always been

But I never set out to be a photographer. I was (and still am!) going to be a writer. And then as I worked toward that writing goal, someone put a camera in my hand and asked me to try telling stories with something besides words. So with an English nerd's love for character and tone, a romantic's love for poignant beauty, and a realist's love for imperfection, I dove in.

meet LAURA

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always been a

That was back in 2010.

Since that time, photography has changed much of my life. It's brought me some of my dearest friends. It's reshaped the way my husband Danny and I view serving others. It has even literally taken me around the world. One thing that hasn't changed: my soul-stirring desire to tell stories that feel so real you're sure you knew them before you heard them. Or saw them. It's my privilege to tell those stories for my clients, and for the generations of their families still to come.

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On the Mountaintop

Monday, October 8th, 2012

There is something about mountains that makes this Florida girl’s heart sing. I have miles and miles of beaches at my disposal. Ocean views galore. I can get my fill of sand between my toes and salt air in my lungs any time I want — and oftentimes, when I don’t, too. But my heart belongs to the mountains. The summers of my childhood were spent among the rock-slab and evergreen-peppered Alleghenies of western Pennsylvania. A few summers of my teen years included the rolling, lush green Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. Last week, I was in mountains again, just a bit further south, in Georgia.

So I soaked it in — breathed it in deep, like the salt air I can’t escape here in Florida. Every morning, I would walk into my bathroom and peek out the window. Mountains. I would head up to breakfast and glance out across the property, the whitewashed buildings, the tranquil pond. The mountains. When I’m in the mountains, I feel like I’m closer to God — not because of the height, but because so much grandeur and majesty just make me reflect on him.

I did a lot of reflecting on him during the Pursuit 31 conference at the WinShape Retreat last week. One thing I didn’t do any of: Photographing those beautiful mountains! I had my camera with me almost the whole time, but aside from a few headshots I snapped with friends on the last evening, and some random pictures here and there, my lens cap stayed on and my camera stayed in my bag. Oh, I Instagramed here and there (and you can check out everyone’s snaps from the week at #pursuit31conference). But if you looked at my camera, you’d think the entire week boiled down to this:

1.) Spires and European-influenced architecture. (Some of the buildings were converted dairy barns, actually.)2.) Getting business and shooting tips from some amazing photographers I really admire, and now consider friends. (Actually, as evidenced by my lack of pictures, this was a very, very small part of the week.)3.) Taking pretty pictures of each other. (Yup, Corinna looked really, really pretty.)But that’s not even making a dent on the surface of what all really happened last week when 99 women got together from around the country to learn and grow and build.

What if I told you that I watched lives changing right in front of me? Women recommitting themselves to spending time with God and seeking to know him more intimately. Women recommitting themselves to marriages that, while not perfect, are worth fighting for. Women recognizing that God is still in control and still good even when life is hard. Women realizing that our jobs — these photography businesses we hold so dear, even though some days they feel more like demanding taskmasters than our much-loved career — do not and can not define us. Only God can. Or should. Or will bring the satisfaction and acceptance we all so desperately desire.

What if I told you that I watched lifelong friendships begin and mature in those few days? Women sharing stories they’d never told another soul. Women pouring out insecurities they’d been too insecure to whisper aloud. Women finding kindred spirits when they had thought they alone in this whole world had their specific cross to bear.

What if I told you that it wasn’t just those grand, majestic mountains that made God feel so close?

That all still barely makes a dent in the surface of this conference. But something this big is hard to distill into even the most carefully chosen words. I could tell you about all the talks from our speakers — business classes about organizing our offices, managing our time, shooting weddings overseas; worship sessions about finding joy in the Lord, trusting his goodness, listening for God’s bigger-than-we-can-imagine plans. I could tell you about the late nights we spent just relaxing away from our daily lives — the endless supply of popcorn and tea, the conversations about running a photography business and building a house and chasing dreams, the dance party that turned evolved into a pajama party. I could tell you about the menu of Southern comfort food that ensured none of us went home smaller than we had arrived. I could tell you about the glorious harmonies of 99 women — all of whom are apparently professional singers as well as professional photographers — as we lifted our voices in song after song.

But that still wouldn’t adequately describe it.

The only way I can sum it up is this: It was a week that made me long for more. More God. More fellowship. More time spent learning with other like-minded women. It was a week that made me long for heaven.

~ Laura

PS: If you’d like, check out some of the amazing sponsors who helped make this week possible — and some of whom make our business possible, too:

2 Dancing Daanes
Black Rapid
Black River Imaging
Blessed Mama Designs
Foto Strap
Heartworks by Lori
Jo Totes
Kelly Moore Bag
Knits and Knots
Lena Lime
ONA Bags
Organic Bloom
Tello and Rose
Think Tank
Upsy Daisy
Windsong Knits
Zella Shop

  1. Catie Watkins says:

    ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS!!!!! it made me want to go back immediately!!! Love you! 🙂

  2. Laura Yang Photography says:

    I am SO glad I shared those four wonderful days with you wonderful ladies! Can’t wait to see you again next year — and for those of you who couldn’t attend, I so hope to meet you at the 2013 conference!

  3. Kristin Ungerecht says:

    Beautifully said, Laura! So glad I was able to meet and spend some time with you in the mountains. 🙂 <3

  4. Gabrielle von Heyking says:

    so I totally just started tearing up as I read this, you described the conference so beautifully and I am honored that I got to worship alongside someone that has a heart that is as beautiful as yours is! 🙂

  5. Karen Stott says:

    This is ABSOLUTELY beautiful Laura… my heart is so touched by you and I smiled a huge smile seeing my weekly prayer this morning. YOU are such a gift.

  6. Joni James says:

    PERFECT! Absolutely perfect!

  7. Juanita Cannan says:

    I LOVE how you summed it up, that was perfect!

  8. Kristin Layne Peddicord says:

    LOVE! 😀 <3

  9. Rai De Lain says:

    Awesome Pictures! Prayerfully I’ll be able to attend next year ♥.

  10. Rai De Lain says:

    Awesome Picture!

  11. Janell W says:

    Thanks for sharing, Laura. Selfishly, I wanted so badly to be there. I hope it happens again. But I know God is already and will continue to do amazing things with what he’s already done.

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