We had the good fortune of connecting with Liz Dilley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Liz, how do you think about risk?
I love this question. In my life, I have taken many risks… definite risk-taker here. I love Captain Ahab in Moab, I ski double black diamonds all day, I played international rugby, I lived abroad, I surf and the list goes on. I love a little adrenaline. I was an art teacher for 15 years, I mostly taught photography and graphic design to high school students. It was a great career with a steady income, benefits, and very fulfilling work. As a teacher, I graded student artwork and actually had a category that they were graded on called “Risk Taking.” As an artist, it is so important to get out of your comfort zone, so much so that I wanted to reward my students who took risks with a higher score…. even if that risk flopped. When I started my business I was thinking about leaving education. However, when I eventually took the leap to a full time photographer, I was really enjoying education. It was a huge emotional risk to leave a career I loved. Would my own business fill my cup emotionally? The crazy thing is that when I directed all my energy to my business it went in a totally different direction than I had originally set on. I became much more creative with my photography and really started to deeply love what I was creating… not only the images but the connections with people, the landscape, my community and how I see the world. It’s been a great journey and I look forward to future risks I will get to take as I grow!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have always wanted my work to look a certain way. It’s taken me a while, but I am getting there. One thing that has proven true is that it really does take hard work, really hard work. I used to spend a lot less time with clients. However now, I work with them on their styling before the session, I scout amazing locations for them, I spend about 6 hours or more editing their sessions. All of this is probably 10 times the work I used to put into my sessions and it is why I am having to charge more. Charging more is a challenge because some people can’t tell the difference between me and someone who spends a lot less time on their art. I have had to overcome the fact that I am just not for everybody. Not everyone is going to love my work or want to pay my fees or love my personality. Coming to terms with that was hard. Now it’s just finding the people who love my work enough to hire me.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in Eagle, Colorado. If I was showing them my town we would start with coffee at Color in the morning, followed by a mountain bike ride on our local trails probably Mayer Gulch, because everyone loves Mayer. We would take my kids to the pump track for a picnic for lunch. Then for the dinner: a cruiser ride to Bonfire Brewery for some beers where we would order Pick Ups Pizza to be delivered to our table. In the evening, we would sit on my back patio and play cards by bistro light. That is a day at my house in the summer!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have to say there are a lot of people who I have admired, been inspired by and mentored by. Number one, my wife has been so supportive. I would never have even pursued my own business as a photographer without her cheering me on and helping me along the way. I have had family photography done by Lauren Wright who I have admired for years, I would say she has influenced me. As for mentoring, the course I have taken with Stormy Solis has really transformed me and helped me grow. She has also taken our family photography and that experience alone was huge. Spending the money to work with people who inspire me has really been an investment in my business and I will continue to do that no matter the levels I reach. I always want to be growing. I am very excited to be doing an in-person workshop in Iceland with Stormy next summer to learn even more.
The picture of me and my two kids is by Stormy Solis. The 8 photographs I uploaded next are all by me, Liz, EJ Dilley Photography.