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Female Disruptors: Anna McNaught is shaking up the photography scene

“Don’t compare yourself to others”


“Don’t compare yourself to others” This has been a tough one for me because it’s so easy with social media and a world where we are in information overload, to look at what others are doing and feel like you aren’t good enough or aren’t on their level. In the book, “You are a Badass,” by Jen sincero, she says, “Can you imagine what our world would be like if our biggest heros succumbed to the perils of comparison? If Marilyn Monroe compared herself to Kate Moss and decided she needed to lose her curves? Or if the guys in Led Zeppelin compared themselves to Mozart? … You are more than enough. Avoid comparison like the plague.” This has always stuck with me because it’s so true! Imagine if the people we admire tried to be like someone else. Our whole world would be one big snooze!


I had the pleasure of interviewing Anna McNaught, a well known photographer and digital artist from Los Angeles, CA. She also is the founder of The Liked Photo, a site teaching entrepreneurs and business owners how to grow their brands on Instagram and become better photographers. Anna has been noted as one of the top female digital artists on Instagram and is now beginning her journey as a full-time world traveler while working on the road.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

Thank you for having me, it’s an honor!

My high school art teacher informed me I would never amount to anything let alone an artist or designer. This was the driving statement that started it all and sometimes that’s all it takes. In 2013, I packed my belongings and moved across the country to Los Angeles to pursue a career in fashion photography. It was a rude awakening to discover that this world I desperately wanted to be a part of was ultra-exclusive, largely deceptive and filled with empty promises. For a very select few it works out, but for me, this wasn’t the path that I was meant to take. I spent over six months pounding the Hollywood pavement, submitting dozens of job applications on a daily basis, and searching Craigslist for anything I could do related to my career choice or not. I eventually found a part-time job selling solar energy systems door-to-door to make some much-needed money. By the end of 2014, I landed a job as an in-house graphic designer, but something was lacking. I realized I had lost my creativity. I was at rock bottom and reduced to tears on a regular basis. I was ready to turn tail and head home. I would have, but something was holding me here. If I was going to survive, I needed to reinvent the direction in which I was headed.

In the largely male-dominated-digital-manipulation world on Instagram, I wanted to be the premier female photographer and digital artist. I would make a niche for myself, combining my love of photography and graphic design. If there wasn’t a job for me, I was going to create it. I took a chance and started posting my surrealistic photography creations. These pieces quickly gained recognition opening up a whole world of art shows, galleries, and new creative challenges. I wanted to return my appreciation to the community. After long hours of research, classes and pep talks, I started a blog (The Liked Photo) to teach people how to take better photos and market themselves more effectively on Instagram. Now here I am one year later with over 100k followers and a successful, growing business. I recently decided to leave my full-time job to pursue freelance work. Setting my own schedule also allows me the luxury of travel to expand my horizons. I find inspiration in these experiences that I hope will become the creative drive in my work. This is just the beginning. With my motivation and determination, I plan to continue evolving and expanding as an artist and shaking up the industry standards!

Why did you found your company?

After a few months of posting my work on Instagram, I started to have lots of people ask me how I grew my followers so quickly and wondering how I edit my photos. I had known for a while that I wanted to start some sort of photography website but wasn’t sure what the mission would be. This made it all clear. I thought to myself, if Instagram and my photography work allowed me to quit my job, travel and experience the world, then I want to teach others to do the same. I’ve had numerous conversations with people that feel as though their lives are passing by while they sit at work or in their long commutes. Most of these people just aren’t sure how to take the leap or grow their passions outside of the office. Teaching people how to grow a business through this little app is one step closer to others reaching total happiness and financial freedom.

What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

My generation is right on the edge of this steady career and working for yourself life. It was less than a few years ago that if you told someone you were making a full time income from Instagram they would have looked at you like you were insane. I’m teaching people how to live a life that is full of what THEY want and THEIR goals instead of someone else’s — Filled with less meetings, less meaningless hours, less driving time, and more joy, freedom, and ability to follow one’s own dreams while making a steady income. I’m showing others that we no longer have to be NAME, TITLE. We can now be NAME followed by 10 commas. Anna McNaught, photographer, digital artist, influencer, world traveler, life adventurer, creator of her own life.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?

