Your Neighbor: Meet Lauren Clark

Published 12:05 am Thursday, November 30, 2023

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Mandy Haggerson

For the Clemmons Courier

CLEMMONS — With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, there is much anticipation to spread holiday exuberance during December. One of the many activities for people’s lists is finding the perfect Christmas card to mail out to friends and family.

Clemmons native Lauren Clark has helped many of those families capture memories through photos to be included with that sentiment.

Clark’s journey to create special moments wouldn’t necessarily be an obvious one. Spending her childhood without a camera in hand, Clark was busy making memories herself.

Starting in athletics from a young age, Clark tried a little bit of everything, beginning with dance and gymnastics. After school, Clark headed to the roller skating rink, where she quickly found speed skating to be a fun way to exercise.

“When I was asked to join the speed skating team, I thought it would be a fun activity to try,” Clark said.

When Clark gave Optimist soccer a try, she decided to sideline speed skating.

“I enjoyed having great coaches from an early age,” Clark said of both Bruce Shepherd and Rick Gibbs.

“I learned pretty early on that if I wanted to spend more time playing, that goalie was the least favorite position on the field. So, I gave it a shot and enjoyed playing it.”

Clark’s ability to pick up most sports that she tried allowed her to play high school volleyball, basketball and soccer at some point at West Forsyth High School.

“Playing with my friends and under dedicated coaches made my experience even more special,” reflects Clark. “I had gotten more serious about goalkeeping and went to camp to continue to improve. Some of the coaches took an interest in my abilities and tried to convince me to go out of state or to smaller colleges. But I had my heart set on going to Appalachian State University (ASU). Luckily, my favorite goalkeeping coach, Amy, transferred to where I was recruited to be one of the goalkeepers on the soccer team.”

Once Clark set foot on campus in Boone, her focus was strictly sports-related.

“I thought at that time I wanted to be an athletic trainer and majored in sports medicine with a minor in exercise science,” Clark said. “Knowing how demanding the athletic training program would be, I decided to focus on my studies but continued to play soccer and volleyball at the club level.”

After Clark graduated from ASU, she dove straight into her professional field of physical fitness at the YMCA.

“I spent a good part of 10 years at various YMCAs, including Davie County and the Jerry Long YMCA,” Clark said.

While working at the Davie YMCA, Clark photographed some of the staff’s children. She then sketched the images she took and provided them as gifts.

“I soon realized after I did that project how much I enjoyed the photography aspect and wanted to learn more,” Clark said. “After a friend told me about a fantastic photography program at Randolph Community College, I decided to take the leap and give it a try.”

Clark immersed herself in the photography program and worked full-time.

Known for having a large commercial component, the 40-year-old program benefited from the High Point Furniture Market’s need for quality photographers.

“Once starting the program, I knew instantly that it was where I needed to be. I soaked up everything I learned, and I was excited to get out and start my own business,” Clark said.

During photography school, Clark met her future husband, Dave.

“We started dating my second year after getting to know each other during lab,” Clark said. “Dave had gotten quite a reputation for really knowing how to get the best product lighting. Aside from being knowledgeable and exceptionally talented, I admired his patience and wanting to help his peers. It was refreshing.

“After Dave graduated, we started going on group photo adventures together and eventually started dating.”

Big changes were happening for both Lauren and Dave. They had gotten married on 01/01/11. Also, word had started to spread about Clark’s new photography business, and she began to build a steady clientele list. Dave was also building a following as a freelancer.

“We decided to name our photography business, Desi Lu Photography, after our dogs,” Clark said. “Lucy was my dog from my college days. Desi was a rescue that had captured our hearts together. It made sense to name something near and dear to us, after what mattered most to us, our animals.

“It’s hard to believe that we’ve been in business for over 14 years. Some of my friends’ first maternity sessions for their children are now teenagers and driving cars. It’s wild to see them grown and get the opportunity to capture them throughout their many chapters in life. We love photographing pets and the people that love them. Although we don’t strictly photograph animals, as the proud parents of six fur babies, we do recognize their contribution to families, and want to have them included. Many times, we’re told that their dog is too wild and crazy to be included, but we are always up for the challenge.

The couple stays busy but always makes sure to carve out time to give back to the animal rescue community.

“One of our dogs, we affectionately named Bootsie, was overlooked many times. We almost did it, too, when we were shown her photo. However, we decided that we could play a role in capturing an animal’s true personality and have been working bi-monthly with the Forsyth Humane Society. We work with the Humane Society and volunteers to give their animals a chance to be showcased in their best light so that it could potentially find the loving family they deserve.”

They also donate their time to other local rescue foster features, including the Humane Society of Davie County.

“So many of these rescues depend on volunteers to help animals in need,” Clark said. “We feel it’s important to do our part and give them a chance by taking photographs that they can use to advertise the animals.”

If not helping the animals, Clark can be found out on shoots or in her studio, working or editing with Dave.

“We’re excited and hopeful that we’re actually going to have snow shoots this year if the rumors are true. We’ve also started talking about some creative ideas in our studio that will be fun to share. I always encourage our clients and friends to not wait to take these photos that remind you of what matters most,” says Clark.

The husband-and-wife duo were recently honored as the Triad’s Best Photographers.

“We appreciated the recognition and can’t wait to finish out the holiday season by capturing photos during this special time of year,” Clark said.