LaurelEye Imagery: Empowerment in focus

Empowering women and girls has been a passion of Donna Pradas since opening her business, LaurelEye Imagery, a photography studio based in Laurel, in 2019.

At LaurelEye Imagery, Ms. Pradas offers a distinct photoshoot option — the empowerment session — in addition to the typical array of maternity and baby photos, professional portraits, family photos and more. 

“The purpose of my girls and women’s empowerment sessions is to celebrate female strength, beauty and unique qualities, coming in every age, size, shape and color,” reads LaurelEye Imagery’s description of these specific sessions on their website. “The session revolves around a themed concept that conveys the message of female empowerment and encourages self-love and respect, whether through princess gowns and tiaras, or leather-clad, fishnet stocking biker chick lingerie for our adventurous women, and beyond.” 

Throughout her sessions, Ms. Pradas constantly reinforces positive body image and confidence. For girls under 18, she offers a more fairy-tale-inspired type of empowerment that can result in the girls possibly being published in Child Couture magazine, which accepts image submissions from photographers all around the world and publishes monthly issues. LaurelEye Imagery was first selected for a two-page spread in 2022; since then, she has submitted countless photographs, and they are selected for print regularly. Most recently, in this year’s July issue her images were selected for the cover and first six pages.

The studio’s closets are overflowing with girls’ and women’s dresses, shoes, hats, fabrics and props to capture each client’s personality in the images. Two years ago, Ms. Pradas added another feature to the shoots.

Ms. Pradas rented her first couture dress from Your Fairy Godmother couture rentals in the fall of 2021. They established a collaboration where she now rents 12 gowns a year, one a month. She posts on social media what dresses are coming and when so clients know when to book their sessions. 

The response Ms. Pradas receives from her clients is almost always the same.

 “They wake up the next morning, and the girls will say, ‘I want to go back to the studio!’ ” she said. “They want to live in this world of dresses and princesses.”

With social media being so prominent in young people’s lives, Ms. Pradas’ goal is to empower these girls and give them the validation that they are just as beautiful as the women they see on their screens.

“This is showing them the reality,” Ms. Pradas said. “I show the girls that with the right camera, lighting and everything else, you are the same as them. It’s just the production behind those images.” 

Ms. Pradas’ husband, Jose, is in charge of all her outside-of-studio lighting. “He has a great sense of humor and helps the girls feel comfortable,” she said. Mr. Pradas is fluent in Spanish, which helps LaurelEye Imagery expand its client base. 

“I tell them, all of the models and all these things you see out there, they are making extravagant moves that you feel funny doing, but do those. I will be clicking away and some will look silly. Then there’s going to be a magical one,” Ms. Pradas said. “When I show them the back of the camera, they see that magical image; they realize they do not have to be inhibited about expressing themselves.” 

Mr. and Ms. Pradas say many girls are initially reserved and shy in the studio. They don’t know how to act in front of a camera. Ms. Pradas makes them feel more comfortable by playing their favorite music, and within seconds, “they are doing what they do in their bedroom with their door closed and the hairbrush microphone moment,” she said. 

According to reviews, Ms. Pradas makes her clients feel comfortable. “She is very professional and very calming. She will make you feel like you do photoshoots on a regular basis,” read a review on her website. 

LaurelEye Imagery photo sessions are booked online at