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Life & Work with Lauren Schoepfer of Winter Park

Lauren, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
Since I was little, I’ve always pursued creative endeavors, so it was a natural move for me to study it further in college. I got my Bachelor’s Degree in graphic design from the University of Central Florida in 2017. I took photography as an elective during my time there and bought my first DSLR camera — a used, older Canon model. I enjoyed photography as a hobby and often brought it with me to situations I thought would be fun to shoot with no pressure, like hanging out with my friends and local events. About a year before I graduated, I had a couple of friends ask me to do their graduation photos — my very first paid clients! I continued to do graduation photos every semester for the next couple of years. As I was getting used to living and working in the world as an adult, I was doing a lot of reflection about the type of life I wanted to live. At this point, I was working full-time as a graphic designer and doing occasional shoots on the side when the opportunity arose. I’m naturally a pretty active person who thrives off of learning through experience. I realized my desk job was making me stir crazy, and I wasn’t feeling the kind of creative fulfillment I was hoping to have. I also wanted to be more in control of my time and eventually travel with my work. Photography checked all of these boxes for me. I found great opportunities to work at UCF as a photographer, first as a blended design/photo position, and later as a photographer for their marketing department. Here I learned the ropes of what it takes to work professionally as a photographer. There came the point in 2019 where I was at a financial crossroads: either get a new full-time job or take the leap and start my own business. I chose the latter, knowing the risk involved with starting a business, but it was a risk I was willing to take because I’d hate to look back and wonder, “what if?”

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The first few months were tough because they showed me how little I knew about running a business, and at times the fear paralyzed me. But with the pressure of generating my own income, I knew I had to keep learning, growing, and moving in order to keep myself afloat. Learning the value of my time and how to provide an ideal client experience were two big lessons. Then in March of this year, the pandemic hit. It felt like the rug was pulled out from under me. I lost almost all of my clients, understandably, because people were losing their financial stability and luxury services like photography were out of the question for many. I cut as many expenses as I could, claimed unemployment for a couple of months, and later found a part-time remote design job. I used my free time to explore more creative modes of expression, using myself and my roommates as models. This time was a creative rebirth for me because I saw how I could better express my ideas with a medium I was finally more comfortable with using. I continued to share my work, and this paved the way for my network to see how much I’ve grown. It helped me slowly recover by booking clients more and more in the past few months, and now I’m where I was pre-pandemic. Now I’m using this time to learn as much as I can about business and photography to keep building for a stronger 2021.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I specialize in portraits and events, including weddings. I got a lot of initial photography experience doing events, and really enjoy them because the energy is palpable. I have the opportunity to capture beautiful moments as they naturally unfold. It often gives me a sense of perspective to see what other people do with their time, which otherwise I wouldn’t likely experience. Portraits are really about the connection with the model, allowing them to feel comfortable and authentic. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet all kinds of people and capture their unique essence. What sets me apart from other photographers is my background in design — brands and vision boards are familiar to me, which makes it easy to understand what my clients are looking for. I have the ability to add other design elements into my projects, creating multimedia pieces for various contexts. I can take portraits of someone, then use them to create a custom invitation for an event they plan to host; or I can illustrate a custom backdrop for a client, to give a couple of examples. I’m most proud of work that’s layered, conceptual, and utilizes design. Art has a beautiful way of reaching people where other methods may fail. My inner artist is exploring how to bring more depth and concepts into my work, which is what a lot of my personal projects have been about. I am also working on a multidisciplinary approach, combining media to express ideas more effectively.

Alright so before we go can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
I love collaborating on any sort of creative project that needs a visual touch, design strategy, or works with a concept. It’s been really nice to work with creatives in other fields and see their process as well. For anyone interested, I’d love to hear from you! I’m very open to ideas and enjoy brainstorming them. You can reach me through my website or social media channels. Support goes a long way for me through conversation — word of mouth, sharing my work and speaking with other entrepreneurs. There is always something to learn.

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Lauren Schoepfer

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