NAPCP: To start off, tell us a little about yourself and your photography.
Layla Zakaria (LZ): I was born and grew up in Berkshire, England. I loved photography from an early age. I had my first dark room in my bathroom when I was 17 . I loved the excitement of not knowing what I had captured until I developed them in the dark room. Family life took over and my photography slowed down. My husband is American and I moved to the U.S. 6 years ago. A few years ago I started back into my passion of photography and it has just kept growing!
NAPCP: Your primary focus is newborn photography, and you also do extensive work with the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS) remembrance photography organization. Why do you choose to lend yourself and your skills to NILMDTS?
LZ: I absolutely adore being a newborn and baby photographer; seeing new parents with their precious babies makes me feel honored to be a part of it all. I have personal experience with the loss of a child and know the heartache will always be there, but if I can give something back to give a little comfort, then that’s all that matters. It’s hard — unbelievably so — but the positives outweigh the negatives.
NAPCP: You have a beautiful editing style. What is your favorite editing tool, and do you use it in your remembrance photography as well?
LZ: I must say my favorite editing tool is having a good day! I use LightRoom and PhotoShop (PS), and love Paint the Moon actions. For remembrance photography, I edit in black and white, and use PS for skin smoothing.
NAPCP: Share your current favorite photo with us. Why is it your favorite?
LZ: This black and white image of my daughter is one in a hundred! She never lets me take her picture.
NAPCP: Describe your dream photo shoot.
LZ: My dream shoot would be to photograph my toddler like I can other babies — she will not do anything for me when I try to photograph her. I think she’s so used to having the camera around that she’s not interested in it at all. It took 4 of us to get one picture of her for Christmas!
NAPCP: You home school two of your children. This has been a hot topic of interest in the NAPCP Member Community. What advice do you have for a work-from-home photographer interested in homeschooling?
LZ: I have 5 children, two that are in England at university. My 13 year-old daughter goes to mainstream school, and my 14 year-old son, and 3 year-old, are at home with me. I home school my son as he was diagnosed with ADHD and high functioning autism, and did not do well in school. I am usually editing while he does his school work. I have my studio in my home, so it works out with my daytime baby sessions, as I have someone to watch the toddler … even though she likes to crash the photo sessions to “help”. I think homeschooling is a great way to really know what your child is learning, and pick up on any problem areas quickly. My son does a lot of sports, for social reasons, and there are lots of meet-up groups and networks to help, too.
NAPCP: Where do you see yourself and your photography in 5 years?
LZ: I would love my own commercial studio. I have looked into it a couple of times this year, but I’m not sure if I want to make that big jump yet. So maybe in 5 years.
NAPCP: You are a champion for meeting the needs of NILMDTS and similar remembrance photography organizations. Take a moment to tell us about your passion for this type of photography.
LZ: It started with me reading a newborn editing book when I was just starting out with newborn photography — I was reading through and got to a section about remembrance photography. I actually didn’t even know remembrance photography existed, and found it emotionally overwhelming to even think about. I knew I wanted to help, but wasn’t sure I could do it. I spoke to my husband and gave myself a year before putting in my application. I was so excited to be accepted but also found myself never wanting that call. My area coordinator, Shelly, is amazing … she probably didn’t realize how nervous I was for the first session, but she truly helped me more than she knows. I can’t say I actually have passion for this type of photography, but I love giving something to parents, at such a difficult time in their lives. We really need a lot more photographers to give their skills and time to this cause.
Layla Zakaria is a Katy and Houston family photographer, specializing in newborns and children. Layla also photographs events.
Located in Cinco Ranch, Katy, TX, and serving the local Katy area, Sugar Land, and Houston, Layla Zakaria is a member of NAPCP, photographer for Katy Magazine, remembrance photographer for NILMDTS, and has had her work published in numerous magazines and advertisements.
For more from Layla, and for inquiries, visit Layla’s website, and Like LZ Moments Photography on Facebook.