Storied Life: Photographer Lilianna Story Captures Colorful Lives

February 16, 2024
3 mins read
Photographer Lilianna Story

For Austinite Lilianna Story, capturing a moment is everything. With her talents she has circled the globe, camera in hand, seeking new cultures and experiences to capture. Inspired by beauty at all turns, she is making the world more visually interesting. Here, our Lance Avery Morgan catches up with the go-to dynamo for portraiture, commercial, fine art, and event photography.

Photographer Lilianna Story

The best career advice I’ve received is…My father, who was a photographer and my mentor, always said, “Enjoy it, share it, and remember that is does not come from you.”

Three qualities that got me where I am today as a photographer are…Imperfection (it teaches humility), Fearfulness (it teaches strength), and Humor (it’s just good to laugh).

Easiest career decision I ever made is…Saying “yes”. I never set out to be a photographer.  I started photographing with my father’s Hasselblad film camera when I was in middle school.  It was shearly for personal enjoyment. When someone asked me to photograph professionally, fear overcame me, and I immediately declined. The next day, I decided to place faith in the opportunity. So, I said “yes”. Fear still lurks but I have learned what good can come from it.

Praiano (Amalfi Coast) by Lilianna Story

What is influencing me creatively in photography right now is…This may be a weird answer, but it’s my olfactory. The sandalwood in India, the eucalyptus in Morocco, and the lemons in Italy. It is the strongest of the five senses. It transcends and goes beyond the visual.  For me, it’s the most impactful element when it comes to creativity.  I bring home scents from my travels and smell them as I edit my photographs. It’s the closest thing to teleportation. 

Souk by Lilianna Story

How I made my first dollar…I made my first dollar without intention. I photographed a wedding pro bono on film. My beautiful friend from Africa took a chance on me. I would not have done it otherwise. I fell in love with it. The rest is history.

Last thing I binge/marathon watched…I tend to watch two at a time. It’s interesting to switch perspectives and moods.  I recently watched these two together: L’Amica geniale (My Brilliant Friend). This Italian series is moving, and the cinematography is beautiful.  And my brilliant friend suggested it. I also say Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father. It is simply lots of laughter and comic relief.

If I lived in a foreign city it would be…Anywhere my family and friends are. Truly. I’ve visited amazing places, but it is the people that make things most beautiful.I recall sitting alone in front of the back side of the Taj Mahal, across the river, among the orchards. It was a hazy evening and it looked even more magnificent and mysterious. I had lost the rest of my group, and I was alone, staring at it. I remember feeling overwhelmed by its beauty and omnipotence. I called my family to share the moment. When I was able to connect with them via Facetime, all of a sudden they were with me, standing in the orchards, experiencing one of the seven wonders of the world. 

What everyone should try in their lifetime is…Boating in the evening with family and friends, listening to favorite songs, and swimming until the sun goes down. Such joy.

If I could compete in an Olympic sport it would be…Is dancing an Olympic sport? It should be. That would be my sport. Winning a medal would be questionable, yet I would have fun trying. 

Book that left a lasting impression on me…The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai. I think this is a brilliantly written book.  The narratives shift so often, and it kept me intrigued. I read it again, accompanied by an audiobook, to hear the varied accents and regionalisms from India. It was an unexpected experience. I recently visited India and recalled the various accents. 

If I weren’t doing what I do I would…I think I would teach children. It’s a beautiful way to serve. 

A celebrity I would prank phone call and what I would ask them is…Adele. “Hello.”

My style icon is…My mother and father. I reference their style of life. Those who know them, know to what I refer. To know them is to love them.

My personal style signifier is…I don’t know if I have one. My style varies like picking a song. It depends on the day. Some days it’s Bob Marley and some days it’s John Prine.

Lobster dress by Elsa Schiaparelli, 1937

The classic designer I wish was still designing today would be…The visual pairing and creations of Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dalí. The lobster!

The last meal that truly impressed me was…Yesterday. A Thai dish made by my sister. She is a master chef in my mind.  It’s amazing what she will spontaneously put together from her pantry.  It’s so fun to cook with her. One key ingredient that always makes everything better…music.

In my fridge you will always find…Chilled, filtered water…and a lemon.

My perfect day would end…Laughing. 

On my tombstone it will say…I don’t think that’s up to me. But I hope they spell my name correctly.

The Gentleman Racer by Michael Satterfield

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