Claire Diana was born and raised in Grayson, GA where she graduated from Grayson High School. She headed to Athens and earned a bachelor’s degree from The University of Georgia. During her time at UGA, she took an internship with Disney in Orlando, and this is where her love of photography began. She was a PhotoPass Photographer in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and being an extrovert who loves connecting with people, learned that photography was a great way to do so as a career. Soon after returning from Disney, Claire started working as a freelance photographer and ultimately began her own business and opened her first studio in downtown Watkinsville in 2014. Now with a studio in Athens, Claire specializes in weddings, high school senior portraits, and boudoir photography. When she is not working, Claire is an avid pickleball player, loves supporting local restaurants, and volunteers her time helping in the animal rescue industry. She lives with her dog, Ladybug, who she rescued from Athens Clarke County Animal Services via the Athens Area Humane Society.
What do you love about your current career?
My favorite part of being a photographer is the people I get to work with. I love the fact that photography connects me with so many people I would otherwise probably never encounter. My whole goal with photography is to love on others and increase their confidence and self-worth. That is why I do what I do. But I love that as much as my goal is to help others, my clients touch my life even more. The clients and random people on the internet who believe in my journey are honestly my biggest support system. It really feels like one big family.
What is your favorite thing to do in Athens?
Well, pre-COVID I loved Latin dancing, specifically Salsa and Bachata. I used to take classes at DanceFX, and I would go to any Latin nights that were happening around town. COVID has really changed the dance scene though. Since COVID began, I have learned and become obsessed with a sport called Pickleball, which can be done safely outdoors. It’s definitely my favorite thing to do now. I also love supporting local restaurants and eating out when I can.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and why?
My number one bucket list location right now is the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. As a photographer, they are just extremely photogenic… the way that light reflects off of them and just how unique of a location it is. I haven’t seen that kind of background anywhere else, so that is a big dream of mine.
If you could see any band or show anywhere, who or what would it be and where?
I come from a percussion background and was on the Drumline in high school, and therefore I am a huge Stomp fan and am sad that it’s never worked out for me to see them live. They’re definitely my bucket list show to see.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I just read this book called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. It was a life-changing book for me because it really talks about figuring out your priorities. I think I would tell my younger self that the things you think matter don’t actually matter that much in the grand scheme of things, and to figure out your priorities much sooner. I sacrificed a lot to get to where I am today, and when I look back, I wish I had chosen a path with more balance in my life. I gave up everything to chase this dream of owning a business, and I wish I would have done it in a way that prioritized people and memories too.
Do you have a favorite movie or remember the first movie you saw in a theatre?
I am a huge Dirty Dancing fan, and I grew up watching it and memorized every word to it. And when I got into dancing a few years ago, I loved it even more because I could actually tell what they were doing. It’s just a classic.
What is something interesting about you that most people don’t know?
I don’t think a lot of people know that for 14 years I was a face painter at the Georgia Renaissance Festival. It actually just came to an end for my family. My family owned the face painting booth for 33 years and we just sold the booth, so this coming year will be the first time not participating in it. But, I did that on weekends for 14 years, and I absolutely loved it. Also, I skipped my senior year of high school — a random fact that I’m not sure many people know.
If you could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and where?
I feel like I should say someone famous, but honestly I would probably say my great grandma. Her name is also Claire. She passed away when I was 16 and we had a really special bond, so I just wish she could see where I am now. I wish I could hear her wise words again and just spend an afternoon sitting with her on the porch swing we would always sit on.
What three words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word “home?”
First, “dogs” definitely! I don’t even know what it is like to be in a home without a dog, and I never want to have a home without a dog in the future. I am a big advocate of rescuing, and I also foster when I can, so I always plan on having multiple dogs coming through the house. I would also say “safe and comfortable” because home is my place where I can unplug from the world and truly relax.