From day one, my parents! They always been supportive of my goals and dreams and have spent countless hours on the phone with me walking me through business plans, tax help, and general brainstorming. Another mentor of mine is my previous boss, Scot SImmons, an author, english teacher, and entrepreneur. At my last job, he was the creative director and I was working as the graphic designer and photographer. He pushed me out of my comfort zone each day and challenged my ideas when I was first starting my business. He would constructively critique my photography work and helped me put meaning behind each piece. When I told Scot I was putting in my two weeks notice, he decided it was time for him to retire so that we could pursue a business venture, this time, I would be his boss!

How are you going to shake things up next?

I’m planning on expanding The Liked Photo to reach a bigger audience of people that are looking to grow their businesses on Instagram. My next step is to do this while traveling the world full time and expanding on my creative journey. I can’t guarantee what is next but all I know is that big things are coming.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

“Don’t compare yourself to others” This has been a tough one for me because it’s so easy with social media and a world where we are in information overload, to look at what others are doing and feel like you aren’t good enough or aren’t on their level. In the book, “You are a Badass,” by Jen sincero, she says, “Can you imagine what our world would be like if our biggest heros succumbed to the perils of comparison? If Marilyn Monroe compared herself to Kate Moss and decided she needed to lose her curves? Or if the guys in Led Zeppelin compared themselves to Mozart? … You are more than enough. Avoid comparison like the plague.” This has always stuck with me because it’s so true! Imagine if the people we admire tried to be like someone else. Our whole world would be one big snooze!

“Expect that not everyday will be a killer creative day” I have to remind myself that I am allowed to have off-days and listen to my body and mental state. Creativity is not a constant. It comes in bursts and is dependent on your situation and surroundings. It’s important to acknowledge that this will happen and not allow it to overwhelm your progress. These stagnant moments are there to push you forward and force you out of your comfort zone. Whenever I hit a creative roadblock, it means it’s time for a change in scenery!

A friend of mine once told me, “it’s all about the team and who backs you up.” She said, “Think of any amazing band, they sound that way because of teamwork and a support system.” Behind every founder, leader and go-getter, there are the people that helped get them there and they shouldn’t be forgotten.” Maintain a strong support system because you will need them. These are the people who love and stand behind you whether you are at your lowest low or highest high. For me, that’s always been my husband, family, and most trusted friends. We all want to be successful and able to say we made it on our own. But knowing when to reach out for guidance and support or just to share a triumphant day is a critical aspect of “making it”.

What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Share a story with us.

A book that changed my life and the way that I look at my career and my goals is “Dying to Be Me” by Anita Moorjani. I don’t want to give too much away but her near death experience and realizations afterwards opened me up to a new way of thinking. Life progresses when we need it to and when we are ready. We don’t need to force things to happen or feel so much stress over little occurrences. Everything comes in time if you project love and confidence into the universe. I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs to reset and recenter. I was forcing everything — my art, my job, finances, life in general. After I read this book I moved though my day working towards my goals and dreams with ease, happiness, and confidence that I am headed in the right direction.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)

This is a tough one because there are SO many inspiring people that I have learned about and admired along the way. I’d have to go with breakfast with Pat Flynn. I really want to know what kind of coffee that guy drinks!! I randomly stumbled on Pat’s podcast, Smart Passive Income, a few years ago and had no clue what he was talking about. I instantly liked his style and how laid back he was in the podcast. It made my morning commutes much more enjoyable. As I continued listening, I became interested in blogging, creating digital products, and figuring out a way to create passive income so that I could do more of the things that I love. I was inspired by Pat more and more each day and as his business and name quickly grew, I realized that this is possible for anyone that sets their mind to it.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

If you’re interested in learning how to grow your instagram page and become a better photographer visit, thelikedphoto.com or enroll in my course thelikedphoto.teachable.com

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