Laurel Schweers, senior in human development and family studies, took them at their word and used a childhood trip to Disney World to start her career as a photographer.
Schweers said on her first trip at age 6 she used a whole roll of film from the disposable camera her mom gave her on one parade.
“I just have this distinct memory of being at that parade and wanting to take the perfect pictures,” Schweers said.
Schweers is now charging for her photography services and building a business. With experience shooting engagements, family portraits and Christmas card pictures, Schweers is beginning to shoot weddings as well.
Paige Robinson, senior in public relations and a bride-to-be, said she liked Schweers’ relaxed style and attention to detail.
“I just felt really comfortable with her,” Robinson said. “She was professional, but she’s really creative and she just encouraged us to do whatever we wanted, so it was really natural.”
One photo with an orange, green and brown vintage couch was done particularly well, Robinson said, and the couple ended up using it for their save-the-date announcement.
Now that Schweers is adding photography sessions to her to-do list, she has had to learn how to balance her schoolwork with photoshoots, editing pictures and blogging about her business at laurelschweersphotography.tumblr.com.
Schweers said she does most of her photoshoots on the weekends because she has to make time to attend her classes and study during the week. She said while coordinating schedules with clients can be difficult, she has discovered a valuable advantage to being a student and photographer simultaneously.
“An advantage is being around so many people in the Auburn community,” Schweers said. “I’ve been able to get the word out more by putting pictures on Facebook or online, and having other people be able to see them makes it easier to have a lot of people in the community know about it.”
Laura Howard, Schweers’ roommate for the past two years, has seen firsthand how Schweers has grown as a photographer during her time at Auburn, especially when the line between business and her personal life is crossed.
“Every time we walk anywhere she’s 10 feet behind us snapping pictures either of us or buildings,” Howard said. “She always has her camera attached to her.”
Schweers said the best part about her photography is having the ability to make people feel worthy and beautiful.
“I feel like I just get into this zone where everything fades away and nothing else really matters,” she said.
Schweers said she ultimately hopes her photography business can combine her three greatest passions: her faith, photography and helping others. She had the opportunity to do this when she went on a spring break trip to Port St. Joe, Fla., in 2011 to volunteer with First Baptist Church of Opelika.
On the last day of the trip, word had spread about Schweers’ photography, and she was able to take and print pictures for locals.
“I think we can sometimes take for granted how much pictures can mean to people,” Schweers said. “There was this one lady that had just had twin babies, so it meant a lot to her to have pictures of her babies.”
Schweers said she hopes to intern in Birmingham this fall before graduation in December, and she wants to eventually be able to support herself with her photography alone.
“It’s not just going to be handed to me on a silver platter; a job’s not just going to fall in my lap,” Schweers said. “I really have to work at it and not give up during the obstacles that may come.”