Category Portrait Photography

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:

Living With The Camera – Inspiration | From the Archives

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

Source: Mortal Muses


At the library I spotted a book on display, “Dorothea Lange – Grab a Hunk of Lightning“. I quickly picked it up and added it to the pile of children’s books that the kids had handed me, and we headed to the desk to checkout our goodies.  When we returned home, each of us plopped down in the small apartment living room that we are calling home right now, and dove right into our new reads.  I have really been wanting to understand what makes a beautiful and provoking portrait lately and this book was just the thing to get my head spinning. I want my craft to really speak to my audience and tell stories in a way that I know words can not.  I know my work is no where near what Dorothea was doing in her career, but by studying her images, the way she framed and used the light, I can begin to create a more powerful frame. 

I believe in living with the camera, and not using the camera. Suddenly, if you are working a lot, it takes over and then you see meaning in everything. You don’t have to push for it. That’s what I mean by the visual life. Very rare. – Dorothea Lange, KQED San Francisco Audio Recording 1964-65

The kids and I have been spending a lot of time together, and that means they are most readily available subjects. My son is now in a half day kindergarten and so we have all morning to get out and explore our new city. Luckily, they will humor me by being my models.  Well, most of the time anyway.  And if one won’t hold still for the shutter, the other usually will. These images are examples of what I have been getting.  I am purposefully processing these in black and white instead of color. Perhaps that is in part to looking through all of the Dorthea Lange images that have been floating through my mind, but I also get a totally different impact when the color is gone.  Stripping down the image to the whites, grays, and blacks seems to let their eyes and expressions do the work, rather than the colors happening around them.  Do you find that to be true as well?

Keep chasing the light – Vanessa

Airport Antics – Family Photography at SeaTac Airport

So there we were, stuck at the airport as we waited for our delayed flight. It was rainy and the kids were getting a bit rummy. There is a point as a mom that you just say, what could it really hurt? and just let them turn the place into a playground. And, in an effort to not go a little crazy yourself, the camera comes out of the bag. It’s a win-win, really. airportantics-6-of-7airportantics_web-2-of-12 airportantics-3-of-7airportantics_web-1-of-12airportantics-1-of-7I love the drips on the window behind her. The style she has – those cat pants, I want a pair, and I love that she pairs glitter with stripes. And how can I not totally dig the window light on his face? Yeah, we got a few looks from other airport goers, but trust me- if this was the only ruckus they were causing, I’m totally cool with it.

Keep chasing that light, Vanessa

Payton – Tacoma, Washington High School Senior

Payton is currently a senior at LCA here in Tacoma, Washington. He and his family also happens to be my neighbors down the street. He is hoping to study engineering next year when he heads off to college. But right now, he is busy playing football and looking forward to basketball season. For his photos we decided to head downtown to the UWT campus, then over to the 11th Street bridge and an industrial area. We also managed to squeeze in the last bits of an amazing, early fall sunset at Titlow Beach. Peyton_Tacoma_LCAHighSchoolSenior_0011 ShampSeniorSesh_FIPWebReady (37 of 139) Peyton_Tacoma_LCAHighSchoolSenior_0007Peyton_Tacoma_LCAHighSchoolSenior_0009 Peyton_Tacoma_LCAHighSchoolSenior_0008Peyton_Tacoma_LCAHighSchoolSenior_0010 Peyton_Tacoma_LCAHighSchoolSenior_0006 Peyton_Tacoma_LCAHighSchoolSenior_0005 Peyton_Tacoma_LCAHighSchoolSenior_0004 Peyton_Tacoma_LCAHighSchoolSenior_0003 Peyton_Tacoma_LCAHighSchoolSenior_0002 Peyton_Tacoma_LCAHighSchoolSenior_0001Payton, thanks for putting up with my bad jokes during our session. Wishing you a great senior year of high school and all the best as your transition into college! Oh, and make sure to stick around long enough next year so you can heckle your brother during his senior photos- paybacks!!

All the best,


Environmental Portraiture | Tacoma, Washington – It’s a Giveaway!

12pmAs I sit with my photography and identify the type of work that moves me to create, I find there is a common thread and theme to so many of my images. No matter what I am photographing (a wedding, a family) I see details and storis.

