We love learning about our members and how they became involved with photography.  Please take time to read Laurie's compelling story ...

"My name is Laurie Santoro. How did I get my start in photography? Hmm, great question. I began at age 10 when an uncle gave me  a box film camera. I loved art; however, I was told by my family that art and photography was just for fun. I planned to attend Bucks County Community College for art; however, a traumatic life experience prevented me from starting. I also thought I would not fit in, being quiet and shy. To have a creative outlet I became a hair stylist.

Later when I turned 35, and after having 2 daughters, I decided to attend The Art Institute of Philadelphia and earned my degree in three years in Specialized Technology in Graphic Design. There I learned Photoshop, Illustrator and Quark Express. I started working In the Print Shop as the CCO/CEO while still maintaining my hair clientele.

Working in a salon, a client gave me a card for Huntingdon Valley Camera, which sat on the counter for about 2 years.  When my youngest daughter started attending college, she snidely remarked to me, “You have empty nest syndrome”.  I said “F” that, which promoted me into finding that business card.

I decided to see what they were all about. I was so scared, I almost did not go inside, however, my husband went with me the first time. I not sure people realize what it feels like to enter and new place as a newbie. It is quite traumatic.

I later decided to check out Cheltenham Camera Club, it is where I met Kathy DiTanna and she handed me a flyer to submit to Churchville’s Yearly Print Competition.  I entered and received “First Place - Best in Show” with my image “Birds on the Wire.”  Wow, it was such an unbelievable feeling. I thought, hmmm maybe I do have some sort of talent!  The next year, I submitted my image of a giraffe titled “Looking Up”, and again I received “First Place - Best in Show”. Never has anyone won First Place - Best of Show 2 times in a row and I received the most points ever in any of their competitions.  How crazy is that?

Two of my images were displayed in City Hall, facing the mayor’s office, with the Arts Council of Philadelphia.

In 2020 on my 60th birthday, I received a text from a friend stating that I won. “Won What?”  I won “First Place - Best in Show” in the Birding Category for my “Birds on the Wire” in B&H Optics 2020. I could not believe it. They had a competition, so I submitted a few photos, it was free, and I forgot about it. Again, how crazy is that. My prize package was a FotoPro tripod with a FotoPro Gimbal Head, a 150-600 mm Tamron Lens and a 24 x 36 metal print from Bay photo. Nice birthday present!

In 2022, I entered a BenQ Calibrate contest on Instagram, titled “Generations.” I was notified by the competition committee that my image came in Second Place and my prize package was a 32” BenQ Monitor and the Colorchecker Display Pro by Calibrite. Whoa!

2023, two images were accepted into Phillips Mills “Birds on the Wire” and “Water and Rose.” “Water and Rose” was also accepted into the Philadelphia Flower show and received 2nd place.

I am self-taught in photography, Lightroom, and share my knowledge with others who are just starting out. If I find competitions or videos and any information that would suit some of my fellow photographers, I share it with them.

Photography is my therapy. It gives me complete freedom, I decide what I see, what I shoot, how I decide to post process and what I decide to show. Competitions have given me a tougher skin and pushed me to become a better photographer. I take in all the judges’ critiques on my images along with other photographers’ images to really understand what it takes to create a good photograph. I am the one photographer in the group who is looking in the opposite direction of all the others.

I have a Nikon D500 and have added the Sony AR74 to my bag. I also use the Samsung 22 Ultra and I work on my home-built PC with lots of hard drive space, large Graphics Card and mega RAM.

Joining different Camera clubs has given me much needed confidence  and enriched my life in many ways. After years of standing in the background… I say just try and see what happens. You may be surprised."

Laurie Santoro


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View her Spotlight images below and her Members Gallery page.  You can also visit her website: lauriesantorophotography.com

If you are interested in creating your own SPOTLIGHT and MEMBERS GALLERY page, please contact Janet Hickey.