Posts Tagged Tacoma Portrait Photographer

4 in 24: Vanessa Simpson | From the Archives

This post was originally written and photographed by me for the Mortal Muses blog, part of a new series called, From the Archives. For this entry, I was being interviewed by the amazing Holly Clark.  Source: 4 in 24: Vanessa Simpson | Mortal Muses

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In the spirit of this month’s theme, Collaborations, I’m excited to be introducing a new guest feature here on Mortal Muses where we challenge a guest to shoot 4 images within 24 hours and share their story here.

Our first guest, Vanessa Simpson, is a geographer by training and trade, and a photographer, artist and mother at heart…oh yeah, she’s also a yogini and runner too! Photography is a passion for her she told me, “I need it, I have to do it.” She still owns her very first camera, a Kodak/Fisher Price 110, that she received as a birthday gift at the ripe age of 7-years old. When I asked Vanessa to share four photos taken within twenty-four hours, she requested to share images from a special roll of film taken on a  trip taken last year.

What film cameras do you shoot with? Do you have a favorite?
I have a silly number of old cameras; I take them in like abandoned puppies. But, the ones I shoot with most often are my Polaroid 100, Minolta SRT100, and my grandfather’s Yashica TLR. The pull apart Fuji film for the Polaroid is fairly inexpensive and I am particularly smitten with the color film, it is rich and vibrant and crisp.  I have promised myself to learn how to use the Yashica TLR that I inherited. It’s a beautiful piece of family history that I am honored to shoot with, it’s just a little intimidating and so different than what I am used to. The photos I am sharing today were a first roll from the Minolta (affectionately known as “Mini”) while on a visit to San Francisco last December.

Minotla_SF-2

8:30am, Early morning in a beautiful bed and breakfast. The sun peeking through a small window and lighting the room perfectly. I was obsessed with that wall paper pattern. I took several self-portraits in this same spot as my husband showered and got ready for the day.

What do you love most about film?
There is something very magical about film. It happens during the waiting, the point where you hold your breath and hope that you got it all right. The moment the image starts to happen-whether it’s waiting for the film to come back from the lab or the seconds before shapes start to form on the blank paper bathing in the chemicals in the dark room. The magic and the anticipation are what I love. When I shoot with the Polaroid, I get almost instant gratification, but there is still the possibility of a light leak or streaking–these imperfections that we try to mimic with digital photography are what make film, film.

Minotla_SF-310am, Walking and wandering from our bed and breakfast to Union Square. We took a path less traveled through an alleyway filled with fantastic street art.

What/Who inspires you?
Oh man, this is a really hard question to answer. I have so many inspirations–many of them I have found over the years via blogs and Flickr. Some of my favorite film shooters are Andrea Jenkins (girlhula) she is the master of Polaroid photography, and I was lucky enough to take a Polaroid class with her a couple of years ago. Kristen Perman, (acukiki) is another amazing Polaroid shooter–her images are haunting and lovely. Laura DeAngelis (lauralani) is an amazing film photographer and self-portraiture master. She has a way with space and color and repetition that blow my mind.  I love portraiture work that Lisa Macintosh (lisamac) has been putting out these past few months, and I can’t forget the master minds behind the NOW YOU Workshops, Meredith Winn (Camerashymomma) and  Kristin Zecchinelli(Mainemomma)–these two women have helped me grow and stretch in ways I didn’t know I could when it comes to my self portraiture work.

Minotla_SF-4

11am, I love looking into windows and imagining the worlds, stories and lives going on behind the glass.

What was your happiest/worst photographic moment & why?
That moment when you realize you don’t have your memory card in the camera–or that you didn’t load that film properly–yup, those moments suck. There are days when you don’t feel “it”. When you wonder why you keep taking frame after frame, the inspiration isn’t there, or your confidence has totally flopped because you are comparing yourself to other artists. Those are the worst moments. But, it is also the time when I find myself growing the most… I keep shooting, keep seeking the light and the patterns and the lines… and I find it all again, the NEED to photograph. There is a certain feeling when I get ‘the shot’. You know it, you feel it. You might take a few more, you know, just in case. But when you get home and sift through the images and you see what you knew all along–you got the image you had planned in your head and that is an amazing feeling.

Minotla_SF

1:30 pm, We had walked all over, visited the SFMOMA and were on our way back to our hotel. I made him stop and go in for a drink at a random bar. I love the way the light hits the highball glasses and reflects off the mirror.

Final thoughts or advice for our readers?

