Doors re-opening for beauty & glamour portraits

It has been nearly six months since I started my sabbatical. You might be wondering what happened, I’ll give you the short version. I had lost sight of my true purpose which was to make beautiful images and build relationships. I had gotten so distracted by the business of photography that I had forgotten the art and beauty of it. I felt like I was drowning. I knew that if something major didn’t change that I was going to find myself in a real mess. I had started to see signs of systems falling apart. Turnaround times were embarrassingly long for client orders, I was making mistakes like crazy in the post-production end of things and I wasn’t enjoying one single part of what I was doing. Now, this didn’t come out of the blue. Rather, it crept up on me. It made me sick. Or maybe the being sick happened first and my priorities got all distorted. Hard to say. Either way, I was sick and my business was in trouble. I wasn’t happy anywhere, doing anything. It was time to change. Full stop.

I’ve been out of the studio almost entirely for six months. Now, I feel like I’ve done some major self-care work and gotten space from the toxic patterns that I had fallen into. I am ready to return to the studio but on very different terms than before. I am still shooting glamour but now, it is the only thing I’m shooting. I may do some maternity but it will be only the kind of maternity that fits into the glamour genre. My days of photographing kids is behind me, for the most part. I may occasionally bring kids into the studio for creative shoots but my heart is telling me to work directly with women to show them how beautiful they are in my eyes and hopefully they agree with my point of view.

I am still doing many of the things I tried to do before. I’m homeschooling my youngest son, I’m creating beautiful hand made crafts almost every day, I’m writing my book and I’m working with a charity organization in Tanzania to build an environmental learning center. I’ve also taken up napping and I’m also learning Swahili. My availability is super flexible (depending on my beauty team) but very exclusive availability. Clients will experience their shoot and meet with me within the week to view their images. Luxury and decadence is the name of the game here.

So, call your mama, your sister, your bestie and email me to make arrangements to talk on the phone to discuss how your shoot will go. I have a life changing experience waiting for you in my studio and I can’t wait to share it with you. You are beautiful, you deserve this and you will love it.

 

Read the pricing magazine by clicking the image below!

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Radio Silence

Have you ever found yourself in a state of total and complete overwhelm? A point in your life where you find yourself wondering just how you got into such a place where it feels like no matter how hard you work, how late you stay in the office, how many times you smile and say “I’m great” when asked how you’re doing, none of it feels right… it’s all just a little too tight, like a shirt that shrunk in the wash.

In March, a  number of things were happening. The long, dark days of were ending, my husband was hopefully coming home soon after being gone since November (it was another month until he returned), and my work schedule was slowing down a little – so maybe I could finally get less behind in my work. It was also coming closer to the second anniversary of our house fire.

Then my landlord decided to change the fuel tanks in my poorly ventilated basement studio which promptly filled with noxious diesel fumes up until literally yesterday. At the same time, the tenants on the top floor expanded their occupancy to the middle floor (right above me) and construction commenced. Through paper-thin walls, I was able to hear every move the construction team made… even their sneezes. When they dropped something, it gave me such a start, I was sure I’d have a heart attack.

I moved my secondary workstation from the studio and into my home. I was really bothered at first. I felt like I had somehow failed. By not being able to work fully in my portrait studio that I had worked so hard to create, I felt like I had made a mistake at some point and that maybe this was the beginning of the end of my successful, creative and beloved business.

This is the part where I had the breakdown. There were many, many tears. I sobbed, broken hearted. I felt like there was no way to survive this setback. I was devastated at the changes that felt as though they were being forced on me. I made the hard decision to step away from all of my commitments with the studio while the disruptions were taking place while I gathered my thoughts and emotions relating to my work.

When I cleared my shooting calendar, at first, I panicked. Of course, I was worried that I might upset some people. I’m positive that I did. Then I was worried that they’d not want to rebook. I’m sure some of  them don’t. I’m coming to understand that it is entirely OK if some people are uncomfortable with me choosing to put my own health and happiness ahead of my business. I started this business because of my love of creating images and wanting to add that to my already satisfying life. But somewhere along the way, it completely replaced my life and it was pretty much all I did.

Then there was the small matter of about twenty clients who all decided to either stop responding to my emails or they had excuses wildly varying reasons about why they couldn’t make arrangements to view their images or pay for them. It was the most bizarre thing. I am still a little baffled by how it all happened but what I can say I now know about how that weird it all seemed, it comes down to me. I provide a luxury service that focuses on celebrating love, beauty and existing in photographs for our families. I want to work with women who share those values and occasionally, that’s not the case. I’m certain that some of the folks who have decided not to even look at their images have reasons that feel perfectly legitimate to them. Same for the ones who made orders and then decided not to pay for them. But ultimately, the responsibility is mine. I’m in the service industry. My purpose is to serve my clients and when they are dissatisfied, I bear a huge responsibility for that. Maybe the mistake I made was in the post-shoot communication, maybe it was in the shoot itself or maybe it was in signing the wrong clients. I don’t know. What I do know is that I won’t make those mistakes again.

Aside from the fact that my small business can’t afford to photograph people who refuse to view or pay for their images, my small business can’t afford to have me fretting over those who aren’t the right clients for me to be working with in the first place. I love working with people who are giddy during their shoot, who cry tears of joy when I show them their images and who tear open their print order right in front of me when they come to pick it up because they excitement is just too much to wait.

I have been away from the studio for nearly three months without a lot of communication as to why or what my plans are. The short answer is that I wasn’t happy. Since the start of my break, I’ve read books, I’ve started meditating, I’ve taken up quilting, I’m making amazing meals again, I’m tidying the house and doing laundry, I’ve started a garden with my youngest son for his summer homeschool project and I’m spending time with my family as a whole.