I love the details.

horse fenceIt is the parts that make up the whole of a scene.  The letters that combine to be words, and words that join to be sentences, only in the photographic form. It might be little things that are everyday, and perhaps non-traditionally beautiful, but I see them and how they make up the puzzle of a story. You may have read my goal list for 2015 a few weeks ago and read my final goal of “Photograph 5 creatives and their spaces”. I asked around in a few of the photographer communities I am a part of and came to learn that most often this type of work is called, Environmental Portraiture.  A big fancy name for the photos I love to take, who knew?

HiRes_FIP_Ebay (5 of 214)My word for 2015 is “immersion”. I have decided to sink myself deep into the kind of work I want to be doing more of. To surround myself with other creatives and people in my community. I will have lived in Tacoma, WA for a year in March and although I have met some incredible friends, I know there are so many more of you out there doing amazing things. Environmental Portraiture will allow me to meet, and become a part of this city and the local community.

OffTractOneYear_FIP (14 of 160)You might be scratching your head and asking,

That’s all fine and dandy, but what does this term mean?

I take self portraits, can’t I set up my tripod and take these photos of myself? 

Why would I hire Vanessa to do these for me and what the heck would I used a set of Environmental Portraits for? 

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I will photograph the details that bring the artist to life. I will see and capture the things we don’t see when we admire a piece of art hanging in a gallery, read a poem in a book, or savor an amazing bite of food. I will capture the environment that the ceramic mug you are drinking your tea from was hand thrown on a spinning wheel, and the bits and pieces that inspire a painter to paint that hang on her wall. I will tell the story of the artist as well as the tools that are the breath and heartbeat of what made the work come to life. I will photograph you in your studio, your hands at work, your feet at rest. And I will help you tell the story of where it all comes from. This is a chance for you to build an incredible “about” page and give yourself a much more meaningful head shot.


Environmental Portrait (or EP for short) Sessions are 2-3hours long and take place where the creativity happens. I will join you in your studio, home, kitchen, or favorite coffee shop and see how the magic unfolds around you as you work.  The beautiful details of creating, this is what I want to photograph for you.

When we are done, I will get to work culling and editing the best images and set up an online gallery for you to choose 10-20 photos. I will deliver these images to you in high resolution and web ready form for use on  your website/blog/social media or tangible media such as business cards or brochures.

molly painting If you are one of the first 5 people to booked by April 1st, the shoot and 10-20 images will be FREE to you. (This package is of an $800 value, so get hopping!).
If you are an artist/a creator of any kind, contact me. This is the work I love to do and feel I was meant to do.

Know someone who might be interested? Share this post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with friends who might be interested.

*The giveaway is limited to a creative living in the Tacoma/Seattle, WA area (I am willing to travel to Portland, OR as well), unless someone is going to pay my plane ticket to blow this PNW Popsicle stand so I can come and visit you, which I would not turn down…

Leave me a comment or drop me a note via the contact page and let’s talk.

**As of 1/22/2014, Only 3 more free session slots are available.

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Goals for 2015

I realize we are a week deep into the new year, but I am setting some goals for 2015 that I want to share with all of you. I am sharing so that I am accountable and because, I can’t accomplish them with out the help from you, my clients. I need your beautiful moments to make these things happen. Here they are, 3 simple goals.

  • Photograph 10 families

emilydWeb (14 of 25) 1I am all for posing you and your family, and getting you all in frame smiling and looking right at me, but what I would really like to do (like really-really like to do) is work with families who would be up for a more documentary style photo session. What would this look like? I come hang out with you and your family for a couple of hours. I sit back and let the moments unfold. I would be capturing candid and real moments. If you have been thinking about having family photos done. Call me. Let’s talk. I want to hear and then tell your family’s story.

  • Photograph 10 couples in love & 10 weddings

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FIP_LauraJim (42 of 55)I would like to work with more couples. Newly engaged, one year anniversary, or long time married – it doesn’t matter as long as I get to see your sweet faces together. I want you to have a record of the love between you and your significant other. I want to know more and be able to show more because of it… Where did you meet, what about your partner makes your heart pitter-patter? Maybe you are getting married this year. Maybe the affair is a giant party, or perhaps you are joining together quietly with a few of your favorite people – I want to be there with my camera in hand. I can’t do that unless you call me, so call me!

