By MADDY VITALE
Some of the best photographs are not touched up. They are not cropped. There is no pixel manipulation. They are authentic. They are imperfect and they are beautiful.
That is how Lauren Gayeski, an Ocean City married mother of three, describes the photos she enjoys taking. She is a documentary family photographer. Some of her images have earned her international praise.
She is a member of the Documentary Family Photographers Worldwide (DFP) community. She found out some exciting news just last week.
Three of her photos, all taken in Ocean City, were selected for a virtual photography exhibit called “Life in 2021.” The exhibit is available to view online from now through March 6 at https://artspaces.kunstmatrix.com/en/exhibition/9132820/life-in-2021.
Her images, titled “Home on the 4th of July,” “Freedom,” and “Just Swim,” were selected to be included in the exhibit of 39 photographs from around the world.
“I am proud to be the photographer representing Ocean City and the Jersey Shore in this exhibit,” Gayeski, 41, said in a phone interview Monday. “I got an email last week. I only entered three photos and they all made it in. I was thrilled.”
Her favorite images are taken on the water, in the water and around the water.
“My favorite way to shoot is in the water. It can be tricky, though. You don’t want to get sucked out to sea,” she explained. “I feel most at home photographing people in the water. That is the most enjoyable way to shoot because it is just them and the water.”
Her website https://laurengayeski.com/ provides all of the different packages she offers for families. She can go with a family to an amusement park and take photos or shoot photos of them camping. She can go to a home and take candid shots or capture images of a family on the water, surfing or just enjoying the beach together. Gayeski emphasized it is about the people more than the location.
Gayeski and her husband, David, live in Ocean City with their three sons, Jackson, 16, Carter, 14, and Sawyer, 13. They moved from Egg Harbor Township to the resort in 2020.
Gayeski and her family were on a skiing vacation in Montana when she was interviewed Monday.
She said that her family, especially her sons, were her inspiration to become a documentary family photographer focusing on capturing realistic scenes of life.
“I started taking photos when my kids were little,” she pointed out.
Gayeski didn’t go to school for photography — she just sort of fell into it — when she became a mother.
“My boys are constantly moving. After a while, they stopped paying attention to me taking their photos and just ignored me,” she said.
That is when she noticed that she was taking her best photos of her sons.
“The ones of them with chocolate on their faces, or rolling their eyes, or playing, I started seeing these were the photos I felt connected to,” Gayeski said.
There was nothing posed. There wasn’t any special lighting. They were just scenes, slices of life in the Gayeski household.
That fresh look at photography became Gayeski’s passion and she continues to hone it with online workshops. Some of her mentors are local, while some are from out of the country.
Gayeski has found her niche, she said, in a different type of photography. While she said that there are plenty of people using their skills to take that “perfect” shot, she is looking for something different.
For her, it is that imperfect shot that makes all the difference.
“We don’t have to dress up and create this perfect Instagram look. I think everyone thinks they have to look a certain way for a photo,” she said. “We are living in a pandemic. Life is challenging, but it is beautiful.”