I caught up with a favorite southern gal of mine, Liza Boone, to chat about her love for taking the most beautiful photos and how she graciously blossomed her self-titled brand, LGray Photography, while residing in the sun-drenched, talent-saturated city of LA.
What I’ve always admired most about Liza’s picture taking ability is the soft and romantic vibe of the scenes she sets, preserving her images in a timeless realm forever, somehow deeming them vintage in even today’s era.
A warm golden hour dripping with pastel tones, soft shadows and the freshest flowers are the key ingredients to her signature style. This feminine aesthetic of hers caught the eye of MeUndies, and she’s worked with them on several campaigns to date (one of them involved trekking it out to the legendary Salvation Mountain), and a few months ago, she landed a goal of her dreams by signing with Wilhelmina Artists, one of the most prominent management agencies in the world.
(Don’t even get me started on the fact that she once photographed Paul Oakenfold in his Hollywood home.)
While a majority of her images are of stunning models set in sleepy, East LA settings, the personal pictures she shares of just her work space are inspiration enough. She truly never fails to impress me with her confidence and drive (like that one time she fled her job as a waitress to pursue photography full-time and never looked back. I’d say that risky decision worked out pretty darn well.)
With that being said, pull up a pretty pillow, grab a glass of southern sweet tea (or a gratifying glass of wine, if you really want to get in Liza mode), and cheers to the girl who many, many others attempt to mirror their own photos after (myself included, obviously).
[We asked Liza to fill in the blanks.] My name is Liza Boone, I am a Photographer. I am 50 % dreamer and 50 % doer. I would describe myself as nice enough, and I am most inspired by nostalgia. I dream of traveling the world, and I will do that by never giving up the hustle!
Dreamers & Doers: Can you tell us about the first camera you ever owned, and what you currently shoot with?
Liza: My parents bought me a pink and grey Polaroid when I was little. I would ask my friends to pose for me. Haha. I have a whole book of polaroids of my friends just standing against a wall or sitting in a chair. Now I’ve graduated to digital. I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II.
DD: What are some of the greatest struggles or challenges of being a photographer in Los Angeles?
L: There is SO. MUCH. talent here. It’s ridiculous. There are so many artists that moved here just to get out and create and they don’t care if they’re making money or not and they’re producing incredible/unique work. I’m 32 and I watch these amazing creatives in their 20s that are out there watching the sunrise, driving out into the desert, and creating magical things and it completely terrifies my ego. But it inspires me too!
DD: Do you think there is a secret to overcoming those challenges and finding success?
L: Absolutely. The most important thing you can do is not compare your work to others & make sure you make an effort to differentiate yourself as well. If you see someone’s work that you admire, then use it as fuel and inspiration instead of discouragement. We all have our own uniqueness about us… so I think the key to success is being inspired by others and then coming up with something original to yourself and your vision. That’s what’s going to make you stand out.
DD: Shooting in LA must provide many great stories. Can you tell us about your most memorable photo shoot(s)?
L: One of the most memorable was a shoot I did last Christmas for MeUndies. My friend was the creative producer for them at the time and had found this amazing airstream that you could rent on a cliff in the Malibu hills. We decided to drive up the night before to prep everything and enjoy the view, not realizing that the road up wasn’t lit, paved, or marked & there was nobody around for miles. So it was me driving my VW Jetta on a cliff in the pitch black, absolutely certain midway up that it would be where I took my last breath. At one point we had to get out and walk with flashlights. There was maybe two feet between my car tires and an infinite drop off into the canyon. We made it to the top after about two hours and that’s probably the fastest I’ve ever drank a glass of wine (or three) in my life. The next day the sun came up, the view was incredible, and the actual shoot went flawlessly. Thank God the drive down was in daylight!
DD: How did you come to work in the fashion industry?
L: I’ve always gravitated towards photography & have enjoyed fashion growing up, I just never knew it was necessarily something I would be able to do and support myself with. I remember I had just gotten let go from an assistant job at a production company (because I was awful at it). I had originally moved to LA to work in production, so once that didn’t take, I was feeling really lost. I had a friend ask me “If you could do anything, what would it be.” And that was that. I got a waitressing job and shot constantly… Eventually people wanted to pay me for what I was doing and I was able to quit my day job.