  • Shoot, shoot, shoot, and then shoot some more. Leave the camera at home sometimes, breathe in the world, see it outside of the view finder. It’s going to drive you crazy and make you feel like you have left your right arm laying on the bedroom floor, but be okay with it’s absence. Take notes in a journal, draw (even if you can’t draw) what you want to photograph.
  • Don’t hit the shutter of the camera for anyone else, do it for you. Break the rules, use the rules. Read your camera’s manual, seriously, there is good stuff in there. Challenge yourself with horrible light situations. Take your camera out of automatic mode.
  • Stop and turn around when you see ‘the moment’ or the “the light” flash by in the car window.
  • TURN AROUND, STOP, ASK
  • You see something and you feel the pull of it–honor that pull. Don’t worry about who is watching or what they are thinking about you while you shoot. Don’t worry about the equipment you have or don’t have–the best camera is the one with you.
  • Shoot, shoot, shoot, and then shoot some more.

 

Keep Chasing that light,

Vanessa~

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

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-

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

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

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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

May 2017 – Five on Five

June! We are here, here we are.  Two weeks away from the last day of school and the first official day of summer. I’m still wondering how it all keeps going by so quickly- but it just does.

May was full of activity and play. It was also full of lots of time at home enjoying the sunshine (finally!) and being out in our yard. Photographically, it was a mix of iphone, instax and digital photography – I love each medium for different reasons.

Make sure to visit Adriana’s post today after you are done here.

And, here we go!

Fueling up for the Color Run. I love that their school does something active and fun as a fund raiser!
We set up the pool in the back yard. It was a little too cold to jump in this particular afternoon, but O had a lot of fun setting up an obstacle course for his hot wheels.
14 years of marriage with this guy. We were able to sneak away to our favorite local tap room for a beer to celebrate.
Beautiful Snoqualimie Falls. Our first camp trip of the season. Our camp site is about a 10-15 minute drive away from here so I talked the gang into the drive over. They thanked me after seeing this awesome view!
A typical afternoon. Hanging out, probably looking at an ipad or maybe the new fidget spinner. But being friends and sitting for a second so I could test the light for a photo with my Instax.

 

 

Five on Five – February 2017

On the fifth day of each month, I get together with a group of talented female photographers. We each share our five favorite images from the previous month. It’s a blog circle! Make sure to follow the link and head over to Adriana’s blog when you are done seeing what February was like over here.I did two really fun sessions last month. One was a family session with an adorable family. We traveled out to the summer camp where they met as camp counselors. It was really fun to have them take me around camp and photograph them with there little dude. I love when clients pick locations with such special meaning.The other session I did is for a new blog article I am writing for Experience Tacoma. The article is called, Take Five. This is such a fun chance for me to get to know more people and places in the community and a great excuse to pull out my camera.I had the great honor of sitting for the amazing Catherine Just and her “Breathing Camera” (that’s what I call this 4×5 beauty). Catherine has been traveling all over the world for her Capturing Breath on Film project, if you have a chance to participate it is an incredible experience. One I am still processing and watching unfold in my own life. It is part portrait session, part prayer, part magic. And finally, a little film photography of my own… I have been continuing on with my 365 Rectangles project, I love this black and white shot I took of my husband and his birthday cake.

Keep chasing that light my friends!

Vanessa

Five on Five – December 2106

I didn’t really pull together any “best ofs” this year, I didn’t do a year in review. Heck, I haven’t even blogged my final wedding or the four family sessions I have done since November. But, I am not missing the regularly scheduled five on five blog that I do each month. (and maybe, just maybe I will find some words to share about all those amazing clients I have had in the past couple of months while I am out here writing!)

Here’s the deal – on the fifth day of each month, I get together (virtual – maybe one day we all will be in one spot!) with a group of photographers. We each share our five favorite images from the previous month.

It’s a blog circle!

Make sure to follow the link at the bottom of this post, and head over to Adriana’s blog next!

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The kids were invited to a friend’s birthday party at the very cool shop called, Tinkertopia. It’s arguably one of my favorite shops in town and it’s super fun that they have “tinker” parties for the kids to build and create with all recycled or up-cycled items. I love all the creations hanging and displayed around the store.  I spent my birthday weekend in Seattle. I was thrilled to have good friends up from Reno and we had a really fun time. If you have ever been to Pike Market, there is a very good chance you have seen and heard this piano player, Jonny Hahn. He rolls that piano up and down the hill every time he plays. I am not going to lie, hearing him play brought me to tears. I don’t really know what it was- but the pure dedication to doing something that he loves for almost three decades- it’s tear worthy. (and if you would like to learn a little bit more about him, this is a good listen) A self portrait on the morning of my birthday. (I swear I was happy, I was just tired and also coming down with a cold – that I still have, ug) Christmas day with my crew. My mom got the kids metal detectors so they could treasure hunt, but these four are my treasure- no detector needed! Finally, this little monkey. He turned one last month and since I have been documenting him since before he was earth-side, It was pretty special to snap a set of photos of him as he hit this one year mark. I love this one showing so much personality and not much regard for that fantastic red balloon.

And there you have it- my December in a nutshell. Hope you all are off to a beautiful start to 2017. Make sure you hit up Adriana’s and then on to the other ladies to see what their final month of the year looked like.

Keep chasing that light, Vanessa