Turns out, I was dealing with my grief over the house fire by hiding in my work. But I was miserable. I was using it like a drug or alcohol to numb my pain. Enough of that shit! I’ve taken my life back and am more present than ever in my everyday existence. I’m participating in our farm business, I’m overseeing the work to be done on our house this summer, I’m going camping and fishing (which I’ve done very little of in two years), I’m crafting like crazy which is lighting my creative fire in massive ways and I’m also working slowly at completing the remaining client orders that are on my desk from right before my break.

I suspect that this break will be about a year long. Maybe I’ll go back in the fall. I’m not sure. What I know right now is that I’ve tasted happiness and I’m ready for more. I’m also ready to start feeling some of the grief and pain that I’ve compartmentalized and ignored for two years. This will take time, patience and compassion. On my part and yours. I have every intention of resuming photographing women. But that’s it. No more families, no more babies. Not now. Maternity, yep. But truthfully, my favorite is individual women and mothers & daughters as well as Bridal Fantasy shoots. When I come back from my break and am taking bookings again, this is it.

So if you can be patient and wait for me to do a little healing, creating, and relationship building, I’ll be a much better woman, photographer, human being when I come back to the studio.

In the meantime, I intend to terminate much of my direct activity on Facebook and will be communicating via this blog. I encourage you to comment below, sign up for the RSS Feed and follow me if you want to get regular updates. I started off a blogger, I’m going back to being a blogger. Hope you come along.

Thanks for staying with me until the end of this post. It was a long one but I wanted you to know what happened and what I’m doing.

with love

Vanessa

Donna - Thanks for sharing Vanessa. You are such a powerful & insightful woman and I find it refreshing to witness your attention to your ‘self’. Keep on.

Above all, I want to say
– don’t look back!
– congratulations for knowing and following what your soul is whispering to you.
– what others think is ‘none of your business’…just do what you need to do.

I admire and respect you and would love to grow our friendship.

Big Hugs, d

Vanessa Falle - thanks Donna. I am pretty keen on living an honest and transparent life and I’m really glad that what I share, resonates with those who read it. I would also love to grow our friendship. It could be a very sweet ride :)

Deanne - Your honesty is so commendable! I admire you Vanessa. I had no idea what you were going through. You were always an Energizer bunny to me. I know you will come through the other side all juiced up and rarin’ to go :0)

Krystal - I think that what you are doing is quite brave. It is very scary to pull back at really truly look at yourself and where your life has gone.

Good for you too take the time to make sure that you are happy. So many of us, myself included hide behind work and put ourselves in a little box in a dark corner.

What you do is a gift and you should take whatever time you need to figure out how to share it best.

I still really want to do a shoot with you and one day I will. Once all my ducks are in a row (having some health concerns) I will be looking to set something up.

Enjoy your time to yourself and enjoy your amazing family.

Take Care.

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Sometimes I even photograph my kids!

It hasn’t happened for a very, very long time. I feel awful admitting that the last time I took my boys to the studio for a portrait shoot was over two years ago. Terrible. Unforgivable. My work life and my home life were entirely separate. Shitty excuse. So we did it. I have been on a sabbatical for several weeks now and when I first took this break, I knew that getting reconnected to my family… which included a photo shoot. Hopefully the first of many. So my amazing son, Noah agreed to wear a few things at my request. I had this image in my head and he let me make it. Lucky me:)

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And for those of you who don’t already know, my youngest son, Seth is absolutely in love with all things “dragons”. He has dragon books, stuffies, ornaments and even a real live bearded dragon lizard. I photographed Seth in the studio on a background of grey seamless and while this composite is obviously not real and you can really notice the inconsistencies of the photoshopping, this absolutely blew his mind. It’s not my style to include dragons in my composites but Seth is pretty thrilled with this image. That’s all I set out to do so, mission accomplished.

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Enchanting the Lens – Jaxson

gormley-6 copyThis is Jaxson. He is one of the most darling little boys I’ve ever had in my studio and his neverending supply of smiles has got to be one of the biggest treats to photograph… that and he’s charming and funny to boot! I met & photographed his parents when they were still awaiting his arrival and I’ve captured his newborn images as well. Watching babies grow is such an honor and one I’ll treasure always. Thanks to these clients and all the others for inviting me into your families to capture these milestones for you to enjoy for generations.

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Birthday Ladycation

Every year I celebrate my birthday for the whole week leading up to my actual birthday. Since the fire, my birthday hasn’t been the same (since the fire happened nine days after my birthday) but this year, my amazing best pal Brooke made it pretty unforgettable. We spent a week in Vancouver staying at the Hyatt. I attended a two day workshop on letterpress, we ate a lot of seafood on rooftop patios and drank a good quantity of locally brewed beers. We also laughed more than can be measured, walked so much that our legs are still sore, watched a little cable tv (since neither of us has it), shopped and just hung out. In there, was the surprise of a lifetime. Brooke had secretly planned a trip to Vancouver Island for us to spend the day with one of my dearest girlfriends, Rebecca, who I have known since kindergarten. Rebecca (I call her Becky) has been in my life longer than any other friend and is truly like a sister. To spend the day with her and her two incredible daughters along with my unendingly thoughtful friend Brooke was about as perfect as it could be. Of course, we shopped and ate and enjoyed the amazing Island weather. I am deliciously rested, my heart is overflowing and I am grateful beyond measure. The whole thing is captured in phone photos in the gallery below. Enjoy!

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