my photography journey | liz labianca

Liz Labianca

My Photography Journey by Liz Labianca

As I sit here thinking about the last 19 months as a photographer, I am hard pressed to say that there isn’t one thing that I would do differently—and  that is a BIG statement since I pretty much did everything that “the books” say I shouldn’t have.

the photography journey of Liz Labianca

Photography has always been in my blood; I remember sitting in the middle of my grandmothers bed surrounded by black and white images. But my passion really took hold when my son was born in 2005. I was excited to finally have someone I could photograph at my own free will. I purchased my first DSLR, a Nikon D40 with a kit lens, and I started shooting. For five years, I shot every aspect of his life.

I had read something that said to frame your shot in the viewfinder as if you were looking at an actual frame. Even then, I was looking for something more than just a smile or a pose. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was starting to find my love of lifestyle photography.

the photography journey of Liz Labianca

When we moved to Texas, I secretly dreamed of becoming friends with a photographer who might hire me as an assistant, because I could never in a million years have the courage start my own business. However, in September of 2010,  I found myself inspired by the work of an old classmate whose images started popping up on my facebook newsfeed. It occurred to me:

Why can’t I do this?
Art is subjective.
There is no failure when it comes to art.

the photography journey of Liz Labianca

Soon after that epiphany, I sat my wonderful husband down and announced in my most assertive voice, “I want to start my own photography business.” He gave me a worried look (probably imagining all the money I’d be spending!) and said in a quiet but firm voice, “Liz, I bought you a D40 five years ago, and you still shoot in automatic.”

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that the exchange became heated. But finally, over a Starbucks coffee, I told him, “There are two loves in my life, my family and my photography. I need you to believe in me.” With that, he smiled and gave me the thumbs up to go and purchase that new camera and lens  (Nikon D300s and the 50mm 1.4) and Liz LaBianca Photography was born.

the photography journey of Liz Labianca

Come to find out that even though photography feeds my soul, I didn’t know one darn thing about starting a photography business.  Soon new words consumed my consciousness: catchlight, open shade, shooting manual, aperture. Since I started my business around the holiday season, I was fortunate that friends hired me and kept me busy learning.  Mistakes were made—a whole heck of a lot of them—but with every mistake, I learned something new.

Once I realized how much I needed to learn, I knew I had to dedicate every ounce of who I was to become better. Some of that determination stemmed from launching my Facebook business page. Since I had announced my dream to the world—all 30 fans of mine!—failure was not an option. But I also found that people online are quick to judge and demean what you are doing.

the photography journey of Liz Labianca

So I made a choice, I chose to take that power away. I made a point to start sharing my journey with anyone who wanted to listen. I believed it was important to acknowledge that I didn’t know everything. That I was nervous before every shoot. That everyday I was living outside of my comfort zone. That sometimes it was invigorating, but other times I was utterly exhausted. That I sometimes wanted to crawl back into the simple world that I used to live in.  That friendships were tested, and that some people couldn’t or wouldn’t support me on my journey.

I still remember announcing to my sister-in-law that I didn’t need to learn manual, my pictures were already awesome! She simply pointed me to a blog that broke down the connection between shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. I made a cheat sheet, and I wore my camera around my neck at all times, forcing myself to shoot in any and every circumstance. When I wasn’t shooting, I was teaching myself editing software.

the photography journey of Liz Labianca

After six months, I started to feel a little more confident in my work but the true challenge after mastering my camera was mastering my editing style.  Defining your niche in the world of photography is one thing; defining your editing style is the other aspect.  Photoshop is a very overwhelming program, so I took it step by step. I remember reading questions that other photographers would ask, “What Photoshop tool could you not live without?” Levels and Curves came up every single time, so that’s where I started.  Soon after, another photographer said one of my photos had the skin tones  of an Oompah Loompah. Hmmm…that’s not the look I was going for. So off I went to teach myself about skin tones. With every question I had, I looked to Professor Google or Professor YouTube for answers.  My husband quickly proved to be the backbone of the business as he became what must have felt, at times, like a single parent . Not once did he complain.

the photography journey of Liz Labianca

I’ve had a lot of people ask me, “How did you grow so fast?” The answer was simple. I didn’t give up. I didn’t look at anyone else’s work or compare how good (or not) I was.  I took it day by day. There were days where I felt magical and days where I felt beat down. But I did not give up. I was hard on myself, not because I was looking to be the best photographer in the world, but because I wanted to feel confident in the product I was selling.  Any time I felt scared to do something, I forced myself to  do it, knowing that I would learn a new lesson.

the photography journey of Liz Labianca

I have since sold my Nikon D300 and upgraded to the Nikon D700 and my lens stash is a little over the top. I have realized that I love primes more then zooms. I am getting closer to staying true to my niche of shooting only children, and I am still working on that beautiful thing called balance.  I often wonder if I would have had the courage to start my own business had I known how over-saturated the industry was—and if I’d realized how my early work was being critiqued and frowned upon by successful photographers who secretly (or blatantly) made fun of us “momtogs”.  But I also wonder how many other amazing photographers are out there, living in fear of stepping outside of their own comfort zone, afraid of failure, maybe even afraid of success, afraid of living the life that they keep safely boxed away in their dreams.

the photography journey of Liz Labianca

the photography journey of Liz Labianca

the photography journey of Liz Labianca

Thank you, Liz, for sharing your journey with us!

