Laura Mares

"I fell in love with the idea of documenting authentic moments."

My childhood was like a colorful song, full of concerts and symphonies. I was raised by musicians who encouraged my brother and I to pursue our own creative interests. At an early age I developed a love for animals, art, and travel. Most days I was lost in a historical fiction novel. One day my friend, who knew my love of reading, was excited to show me her dad’s collection of countless yellow magazines. I instantly fell in love with the beautiful images of the exotic people in those National Geographic Magazines. It was in that room that my dream was formed, I wanted to become a photographer and travel the world.

On traveling the world

In high school, I begged my parents to let me become a foreign exchange student in Austria. After I returned I began looking for a college with a strong international program. I have met many of my closest friends while traveling. It was during my semester in Monaco that I met my future husband. We only spent one day together exploring Monaco and I told him of my dream of becoming a world traveling photographer… he let me take his picture sitting on the port. He then returned to his home in the Czech Republic. After college I moved to Prague, where I taught English and married my soul mate. All in one year!

We have since relocated to Pittsburgh, where I began my photography business. Today we have three children and still love to travel. I have watched my business grow while raising our children, pursuing the art of cooking, thrifting in my free time, and driving lots of carpools! I hope one day my children will reminisce of their own childhoods as filled with impromptu photo shoots and visits to world famous art museums.

On favorite photographers: Dorothea Lange and Steve McCurry

Two photographers that pop into my mind are Dorothea Lange and Steve McCurry. Lange’s iconic image of the “Migrant Mother” from 1936 is my favorite black and white portrait. I fell in love with the idea of documenting authentic moments in a similar manner. Steve McCurry captured the strong and penetrating gaze in his “Afghan Girl” portrait. When I look into her eyes I feel like she lets me feel all of her emotion. 

Although Vincent Van Gogh isn’t a photographer, I admire how he captured light. He was a nonconformist with an extreme creative outlook. His work has taught me to feel the freedom to try new things and capture portraits in ways not seen before.

Current Kit

My current camera is a Nikon D850. It’s my favorite camera that I have ever used because of how well it is built, how it captures tone, color, saturation, and preforms well in low light. My go to lenses are a Nikon 24-40 2.8, Sigma Art 35mm 1.4, and a Nikon 70-200mm 2.8. I tend to use Profoto B10 strobes in the studio and Profoto A1 flashes on location. 

What’s one tool you can’t live without?

At the risk of sounding crazy, I don’t like to travel with my Nikon for two reasons: 1. When I return home and get back to work I need to have it for my professional shoots. I can’t risk any possibility of damage or loss. 2. When you use the same camera for work and vacation, it feels like you are still working! Therefore, when I travel, you’ll find me using a Fujifilm XT3 and a GoPro. 

What does your dream photo shoot look like?

It’s almost impossible to narrow down to just one, but my favorite photo shoots would be golden hour in a European city, a lavender field where all you can see is lavender, or on a scenic cliff in Norway! 

Laura Mares
Laura Mares Photography