In a time of Instagram, when perfectly styled homes, children, outfits, and even color palettes appear to be ubiquitous, documentary photographer Laura Beth Davidson’s photos are like a breath of fresh air. This November, we are proud to partner with Laura Beth and hope to inspire you on your own photography journey.
Keep reading to hear more about how Laura Beth got started, her photography philosophy, and her best photo tips. Hint: you don’t need a fancy DSLR or a perfectly curated home to take great photos!
Why and when did you start making photographs?
Like many other moms, I first picked up a camera and began to enter the world of photography when my first daughter was a little over a year old. I wanted to take better photos of her, but I did not really expect for photography to become any more than a simple hobby. But the more I learned, the more I became consumed with the art of composition and light and color and storytelling. I have now been making photos for 7 years, and it is truly my passion. I finally feel like I am making photographs and not just “taking pictures”.
When did it become your profession and what would you say your mission is?
I am quite introverted, and in the beginning, I said I would never take clients or go into business: the idea of posing or directing clients still makes me cringe. When I discovered documentary photography, however, I found a niche that would allow me to make meaningful photographs of families without having to showcase just how awkward I am with other people. Documentary photography is all about capturing authentic moments as they happen, and as I began to make images of real life, I felt called to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. I feel very strongly about exposing the reality of parenthood and life with young children. In a world that is often so carefully curated for social media, it’s easy to compare and feel “less than” our peers, but I want to show other parents that we are all just doing the best we can. I want to help lead the charge of appreciating and enjoying and laughing at the mess and exhaustion and chaos of real life.
What’s the easiest or most impactful tip you could to give to a parent who doesn’t know how to capture the every day little moments of joy, or horror?
Learn to use your cell phone camera to the best of its ability. I try to keep my camera nearby, but it never seems to be within reach when I really need it. My phone, on the other hand, is almost always in my back pocket. I use the camera in the Lightroom app because it offers the ability to shoot RAW photographs that are better quality and easier to edit. I strongly believe that the best camera is the one you have with you, and crazy moments never happen when you’re ready to photograph them! And also, try recalibrate your motive for taking photos. In the end, your audience is not your Instagram feed, but your family.
“In a world that is often so carefully curated for social media, it’s easy to compare and feel ‘less than’ our peers, but I want to show other parents that we are all just doing the best we can. I want to help lead the charge of appreciating and enjoying and laughing at the mess and exhaustion and chaos of real life.”
Why is printing photos important for you?
I have read studies that say displaying photos of your children in your home helps them feel secure and seen, and I can attest to the joy and wonder I’ve witnessed in my own daughters’ eyes when they see new photos of themselves on prints or in books or on the wall. I also think of the hours I have spent as an adult looking through photos of my own childhood, and the feeling of sweet nostalgia that rushes back from the most ordinary of photos urges me to create a tangible record for my girls to enjoy for years to come.
What is the super power of photography according to you?
I used to think of a photograph as simply a way to preserve a moment for the future, but especially as I have continued to document my own children, I have learned that the real gift or super power of photography is that it helps me to see and appreciate–right now–the beauty of the everyday, the joy amongst the chaos, the magic in the mundane. Even when I don’t have a camera in my hand, I am looking for moments to remember instead of dwelling on the ones I hope to forget.
“I have learned that the real gift or super power of photography is that it helps me to see and appreciate–right now–the beauty of the everyday, the joy amongst the chaos, the magic in the mundane.”
Which superhero do you think would be the best family documentary photographer, and why?
I am not very well-versed in the world of real superheroes, so I’m going to invent my own. 😉 She is patient and observant, she has a great sense of humor, and she has a crazy cool camera built into her vision so that all she has to do is blink and bam! a moment is preserved forever.
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