Photographer Spotlight - The Best Friend // Valorie Darling

The Photographer Spotlight is a series under THE CROWN COLLECTIVE to showcase photographers that we are inspired by and to tell their story and influence in the creative community in which they thrive in. The Photographer Spotlight gives you the opportunity to have an intimate look into their beginnings, their influences and the message that they speak through their photography.

The Photographer - Valorie Darling

Valorie is the kind of girl that will always look out for you, whether you know her well or you have just met her for the first time. She radiates charm, playfulness and there is a sweet & light energy to her that can make anyone feel comfortable. She also has a strong sense of community, not only surrounding herself with people who support one another, but she also makes the time to give back through working and supporting others through her non-profit, Camp SoCal HeARTs (An arts based summer camp to foster children and at-risk youth in Los Angeles).

I first connected with Valorie at an event we were both working at for the Blogilates book launch last year and instantly felt connected to Valorie through her playful and sweet demeanor. With more events and crossing paths professionally, it was with great certainty to have Valorie be part of our Photographer Spotlight Series.

The Details

Valorie Darling

Birthday May 31 (Gemini)

Born in San Francisco & Raised in Spokane, Washington

Currently resides in Los Angeles (Marina Del Rey)

Current Leisure: Biking & spending time around Abbot Kinney

Mantra: I Am Light

Photo by Christin Rose Photography

The Crown

The crown designed for this photo shoot was created based off of textured foliage that would complement Lauren's overall look for the shoot. No flowers were added to her crown, just a simple design using various greenery, such as laurel and eucalyptus varietals, which helped create depth and playfulness in the crown, while maintaining a clean, delicate look for her engagement shoot.

The Interview

In photography, I have seen many different styles to showcasing a couple or muse. How would you describe your personal sense of style as a photographer?

I would consider my photography to be light, bright, airy, dreamy. I edit with film quality in mind and I am drawn to slightly softer/cooler tones over really moody, saturated ones. I like to create dreamy elements in the pictures that I take. I’m also not afraid to be goofy and playful, which I find can help relax my clients and allow them to feel at ease, providing them with enough support to fully be themselves. My goal is to not put my own vision on others. I consider myself a storyteller and through my photos, I try to tell their story as authentically and genuinely as I can.

Why do you photograph people and do what you do?

I would consider my photography to be light, bright, airy, dreamy. I edit with film quality in mind and I am drawn to slightly softer/cooler tones over really moody, saturated ones. I like to create dreamy elements in the pictures that I take. I’m also not afraid to be goofy and playful, which I find can help relax my clients and allow them to feel at ease, providing them with enough support to fully be themselves. My goal is to not put my own vision on others. I consider myself a storyteller and through my photos, I try to tell their story as authentically and genuinely as I can.

I know that you have a lot of experience and work with people in the industry that are comfortable with being in front of the camera. Any advice for someone who is shooting for the first time? What can they expect? What do you recommend?

I find that I can foster a mix of candid moments with directed ones. I have a background in dance and know movement and that can help direct people into the most flattering angles. I like to talk throughout the shoot from behind my lens encouraging them into positions that work best for them to look their best while giving them enough space to make it their own and feel natural. When people look at my work I want them to feel the energy of the image - like it could live off the page and you feel something when you look at it. So at the end of the day candid shots always end up being my favorite because there’s this effortless rawness that’s easy to connect with.

Where are some locations that you recommend for shooting or have enjoyed shooting at based off of natural landscapes?

When it comes to beaches, El Matador is a photographer’s dream! Although, it’s also VERY popular so get ready to dance around people. I also live a couple blocks away from the Venice canals and it’s such a romantic, magical place that I find myself shooting at a lot. Palos Verdes, has an epic coastline that makes you feel like you’re in another world. The desert is another favorite. Palm Springs isn’t too far away and the way everything reflects off the sand is beautiful. It really lends to creating dreamy images that reflect my brand because of all the natural reflectors there. The list is really endless in Southern California! I’m so lucky!

It looks like you have a lot of experience in different areas, for example, styled shoots, blogs, events, and the list goes on and on. I have also noticed that you have been doing shoots for engagements and weddings. What is it like to be a wedding photographer?

