How Change Drives My Desire to Document Life | By Lauren Webster
My name is Lauren Webster. I am a wife, mother, and storyteller from West Virginia. I met my husband when I was 18. We’ve been together 12 years. He’s helped me build the life I used to dream of. We have two children and four fur children. We live in and raise our family in the home that was once my grandparents’. That small, yet significant fact about me, has shaped my life as a mother and photographer.
I’m a simple girl. I’ve never been super “girly,” and just about the only makeup I wear is mascara. Fresh, clean sheets and a few good candles are all I need to feel good. My music choice changes by the day, and I love discovering new artists. We listen to music almost all day in our house. Aside from “baby shark,” I’ve had Jasmine Thompson on repeat recently, especially while editing.
I just recently resigned from teaching first grade to stay at home while my babies are little and run my dream business. Learning to let go is hard. Change has had a major impact on my life and my growth as a photographer. It drives my desire to document life. I’ve always been greatly affected by it. It’s difficult, yet refreshing, for me to come to terms with the fact that nothing stays the same.
But as scary as change is for me, it excites me the same way.
Since becoming a mother these thoughts of change have only become more evident to me.
I waited so long to become a mother that the thought of my children growing leaves me with a sense of grievance. At the same time, I’m PROUD of their achievements + growth. I’m sad to see this season of our lives change.
I know that there are other parents who feel the same way. Like, you get so caught up in your daily routine that you feel as though the end of the day may never come. You feel like you’re working your life away raising kids or at a 9-5 or both and all you want to do is lay your head down and rest your eyes, but then the end of the day comes and it went by too quickly.
I wish I could bottle up these moments and keep them forever.
Photography helps me do that.
When my daughter was a baby, I started taking a photo of her nearly every single day, as many parents do, with my cell phone. That was before I knew what a 365 project was or how to shoot in manual. Back when I loved photography, but didn’t really know how to use my camera.
I’ve lived my entire life with the urge to create and document. History, especially the stories of my own family, fascinates me. I have photos and heirlooms of my grandparents all over our house; the home that was once theirs. I have always loved learning about my family’s heritage and reliving memories through old photographs.
The realization that nothing stays the same drives my need to photograph my family, and knowing that photographs serve a priceless purpose in other families as well helps me create photos for them that will serve as heirlooms for their family’s future generations just like the photos from my family’s past and the ones I’m taking during this season of our lives.
I love documenting real moments that show my family’s, and my clients, true personality. I photograph mundane, messy, exhausting moments because I know the harsh reality is that I’ll never get those moments back. One day, I know I’ll long for the days of no sleep and loads of laundry and dishes that never seemed to slow down. Storytelling and documenting are my way of holding on to those memories, and I hope that my family and my clients can look back at the photos I’ve taken for years to come with a smile on their face and stories to tell.
When I started discovering other artists on social media a few years ago, Meg Loeks was a huge inspiration of mine. The fact that she took so much time to respond to my, probably annoying messages, meant the world to me. I also love Jennifer Spellman’s work. I’ve been lucky enough to build beautiful friendships with other incredible local photographers. Lindsey Porter and Adrianna Pearcy and I have been in contact now for about three years. I attribute a lot of my growth to the special friendship the three of us share. We learn and grow from each other. If you don’t have friends like this, I urge you to get one or two! I am also drawn to the work of Tonya Mancuso, Diana Hagues, Tanya Moon, Stephanie Lynn Huberand Koren Smith. Social media is such a beautiful thing. It allows me to build relationships with people all over the world!
If I could describe my photography style in three words in would be real, unscripted, storytelling. I own a business, and people in our area are finally starting to understand and crave storytelling sessions. It’s taken me a few years to educate our community. I also teach a DSLR workshop to parents in our area. That’s helped my business grow a little too!
This year, my goal was to have my work featured in a gallery. The run of my show is about to end. I got to feature 25 photos of real motherhood, and it has been the most amazing experience. Working towards goals and achieving them is the best feeling in the world. I have so many big, big plans for my photography and business, but deep down, I really just want families to have the story of their family told.