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Meet Vanessa Kay of Vanessa Kay Photography in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Vanessa Kay.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Photos have always held a special sort of magic for me. One moment captured in time brings me right back to the place and the smells and the feelings that I felt as if I were there again. I spent hours as a kid pouring over our family photo albums and re-living memories. Even more enchanting were the older photo albums from my grandparents and great-grandparents. Each image told a story and I wanted to know what that story was.

I was an artist at heart, teaching myself how to sketch, draw and paint as a kid. But I never thought creating art could be a legitimate career. So, I followed my other passion, which was caring for animals, in school. I graduated with a BA in Animal Science – I took plenty of biology, chemistry, pharmacology, etc. but not a single photography or business class.

My career working in the veterinary field came to an abrupt halt when I found myself pregnant just a couple of years after graduating. All of a sudden, me being there for every moment of my children’s life became my most important job and my husband and I made the necessary sacrifices to allow me to stay home. It was in motherhood that my love for photography was reignited. I wanted to capture beautiful memories for my kids to look back on, yet my skills were lacking. No way could we afford to hire the type of photographer that captured the beauty I saw in my little people, so I immersed myself in the world of light and composition; f-stops and apertures. As my children grew, so did my skills… and our need for income when my husband decided to go back to school. My photography business was born in word of mouth. I had never taken a marketing or business class ever so I was learning the hard way – through experience.

In March of 2011, I found myself a single mom with no other means of support. Caring for these little people was the most important thing to me, but juggling taking care of 3 little kids and providing for all of us was not an easy task. There have been a lot of late nights followed by early mornings, but I’m very blessed that I love every minute of what I do (ok, except maybe for doing the taxes). So many of my clients have become my most cherished friends and I find great meaning in capturing the beauty I see all around me and preserving it with heirloom products that will last for generations to come.

There was a respite for a couple of years from the pressure of being the sole provider and sole nurturer when I met and married my current husband. My income was supplemental for a while and I was able to enjoy some grand adventures with my new blended family. That “honeymoon” phase of our family life came to a halt almost 3 years ago when my husband became very ill. After dozens of doctor visits and tests we found he has chronic neurological Lyme disease and has been essentially bedridden for the last few years. Now, I juggle caring for him, raising our 4 children and providing for our family and growing medical costs. It isn’t easy at times, but it is very rewarding and I enjoy every fun new family I meet in the best office on earth – the sandy shores of Orange County at sunset.

I’ve spent the last 15 years shooting primarily families and their kids and pets, but I’m super excited to be branching out into a couple of new niches I’d like to specialize in. One is personal branding photography – creating images for entrepreneurs with small businesses or their own personal brand who need a steady supply of high-quality professional photos to stand out from the crowd, build trust with their audience and convert followers into paying clients. I love the idea of storytelling with images and I feel like every image tells a story – and every person – or business- has an intriguing story to tell!

I also have a passion for capturing the beauty I see all around me in this uniquely stunning area. Whether it’s getting up at 4:00 am to capture the “super blue blood moon” setting over the Newport Bay or hiking new trails leading to stunning vistas in search for the perfect shot – I am in love with this place and I thoroughly enjoy sharing its beauty with the world. I have had a few local businesses find me on Instagram and contact me about using my local fine art in their offices and this is something I’m excited to expand! I can print at any size on fine art paper, canvas, metals, acrylic and even soundproofing materials that is becoming very popular in boardrooms.

In any case, I love photography because it allows me to capture that one special moment in time and bring it to life as an heirloom that can be passed down for generations. And it plays to my strength, which is finding the good in even the toughest situations, the beauty in any place and the unique light that shines in every person I meet.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I don’t think it’s ever a smooth road building your own business, is it? One of my favorite quotes is by Thomas Monson: “Our responsibility is to rise from mediocrity to competence, from failure to achievement.
Our task is to become our best selves. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure
ever need be final.”

Some struggles I have had along the way include learning everything I know about photography and business from scratch on my own utilizing some great resources found on the web – but also through trial and error. Probably my biggest challenge has been finding a good work/life balance. Having a very ill husband and four busy kids to care for and a household to manage feels like a full-time job all by itself and finding the time to grow my business and keep my education up to date requires a lot of late nights and sacrificing things that I would love to do otherwise (what I wouldn’t give to curl up and read a good book sometimes)!

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Vanessa Kay Photography – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I shoot people! And sometimes, I frame them and hang them as well. But all joking aside, I absolutely love to capture the true essence of those I meet behind my lens. I photograph everything from weddings to architecture and products, but families are the bread and butter of my business, maybe because I come from a large family myself and I have a large family now! I love to capture the relationships and love between family members and have a way of bringing that out. I am also super in love with critters of all kinds and adore capturing people with their furry friends – I have photographed horses, dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, reptiles and even farm animals in family portraits – and love to photograph animals on their own as well.

I am known for my unique editing style and for bringing out the best in my subjects through lighting, posing and just helping them feel comfortable in front of the camera. I often hear when I deliver a session – ” I didn’t think you could have gotten any good ones of my little rascals -and you have captured them so beautifully! I would never have guessed.”

What sets me apart is the time I invest into each of my clients. I hold their hand from the beginning of the process to the end – from scouting locations and choosing wardrobes, to preparing for shoot day through to helping them select the best images and constructing a plan for what to do with them – whether it be designing a wall grouping for their home or building a custom web page to showcase their business. I make the experience fun and easy because I know that all of the options out there can be overwhelming and my clients are usually pretty busy with their own lives and they appreciate someone to walk them through the process!


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