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Meet Janet Barnett of Janet Barnett Photography in Westlake Village

Today we’d like to introduce you to Janet Barnett.

Janet, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I went from high school straight into art school, with no real plan about what to do. But taking a photography course changed the game for me. I realized that you could get the end result so much quicker with photography than with drawing or painting, and that’s the direction I went in. After graduating from Art Center in the late 80’s, I
started shooting all of the bands playing on the Sunset Strip, which was a pretty wild time. I also assisted other photographers who were shooting entertainment clients in Los Angeles, from music acts to television stars.

I actually met my husband at a rock magazine that we both worked at, Screamer, where he was the art director and I was the photographer! I shot bands like Guns & Roses, Warrant, Alice in Chains, Swingin’ Thing, and so many acts it’s impossible to remember them all.

After the music scene changed, we continued on with our own design firm. I shot portraits, products, whatever came through the door. It wasn’t a really creative time for me, but it kept the lights on.

I thought that shooting weddings might be fun (I usually choose my direction by how fun it might be), and I did that with another photographer for a few years. We were still shooting film at that time, and we would each get 20 rolls of film to shoot, with one of us doing color and the other doing B & W. We had a good time doing that for a while, but when I had my baby in 2003 I didn’t want to be away from home on the weekends any more, and we were getting kind or burned out on weddings by that point.

A few years ago, I was wondering what direction to take with my photography. I discovered Sue Bryce on Creative Live, and was inspired by how she was doing really classic, beautiful portraits with real women. I got lucky enough to be photographed by Sue myself, and I loved the experience and how it made me feel, and I try to pass that on to my clients.

I’ve been following Sue’s teachings for the past couple of years now, and I love taking real women who have never had a proper portrait session and giving them a full celebrity-style photo session, complete with a hair and makeup artist and wardrobe styling. I’m looking forward to growing my business and my clientele creating beautiful portraits, personal branding and headshots for as many people as I can.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I don’t know if anyone’s road is ever smooth. At least for me, every day is a struggle of confidence and discipline. But you never know what’s coming up next, it could be something wonderful or something really frustrating. I guess entrepreneurs are the ultimate optimists, even when you are in the middle of some real crap you just keep thinking you can do it.

I moved my studio from a small space with no natural light in Tarzana to Westlake Village about 3 years ago because my husband and I opened a winery, NABU Wines. If you think running a photography business is crazy, try opening a winery!

Now I have the warehouse space in the back, next to the barrel room, where I have plenty of space, high ceilings, and lots of natural light when I open up the warehouse door. But I can easily bounce back to shooting strobe when I have to or want to.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Janet Barnett Photography – what should we know?
I specialize in portrait photography. The only way I started to get good was when I started to just specialize in one genre.

If I’m known for anything I think it’s that when my clients come if for their reveal session, they are blown away by how amazing they look. They often can’t even believe it’s them.

I also love to have a good time in the studio. I have to be having fun, as I said, or there is no reason for me to do it!

I try to make every session sort of a party, because when the client is having a good time with you they will really love their images and recommend you to their friends. And I also work fairly quickly, I think once you get to the 4-hour point in a session everyone is sort of spent, and you can see it in their faces. So I move through hair and makeup, and 5 to 6 wardrobe changes in about 4 hours.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I think I’m great in person. I love getting to know people, and hanging out with them. I’m always happy to meet cool new people and add to my circle. And the best photo sessions are when you have someone in the studio that you really like and you know you are going to have a great time that day, and getting the images is sort of a bonus.


  • My photo sessions start at $395, which includes your photo session with me, a wardrobe consultation, hair and makeup artist, all image enhancing, and your final reveal session to choose your images.
  • My session fee does not include any images, images packages start at six for $1,400 and include 7×10 prints in an 11×14 mat, as well as the corresponding digital image.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All images by Janet Barnett Photography

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