Vanessa Tellez is a portrait and wedding photographer based in Austin, Texas. We have been longtime fans of her incredible portraits. She has an unique way to use light and to put her subjects in the most interesting situations, always combining a urban style with a touch of nature.
Tribe Collective: Tell us about yourself. What is your background, and how did you get into photography?
Vanessa Tellez: I suppose you can say my background is in portrait photography. I started off as a nature photographer as most of us do but I really started to fall in love with capturing people around '08 or '09. I've been into photography for as long as I can remember. When I was in elementary school I always wanted to have a camera in my hands. Family trips, School trips, you name it. I wanted to be in control of something and capture what I was seeing.
TC: Please provide us with a list of the gear you use on a regular basis:
VT: I use a Canon 5d mark iii and a sigma 35 art. Currently reaching out to film using a Canon AE-1 and a Polaroid Land camera SX-70.
TC: What does your post-production process look like?
VT: My post process is super simple. I try to get everything I want in camera first and then my post is basically a one-click edit with Tribe presets and maybe some minor exposure, smoothing, and spot removal. I used the Livefolk presets by Tribe Photo Co for this session.
TC: How has your photography style evolved over time?
VT: Do I have a style? Just kidding. But really, do I have a style? Haha. I think that pretty much sums it up. I have improved a lot with being able to connect with my subjects and invoke some sort of emotion. Along with basic things like composition, my editing has really come a long way with the help of Tribe presets. I feel like my editing has really found its grove since discovering Tribe. I look back at old photos and think. Oh God no. So much over editing!
TC: What are your favourite tools for capturing, editing, and enhancing your photographs?
VT: These amazing presets for sure! It just gives the perfect finishing touch to what I'm seeing in front of me. I don't use any tricks really. It's just my subject, me, my camera, and my post work.
TC: What is your greatest piece of advice for emerging photographers?
VT: Never give up! Never ever EVER give up! Even when you feel like your work is not great and you feel stagnant. You won't get any better if you just give up. And I can guarantee there is someone out there who feels your work is amazing even when you feel like it isn't. Never stop learning, never think "you've made it". Staying humble is part of the process.
TC: What type of photography do you most enjoy?
VT: Working with emerging models! Gosh, it's such a joy to be able to work with upcoming models. Just before their big breaks. They have a passion like you do, and they work hard, like you do because they love what they do. It's the best part of what I get to do. Hopefully one day it will pay off but for now it's a labor of love. I don't care if there isn't any money in it. I enjoy doing it and getting to know these beautiful young people.
TC: What are you discouraged about in your work/business? What encourages you?
VT: The lack of financial success. I don't photograph full time and that's a real shame. I wish I did. I wish that my passion was my money maker but right now it isn't. It limits the time I have to create because I often only get to shoot on weekends due to my work schedule. One day I hope to make it my full-time job but right now I'm content with what I have.
I think what encourages me the most is seeing artists that I admire admiring my work. I always think, "gosh, really? You think it's good? WOW!" I'm always taken aback when I get approval from my fellow artists.
TC: When was a time you thought you would/had failed? How did you overcome it?
VT: My first job in the fashion photography world was a small one. I was working for a boutique for about a year when all of a sudden they canceled our spring line shoot and went with another photographer. I didn't hear about it until the photos were released and it just broke my heart. I was bitter about it for a long time since I had grown to have a personal relationship with these women. But I overcame it when I decided to continue trying to do what I loved despite the rejection. Shortly after, I was approached by agencies in Austin, TX to start working with models. It is amazing to see how much I have evolved since then.
TC: What defines success for you as a photographer? If you never achieve that, will you still be satisfied with what you do?
VT: My idea of success as a photographer would be to work in New York or Los Angeles with agencies and brands. I drool over the images in Vogue and dream of one day being able to photograph for these big name brands. I know it's a huge long shot, so if I never achieve that type of success, I think I will be okay. I've learned that photography is not all of my life, just a big part of it. You can find fulfillment in so many other ways. I think just being part of a community of artists has already brought me so much satisfaction in life.