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Rising Stars: Meet Lauren Clutter

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Clutter.

Hi Lauren, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
When I was in college studying for my degree in Criminal Justice, I also had a great interest in photography. As an elective, I signed up for my first photography class and to my surprise, I absolutely hated it. The main focus of the class ended up being commercial photography which was a completely boring subject. As a 19 year old, I thought if this is the only thing a professional photographer can do, then I will just keep doing it as a hobby. I couldn’t articulate it at the time, but what I loved about photography, and still do, is capturing the relationship between people. That emotion is what drives me.

Fast forward 10 years after graduating; I got married and had two beautiful babies. Like so many new parents, I wanted to document every single milestone but in a beautiful way. After my kids would go to bed, I would spend hours reading articles online and watching YouTube videos from professional photographers to learn anything I could get my hands on. I would spend the following day practicing my new learned skills on my children. I would also ask friends and family if I could photograph them for the extra practice.

Eventually, I started charging a small fee for sessions which led to me officially opening my business. I had zero experience or knowledge when it came to running a business so that was another learning curve in itself. My very first studio was in the front room of our home. I promised my husband to just give me one year and I will find a studio somewhere. What a crazy year that was! Not only would I have complete strangers/clients come into my home, I was kicking my family out any time I had a session. I am very lucky to have such a supportive husband. I kept my promise and 1 year later I was moving out to my very own studio space. I am now located in downtown Akron on the 6th floor overlooking the city. It’s pretty humbling when I think about how all of this started in my home.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Being a photographer is almost like an artistic gift. A lot of times when I’m doing a session the creativity just flows out and feels so natural and effortless. One of the hardest challenges of being a small business owner is actually running the business. When I first started out I thought if I made a Facebook page and website that clients would just naturally flow in. That’s the farthest thing from the truth. I had to learn how to market my business, design a website, SEO, bookkeeping, taxes, google algorithms, sales, photoshop and sustaining in a flooded market. I’m very proud to say that I’ve done all of these things on my own. If designing my own website meant that I could save thousands of dollars to take a skills workshop, then I would do it. If doing my own bookkeeping and taxes meant that I move my studio out of my home, then I would do it. If I could tell my 19 year old self one thing, it would be to get a business degree.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I specialize in family and newborn photography. And yes, it took me years to say that! It’s not always an easy path to finding what type of photography makes your soul happy. As a beginner, I would photograph any type of session or wedding I could get my hands on just for the experience. With experience comes wisdom and the choice to photograph what I truly enjoyed became more obvious. As a mom, I cherish all the little moments with my children. The hugs. The Eskimo kisses. The belly laughs. That’s exactly what my clients are looking for too so it’s very easy to relate to them. Since I have years of experience, my clients are often blown away with how effortless their session is. I provide my clients with full service experience from start to finish. I want every client to walk away with amazing artwork, but I also want to educate them and truly build a relationship so I can continue to document their story in the future.

What were you like growing up?
I was very much a tomboy as a young child and enjoyed being outdoors. I grew up in the country without cable television so I spent most of my childhood playing outside, riding bikes and playing with neighbor friends. I grew up playing sports year round and on the weekends I would work at a horse/alpaca farm.

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