I haven’t done one of the in a while, and so I am excited to finally be talking about another fellow Greenvillian and mompreneur, Latoya Dixon Smith. I first heard of Latoya though a friend on social media. She was attending a weekend workshop in Charlotte with The Queen Photographers. I really wanted to join it was still at a stage in motherhood where I couldn’t leave for a weekend. From there, I saw her pop up in various groups around town. As social media tends to go, we started interacting together via IG stories and realized she was pretty cool. She is into wellness, always has a positive message, likes Sam Cooke, and since her Facebook profile references one of my favorite music groups, we’re basically twinsies. She has a beautiful family that includes a little boy and a successful photography business. Read below to see how she manages it all.



1) Tell the audience a little about your business

I have two businesses: one, Latoya D. Smith is my main photography business. I help health, beauty, and wellness brands by creating photo content for their advertising and marketing. This includes stock photos, product photography, and lifestyle business branding shoots. I’m also the Founder of The Queen Photographers. We are a community of black women photographers, aiming to equip each other in business and build a supportive Sisterhood. We do so through monthly meet ups, workshops, online courses, and Masterminds.

photo: Latoya D Smith Photography

2) How did you decide to start this business? What inspired you to be a creative?

Before Latoya D. Smith, there was Latoya Dixon Photography. My husband and I bought a Canon Rebel T3 on a Black Friday sale in 2013. We wanted to capture our son, Kent’s, every day moments. My interest in photography grew as my curiosity to take better photos for Instagram piqued. A few family members and friends started to notice my work and later asked if I’d take some photos for them and their families. In 2015, I made my way to wedding photography. I loved shooting weddings because it’s one event that you can tell the most emotional stories through your photos.

The Queen Photographers was one of those “create what you wish you had” projects. When we moved to Greenville at the end of 2013, I knew only a handful of people. I wanted to practice my photography more, but I didn’t know any other photographers. I was looking on Instagram and saw that there was another young black woman in the area who was also interested in photography. I sent her a DM and invited her to meet up so that we could shoot together and just get to know each other. She’s the Co-Founder of TQP, Sierra Collins. We wanted to create a community that offered real relationships, real-time support, and real accountability and assistance to other black women, like us, who wanted to start and grow photography businesses.

Latoya D Smith Photographyphoto: Latoya D Smith Photography 

3) What were some mistakes you made along the way?

I call my mistakes “lessons”. And I’ve learned quite a few of them. One lesson I’ve learned is to not allow what other people are uncomfortable with to dim your light. I’m a highly ambitious person, sometimes to a fault. I see something and I’m going for it. And sometimes it’s best to slow down, access the situation, and make calculated moves. But there are times when you know undeniably what the next best move is. And to not act upon it because you aren’t sure how you will be received is a waste of time, talent, and ambition. I’m still learning to not dim my light.

Another lesson I’ve learned is to not take things personally. We humans are such complex creatures and communication is something we’ve still not mastered. In business though, I’ve learned to first find alignment with myself before I engage in a conversation that might draw out some intense emotions. It’s easy to find yourself in a prickly situation if you default to taking offense to what is done or said. Disagreements I’ve found myself in have been due to lack of communication, a misunderstanding, or a projection of feelings. Keeping it to the point minimizes that.

4) Do you have any new areas of your business that you can talk about?

Yes, I will be launching my stock library for Latoya D. Smith in 2018. I’ve done a lot of research in the wellness industry and there isn’t a lot of diverse stock imagery. I hope to help fill that void with my galleries.

Latoya D Smith Photography

photo: Latoya D Smith Photography 

5) How do you manage to do so much and still be present with your family?

Communication. One of the best things my husband and I did for our relationship was go to premarital counseling. We were seeing our counselor during a very difficult time so it was also therapy for us. During that time, we established that effective communication would be the way for us to get through our situation and it’s been the way we get through any hardship, disagreement, or misunderstanding in our marriage, including how we parent.
My husband is also very patient. He knows how ambitious I am and supports me because we’ve vocalized what our ideal lives together as a family looks like. What I do is part of that vision. I am so grateful for him and the rest of my family who provide unconditional support with all that I do. It’s rare and I don’t take it for granted.
In the same vein, we have to communicate and be very intentional about what we will be doing together as a family and when. Kent is 5 and LOVES to talk and ask questions. If I’m not fully present during those moments, it can get frustrating (for us both) so I have to give him the undivided attention that he deserves. Same with my husband, we have certain times that are designated for each other’s undivided attention– like meals, right before bed, or if we’re engaging in conversation. Those are times we put down our phones, step away from the laptops and fully tune into one another.

6) Tell us a little about your personal style.

I’m all about simplicity, comfort, and convenience. Everything from how I dress to how I wear my hair is based on one or more of these characteristics. I love earth tones- brown, black, greens, greys and drawing inspiration from nature.

photo: Latoya D Smith Photography 

7) What is your source of inspiration and what feeds your creativity?

I forgot to mention that I’m also an engineer; I’m a problem-solver. I love taking on a challenge and figuring out how I can find different solutions. A lot of the times, that’s what inspires me to create. With photography, there are plenty of voids that can be filled due to lack of representation. That’s a problem I am happily willing to solve with my camera and lens.

8) Can you give us some of your self care tips?

Before this year, I thought self-care was about going to get pedicures and massages. As a person whose love language is physical touch, these most certainly can be part of your self-care routine. However, I’ve found that meditation to be incredibly beneficial to me. I also had back surgery recently which allowed me to spend a lot of time at home alone while my husband was at work and son in school. Alone time is a MUST. I have to be intentional about my alone time to ensure that I use it to not do anything at all; no work, no business planning, no listening to business-related podcasts or audiobooks, nothing. That’s hard, but I feel so much less burned out when I rest both my body and my mind.

photo: Latoya D Smith Photography

9) What is your greatest wish for your son? If you could only teach him one thing, what would that be?

Our message to our son has always been to “be a leader; not a follower.” Everything that comes under that umbrella will fall into place. More than anything we want him to lead a life that he finds joy and fulfillment in and to be an upstanding person who sets the example for others.

10) What is one piece of advice you would give to another woman trying to build her business?

Don’t look at fear as something negative. Fear is only energy. We have the power to decide what to do with it. Use your fear to surprise yourself and do the amazing things you think your “brave” self would do. A breakthrough is on the other side of fear. Push yourself to be great. And if you can’t do it, I’m more than happy to provide some friendly (but assertive) accountability to help you get there! 😉

I just wanted to highlight some of my favorite ideas from Latoya’s interview:

 “I’m still learning to not dim my light”

“I’ve learned to first find alignment with myself before I engage in a conversation that might draw out some intense emotions”

“I thought self-care was about going to get pedicures and massages”


Latoya is totally speaking my language. I love that she understands that we all have a beautiful light that needs to be shone. I love that she talks about alignment, and meditation, because those are key for me in self care as well. Look to thursday where I will discussing more about self care and yes, just like Latoya said, something much more than just getting a massage, though those are nice too.


Thanks, Latoya, for allowing me to highlight your businesses and you. Thanks for being a light that can help guide others to their most creative selves.