A Muscatine native, Laura Darting enjoyed photography from a young age. After taking photography classes at Muscatine High School, she found herself well on the way to becoming a professional photographer. Darting remembers, “I was greatly inspired by my photography teacher in high school, Dan Kitchen. He certainly planted the seeds. . .. Entering an arts field is difficult and never, ever, guaranteed, but he made me feel it was possible.” Under Kitchen’s tutelage, Darting polished and perfected her skills, helping her realize her potential as a photographer.
From that start, Darting worked hard developing the skills and recognition she needed to become a successful professional photographer. After twelve years, her persistence paid off, and she achieved her goal of opening her own studio.
Now with her own business thriving, she enjoys every aspect of her career. “I enjoy all of it. I can’t say that there’s a day I don’t go to work and have a blast.” Most of all though, Darting likes doing sittings with young children, describing her fairytale sessions as playdates where her young clients get to enjoy going outside and dressing up as mermaids, posing with unicorns, and creating many other whimsical scenes. Darting finds the confidence of children refreshing, and also has fun introducing kids to photography for the very first time.
A lifelong Muscatine resident, Darting values her hometown for many reasons, but most especially for its people. “I love it how when one of our own is in need, the community comes together in a profound way and gets them back on their feet.”
In this spirit of support, Darting makes a point of holding photo shoots where all profits go to charity as often as possible. She elaborated, “whenever we can give up a day for an event to help someone, we do. Muscatine has been so good to me and supported my business. So, I think it’s important to give back because without the community, I wouldn’t be here.”
While Darting has worked hard both to develop her passion for photography and to give back to the community, she attributes much of her success to the support she has gotten from her husband AJ, her parents Belinda and Tom Howland, her brother Jamie Howland, and her employees Kelly Wegter and Holly Scott (who have worked with her so closely that they have become like family to her). “It’s not just me who makes this successful, but my family, staff, and husband too,” she added.
From all of her rich experiences in photography, Darting encourages aspiring photographers to stick with their dreams, even in tough times, and to never stop enjoying their work. She shared, “I love to see anyone interested in the arts. It’s a lot of work to get there, but it’s worth it.” As she continues her career, Darting will surely inspire other young artists in Muscatine to turn their passions into careers and for all people to find a way to use their work to the community’s benefit.