This week’s featured photographer is Abby Liga Photography. She is a successful portrait and wedding photographer based in Orlando, Florida that has been in business for 10 years (how many photographers in the industry can say that these days?!). Her work is classic and clean, yet modern and chic, a mix of photojournalism and creative portraiture. Just beautiful work.
Q. Welcome, Abby! Tell us a bit about yourself!
A. Hi there! Well, where to start off? I am a wedding and portrait photographer based in Orlando and I have been shooting weddings for about 10 years now. Crazy to say that! I absolutely LOVE what I do and can safely say that I still get excited and nervous when I’m about to shoot a wedding. Aside from photography, I’m a big foodie. I love to cook and create new dishes of all types. I have a slight obsession with HGTV and anything dealing with interior design. When I’m not behind the camera or in the kitchen, you can find me wandering the shelves at an antique store looking for a unique piece to add to my home, getting my yoga on, or finding fabulous steals at Nordstrom Rack.
Q. Tell us about your photography journey, when and how it entered into your life and how it turned into a business.
A. How long do you have? My story goes something like this…I was a rare bird and discovered that I wanted to be a professional photographer at the young age of 14. I know, weird right? I would walk around the halls at school asking my friends, “Don’t you know what you want to do with your life?” My poor friends would think something was wrong with them that they didn’t know what their life’s calling was at 14. Looking back now, I realize that my love for photography began when my parents got divorced. I felt out of control and discovered that I could capture what I wanted to see and feel. I think that is why I am drawn to shooting weddings. I have the opportunity to create the nostalgic moments that I value so much and stop them in time. Always still and never changing. After graduating from The Savannah College of Art & Design with a Bachelors degree in Fine Art Photography, I received an internship at Art +Commerce, a photography agency in New York City representing Annie Leibovitz, Ellen Von Unwerth, and Patrick Demarchelier. Along with my internship, I was also the studio manager for Jordan Elyse Photography, a children’s Photographer in the West Village (http://jordanelyse.com). I was simultaneously being exposed to both spectrums of photography. High Fashion and Corporate vs. Boutique-Style and Small Business. I was very drawn to having my own studio and being able to work one-on-one with clients instead of art directors, so that’s when I created Liga Photography in 2005 and haven’t looked back since!
Q. What do you specialize in? What’s your favorite thing to photograph?
A. I specialize in Fine Art Weddings and Portraits. I also do some commercial and editorial work as well. My favorite thing to photograph I would say are people engaging in a moment. When the light is amazing, the couple is syncing, I get SO happy and excited.
Q. What’s in your camera bag? What’s your favorite lens when photographing weddings?
A. Well, aside from my camera and lenses, I always have a Snickers bar and Carmex…I cannot live without those two items on a wedding day! It’s funny, my assistants will sometimes have a Snickers on hand in case I forget to buy one. So sweet! My go to lens for photographing weddings is my Nikkor 50mm 1.4. I’m surprised I don’t sleep with it under my pillow.
Q. How do you push yourself and grow creatively?
A. I think constantly educating yourself is imperative for creative growth. Every year I try to attend at least one seminar, workshop, or convention to get my creative juices flowing. I also think one of the biggest pushes to evolve creatively is having your work critiqued. While it can be a little nerve-wrecking, it is one of the best and only ways to really develop your personal style. I believe this so much that I actually created a workshop, “The Confidential” coming this Fall based solely on the art of the critique. It’s going to be awesome to see the growth with each photographer.
Q. If you could photograph any one person dead or alive, who would it be?
A. I would say my Grandmothers. Both have since passed and I wish I could have taken their portrait in all their beauty. I’ve learned so much from those women, they were so strong and beautiful.
Q. What do you think is the most important thing to running a successful photography business?
A. Great question. While there are lots of important things, such as always producing great work and providing stellar customer service, I would say the most important thing is KNOW YOUR NUMBERS! If you know your numbers, then you will know how to price yourself. I see so many photographers giving away the world in their wedding packages and wondering why they can’t afford to hire an assistant. A few years ago, after taking the PPA’s Studio Management Services (SMS), I sat down, and wrote down everything that went into producing a wedding, from start to finish, right down to the minute. I was averaging about 45 hours for each wedding. This helped me decide how to price my hourly rate, administrative rate, and design rate. So now when a client wants to customize a package, I will know comfortably and confidently know what I can do to make it work both for them and for my company. There are real power in numbers.
Q. I know that you recently launched a workshop, please tell us about it!
A. Yes! I am SO excited about The Confidential Workshop. It’s been a labor of love and something that I have been wanting to do for years. The Confidential Workshop is a 3-Day photography retreat and will be held at the luxurious Bohemian Hotel in Celebration on October 15th-17th, with a welcome reception on the evening of the 14th. The concept of the workshop is all about building confidence in one’s photography style and business practices through challenging photo shoots, round table discussions, and artist critiques. The reason why I find this concept extremely important is because it is how I discovered my photographic style and how I became confident in my work with both shooting and selling. When I attended SCAD, I was constantly displaying my work to be critiqued by my professors and classmates. And while I was nervous to hear what people had to say, I loved it because it pushed me to be a better photographer. It made me slow down and really ask myself what do I want to have the end result be? What did I want it to say? How do I want people to feel? I still ask myself these questions every time I pick up my camera. In today’s digital era, I am finding more and more photographers are shooting without intention and not understanding why they shoot the way they shoot. In this workshop, we will be photographing three challenging scenarios, and presenting the best images to be critiqued. Day 1 will be all about Marketing, Branding, Social Media and assessing where each photographer is in their business. Along with my presentation, I have wedding planner expert Lisa Stoner of E-Events and marketing & branding expert Amy Morelli of 2u Creative talking about the important elements from their aspects of the wedding industry that photographers need to know about. On day two (shoot day), I will be working with each attendee while they shoot challenging scenarios offering tips and advice along the way. At the end of shoot day, attendees will be asked to edit their top 5 images to be ready to present the following day. On day three (critique day), each image will be presented on a large screen and discussed collaboratively amongst everyone. The setting will be an intimate round-table-style discussion of each attendees’ work. Aside from my critique, attendees will be encouraged to give their insight as well, creating a really positive experience for everyone. Knowing their style will empower photographers with an amazing amount of confidence in their work, resulting in confident selling, and ultimately becoming more profitable! One-on-one mentoring sessions will also available during the workshop and are highly encouraged. At the end of the workshop, we will close with a farewell reception and hopefully with a few more friends to continue sharing images and ideas with. We are now booking our Early Bird Registration which ends on July 30th. Find out more information here.
Q. Any parting words of advice or inspiration for those just starting out?
A. Yes always! I would say constantly be pushing yourself to do better, no matter what level you are at. Continuing educating yourself will make you a better photographer and and artist. You’re only as good as your last image!
Thank you, Abby, for chatting with us!!