DD: Aside from fashion photography, what other subjects or formats do you enjoy shooting?
L: Street photography is by far my favorite medium and I’m terrible at it. I have so much respect for street photographers because they aren’t afraid to be invasive and on the flipside, have mastered the art of being discreet. It’s such a beautiful way to capture the years, the fashions, even the attitudes of generations past and present. I feel the same way about photojournalism. Basically anything that captures people and their emotions/environments, I’m a sucker.
DD: You have a knack for scouting some gorgeous spots! How do you go about finding/choosing such stellar locations?
L: It’s not difficult because this city is full of them! I mostly shoot around my neighborhood in Silverlake… but when I really want to seek out something different, it’s nice to drive out into the desert or up into the mountains. I do a lot of research & a lot of driving around. I also ask a lot of friends with cool houses for favors!
DD: Can you tell us about your editing process? How do you know when a photo is done?
L: Ug. Editing. I don’t. I played around with filters and presets for a long time and then realized there was an aesthetic I kept going back to. So I custom made my own filter and use that on most of my images (when needed). It’s very subtle, but I usually have to adjust it a bit. I try to Photoshop images as little as possible because I think we have become entirely too obsessed with perfection in this world.
DD: Your work has an incredibly soft and romantic feel to it. Where do you pull inspiration from?
L: Oh gosh, everywhere. I love old photographs.. I buy a lot of old fashion magazines off of eBay from the 30s and 40s to the 70s and 80s. It’s so interesting to see how women are portrayed in them through the years. I just got a stack of Seventeen magazines from the 70s and I swear every single ad has a girl who’s dressed up as an innocent little girl. It’s a little disturbing. But take that and fuse it with something modern and it becomes a whole new thing. I also love fabrics and textures – interesting/unique clothes can inspire so much on a shoot!
DD: How did you come to develop your style and aesthetic?
L: It happened naturally. It definitely wasn’t a conscious effort. I just kept shooting and updating my book and suddenly people kept describing my work in similar ways.
DD: While photographing or editing, is there any specific music you listen to or anything specific you do to create a mood in your work space?
L: If I were cool, I would tell you that I’m regularly playing Pandora or listening to some kind of jazz music. The reality is I’m MOSTLY watching bad television when I work. For instance I just discovered that HULU has released the entire series of The OC on streaming. So yeah, my mood will be falling in love with Seth Cohen all over again this week. Apologies to my husband.
DD: Tell us a little bit about LGray Photography and any goals you have set for yourself.
L: Honestly, I just want to keep being able to work and create. I’d love to take a darkroom class at some point & experiment with film. Long term goals – I want to start traveling more for work and shoot lookbooks on location. Somebody send me back to Greece please! Or Italy or Africa! That’s where I’ve really set my dreams at this point.
DD: As far as cameras are concerned, do you have a preferred, beloved camera and lens? Is there a camera you dream of shooting with?
L: I’ve only used Canons and I love them, but I’m not really particular either way. I have a Hasselblad from the 60s (a medium format camera) & a refrigerator full of film that I dream of being able to shoot with and shoot with well at some point – but right now it intimidates me.
DD: What is the best advice you were ever given?
L: Never give up & never stop learning. It sounds lame but it’s so true. There were so many times when I’d step back and look at what I was doing and question everything. I waited tables for 3 + years before I was able to quit, and even then there were times when I was barely paying rent. Now that I’m earning a living I’m still well aware that I have so much to learn.
DD: What words of wisdom would you give to any struggling, aspiring photographers?
L: Just keep shooting. Always always be shooting. Think of concepts, try new things, even if they end up looking ridiculous. Find your niche and make it awesome. Study your favorite photographer’s work and ask yourself why you love it so much. Is it the light, the concept, the mood, the setting? Use that knowledge to create something that’s original to you & your experiences & perspective. Just keep creating and it’ll force you to find your voice.
DD: What would you pursue in life if you were not a professional photographer?
L: Well – I grew up with my dad being in the antique business and I’ve always been in love with it. I imagine I’d drag my brother into some pact where we take it over & force people to realize why a 17th century apothecary table is actually way cooler than the mass produced one you can find at Pottery Barn & in every other house on the block. …. Is a plug appropriate here? (Visit our Etsy store for an example of our inventory!!) 😀
And…here’s a photo Liza once took of yours truly! 😉