Liz LabiancaLiz Labianca, Texas
website | facebook
Liz Labianca is a Frisco based photographer specializing in lifestyle photography.   Her dream was realized when she started her business in October, 2010. Inspired by her own children,her photography is fresh, whimsical, and gives a look into the soul of her subjects. She captures connections that speak to the emotion between people, outer beauty, and spirit. Her focus is on pictures that will remind you of not only how your child looked but who they were at that moment in time. Liz is a friend to her clients and enjoys getting to know each family’s personality and style.  She incorporates these into her images. She goes beyond traditional boundaries to create an images that will create a memories that will last a lifetime.

my photography journey series on the Clickin Moms blog


  • Terri Collins says:

    Thanks for sharing your journey, Liz! Your words are inspiring!

  • Vera says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’m currently in paralysis because every time I post an image online I’m immediately humiliated by my imperfections. It’s so hard!!! Thanks for helping me realize that it’s all part of the journey!

  • Carolyn says:

    Thank so much! I really needed to hear this!

  • Rachel Mc says:

    So inspiring! Thank you for sharing, Liz!

  • J. says:

    Such an amazing journey and very inspiring! Thank you for sharing this! :)

  • Lauren says:

    Your words, story, and images are all so inspiring. Thanks for sharing Liz!

  • Carla Bagley says:

    Love reading about your courage and faith in yourself:) Your husband sounds like a gem:)

  • Lone Rose says:

    You are such an inspiration to me. Stunning work!

  • Laura says:

    Love this story. Hopefully this is just another push for me to start my dream as well. Thank you!

  • Jenny says:

    great read Liz – so nice to see the evolution of your journey – adore your work :)

  • Kim Peterson says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey! I love your story and feel inspired by it!

  • Your story is truly inspiring, I felt like your were writing about me, I have felt and experienced all of the same circumstances as you, right down to owning the Nikon D40 as my first camera!! I know my next step is to start a webpage, something I have been putting off. I just needed that extra push and your encouraging words certainly help. Thanks!

  • Rene Hermosillo says:

    Your words are very inspiring… I have such a long way to go, but I am determined! I love your work, beautiful :)

  • Cathy says:

    You stole my idea 😉 I was just thinking a couple weeks ago how I might start a blog about my journey as becoming a professional photographer. This was perfect and thank you for sharing and putting yourself out there!

  • Rebeca says:

    Such a real read, indeed! Thank you for sharing your story & your adventure. I love your work & love being your fan! I still keep learning from you!

  • Marian says:

    I love that your hubby even knew what manual was…sounds like you guys make a great team! You’re work is beautiful.

  • heidi says:

    This is one of my favorite photog journey stories! :) You have one of the best attitudes and story of determination and will that I have read! :) I love your work too!

  • Vaune says:

    I just love that you started your business before you had it all figured out! It seems the opposite of most photography journeys, but clearly, it has worked beautifully in your case. We are neighbors too – I live in Carrollton, and I love seeing familiar places in your photos!

  • Jurgita says:

    Thank you so much for sharing and inspiring!!!

  • Brenda says:

    Liz, i have been following you on FB for awhile and am always inspired by your posts. I too have always loved photography but with the love and support of my husband have within the last year begun dipping my toes in the Momtographer world (I am currently up to my knees) I am 46 years old and am of the belief I am never to old to learn and follow a dream. Thank you for being an inspiration.

  • Jennifer says:

    I started my business close to a year ago and everything you described is how I feel so often. It is such an up and down journey. Thanks for sharing!

  • Leticia says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! Even though I’ve had this burning desire to just dive in, I’ve been trying to pace myself before starting my own business based on my left-brain dominant personality and all the advice I read. Your story is very inspiring!

  • Karen says:

    Thankyou for your honest and moving account of your photography journey (so far)…. My journey has just begun after years of self doubt and fear so it is motivating to hear that we don’t need to “know it all” or have to please everyone else for our passion to be rewarding ! I feel inspired to take a leap of faith….and finally believe in myself.

  • Faye says:

    Thank you for this Liz!!! I’m in the thick of it right now. Thinking about upgrading to the 6D and hoping that I get a client soon!!! I have no clients on the books right, but I won’t give up!!!!!

  • Dora Gomez says:

    Sometimes I wonder if I did the right thing by retiring from the Federal Government with a nice steady pay check to start by own photography business. Working with my passion. Logistics just didn’t do it for me even though I was blessed to have a 27 year career. Well I think I just realized I made the right choice. Thank you!

  • Emily says:

    Thank you for sharing!

  • Kristy says:

    So inspiring Liz!!!! Thank you for being so honest and open!

  • Heidi G. says:

    HUGE fan! Love your work. Love your style. Love your story. :) Thank you!

  • Colie says:

    Great to read your story Liz!

  • CJ Olson says:

    Thank you for sharing your story Liz! Learning and growing is a wonderful thing! I love your story!!

  • This was so inspiring, Liz, thank you for sharing. I’m a big fan of your work. :)

  • Loved your story Liz and the courage to share it. You’re an inspiration to all of us…..

  • A wonderful journey! Love your perspective, similar to my approach :)

  • Melina says:

    So inspiring!! Especially for beginners like me!

  • Kylee says:

    Your story was very inspirational! I am just starting out pretty much since Christmas 2012. I got a studio lighting kit then with tax money I went and got the Nikon D5100. As for me I started backwards I pretty much have all the stuff to start a photography business except for the customers. I have to get out and start taking some photos. Right now I mainly take portraits of my children they are my inspiration. I am unsure of my style as of yet though. I do think I am a little on the nervous side about starting my own business. Do you have any suggestions on where to start when starting a photography business? Thank you for sharing your story hopefully it will help me to face my fears and get out there in the world of photography!

  • Jessica says:

    Much gratitude for Sharing your journey Liz. What a wonderful success story!

  • Karen Eagle says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, just what I needed to hear!

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