Weddings are really personal and there’s nothing I love more than capturing two people in love. That energy is unlike anything I can explain and I get so inspired and moved by my couples. I am mindful of being able to have a real human connection and to tell their story in the most authentic way I can.

I have also been a part of a lot of weddings, so I really understand it from different angles - as a friend, bridesmaid, plus one, caterer and photographer. As a photographer I feel like you play so many more roles and have to be ready to MacGyver up for challenges that come up. I’ve sewn ripped dresses, touch up hair and makeup, moved furniture, played choreographer, the list goes on… so I try to stay versatile on the wedding day to support my bride the best that I can. I also love mixing it up with work. I photograph a lot of fashion bloggers, which helps me stay inspired with fresh, new ideas that I incorporate into my wedding photography. But at the end of the day I want my couples to look back at their images and not only remember how everything looked, but how they felt.

Any advice to brides planning a wedding or curious in hiring a photographer for their upcoming wedding?

I would recommend hiring a photographer for weddings, 12-14 months in advance. Be mindful of popular dates, such as holiday weekends, any numerology stuff and Saturdays. Those are days that get booked up pretty quickly. It is also important when hiring specific vendors (the ones you spend a lot of time with) that you feel connected with them and you have similar energy and vision. You will be around your coordinator and photographer through out your wedding day, so you want to feel like they’re your friends and you enjoy being around them. For the couple, my best advice is to focus on each other and not the details. To enjoy the incredible feeling of all your favorite people being in the same room and hire the best vendor team so you can just relax and revel in your big day!

Who are your inspirations in in life and your professional career?

I would have to say the first person is my mom. She is the life of the party! Not only is she hilarious, fun and the best storyteller, she also is compassionate, giving, present and I have always looked up to her through her ability to connect with people and making them feel like they are the only person in the room. She and my dad have supported me in whatever I’ve dreamed of going after and I’m so thankful and proud to call them my parents.

Zach Mann is one of my best friends. He is the most generous person I know with his time, and anything he has to give. He does video and has been a big mentor for me since the beginning of my photography career. Offering advice on camera related purchases, loaning me lenses and still keeping me up to date on all things Canon and techy. He is so kind, level-headed, and gives the best advice personally and professionally.

Carlee Avers is someone I met early on to moving to LA and before we met everyone got us mixed up at the job we worked (different shifts). We don’t look alike, but people said we had the same spirit and energy. That is the biggest compliment I could receive. Carlee, has the biggest heart and is constantly doing things for others. We started the non-profit, SoCal HeARTs, together during a catering shift and she puts so much into it year after year nurturing it to grow to where it is today while juggling being a new mom. I am blown away by her strength, determination, heart and I’m lucky to call her one of my best friends. She also forced me into wedding photography which is now my specialty. Haha. She believed in me and gave me the courage and confidence to capture her wedding day when I didn’t think I could. Because of her I was able to realize what I’m best at and love the most.

Hannah Skvarla is someone I’m in awe of and so inspired by. She is passionate, thoughtful, and the ultimate girl boss. She wants everyone to thrive and is so giving and she goes out of her way to connect you to anyone she thinks could help you. Always putting her name on the line. She’s has pushed me out of my comfort zone and given me confidence to go after things to help expand my career. I have to give a little shout-out to, The Little Market, which is Co-Founded by Hannah and her best friend, Lauren Conrad. Their mission is to empower women all over the world by giving artisans a platform to sell their goods at fair wages. I am so grateful to work with her incredible company and get the opportunity to travel to meet with local artisans from around the world! She’s so invested in speaking up for people that don’t have a voice and causes that really matter. She’s basically a superhero and I am blown away by her activism!

The photos from Valorie's shoot can be seen on Happily Ever After: Ben & Lauren on Tuesday evenings at 7/8 central on Freeform. To follow Ben & Lauren, you can find them @bendandlaurentv #freeform #benandlauren.

Valorie Darling

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The Couple // Ben Higgins & Lauren Bushnell

Show // Ben & Lauren Happily Ever After on Freeform

Location // Saddlerock Ranch

Foliage Crown // THE CROWN COLLECTIVE

#valoriedarling #losangelesphotographer #thebachelor #SaddlerockRanch #Freeform #BenandLaurenHappilyEverAfter #SoCalHeART #TheLittleMarket #BridalBlog

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