Today we’d like to introduce you to Laia Gore.
Hi Laia, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I’ve always had a camera in my hand; the first time I recall becoming interested in photography I was around 3 years old. My mother was showing me old photos she had taken on her 35mm in high school and I was so fascinated. I never dropped the subject; I bugged her for a camera so much that she started keeping disposable film cameras around the house for me to snap photos with. And I did, photos of family, pets, bugs, flowers; when my little brother came along, I even dressed him up in costumes and created “sets” on our front porch like it was a studio. By that time, I was entering 3rd grade and my teacher, Ms. DeAnne was known for her interactive photography lessons which I was so excited for! These only fueled my fire and I began to take more and more photos of people. In middle school, I finally got my first digital camera, and everywhere I went, so did it. I started shooting for the yearbook and journalism club, I took pictures of my friends and learned basic editing (however much a 13-year-old could learn on whatever free software was available in 2009).
In high school, my uncle gave me his DSLR to learn with/use until I earned enough money to buy my own. I took an online high school photography class which really helped me learn on a more advanced level, and as I started gaining confidence, I started offering portrait sessions; granted I wasn’t charging very much (probably $30/hour? Haha) but I saved and saved and eventually saved up to buy my very own Nikon DSLR. And I’ve been learning and growing my business ever since.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Things haven’t been ideal the past few years, but I’m making it work and I’m feeling a change in energy for the better. In 2018 I finally opened my very own home studio, and it was beautiful. It had an office, a separate entrance for my clients, and all the space I could want for wardrobe and props. However, this dream quickly disappeared with the disintegration of the 5-year relationship I was in with the man I bought the house with. I left, he kept the house, thus, the studio. At the same time, I had just finished paying off all of my debt, so I essentially had no money left and no place to go. I couch-surfed for a while, and eventually ended up moving in with a friend until I could find a day job so I could get a place of my own. Being self-employed my entire life with no college education made me pretty un-hirable to most companies that were paying enough for me to survive in St. Pete. You know how much rent is down here- it’s hard on your own. I eventually found a position at a plant nursery that wasn’t paying great, but I was getting desperate and I have a fair knowledge about plants so I figured I’d give it a shot. After viewing my skill list on my resume, my now good friend Chris (the guy that hired me) asked why I was applying for a warehouse job when I had photography experience, graphic design, and editing knowledge, and nearly 10 years of successful social media marketing under my belt. I told him my situation and that I had no degree or actual employment history and Chris straight up said “None of that matters to me. I never went to college. And I’m running a whole retail branch of this company online.” Within a week, he created a product photography and marketing position for me and hired me for it. They weren’t even looking for someone to do that yet, so I was extremely grateful. I worked there for a while, got my own place, it wasn’t much but it was mine.
Then of course, like everyone I’ve been affected by COVID-19. Plant sales were down, so of course, there was less work for me to do. And photoshoots weren’t happening for a majority of the pandemic, so again, I found myself in a financial pickle. Thankfully, the end of my lease was coming up and I was able to move in with my current boyfriend. Our home is already paid for, so we don’t have too many bills and I’ve been able to save. With a stroke of luck, when I moved in, my dad actually found a great deal on a 10×20 shed and he gifted it to me; it’s now in me and my boyfriend’s yard and we have plans to remodel it into a studio this winter. Additionally, being laid off/moved to a freelance contractor for the nursery was a blessing in disguise because I’m so much more free to get back to focusing on my photography business and my art and I don’t think I realized how much I needed that.
So, things are looking up.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I’m a family, maternity, newborn, and child portrait photographer. I consider these things the focus of my business; if I had to choose- maternity and children are my absolute favorite. I love making my maternity clients feel beautiful and powerful and amazing when they may very well be feeling the most uncomfortable with themselves in their entire life. There is so much wonder in what a woman’s body can do, and we should be empowered by that. And children… I don’t think I’ve ever lost my inner child and I hope I never do. I have a love of magic and fantasy and silliness and fun, and I like to think I bring those things to life in my child portraits that I create. That is what I’m most proud of- the magic I create for these people and their children. The way a little girl lights up when she puts on a princess gown and twirls in the forest. The way little boys giggle and splash in the water when I tell them they don’t have to be so serious. I think what I do is real; the emotions, the magic, the connection. It’s hard to find the magic in the world we live in, and I think it’s a blessing that I get to help people see it.
What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
Oh my gosh, where to begin.
1. It’s so important to be independent. Have backup plans. If you want it done right, do it yourself. Counting on people to make things happen for you does not usually pan out well.
2. Never stop learning. Right out of high school, I feel like I hit a bit of a plateau. I felt like I was really great, I wasn’t going to get any better. I had a rude (much-needed) awakening when I started posting my work in photography groups and I got ripped to shreds. (Photographers aren’t always nice to each other) I was called amateur, unskilled, basic, making silly mistakes. All of this hurt, but it was true. I immediately started taking courses and workshops online and I still do today. I’m better for it.
3. CONTRACTS. This should be a standard in most types of business. It’s just smart. You can’t make everyone happy because some people don’t want to be happy. Protect yourself and your business.
4. Charge your worth.
As a creative you’re constantly battling the “my friend can do it for cheaper” and “it’ll be great exposure” crowd. Those people aren’t your clients. People who love what you do will pay what you’re worth, so don’t settle for less.
- Portrait Sessions start at $350
- Family Sessions start at $450
- Maternity Sessions start at $550
- Newborn Sessions start at $700
- Email: Booking@laiagorephotography.com
- Website: Laiagorephotography.com
- Instagram: Instagram.com/laiagorephotography
- Facebook: Facebook.com/laiagorephotography
Green Pearl Photography