Posts By Vanessa Simpson

November (Yellow) Fave 5 on 5

Last month we all went red, this month we decided on yellow. What am I talking about? It’s the monthly blog post where I get to share a few of my favorite images from the previous month- with a twist of a yellow theme.

When you are all finished here, head on over to Small Roots to see where she found pops of color during her month.

November my family and I traveled almost every weekend. I was able to squeeze in both personal and a bit of client work while back in Nevada for the holiday week and that is where these images were taken.  I might be stretching our theme a little bit, but here is where I saw yellow and gold in November…

Golden afternoon light on these kiddos


And more of that autumn evening glow on this sweet family

Yellow hills above Reno during an awesome 7 mile hike that we did with the kids and some dear friends.

Yup, November gave me so much to be grateful for!

Keep chasing that light,

Vanessa

Find the Light | From The Archives

More often than not when traveling,  I am the one in the passenger seat. It’s not that I don’t like to drive, it’s just that the people I travel with tend to like to be behind the wheel more then I do.  This is a good thing since I would rather be soaking in the sights as the world slips past my window. I can take photos and not have to manage my camera and the steering wheel while on a road trip.  These images were taken on the way home from my Portland adventure.

I knew I wanted to share this set of photos here, but wasn’t sure what  I was going to talk about. I looked up a few books in search of quotes, but nothing was fitting with my mood. I realize all of the images are a little dark, but each has a glimmer of light shinning in the distance or flare bursting through the edges.  As I know many of my fellow American readers might be heading out on the road today to meet up with family and friends for Thanksgiving tomorrow I thought I would use the dark and light as a metaphor.
I know that this holiday (and the season in general) can either be extremely exciting or extremely stressful.  As you help in the kitchen with parents, siblings or dear friends, watch football with rowdy cousins, nieces and nephews, and then once you finally sit down around the table together; I would like to encourage you to use your photographic skills of finding the light in the everyday to find the bright spot in each of the people you are surrounded by.  Sometimes our personal and internal roads are dark, but we all have a spot in us that glows from within, or right out of our edges.  Some share the glow inside easily with those around them, while others find it much more difficult. So go on, find the light and have a wonderful and THANKfilled day tomorrow.
This post was originally written and photographed by me for the Mortal Muses photography blog, and part of a new series called, From the Archives. You can find the original post here: Find the Light | Mortal Muses

October Fave 5 on 5

This month we (the other fabulous ladies in this blog ring) decided to mix up our five on five post. We wanted to shake up what we have been doing just a bit. So we picked the color red as our theme and are each sharing where we found pops of the color throughout October.

When you are done here, make sure to click over to Adriana’s blog- she has such a great eye for color, I know she’s got something lovely going!

Red … I found the color in the clothes and accessories that my clients chose for mini-session portraits.

And look at those autumn reds in this senior portrait session! Fall in Tacoma sure is gorgeous (and holy moly do I get good looking people for clients or what?!)

Keep chasing that light,

Vanessa

September 2017 – Five on Five

Whoa! has it really, truly been since May that I did a Five on Five post? I guess that is what happens when you travel for almost a month straight during the summer, and then jump right back into life when you return. I am so glad that the lovely ladies who participate in this blog circle are jumping back into the fun and the rhythm of posting monthly. I know I have so much to share from our summer (and I might shamelessly post Jamaica vacation pictures when it gets really cold, damp, and dark here in the PNW) so stay tuned… And because I have taken so many months off with this, I am sharing more than the usual five images, I can’t help myself!

September is a really special month around our house. It’s a month when we have two birthdays in three days (yes, the kids are almost two years apart to the day, it’s nutty with celebration!). It’s the start of a new school year, and when the light and the energy of the summer start to wind down. The air gets crisp and the light turns golden and pink. I love summer, but autumn really has a huge piece of my heart.

 

The kids started school, 1st and 4th grade… 

We went to the Oregon Coast and camped at Cannon Beach for the first time. (we fell in love with the area and my Goonie heart was so happy). And because I am excited to share these galleries soon…  a few images of client work. I photographed a wedding in Seattle and senior portraits in downtown Tacoma.  I think I might have a thing for lines in my work lately because I was so drawn to these shapes on both days…It was a great month for personal and client work! Now head on over to see what Adriana has had cooking this summer…

Keep chasing that light,

Vanessa-

A lot like Alice… | From The Archives

I don’t know if I feel smaller or bigger when I fly. Seeing the whole world in neatly organized rows and methodically placed circles. The cars, like tiny blood cells traveling from the heart center to the more rural and distant locations of this living breathing body we call Earth.

