Lilly Goga is a native of Calgary in Alberta. As a child, she found inspiration in everything around her and her parents encouraged her artistic side. This led her to experiment with many different mediums. Among the options that she pursued for a time were finger painting, drawing with charcoal, creating digital art and eventually photography. It was the last one that moved her the most.

As a teen she began learning how to take portraits at family reunions and other events. By the time she attended college, she knew she loved photography, but she didn’t know she could earn a living doing it. Between entrance in a contest and earning a good pay amount from online stock photography sites, she realized that it was exactly what she wanted to be doing. Eventually, she earned her certification in photography alongside her degree in environmental science.

Today, she employs several methods of making a living with her favorite passion. This hobby turned profession has been the cornerstone of her life and future.

What is your hobby?

Art has always been my hobby. I have been doing something artistic since I was a little child. At first, it was painting, and my favorite was finger paints. I finger painted until well into my teen years. It was my cousin who bought me a camera as a gift. It was love at first picture.

How did you get started with this hobby? What inspired you?

I had a party as a child and my cousin, who grew up locally near me, bought me a camera as a gift. I took a lot of pictures. We didn’t do anything real with it until our first family reunion. I took several pictures when we were there, and it was so much fun.

Tell us what you love about it.

I love being able to capture the moment and the energy in it. It is a whole lot of fun to find the right image before the camera catches it, then move anyone or anything into that right position. If the lighting is just right and falls upon the perspective things come together through the lens like nothing else.

Are there any groups you’re a part of or events that you attend related to your hobby?

There are some online communities that I connected with. It has been thrilling and enjoyable to connect with other artists who understand your passion and joy. It is invigorating to be able to discuss editing programs, cameras, lenses, and other supplies with those who actively use them. And for many of us, we are able to help each other see fresh or new perspectives in our images.

Have you had to invest in equipment and if so, please share some of the things you’ve bought.

Photography can be very expensive. I have purchased several cameras, but my favorite brand to use is Cannon. You have to stay in supply of memory cards, cleaning supplies, and you need a case for each of them.

Sometimes settings also require lighting, so I have to purchase the right lighting equipment applicable to the setting. Thankfully, not all of my events require new lighting. That has been an on and off project to learn how to find the right lighting. Having the communities on Facebook and elsewhere have been key to that learning process.

Where do you buy most of your supplies?

Really, I do a lot of shopping around when I’m looking for supplies. Often, I’ll pick up items from areas my peers have suggested, but some stores require more upfront investment, so I shop around instead. I have purchased some items from Amazon, others from Abes online, and some from other areas.

Are there any good books for beginners?

I would suggest starting with Studio Anywhere by Nick Fancher. He really has a handle on some artistic approaches that I was already starting to use. You can find so much more in this book that will help you see the art through the lens.

I enjoyed Exposure Mastery too. It helps you understand how your timing works with your shutter speed among other things. I don’t want to give too much away but it has such a wealth of knowledge that any beginning will gain something incredible from it.

How has this changed your life?

This hobby has become my life and my career. There is nothing more amazing than waking up each morning, checking my schedule, and knowing that everything on it is me getting to play all day long. There are few jobs you can do that you can both enjoy and make a living at it.

There are few artists that know they don’t have to be ‘starving artists’. I’m blessed to be one of those who know it and live it daily.

What advice do you have for others starting out with this hobby?

Get a camera and start taking pictures. When you find some you really like that you took, upload it to one of the stock photo sites. I also suggest doing a search for groups on Facebook that relate to photography as a business instead of a hobby. There are plenty of hobbyist but if you’re going to make a living out of it, you need like-minded individuals to work with or encourage you.

Even if you’re in business for yourself, there’s no reason to work it by yourself. Being connected to others in the industry makes a huge difference in your skills and success.

Are there any other hobbies you have?

I still paint on occasion. I also create images in pencil or other drawing methods. When I have time to play with the images in a design program, ones that aren’t from a portrait session, I like creating original and unique takes on the images. They are a whole lot of fun. Also, whenever possible and time allows, I like to travel. I hope to one day visit and take pictures of ancient Roman cities.

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