Latoya Dixon Smith is a wedding and lifestyle commercial photographer based in Greenville, SC. She has been widely featured in publications including The Huffington Post, Black Southern Belle, and Borrowed & Blue.
Along with photographing crazy-in-love couples who are mindful in their journeys together, Latoya finds her passion in educating and leading The Queen Photographers — a national community of black women photographers aiming to equip each other in business and foster a supportive Sisterhood.
Latoya started taking photographs when her son was born, teaching herself initially the way around the camera. After sharing her photos, she started getting requests from others to take photos for them.
After she started her business, while learning more about photography and growing her business, she wished that she had someone to talk with about the experience that she was going through. Someone to share tips & tricks with. When she found Sierra Collins through Instagram, she reached out to her, and they had what was essentially the very first Queen Photographers meetup.
They realized how great it would be if they could do what they were doing with other people.
They hosted the first workshop after reaching out to Ruby Melton of Brown Girl with a Camera, who did a portfolio building tour in their area. 10 photographers joined them for the first event – and made them realize that there were other black female photographers in their area.
The experience was so fantastic, they decided to start their very first group with The Queen Photographers of South Carolina. They offered workshops and other community events. Others started reaching out to them and ask for something in their city too.
Initially they wanted to have more interaction, more connection – but as the requests came in, they continued to grow. They now have chapters in 15 different areas!
This community serves to fill the members up, with a goal of helping members take it from a hobby to something that truly sustains them.
We discuss the benefits of having a local community, people that you can come together and collaborate with. If you celebrate who you are, no one else can be you! No one else is truly your competition.
Latoya also shared with me suggestions that she had for how all of us can celebrate Women of Color in the photography industry – a segment that so often is ignored when you look at conferences and various events that take place throughout the photo industry. It is so important to make this change!
- Give people a platform to voice the challenges that Creatives of Color face. It may be easy to overlook if you are impacted by it personally.
- Celebrate diversity. You have to expose yourself to more people, more things. Better yourself. If you are an ally? Get out and talk to POC. Speak up when you see underrepresentation. Connect people with others, celebrate the talented women you know!
- Catalyst Wedding Co. features a Queen Photographer each week, and I highly recommend you check them out!
- In the creative industry, many workshops and conferences are not diverse in their speakers. If you are running a workshop? Look in to this. People want to go where they feel that they are celebrated, and where they see others who look like them.
- If you claim to be inclusive, make sure that people actually can see it. If you talk the talk, walk the walk.
- Still want to be supportive if you don’t have a platform, go patronize the workshops & platforms of other People of Color. Share about them. Start the conversation.
- If you don’t know a creative of color? Seek someone out. Meet them. Get to know them. Talk to them. Let them talk – listen. You don’t know unless you sit down and listen to them.
- Keep the conversation going! Get out of the Facebook echo chamber!
If you see a need that you want? GO AHEAD AND CREATE IT!
Go after things that make you a little bit fearful – it pushes you to be a better person.
She shares with us some details on their recent rebrand, the changes that they have made, and their beautiful updated website at QueenPhotographers.com. You can also join their Facebook community, The Queen Photographers Collaborative, which is open to members & non-members alike.
You can connect with Latoya at on her website at LatoyaDixon.com.