a mentor, and second, shoot as much as possible. You learn from doing, so never put down your camera and do as many photo shoots as you can fit into one day.
Okay, last question is a fun question. What’s your favorite movie of all time?
About Time, The Parent Trap (for those of you who don’t know, I’m a twin!), and Monster’s Inc.
I hope you enjoyed learning more about Lauren, definitely check out her work here.