Meet Liz, FEM for May! (Female Entrepreneur of the Month)
Updated: May 13, 2020
On Thursday, May 14th, I had the privilege of interviewing Liz Fogarty, a full-time wedding photographer and founder of Liz Fogarty Photography.
Since launching her company eight years ago, she has been featured in numerous wedding and style magazines, including The Knot, Washington Bride & Groom, Inside Weddings, and Style Me Pretty.
Through her experience as a female entrepreneur, she shares amazing advice on how she has been able to pursue her dream job with the support of her family, her husband in particular, and a tight-knit community. Liz opens up on how she built her brand and how she is able to stay productive and balanced while running her company.
I hope you enjoy getting to know Liz as much as I did!
Sara: Tell us a bit about your background and how a bio-chem major like yourself ended up as a full-time photographer?
Liz: It’s a little crazy to be an entrepreneur after getting a bachelor’s in biochemistry! I was planning on going to pharmacy school after college, but I took a year off to save up. In that year I got married and we got a puppy, Oodles, and I bought a camera to take pictures of her. So, I can say she started it all!
After a while I started photographing friends and family and I absolutely fell in love with it! I knew that I wanted to be a wedding photographer. I am very goal oriented, so I am totally just self-taught. And now I could not see myself doing anything else.
Sara: Was starting your own company always a dream of yours?
Liz: Not really! My dream was to be a doctor, and my brother is living that dream, so at least one of us got to do it. But after I fell in love with photography, I knew there was nothing else I wanted to do. Now, I am the total opposite, and I am very much a businessperson. I see myself more as a business owner than an artist, honestly. I love marketing, branding, and anything that has to do with business.
Sara: How would you describe your style of photography? How do you get couples to look comfortable in front of the camera?
Liz: Our style is a mix of fine art and editorial, which is where we help pose our couples and we place them in gorgeous light. Editorial just means it looks like it could fit in a magazine spread. But we are also very much photojournalists, which means we let the moments unfold and just capture them from the best angle. For example, during the ceremony, we try to be as out of the way as possible! That time is not about photography at all, so we want to be very respectful. But for other parts of the day, I will knock guests out to get the shot, haha!
We like to get to know our couples, so they are comfortable. Awkward always shows. Most of our couples do the engagement session with us so that we do not walk into their wedding as strangers. It also helps to be a husband wife team, so the guys feel very comfortable with Gavin. We also have lots of jokes up our sleeves.
Sara: What is it like working with your husband? Do you have any tips for couples who work together professionally?
Liz: It’s actually awesome. We have very specific roles, so it never feels like we are stepping on each other’s toes. I run the business completely, from communication to marketing. Gavin does all the bookkeeping and second shoots. It’s also helpful that Gavin still works as a paramedic, so he has his own thing. I think we would kill each other if we were together 24/7. It’s awesome because we have our shooting dynamic down and we know exactly what we have to shoot. So, I trust him 100%!
Sara: What is the best part of your job?
Liz: Such a good question! The best part of my job is getting to be such a big part of my clients’ lives. I get to capture their biggest day, and I do not take that lightly. It is such an honor. It’s still surreal to walk into my weddings and to know that my couples picked me. I still get butterflies.
Sara: For those of you who haven’t been able to check out Liz’s website prior to this interview, her website and social media outlets are extremely well-branded. Do you have any favorite books you could recommend to entrepreneurs who are interesting in marketing and branding?
Liz: Thank you so much!
My first book that I read, and it changed my business, is Book Yourself Solid by Michale Port
Some of my favorite books are:
• Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuck
• Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller
• Start with Why by Simon Sinek
Another super important thing is to know your voice as an artist. I feel like I am still learning this. I used to be like every big fine art photographer and back in December we decided to completely re-brand and I could not be happier. We are attracting our ideal brides.
Sara: Prior to this interview, Liz and I had a chance to get real about what is it like to launch a company as a woman. It is not always easy, and Liz explained how important it has been for her to rely on her tight-knit network of photographers for support in addition to her family. What other advice would you give to women thinking about launching their own company?
Liz: It is tricky being a woman sometimes in business. People always assume that Gavin is the primary shooter and he has to stop them and call me over. There is still sexism in the industry for sure. So yes, having my girls that I go to, changes everything. I know I can trust them, and I can be vulnerable with them. My advice is to just go for it. If you think about it for too long, you will create obstacles for yourself. If it’s your passion, you won’t be able to not do it.
Sara: You have had the chance to travel the world to take photos of people’s special day. What has been your favorite destination that you were able to visit for work?
Liz: Cartagena, Colombia hands down! We are definitely planning on going back! We loved the food and the people.
Sara: On a more personal note, how do you stay balanced? It seems like you are very busy running your business and shooting weddings on the weekends.
Liz: I do try and balance my personal life. I used to not be as good as this but as I get older, I see that I want to learn to rest, which is so hard for achievers on the enneagram like me. We find so much identity in being a business owner, but I cannot forget that I am a wife, daughter, aunt, and friend too.
One thing that helps is that I completely check out on Sundays, meaning no emails or social media. I do not check emails or social media in the morning, instead I journal and meditate. I also check out at 5pm, so I can enjoy my evenings with Gavin and Oodles.
Sara: If you weren’t a full-time photographer, what career would you pursue?
Liz: I would definitely be a business owner. I think I would own a wedding venue, because we love the wedding industry and we have shot at so many venues that we know what works and what does not. It’s also something we can scale, unlike photography.