  • Photograph 5 creatives and their spaces

FIP (1 of 1)-3 293:365Watching another creative at work is pure magic, exploring their creative space is even better. I want to photograph your space, your tools, your hands at work. Think of it as getting head shots taken, but so much more. You are more than just a head. You need more than just a traditional head shot for your webpage!

Those are it. My big plans for 2015.  I am really excited to see where this year takes me. Let’s make something beautiful together!

A Few Favorites from 2014 | Focus In Photography

This year, wow. It’s been a big one. My family and I have had so many changes. Amazing changes, but big. We picked up and moved two states away from where my husband and I had lived for the majority of our lives. This meant a few things for me photographically, I had a whole new world to explore AND a new kind of light to learn. Harsh Nevada light is so incredibly different from the quiet light of the Pacific Northwest. I also had (have) a new market and set of clients. I am slowly networking and getting to know local Tacoma and Seattle photographers, as well as so many new people to photograph.

Today, I would like to share a few of my favorite images from the past year, these are just a handful of them.  Enjoy!


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Yoga (oh how I love photographing yogis and yoginis)

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Musicians, playing and playing

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Moments and Adventures

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 Film Photography

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And, finally, this beautiful skyline. I am so happy to call the Pacific Northwest home. I can’t wait to meet, photograph, and become even more a immersed in this community.

Let’s make something beautiful together in 2015!

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Kurt and Chris | A Session in Love

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KandC_webready (77 of 142)This session was about 4 months in the making. Kurt and I started to brain storm ideas about a portrait photo session in May.  He knew he wanted an urban-gritty feel and I knew just the place to take him. When my visit in early July didn’t allow for time to get to our location, we rescheduled for early August.  Soon after our plans were solidified, Kurt started dating Chris.

KandC_webready (142 of 142)I called dibs on a photo shoot with them, and made sure it was going to happen by asking if they wanted to do the photos together when I was back in Reno. I got a resounding, “Heck YES”! I couldn’t be more thrilled with the results.

KandC_webready (10 of 142)KandC_webready (16 of 142)KandC_webready (98 of 142)I met up with the boys in down town Virginia City, Nevada and we carpooled, a bumpy and slightly scary road, to our location of American Flats.  We explored the remains.  I was on the hunt for some art that I hoped would still be there from my last visit back in January, and found some new gems along the way.

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There are so many hidden treasures in this place and around every turn we found   light  and shapes that we loved.

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KandC_webready (109 of 142)A huge thank you to Chris and Kurt. I had so much fun with you guys, and to see the smile on your faces filled my heart.

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These two were seriously gorgeous in front of my lens, but they weren’t afraid to have a little fun along the way.

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Keep chasing the light, Vanessa

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Sizzling Summer Sessions

It’s getting hot here at Focus In Photography!

I want you to see just how beautiful you are. These sexy sessions are perfect for every woman!


Get your sexy self something.


Your sweetheart will be sweating after they see these photos


How perfect would a little flip book be for a wedding day surprise?


He (or she) will love that you are bring the sexy back!


Let’s make something beautiful together.

Cara’s Cameras | Portrait Photography

One of the best parts so far about moving up to Tacoma, is having a fellow Mortal Muse, Film Shooters Collective, and The Hours contributor who lives in the same city as me. I felt like I already knew Cara when we first met in person back in January. That’s a really nice feeling to have when you are in a place full of strangers.  I have not only a friend, but a fellow photographer who is willing to walk, explore, search for, and see beautiful light.  Plus, we both understand if one of us stops mid sentence, mid stride and pulls out one or more cameras before continuing on. Last Friday, I called Cara to see if she would be interested in joining me for the ride up to Seattle. A Reno friend was visiting and I thought she might like to get out and about with me.

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Watching another photographer at work is pretty special. Cara had several cameras with her on Friday and I had fun capturing images of her with using each one during the day.

Seattle (2 of 6)With her hassie

Seattle (6 of 6)With her sx-70

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Shooting me with a Nikon (don’t worry, I was shooting her with a Canon, so I won.  (Just kidding, but one has to toss in the Nikon vs. Canon jabs when having a shoot off.)