It’s easy to assume that the best photographers among us were born with a camera in one hand and a light meter in the other. We see incredible work by professional photographers on 500px and us beginners are tempted to just give up… there’s no way these pros were ever as mediocre as we are now, right? Wrong!

Humble Beginnings is a new feature in which we ask the best photographers on 500px to share the story of their own “humble beginnings” in photography. Then we compare some of their first images with their current work, so you can see how far they’ve come since they first picked up a camera.

Today we join mother of 10 and incredible family and portrait photographer Lisa Holloway, who was kind enough to provide us with a bunch of “Then and Now” comparisons and some great tips for beginners, too!

Lisa Holloway’s Humble Beginnings

I have loved art my entire life. As a little girl, I would spend countless hours drawing, coloring, and painting. Art class was always my favorite class in school, and I was pretty good at it, if I do say so myself! Photography has always interested me as well — when I was about 5 years old, my Mom and Dad gave me an old film camera and I’d go around photographing anything and everything, and then organizing my pictures in little albums. Throughout my life, a camera has always been at my side.

When I became a mother, I became seriously interested in photography. I did not want to miss one second of my children growing up and always had my camera with me. When my 5th little one came along in 2006, I decided that this wasn’t enough… I wanted to get GOOD at photography.


I had an old 2 megapixel Olympus point-and-shoot digital camera at the time that would allow you to enter basic manual settings, so I started learning about the exposure triangle and how changing each setting would affect the resulting photograph. Of course, I quickly outgrew this camera, and in February of 2008 we scraped together the funds to purchase my first ‘real’ DSLR — a Canon 40D and kit lens. As a young family living on a single income with 6 young children now, this was a HUGE leap of faith and investment in my hobby.

I was in LOVE and there was no turning back! I was thrilled at the new possibilities this camera brought to my work. It wasn’t long before I realized that my kit lens with its strange variable aperture wasn’t going to cut it — my wish list of equipment quickly began to grow into something that I could no longer justify as a hobbyist.

I decided I might as well make a little money on the side with my photography, which would allow me to purchase the gear that I wanted without the guilt of putting our family into debt. I opened LJHolloway Photography in 2008 and have not looked back!


I am not one of those lucky individuals that was amazing right out of the gates. It has taken a LOT of time and hard work to get to the point I am at now — and even now, I see so much room for growth.

Along the course of my journey, I have been through every cliché beginning photography phase in existence: from nuclear eyes, to hyper-saturated colors, to selectively-colored images. I’ve done it all, thought it was all amazing at the time, and then finally reached a point in my journey where I realized this was not all that, and it was time to move on to bigger and better things. Don’t worry — I’ve attached a few of these gems for you all to laugh at. 🙂


The best piece of advice I received as a beginner that I’d like to pass along to you is to VALUE YOURSELF. If you do not place value on your time and work, no one else will either.

This encompasses a few common newbie mistakes — the first being under-pricing yourself. Make a solid business plan and base your prices off of what you would like to earn as a salary, taking into account all of your business expenses, taxes, and, of course, your time.

Secondly, learn to say NO. You do not have to take on every job or project that comes your way. Figure out what you enjoy doing and what you are GOOD at doing, and focus on that. If you say yes to everything, you will quickly find yourself overwhelmed and unhappy.

I recently made the big decision to cut back drastically on the number of client sessions I was taking. Photography and all that it entails was taking too much precious time from my family. I only take one session per month now, and this has brought much needed balance to my life.










To see more of Lisa’s work, check out her 500px, visit her website, or give her a follow on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and Twitter.