Before I really get rolling with this, I wanted to talk about who I am and what I'm doing here, and share a collection of photos of myself with cameras from over the years.
I was born and raised in Claremore, Oklahoma and graduated from Sequoyah (Claremore) High School in 1999. I'm a 4th generation Oklahoman, my family has been here since before statehood and lived in the panhandle through the Dust Bowl. My life took place on and around highway 66 from birth, but I never really noticed the road as anything special for another 30 years or so, when social media brought the network of “roadies” into one central place online and I started to read the stories of the people who had been working to keep the small businesses along the original Highway 66 alive since the interstates began diverting traffic.
Thanks to my dad who was into tech in the 80s we had a lot of camera equipment lying around and I loved taking photos of my family, my friends, and my pets. I often spent what money I had on film and developing as a kid. In high school I took a darkroom class and then got a job at the Wal Mart 1 hour film lab, which fed my love for photography, and in the beginning most of my photos were either having loved ones pose for me or just driving around capturing things I found beautiful, usually rural decay and crumbling buildings.
Taken by Don Birmingham in Wichita, Kansas, around 2011
After marrying at 19 and becoming a mom at 22, I started looking for ways to make money with my love of photography and by 2005 I was operating under Photos by Liz adoing senior portraits, weddings, family portraits, pretty much anything anyone would hire me for.
Taken by Steve Cluck, 2016ish
In 2012 I opened my own pinup and boudoir specialty studio in a basement space at 4th and Main in downtown Tulsa and rebranded as Pinup by Liz. I originally planned to add pinup as a side offering to what I shot but I became so busy so quickly that my entire business became pinup for many years. During the next decade I photographed hundreds of women and was published in multiple magazines had opportunities to work with amazing models and artists and travel to places like Las Vegas and Nashville for pinup photo shoots and work some really fun events like car shows and pinup contests and burlesque events.
Taken by Heather Bond, 2018
Over the next few years I spent time on the Oklahoma Route 66 Association board as a county representative, the Market District Steering Committee, and I worked at Buck Atom's Cosmic Curios one day a week starting not long after the store opened. I got to witness firsthand the arrival of Buck and the amazing growth of the business and revitalization of the area that followed.
Taken by Jim Livingston, 2019
In 2019 I moved my studio to 11th street, Route 66 in the newly created market district, and in 2020 I found myself single for the first time in adulthood and moved my home to Tulsa as well, but due to personal health issues caused by the effects of long Covid after getting sick I spent 2021 scrambling to keep things together, and I had to close the studio in early 2022 and due to climbing rent prices in Tulsa moved back home to Claremore where I currently reside while I get back on my feet after these last few tough years.
I spent 2022 on what I’m now calling my “Blue Whale side quest” and worked full time reopening and running the gift shop at the blue whale of Catoosa. It was a fun but exhausting job, and most days were so socially overwhelming that I came home from the gift shop and got straight in bed. For many reasons the position with the city wasn’t a good fit for a person like me, but I forever treasure my experiences last summer and will definitely be sharing some on this blog.
Now I work for a nonprofit focused on building up Route 66 in west Tulsa and am grateful for the opportunity. The workload is less demanding than running a gift shop and gives me time to also feed my creative side and do what I love doing best, driving around and exploring and taking photos of the things I think are beautiful, as well as hunting vintage for my other side hustle, Retro by Liz.
I intend to use this blog to share my catalog of photography as I sort through it, plus travel stories and photos and tips. After all of this tourism work I have a ton of information and experience that needs to be shared!
I have always partially supported my family with my photography and hope to continue to, no longer as a portrait photographer for hire but as a fine art photographer creating pieces to display and merchandise featuring my photos. This website allows me to do that by selling prints and wall art. Follow along as I figure out my next chapter.
Want to see what I have for sale? Visit my store! www.photosbyliz.com