21 Sep Meet the Photographer: Jaye McLaughlin of The Life in Your Years Photography
Can I please start by saying that I am the worst at choosing favorites? I’d be paralyzed by indecision and this feature would never get written if I didn’t start with that caveat. So let’s agree that I’m going to tell you about some things I love, and you can assume that once this is published I will have thought of about a hundred other alternate answers I could have given, OK? Here goes …
Favorite Movie: Maybe Beauty and the Beast? I love a good love story, and this one has dancing cutlery. And a huge library of books.
Favorite Book: Now we’re talking. I love to read. Any novel that takes me away to another world and immerses me in a good story has the potential to be added to my favorites list. A few on this list off the top of my head include Gone With the Wind, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Cutting for Stone, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Middlesex, The Red Tent, The Kite Runner, East of Eden and The Poisonwood Bible. This summer I read The Light Between Oceans, Me Before You, All the Light We Cannot See and The Husband’s Secret. Right now I’m nearing the end of The Girl on the Train. Exciting!
Favorite Lens: Probably my Canon 35mm 1.4L, although in the last year my Canon 24-70mm 2.8 II has spent a lot of time on my camera because of its amazing versatility. My motivation in photography – for my own family and for those of my clients – is to tell the story of the family’s life right now in a way that we can forever revisit, remember and enjoy. These two lenses help me do that beautifully.
Favorite Magazine: Click. It’s the only one I make time to read from cover to cover.
Favorite Website or Blog: Humans of New York, definitely. I love how with each photo and caption, Brandon Stanton gives us a peek into a life and a story that would otherwise have been hidden from view. Following his blog has really been perspective changing for me.
Favorite Music: I’m a folksy-alternative-classic rock girl, if there is such a thing. The artists I hear on my favorite playlist during my morning walks on the beach this summer include The Allman Brothers Band, George Ezra, Glen Hansard, Michael Franti, Joni Mitchell, Pat McGuire, Indigo Girls, Norah Jones, She and Him and The Beatles. Kind of all over the place, I know.
Favorite Store: That’s a tie between Anthropologie and J.Crew. And the B&H SuperStore in NYC, of course. (That place is amazing!)
Favorite Local Spot: I can still taste summer, so I’ll have to say … the beach! While I spend 9 months of the year living in a leafy suburb of NYC, we pack up the family every year the day after school ends, and crowd into a tiny bungalow in a beach community in the city itself for a summer of low-key living. Breezy Point is a tiny and tightly knit community with private beaches, views of the New York City skyline, and a vibe that’s decidedly retro. My kids’ summer days are a lot like the summer days I spent as a kid here in the seventies – they spend their mornings roaming free and involved in unstructured play, and their afternoons enjoying the beach. Now that two of them are teenagers, they’ve got good old fashioned summer jobs, just like I did. Being here is a refreshing step back from “regular life” and I take a little break from the full swing of my business as well. It gives us all a fresh outlook and a new perspective on things when we re-enter our “real” lives in the fall.
Photographer Idol: I really do try to keep a careful balance between enjoying online inspiration and getting bogged down in too much internet followdom. That said, there are several photographers whose creativity, business prowess and online presence have made them constants in my daily browsing. These include Tara Whitney, Michelle Anderson, Bobbi and Mike, Dana Pugh and Yan Palmer. I’ve had the pleasure of learning from several of these photographers one-on-one over the years, and each has definitely enriched my business and my photography.
Favorite Quotation: This is an easy one. It’s the one from which my business got its name: “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.” Abraham Lincoln
Most Interesting Place I’ve Traveled: Oh, we love to travel, and I probably spend as much time dreaming up and planning our family adventures as I do living and documenting them! We’re lucky to have cousins all over the world, and because of these connections we’ve been to Italy, Ireland (editor’s note: see Jaye’s stunning images of Ireland, and her tips for taking amazing family vacation photos, here), Canada, and Costa Rica as a family. I’ve also got cousins in Australia, so that’s on the list for a future trip.
Guilty Pleasure: Food. I love to cook and to eat.
Best Family Vacation Spot: Still Breezy Point. (See above!)
If money were no object, my occupation would be: A family lifestyle photographer. There’s no question in my mind that I’ve found my dream profession.
What Makes Me Memorable: I think that my ability to help families relax and be themselves when I’m there photographing them is what keeps me busy with repeat clients and referrals. Also, I’m more “left-brain” than many other photographers – before starting my business five years ago, I was a patent lawyer specializing in biotechnology. This makes me a stickler for workflow deadlines and efficiency. I tend to get lots of happy feedback from my clients when they first see their images. Almost as satisfying for me, though, is the warm gratitude they express when I guide them through the culling, ordering and album design process and they’re left at the end of their LYYP experience with gorgeous storybook albums and wall hangings with minimal time or effort on their part.
A Favorite Personal Photograph: This is one of my all time favorite images. It’s taken by my mom, and it features me – the extremely enthusiastic redhead on the top left – with my dad, my grandmother, my brother, two silly aunts and a few cousins. I’ve always loved this photo as there’s a feeling to it that makes me really remember what summers in Breezy Point were like for me as a kid. We played at the beach all day and there was always family visiting, being goofy. Looking at this zaps me right back there. My goal is for my client images to bring my families back to the moments I’ve captured every time they look at their photos — today, in ten years, and in 30 years. This one does that for me.
A Favorite Photograph from Your Business: Remember what I said about not being able to choose favorites? Well, this applies to photos from my business the absolute most. I just can’t possibly choose a favorite, but I’m happy to tell you why I love this great family image. Everyone’s laughing and smiling, but they’re not smiling for the sake of me or my camera. They’re enjoying each other. That, to me, is what it’s all about.
Thank you for the introduction, Jaye! For more from Jaye, and for booking inquiries, visit Jaye’s website, Like her Facebook page, and follow Jaye on Instagram and Pinterest.