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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Going Into Your Portrait Session with Confidence — Even if You Dont Feel Like a Model

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

With a whole bunch of portrait sessions scheduled for the next couple weeks, I’ve been thinking about the most common concerns I hear from clients before/as we work together. Frequently, people are nervous about having their pictures taken. Confession time: I am one of those people.

What it all comes down to, really, is that most of us just aren’t that comfortable in front of the camera . . . and frequently that’s because we aren’t all that comfortable with ourselves. But with a little pre-planning, and a little help from your photographer, your portrait session should be a fun experience — and here are my top three tips for how to prepare yourself mentally to make that happen.
Daytona Beach family portrait photographer1.) You Don’t Have to be a Model to Look — and Feel — Great in Your Portraits

Years ago, I had a client anxiously tell me, “All your couples look like models. We’re not models!” I told her the truth: many previous clients had told me the same thing. And it was their pictures she’d been looking at when she told me my other subjects looked like models.

What did all those other “model” clients have in common? They enjoyed their portrait sessions. I feel very strongly that it’s my job to keep my subjects relaxed, help ease any tension from being in front of the camera, and keep my subjects’ thoughts on each other or our conversation — and eventually, the camera becomes almost an afterthought. You know the Audrey Hepburn quote that says “Happy girls are the prettiest girls”? Well, happy subjects are the most photo-ready subjects. That’s why I want to make sure my clients have a great time when they’re in front of my camera. I can’t necessarily change anyone’s personal body image, but if I can make your eyes light up as you smile, I hope your happiness will be the first and most important thing you notice about yourself in your portraits.

(But when it comes to feeling good about the way you look, your wardrobe can play  a big role in that. Check out my wardrobe tips here.)
View More: http://laurayangphotography.pass.us/avaandscott2.) Set Achievable Expectations — So We Can Meet and Exceed Them

A few days ago, I had an equestrian photo shoot that involved one woman and her two hot-blooded thoroughbred horses. The two horses don’t exactly like each other, and so putting them together for pictures was just a little dicey. Before we began shooting, I offered this promise: I would treat the horses like toddlers. In general, we don’t expect too much of toddlers. We cut them some slack, let them take breaks, encourage them when they’re sad or upset or flustered. And we can’t forget that about young children (or in this case, horses) during a photo shoot. Honestly, we can’t forget that adults need to be cut slack, given breaks, and encouraged. I can’t forget that as the photographer — but my subjects need to remember that about themselves, too.

Nearly every time I’m going to photograph a family with small children, the parents warn me that their kids might not be so easy to photograph. But that’s just the nature of kids being kids! So I let parents with young children know up front that my goal is to capture only one or two shots of everyone smiling into the camera. That’s the traditional “over the mantle” portrait. If we can get more than one or two of those, great! If not — also great. When I’m photographing groups or couples, I want to spend most of each session focused on capturing relationships and interactions. Those photographs nearly always end up being my clients’ favorites, anyway. And in the process, I want to set meet-able expectations so my clients begin each session feeling confident they can do this, without worrying that they will let themselves (or me!) down.
Daytona Beach family photographer3.) Remember We’re Our Own Worst Critics, and Our Flaws Aren’t What We — or Our Families — Will Remember

I’m as quick as anyone to pick apart how I look in a photograph. But I’ve also realized that, twenty years from now, I won’t see the same things when I look at a picture of myself at age thirty.

When you look at photographs of yourself as a child or teenager, do you feel shame or sadness as you tabulate your youthful flaws — the newly-grown-in big teeth that were too large for your face, the scabs on your knees, the ungainliness from a growth spurt, the blemished skin? Instead of judging yourself for your flaws, I’ll bet what you really notice are things far more important to who you were at that point in time. Maybe you see innocent exuberance. Or curiosity. Or mischief about to be made. Or endearing teenage awkwardness. Maybe you see a lot of your own child in yourself.

Why would we think the same wouldn’t hold true in another twenty years when we’re looking back on portraits of ourselves as (slightly younger) adults?

In this age of taking a hundred selfies to get one “acceptable” shot, we’re quick to forget — but portraits, real portraits, are as much for posterity as they are for making us feel good about ourselves. Of course we want to like how we look in photographs, and as I said up top, making sure people look and feel good is a responsibility I take seriously as a photographer. But feeling that we look imperfect in a picture now doesn’t mean we won’t love and cherish that same image then. Or that our families will treasure. “Imperfections” and all.

On that note, I’ll end with a picture of Danny and me. Because I’m not always confident being in front of the camera. But I really, really value having photographs that capture love. And silliness. And friendship. And those are all things I prioritize over looking “perfect.”
View More: http://laurayangphotography.pass.us/staugustine2015~ Laura

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