I watch the clouds pass, fluffy and mash potato like. The bumps of air, which make my tummy and head feel a little fuzzy, remind me to keep breathing. The moon rises out one side of the airplane, while the sun sets out the other oval next to me. It’s surreal, and disorienting. For an hour or more, we are placed so closely to others and at the same time, pulled apart from other as the wheels pull up and tuck neatly below. There are headphones signaling silence, nervous hands signaling fear. There are little bags of peanuts and cups of ginger ale quietly bubbling on the tray table.

I have had scary moments and tender moments while 10,000 feet in the air. And I realize again that it isn’t really the destination- it’s the journey….  If you’re traveling this weekend,be kind to those around you. They maybe rushing to see loved ones or traveling from beautifully exhausting families. I wish smooth landings and quick security lines and, may there be a rainbow of peace hugging your flight as you go.

Keep chasing that light, Vanessa

This post was originally written and photographed by me for the ViewFinders and part of a new series called, From the Archives. Source: A lot like Alice… | ViewFinders

Language of Summer | From the Archives

Summer time stretches out in front of us with waves and wishes. Backyard, air conditioning , picnics, weddings, sun screen, beaches, camping, and adventure all become part of our summer time vernacular. The following words are from a few summers past, but they still hold true this time of year. Enjoy.Summer, you are leaving me… almost gone, but I am not done tasting you yet.

I know you are going, because the evenings are more watermelon juice drips then perspiration. I can feel it in the morning air as I stir awake, you smell different this time of year, not so sticky, yet sweet.

I can see it in the gentle way you hold the velvet brown mountain silhouette. The soft, sky touch that can only be yours.

The dark comes earlier, the blue mix with peaches that hang heavy  in the tree, ripe and ready and in the blushing of the leaves in the strong sycamore that shushes in the exhale.

I still have a few things left for you, summer. Summer don’t fall too quickly away…

Keep chasing the light my friends, Vanessa Simpson

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This post was originally written and photographed by me for the Mortal Muses collaborative blog, and part of a new series I am calling, From the Archives. Source: Language of Summer | Mortal Muses

A Look Back, A Look Forward | From The Archives

This post was originally written and photographed by me for the Mortal Muses blog, and part of a new series of posts I am calling, “From the Archives”. 

Source: A look back, a look forward | Mortal Muses

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I have been talking film with some local photographers over the past week or two, not just on line, but across the room. We were talking about the magic of developing your own roll of film and photo. We were talking about the intoxicating smell of fixer, the way you used to have to burn and dodge and fix dust spots. We tried to explain to a fellow photographer what it’s like when you first see the image emerge under the red glow of the darkroom light. We laughed about how it didn’t really matter how bad that first photograph was, you had made it- from the rolling of the film into the canister all the way to the drying racks. These conversations got me thinking about the giant box of photographs, contact sheets, 8x10s and negatives that have been sitting in the garage for the past year. So I did what anyone would do at that point, I lugged the giant, over sized Tupperware box out and started digging around. It is so interesting to see how far I have come, but also to see the hints and trends in the way I shoot now and have always shot my images.

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I might not have been hitting the shutter with a very good understanding of aperture, shutter speed and lenses, but what I did know was how certain films developed (colors and tones, contrast and richness). I also could “see” how light played and made shadows and pretty sunsets, but I wasn’t (and am still not always) sure how to use those attributes to my best advantage. As I sifted through things searching for my images from when I was in Madrid, Spain and then London, Dublin and Scotland- I pulled out two envelops from a college field trip. The class was pretty tight, we would spend one hour a week together doing ‘labs’ and then 4 hours every Friday out in the field. We collected and then memorized the Latin and common names of various plants (by the way, mormonus teaus is NOT the Latin name for the Mormon Tea plant, no matter what some prankster had jokingly renamed it in the study hall and you had naively memorized and put down on a test as an answer…) That semester we learned about the bio-geography of the region. The final trip, when I took these images, we all drove from Reno, NV to the Alabama Hills and Yosemite, CA. I remember a great game of dominoes around the campfire with my classmates, saving dinner from the flames of an overly zealous fire maker, I remember having no clue how to set up my tent and one hell of an awesome professor leading the adventure.

