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.
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.
Long before I became a portrait photographer, I worked with children and families. I babysat and then nannied my way through my teen and college years, volunteered at a preschool, helped in church nurseries and youth groups. So you could say children speak my language. Or maybe that I retained a little bit of theirs.
When it comes to working with families, whether each family is made up of toddlers or teenagers, my two intertwined goals are simple. I strive to help everyone feel happy and relaxed so they can focus on each other instead of the camera. Then I turn that happiness and relaxation into authentically beautiful moments, showcasing the unique personalities within each family.
More than just a time to create pictures, I believe lifestyle family portrait sessions should add to each family's treasured legacy. These are the timeless memories you'll pass down to your grandchildren − who will pull out your portraits one day, a century from now, when they tell their own grandchildren your family's story.
Back in high school, my friend Bethany and I spent many an afternoon doing "fashion shoots" with my old 35 mm camera. We wanted to take great pictures. We wanted to look beautiful. Instead, we looked funny. And slightly scared.
Thankfully, my camera skills have improved! I've studied lighting and posing, and I've learned how to use light for dramatic effect and how to move every person into their most flattering angles. I've learned how to make my subjects feel (and look) relaxed and natural while highlighting each individual's personality.
But even more, I still remember what it felt like to be a teenager, wanting to hurry through an awkward stage so I would feel beautiful, strong, capable. When I shoot high school senior portraits, I still have my teenaged self in mind. Because it's one thing to feel pretty and self-assured in a picture, but I want the seniors I photograph to walk away from their portrait sessions knowing what we captured is the beautiful, strong, capable person they truly are.
For four years, Laura Yang Photography was all about weddings. My husband Danny and I worked with countless couples, perfecting how to pose pairs elegantly and dramatically, and casually and naturally − and, best of all, how to capture the calm and quiet, and boisterous and joyful experience of love.
In 2015, we left the wedding world as I developed the Legacy Portraits brand − but I didn't leave behind my passion for shooting engagement sessions, anniversary portraits, or intimate elopements. My favorite part is recording the uniqueness of each relationship, and one of my favorite directions for couples is, "Show me what a normal hug looks like for you two." Because even the way couples hug is unique.
My desire with couples' portrait sessions is to showcase that unique love. Not how they smile into the camera, but how they smile at one another. How they just can't help but smile. For every couple, there is no better legacy to leave than love.
My earliest dreams were of horses. I was one of those girls who had model horses by the dozens, devoured books about horses by the hundreds, and ran around the yard with my stick horse and a "riding crop" fashioned from bamboo and masking tape. When I turned sixteen, I got my dream Arabian mare, and we spent ten wonderful years together. She was, unquestionably, my best friend.
Equestrian portraits are where my passion for horses and my passion for photography intersect. Because I know my way around horses and know how to read their body language, I can capture stunning photographs while being mindful of both humans' and horses' safety. I don't get nervous or overwhelmed around these big, high-strung creatures, so I can stay focused on creating beautiful images.
The idea of equine portraits is to record the special bond between horse and human, and to record it gorgeously. Having a horse is the stuff of childhood fairy tale dreams. And that's how you should always remember it.
As much as I enjoy creating beautiful family portraits, it's families' everyday-life stories that most pull at my heart. I love documenting what happens in a normal day − brushing hair and teeth in the morning, snuggling up to read on a window seat, venturing out to the farmers' market, baking together. The simple tasks of living.
In the spring of 2016, I was invited to document the not-so-simple process of a family becoming a family, when I traveled with friends to China as they adopted their precious son. This gallery tells that story.
Whatever your family's everyday story, I promise it is worth recording. For you, it may be your family's backyard camping trip. It may be an afternoon the grandchildren gather to learn all Grandma's secret recipes. It may be the morning you go to the courthouse to finalize an adoption. Or it may be a regular day of getting the kids up and cleaning the house. These are the often-overlooked moments that make up real life, and these are the moments you will long to revisit.
Photographing newborn sessions is always a profound experience. There's a little person, and this person is brand new. Life is an adventure just barely begun.
While I enjoy pictures of newborns posed on props or snuggled in baskets, those aren't the photographs I create. To me, baby portraits are about capturing the relationship between baby and parents, baby and siblings, and even sometimes between baby and four-legged siblings. We shoot inside each family's home − since home is where life happens. A fancy nursery is fun, but all we really need is a clean bed, or even just a clean patch of floor near a window. Because more than decor, what I want to catch is the coziness of a baby cuddled in Mom's arms, tiny fingers wrapped around Dad's, a sweet, sleepy yawn.
I create newborn portraits to remind each child, and one day each child's children, that they were loved before they could remember. I create newborn photography as a testament to the foundation of love on which a life is built.
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I used to just think I took portraits so people would have nice pictures. Then something happened that completely changed my understanding of what photographs can and should be.
Let’s rewind to February 2014. That was the month when my husband Danny’s grandmother passed away at the age of 91. She had lived a long life, raising her four children and helping raise her grandchildren. Before that, she went to medical school (against her father’s wishes) back in 1940s Korea − she actually ran away from home and lived with her brother to pursue her dream. Then she married a fellow doctor she met working at a hospital, and before they moved to America, she ran a women’s clinic out of her home while taking care of her own babies.
And those were all things Danny learned after she passed away. He was floored − he had spent half his childhood in her home, but he knew almost nothing about her early life.
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Before the funeral, we went through her old photo albums, filled with gorgeous moody black and white portraits and candid photographs that documented what life was like at an all-women’s medical school in WWII-era Korea.
We had no idea where these photographs had come from, or who had taken them. What we knew was that they were strikingly beautiful. They told a valuable story. They left a legacy from Danny’s grandmother that he’d had no idea she had.
These days, we rarely have photographs like that, showing us at our most relaxed and most refined. Thanks to smart phones, we have many more pictures now. And so we take them for granted. We’re often more concerned with snapping pictures of food or blurry selfies than documenting the way we truly live for our own memories’ sake − and for future generations.
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Poring through Danny's grandmother's photo albums made me realize I didn't care if my work got love on social media or if my subjects looked ready for a Vanity Fair spread. I wanted to create family heirlooms − a piece of the family legacy, if you will. I wanted to do for other families what some unknown photographer had done for my husband, four decades before he was born.
With Legacy Portraits, my desire is to capture my subjects at their most beautiful, and even more, to capture them authentically. Fifty years from now our grandchildren may like to see how lovely we looked in our photographs, but what they'll want most is to see who we really were and how we lived when we were just beginning to lay the foundations of our legacies. Their legacies.
Because, one day, our stories will be their stories.
I believe that what we do isn't as important as how or why or for whom we do it. My foremost goal, in life and in work, is to honor Jesus my Savior and to reflect his perfect love and grace.
"For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen."
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As you search for a photographer to create your new family heirlooms, cost should certainly be a consideration. But as with most things of lasting value, enduring quality, style and grace should be the ultimate benchmarks. I hope you'll seek out the photographer whose vision and style will best capture you or your family. If I am that photographer, I would be honored to work with you. If I am not − I truly want you to find that photographer.
Please contact me for current portrait session information. Most clients invest between $500-1,500 for their Legacy Portrait commissions.
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