Oakland University + Kellogg Community College, Associate of Paralegal Studies
Laura Ashley Munro’s fascination with photography began at a young age, but she didn’t find much support for her passion. She was told photography was a nice “hobby,” but that she would need to focus on something with more substance and prestige if she ever wanted to make a name for herself.
For a while, Laura listened. She tried her hand at various majors, ranging from psychology to legal studies and education; none of which felt quite right. She even worked as a full-time paralegal for a few years. Finally, with the support of her husband, family, friends and clients, she decided enough was enough, quit and opened her own company, Munro Photography.
“I cannot say it enough,” Laura recounts. “You have to pursue the things that make you happy that spread joy and fulfill your being.”
There’s nothing in this world that means more to me than the relationships I've built with people — all because I listened to my heart and picked up the camera.
What responsibilities do you have as the owner of your own company?
Self-employment means you have to have the ability to be a jack-of-all-trades. In photography, taking a picture is 5 percent of the whole business pie. (I'm just throwing a number out there; I'm sure the true statistics vary from business to business). The roles I play also vary between the events I'm photographing. I have to be the professional, the friend, the counselor, the confidant, the family wrangler, the confidence booster, the office administrator, the accountant ... there’s no limit to your roles when you’re solely responsible for the success of your business.
What is it about your job that makes you feel it's the right fit for you?
A creative soul needs to breathe. In my previous jobs – which included everything from face painting to restaurant work and office administration – I wasn’t getting what I needed in life to feel fulfilled. I wanted to do something that meant something to someone.
What I do as a wedding and glamour portrait artist allows me to use my ability to give memories, to boost confidence and to showcase the relationships people have with one another. Do what you love and it will never be a job.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
Where do I begin? My clients come to me to capture special and momentous moments, and with that comes the responsibility of following through with their expectations. I sometimes have nightmares that I knock a cake table over or show up to the wrong wedding!
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
Yes. And I don’t think that, as a woman, I’m alone in this feeling. I don't know that I’ll ever be 100 percent balanced, especially as creative minds often thrive on the idea of imbalance. I think it helps that I’ve created a space within my home that’s entirely dedicated to Munro Photography. It helps me keep a physical separation between my home life and work life. It also helps that I have an amazing studio space in a beautiful historic building to keep the scads of vintage furniture and equipment out of my living room and garage. Physically keeping the two environments separate allows my mind to stay clear of the other when I'm switching from business to home.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you've though, “I made it!” What was it?
I have these moments every time I wake up and get to do what I love. But, if there was ever a specific moment, for me, it would have to be the day I was out eating at a local restaurant and the people at the table behind me were talking about how their granddaughter booked Munro Photography for her wedding and how excited they were to land such an exclusive photographer. I was too shy to interrupt and introduce myself, but I never forgot the feeling of being appreciated and valued when someone didn't realize I could hear them.
What are some of the rules you live by?
1 / You can't just do it, you have to do it well.
2 / Never let someone else guide your decisions.
3 / There is always something to be grateful for.
4 / Always dedicate time for education and improvement.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
You need empathy for the people you photograph, a technical ability to deliver top-notch work to your clients, compassion for humanity to allow you to create meaningful images, kindness toward everyone, modesty and respect for those who've gone before you.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
Failure is necessary to learn. It's okay to make mistakes; just learn from them.
What is the coolest part of your job?
My work has taken me across the country. I've photographed weddings internationally. I've worked with clients who’ve had major self-esteem issues and have come to me for portraits. I've networked with industry leaders. I've cried with clients, laughed with mentors, danced in the ocean, flew across the world and had deep conversations about the meaning of life with my photographer friends. There’s nothing in this world that means more to me than the relationships I've built with people — all because I listened to my heart and picked up the camera.