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But I don’t really remember taking any of these photos. Let’s face it, this weekend trip was 16 years ago. I am trying to remember what film camera I had at the time. I know it was one of my two Pentax, and I have absolutely no clue what film (probably kodak 200, if I had to guess since that was quick and easy to pick up at the grocery store). Most of these are simply snapshots, but I think that is what I like about them (now). There was no flickr, there was no instagram. I had the photo department at the University of Nevada, Reno, and a handful of dear family friends who were photographers to inspire me and teach me. I remember getting these images back from the lab and being a little bit bummed. It was so much more beautiful in real life (isn’t it usually when it comes to places like Yosemite and Alabama Hills?)  I hadn’t even come close to nailing the shots like I had hoped. I am not sure what I expected, but at the time, these results weren’t it.

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Today, I look at these and I see something different then what I saw then. I see moments in time. I see people who I haven’t talked since this class ended and have forgotten their names.  I see a group of college kids taking in their surroundings, each in their own unique way. I see the fascinating way in which people space themselves with one another and the world around them. I see body language and silent, frozen conversations taking place. Tiny still frames burned into the light sensitive film and in those moments, time was stopped.

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Those things alone (and maybe the way the light hits the rocks in the late afternoon), make me realize that I had the photo (and the film shooting) bug all those years ago. I might not have known what I know now about the craft, but the seeds were planted deep down in the soil of my creative garden. These moments are what have helped them grow from a dream into a reality. We all have to start somewhere. As  I dug through the past stored neatly in a big plastic bin, I was able to see one of those beginning steps of becoming a lover of film and a photographer.

Happy Film Friday.

Keep chasing that light, Vanessa

Veronica & Tram – A Jamaican Destination Wedding

When the little sister of one of your best friends sends you a note asking if you would be willing to travel to Jamaica and photographer her wedding, you say yes. Who am I kidding, when ANYONE asks you if you would be willing to fly to Jamaica and photograph their wedding, you say YES. I was so thrilled to have the date (and week) open to be able to make this trip happen.  Jamaica is a place I had thought about many times over the years, but never really dreamed I would get to visit. So when the opportunity was offered, I was totally in. My family and I applied for our passports, booked our flights, and then waited the several months until the big travel day. We had already spent a week in San Diego, California for another work engagement and caught a red-eye headed to Miami from there. We landed in Kingston a little exhausted and starving, but our driver stopped at Burger King in downtown Kingston so we could eat.  We sipped our grape soda (“Mom! It’s like drinking pop rocks!”) and gobbled our fries and Whopper as we traveled north to Ochos Rios.
An hour and a half later and we were at the resort settling in to our room, navigating the grounds to the nearest pool and the soft sand of  the Caribbean.  We didn’t meet up with our group until the next morning at breakfast when I spotted a huge table with a few faces I recognized from the on going What’s App conversation prior to the trip. But, we kept zigging and zagging with the bride and groom and still hadn’t seen them yet.   We hung out at on the beach, had our first jerk chicken (zomg, so good), and a few cocktails from the swim up bar(yeah mon!), and then, finally spotted the couple and their family bobbing along in the blue waters where I got to talk details and plans with the bride.We had one more day to settle in, and then, on Monday it was the big day. The wedding day went something like this.

