The Story of a Photographer

What does photography mean to you? Here, I am going to share my story in how Photography has changed my life and my journey as an artist. I remember always picking up cameras and taking any pictures I could. I even used to steal everyone's disposable cameras and leave a selfie before selfie's were even selfie's. I also made slide shows of my travels as a child growing up as a "divorced" military brat. I was always traveling then too. Mostly, I just remember falling in love with the process of creating art with a camera.

The Beginning: Where it All Started

In 2011, I had my first daughter and was going through the stages of separating from my fiance. I was trying to find my own way and needed help financially. I really had no idea what to do because I already worked as much as I could as a dispatcher. My Dad came over to me and said: "hey, you have a good eye. You should consider doing photography as a profession for extra money. I think you could have a future in it." After hearing that, it just clicked. All it took was just one person believing in me and seeing my potential. From that point on, I decided that I wanted to do work with my camera for the rest of my life.

My Inspirations

When I was just beginning to find my voice and discover my passion, my Family Doctor and friend, Dr. Manny Barias, really encouraged me and gave me confidence in my potential to succeed. He would often give me advice on my business decisions and how to improve my work. However, one thing he told me that really stuck with me and still does to this day. He said: "The only way to succeed in any business is to work with others. Always choose collaboration over competition. And if you charge $50, then clients will expect $50 photographs. You must charge your worth. You may lose some clients but eventually, you will find the right ones." After hearing Dr. Barias and his advice, I internalized it, and from then on, I committed to working and learning from others. I realized that we all have our own style, our own art, our own workflow. I also began charging at the expense of my worth. Everything began to finally click.

One day, I came across Hailey Faria and her Reverie Workshops. I swear I thought she sent the Facebook pop-up to me on purpose just knowing I loved 70's fashion and obsessed over that retro culture. I really had no idea what a photography workshop was, but I just knew it was something I needed to do. However dramatic it may sound, her workshop changed my life in so many ways. The experience served as a tool for how I began to express myself and I slowly began to become more comfortable, not only with photography, but with who I was as a person. It is important for me to reference these people in my life and artists I have learned from because I have been able to dissect their work and take bits and pieces that have crafted my own style. I was drawn to Hailey's work because of the unique way she connects with her subjects and how she can draw out the raw, unguarded emotions from them. I look up to her ability and willingness to be creative and create photographs that are unique to her. She is truly so kind and full of life and adventure. The next person that inspired me was Emily Mitchell with Everyday Films. She is a Mommy of 4 little kiddos and teaches photographers how to shoot and edit films of their everyday lives. She has this gentleness to her and really chooses to share her heart with you. She is an open book when she teaches her art of films and there's something magical about that kind of transparency.

Growth and Finding a Purpose in your Work

It is possible to make a career that you love from nothing. I am proof of that. It all comes down to hard work and how badly you want it. You don't need the most expensive camera or gear to capture captivating portraits. All you need is your passion and desire to bring out the beauty in every person you photograph. Every time you post on social media, every time you compare yourself to what other photographers are doing, you are wasting your time. Action is the key to moving your work forward. There is no such thing as an overnight success. To be great, you just have to put in the damn work and do it consistently. I believe the key to growth as an artist is to never be complacent with your work. So, get up from the computer, quit whining, and get out there and make it happen. It really is that easy to redirect your energy and start your journey.


Just keep shooting. The more you shoot, the more you fail, and the more you fail, the more you learn. Do not get complacent with your work. Set new goals-- you are only as good as your last shoot. If you want to succeed in this industry, you must stay true to who you are. The only competition you have is yourself. Don't waste your energy focusing on someone else's dreams, go out and conquer your own.

Invest in your art and education. Reach out to other photographers and videographers. Attend workshops and retreats. Travel. Style the sessions that you want to do, even if you're not gaining income. They will keep your passion and creativity flowing. Host model calls. Write down your goals. Setting and specifying our goals helps us to approach life better.

Photography is more than just taking pictures, it's a neverending process of self-discovery and growth.


Carli Layton

“Creativity is not a competition. Everyone has their own style. So, go after the life and career you want.”