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My Story · Pittsburgh Lifestyle Photographer

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  • Post last modified:March 4, 2022

Number 1 question I am asked…

I thought it’d be fun to answer that question on the blog today. 🙂

Consumed by Wanderlust

Growing up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, I always dreamed of adventure. It began the day my friend showed me her father’s extensive collection of yellow National Geographic Magazines. From that moment on, I decided that I would travel to breathtaking places to photograph similarly unique people. After that life-changing moment, I was consumed by wanderlust. Luckily my dad was too, and took our family on multiple across country adventures to the American National Parks.

Portraits of Laura Mares Photography, Pittsburgh Lifestyle Photographer.

In high school, I begged my parents to let me travel to Austria as a foreign exchange student. That “yes,” led to an inextinguishable desire to see more and more of the world. During these travels, I met my husband in a small church in Monaco. We remained together in a long-distance relationship until I decided to move to the Czech Republic, teach English and photograph Prague. We got married and settled in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. 

Turning a Side Hustle into a Full Time Career

I didn’t know what to do next. I had already surprised my parents that despite my degree in Communications, Advertising, and PR, I had substituted most of my core classes for Photography-oriented classes and didn’t actually know enough about advertising or PR. I saw two options—teach English to immigrants or take pictures. I did both—and loved it. After my third child was born, however, I decided I was done waiting for the “perfect time,” and worked hard to turn my side hustle into a full time career. 

Portraits of Laura Mares Photography, Pittsburgh Lifestyle Photographer.

By 2016, I was running a business, teaching in the city and raising three kids by myself as my husband was on a short-term assignment in Germany. One day I walked into my boss’s office, not quite sure where the conversation would lead and heard myself saying, “I can’t do this anymore.” She shockingly asked, “Laura, are you quitting?” I resolutely answered, “Yes, I am.” I remember leaving the office in utter shock before ultimately realizing—this is what following my lifelong dream feels like. 

From Artsy Dreamer to Successful Photographer

Looking back on that stretch of time between my initial exposure to photography, those beautiful, adventure filled yellow magazines, and the moment I finally went full time, I see the reason why my “detour” was necessary. I never had any female business-leader role models. During my childhood, photographers were middle-aged men with a studio and prop closet. I wasn’t sure how to transform from artsy dreamer into a successful female photographer. But, I wouldn’t change my story and it’s twists and turns. There were lessons that I learned along the way that allowed me to become the photographer I am today. 

Portraits of Laura Mares Photography, Pittsburgh Lifestyle Photographer.

Not a Moment Wasted

As a traveler, I began to see. I noticed what makes us different makes us beautiful. Even though our stories are unique we share a similar human experience. 

As a teacher, I was able to find my voice. As a child, I was bullied for my shyness and could barely stand up in front of the class to deliver a presentation. 

And as a mother, I’ve learned to love unconditionally. I value being flexibility, to find joy in the simple moments.

So, my story is one of a timid girl who dreamed of becoming a photographer and eventually made that dream a reality.

Portraits of Laura Mares Photography, Pittsburgh Lifestyle Photographer.
photo credit: Laura Donavan Photography

Click to see photographs from my travels.


Hi, I'm Laura Mares! I'm thankful to be a wife, mother and Pittsburgh lifestyle photographer. I photograph because I believe that life is simply beautiful and every person has a story worth telling. I'd love to tell yours.