Valorie Darling is a self-taught photographer. Her work, which includes fashion, lifestyle, and wedding photography, can be seen in People, InStyle, Elle, Us Weekly, Martha Stewart, The Knot, and many more. Read below to learn more about Val, how she found her dream career, and her travels with The Little Market.
You’ve traveled to Chicago, Texas, Guatemala, and Thailand with Lauren and Hannah for The Little Market. What are some of your favorite memories from these trips?
Oh geez. This is so difficult because there are so many!
Chicago was just a hilarious whirlwind trip! We all flew in for just one day. We were traveling in the air longer than we were actually in Chicago! Haha. That artisan group (Bright Endeavors) makes the bath salts and Hannah thought we should carry a bunch back, so we became salt mules carrying boxes of heavy bath salts. I remember not being able to feel my arms once boarding the plane. Anything for The Little Market though!
In Texas, the GAIA offices are so beautiful and the women refugees have incredible stories of survival. Being able to watch Lauren and Hannah design with the women and create new purses was really amazing. They know their customer base so well and have such a great eye for color palette and designs, so I loved being able to witness that collaboration. As well as my collaboration with the Texas BBQ! (I have since then become a vegetarian, so I really look back on that time fondly… haha).
Guatemala was with Hannah and Meskie (Hannah’s younger sister). We met with leaders, and several different groups to learn about local needs and discuss new artisan groups joining The Little Market. The activism in these young Guatemalan women is incredible! I was so inspired by the culture and beautiful colors I left with an entire suitcase full of fabrics that now decorate my home and remind me of my Little Market trips.
Which items from The Little Market are in your home?
So many candles! I love them and customize mine to say “darling” to use as client and industry gifts. I’m in love with my colorful makeup and weekender bags. My woven tote has been all over the world with me, and I have enough bath bins (which I use as planters) to fill a room. I obviously was stoked when they came out with the “Darling” gift bag (which I like to think was just for me 🙂 ).
What is your favorite product from The Little Market?
I’m currently obsessing over the Moroccan ceramics and also currently looking to up my pillow game and drooling over The Little Market’s selection.
You taught yourself photography! How?
It took a lot of trial and error! I basically forced my friends to model for me for the first year, and then I would go home and YouTube any questions or problems I had. Because it was just for fun, I was able to not be too hard on myself, and continue to immerse myself in learning.
What are your favorite things to photograph?
People. I have such a love for travel, but found that my favorite photos were always the pictures with people in them and the story that they told… Being able to shoot some of the biggest moments in people’s lives, such as a wedding, is pretty spectacular — to be able to be a part of that energy, and magic.
When did you first know this was what you wanted to do as a career?
Taking photos was always a hobby of mine; I loved being able to capture moments and being able to share them. I think I always had an eye for composition, but the mechanics of the camera were always intimidating to me. I don’t know if there was a specific moment, but about five years ago I got enough courage to make the leap from a hobby to a profession, through the support of my friends and family.
What do you love the most about what you do?
That I get to work with brands I believe in, people I love and I get to mix so many of my passions: adventure, creation, travel, art… Getting to connect with people is what I love most. I have such awesome clients and have the ability to travel the world and meet people who have had the most inspiring journeys.
Tell us about SoCal HeARTs!
Camp SoCal HeARTs is a program of Camp TLC (Together Living a Challenge) benefiting underprivileged and foster care children of Los Angeles. Founded in 2010, our first event was a Holiday Party that brought a day of holiday cheer to underprivileged & foster care children from the greater Los Angeles area. SoCalHeArts has continued to throw our ever-growing Holiday Party’s and through our consortium with Camp TLC, we’ve made huge strides in our outreach the last few years.
Through Camp TLC we have added a week-long summer camp to our year-round curriculum. This camp exposes our attendants to ART based activities that are no longer offered in the public school system. Through nurturing creativity and exposure to the arts we help theses young lives identify their self-worth, support their existing interests, and discover personal goals for the future.
Our industry professional volunteers lead classes in theater, dance, singing, guitar, percussion, photography and athletics. In a week’s time, life-long memories and friendships are created and new dreams are discovered. Our grassroots organization operates solely from the revenue of fundraisers and donations from our loyal supporters.
What is your favorite memory since starting Camp SoCal HeARTs?
The end of camp talent show every year is one of my favorite memories. After watching these kids throughout the week build confidence and overcome moments of insecurity, we get to watch them perform; it melts my heart. They’ve built up the courage to stand in front of everyone and, for example, show off the dance they’ve made wearing costumes that they designed. It’s a day were we get to celebrate all that they’ve accomplished at camp.
How can our readers get involved?
They can volunteer and camp, or contribute here: http://www.socalhearts.org/donations/
Where do you get your inspiration from?
It depends on the situation: the colors when I’m travelling, or the groom whispering to the bride on their wedding day. It’s moments that are constantly unraveling around me. This might sound cheesy, but it’s really the random, unexpected moments that happen in whatever situation you are in.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
The best advice I’ve ever received was to live in such a way that if anyone was to say anything bad about you, nobody would believe them.
To follow along on Val’s journey’s check her out on Instagram – @valoriedarling.