Lead the family in a little bit of beach  yoga, (BONUS! I teach yoga too).  Then, I head to the spa to catch the ladies getting their nails done and relaxing before the day picks up speed. I make my  way down the hall and find the room where the bride is going to get ready. I snag a few detail shots and start getting used to the light in the room.  I catch the mother and sister of the bride hauling mimosa fixings, and let them in as we all “oooh and ahhh” over the details of the wedding gown and a maybe get teary over the words I hear the my best friend and sister of the bride rehearsing for the ceremony.
The bride arrives and the prepping and primping begin. I love this part of the wedding day. The excitement and the love towards the bride that happen the hour or two before the ceremony is so special. The rituals and the care that go into hair and makeup are like a rite of passage in many way.  I sneak away for a few minutes and make my way up stairs to see how the guys are getting along in their prep. When I got there I found the groom helping the boys with their vests, tucking in dress shirts and rolling up sleeves. The music is loud and the smiles louder. The joy and the anticipation is tangible as I snap a few more shots, and then get out of their way to finish up. I get back to the bride’s room just in time to see the flower girls arrive. And then it’s time for the bride to slide into her dress. This is another detail of the day that I adore. Watching all the hands carefully help and assist to make everything perfect gets me every single time.
A few final touches and everyone heads outside. The moment is finally here, and everyone takes their respective place.
The ceremony is short in length, but definitely not short in meaning. Not only do Veronica and Tram exchange rings with one another, but they each share a ring with the other’s son. (The boys are 6 months apart in age and some of the nicest teenagers I have come across yet). You may kiss your bride!
Bartender! Drinks for EVERYONE!!! Here’s the entire party, look at that beautiful gang of family and friendship. Seriously, this group was so much fun!! The grandsons and the grandmothers and great-grandmother. Mom of the bride with her two gorgeous daughters. The matriarch of the family – isn’t she beautiful? I had a really great conversation with her later in the week about family,traditions, and respect in the Vietnamese culture. I also got invited to dinner any time I am in Sacramento. um that’s another one you say YES to when you are asked.The new families!Cousin chaos doesn’t stop just because you grow up…. A sweet moment between the baby and grandmother, I think Lemon was challenging her grandmother to a race, don’t you??! You guys, this pink wall… I was all heart eyes over it. Sorta like these two are with each other.
The wind wasn’t cooperating, with our portraits. Good thing these two have such great senses of humor. And then, we headed to the party!!! I don’t know what is happening here, but it seems serious… hard to believe with this gang, so maybe they were just plotting the play list (or trying to figure out where Tam left his passport?)Speeches to make you laugh, speeches to make you cry – champagne to help you celebrate!Is it hot in here or is the cake about to go up in flames? !! Don’t worry, we caught it as soon as it started, it was out. Then we were all schooled in the Jamaican cake cutting traditions. And then, the steel drum band started and the bonfire was lit (and then, it truly was HOT IN HERE!)- the party was on!!Veronica and Tram, your wedding day (and week) was one of the most amazing and heartfelt times I have had the pleasure to document. Your families are so much fun, and the love they have for you and your boys is tangible. Thank you for including me (and my family) in this incredible adventure!

Keep chasing the light,

Vanessa

Make Portraits – Self/Love Market

You know what’s fun? Well besides hanging out having a picnic in perfect PNW weather at Point Defiance Park this afternoon? It’s logging in to Facebook and Instagram to see portraits that I made on Friday night being posted and used for profile photos!
I was one of the vendors at a Handmade PNW Market event called, “Self Love Market”. It featured female entrepreneurs and invited women to join us for an evening of shopping, networking and mingling.At first I wasn’t sure if I should really be there (hello gremlins of “I’m not hip enough”, “I’m not a very good networker, this stresses me out”, you can go away now). I didn’t have a set up and was having a hard time figuring out where to locate myself. Inside was too cramped and small, and out back wasn’t really where the flow of traffic was headed. But, that’s where I decided to land and am glad I followed my instinct, because look at that lighting that mama nature threw around for me!As the evening moved on, the light got prettier, and ladies started to wander out the back door to find me. I found a two spots that I liked the background of, and had such a fun time photographing each one of the women or groups of women who braved getting in front of my lens.This morning when I received this amazing note back from one of the ladies in response to getting her images, I knew I had made the right decision to be at the market,

“Thank you SO MUCH for these.

I’ve never had head shots or any kind of portraits professionally taken before. I had a tough week this past week, and wasn’t totally sure that I wanted to go to that self love market. The fact that I had no makeup or hair done other than the red lipstick I put on at the market, would make me not want to get a photo taken. I’m so glad I did because you made me feel special in that moment. Thank you so much for that.”

It is my hope that anyone and everyone who steps in front of my lens feels special and seen. 

Thank you to all of you who came out to the event and for everyone who helped make it such a special evening.

Event Details: