“It creates this human to human connection – between me and my subject…”

“It creates this human to human connection – between me and my subject…”

Vanessa Baioni 

Vanessa Baioni is a photographer with a diverse portfolio and someone who thrives on the human-to-human connection she gains from her work as a skilled photographer. 

Despite being young, there is no lack of ambition, motivation, or passion she feels for the art of photography. We had the opportunity to talk with Vanessa about how she got her start, her best experiences, and her advice to those wishing to pursue photography professionally. 

 

 

Let’s begin with an introduction of yourself: 

My name is Vanessa Baioni and I am a photographer based in Silver Spring, MD. I currently attend Washington Adventist University as a public relations major – I’m in my last year and will be graduating in 2018! I also work as a barista in Washington, DC and in my spare time I like to binge watch shows on Netflix and Hulu. I love shooting portraits and also the occasional concert – those are by far my favorite styles of photography, but with all the political unrest in the country since the election, I’ve found myself gaining more interest in photojournalism.

 

Washington D.C,  USA
2017 Trump Inauguration Protest

 

What inspired you to get your start in the photography world?

I got my start in photography in the most millennial way possible – through Instagram. I had an iPod Touch back in the day and I started using it to photograph everything around me. Eventually, my dad noticed my interest in taking pictures and bought me a small Canon point and shoot which I brought with me on my travels. A few years later, a couple of friends of mine decided I needed something a little better to work with, and joined together on my birthday to gift me my first DSLR – a Nikon D3100. After maybe a year of shooting on my Nikon, I realized I could do this and make some money off of it too! So I began to take senior portraits of my friends and saved up for my full frame camera that I currently use.

 

College Park, Maryland
2017 Senior Portrait- Devon

Living so close to the nation’s capital allows me countless opportunities to attend protests and other newsworthy events.

 

What areas of photography do you work in? and is there an area you prefer shooting? If so, why?

I prefer to shoot portraits and music. I love doing portraits because I think there is so much to be discovered and so much creativity that can come within a simple portrait – they’re so much more than just a photo of somebody’s face. They can capture somebody’s personality, and they have the potential to be so expressive through both facial expression, position of hands and body, lighting, and everything else that goes into creating a beautiful portrait. I love photographing concerts and shows because I am a musician myself and it’s so much fun to be up close and personal with a musician while they’re in the moment, in their element, and completely wrapped up in their art. I love being able to capture that experience because it is so naturally expressive and emotional, and no two shows from the same artist will ever be the same. Each moment stands alone in its beauty and impact. As I said before, I’m also becoming more interested in photojournalism. Living so close to the nation’s capital allows me countless opportunities to attend protests and other newsworthy events. When I do take advantage of these opportunities, I find myself wrapped up in the causes that drive these people to act and speak out about the causes that matter so much to them. It has shown me that my generation is not as ambivalent as my parent’s generation may have believed, and that there is power in the community created between oppressed groups. Attending the few protests I have has been impactful every time, and I hope to attend more and further build my photojournalism portfolio.

 

Washington D.C., USA
2017 Water Defenders at Trump Inauguration 

It was my first show shooting on a Canon (one I borrowed from the station) and I fell in love with how crisp and clean the images came out.

 

What has been your all time favorite experience thus far?

I would say my most memorable experience would be photographing the Women’s March on Inauguration Day in January. The stark contrast I felt between the protestors – how welcoming and accepting they were of eyes and ears watching them, how inclusive they were to anybody who tried to join on the spot – and those attending the inauguration really exhibited to me the divide in our country between the left and right. It was a beautiful thing to be a part of the protest, and an eye-opening experience to have witnessed the inauguration and the attending crowd first hand. 

On the other hand, my most enjoyable experience was photographing TobyMac at EagleBank Arena for WGTS 91.9 FM. The arena was packed to the brim and he and his band put on an incredible show – they were engaging and charismatic, interacted regularly with the crowd and played for the camera whenever they could. It was my first show shooting on a Canon (one I borrowed from the station) and I fell in love with how crisp and clean the images came out. It was also the first show I ever photographed, and I have been hooked ever since. 

 

Fairfax, Virginia USA
2017 Toby Mac at the EagleBank Arena

 

Who’s work has influenced you the most? Do you have anyone who inspires you, or someone who’s photography style influences you?

I have a couple of people I follow on Instagram who have influenced and inspired me to continually strive to be better at what I do – Wyn Wiley (@wynwileyphoto) and Nesrin Danan (@blackprints). There are plenty of other photographers whose work I value and who I am excited to see on my feed, but those two are without a doubt the two I look up to the most. Wyn Wiley has a beautiful and warm portrait style and his consistent edits create such a beautiful feed. He’s also done a TED talk in the past about his journey to the successful and charismatic photographer he’s become. I hope to one day attend one of the many workshops he hosts/participates in!

Nesrin Danan is inspiring to me because she is my age and is an established music and lifestyle photographer in the Portland, OR area. Her work is gorgeous and she is real and down-to-earth in her social media presence. It’s inspiring to me to see another young female photographer making it and I hope that one day I will be as successful as she is! I would definitely recommend everybody to follow both of them, it will be a blessing to your feeds. 

 

Fairfax, Virginia USA
2017 Toby Mac at the EagleBank Arena

Adobe Creative Suite has excellent programs that serve every purpose you need when working in photography.

 

What kind of gear do you use/prefer? Is there any new gear you have your eye on? Photo editing software included.

I shoot on a Canon 5D Mark II – my most recent purchase. I was very excited to upgrade to a full frame body, and it is everything I thought it would be. It’s fast and responsive and using it has already become second nature to me. The only thing I wish it had was capacity for an SD card rather than only using a CF memory card. The Mark III would have been the ideal purchase, but unfortunately it was way out of my budget at the time and a friend was looking to sell his Mark II for significantly cheaper. I definitely lucked out and I’m so grateful to have it! I’m using a 50mm lens most of the time (it was sold to me with the body) and since I had only shot on Nikons before this point, that is the only Canon lens I own! Whenever I photograph for WGTS 91.9 I borrow their 24-105mm lens, which I hope will be my next purchase! I’m still working on saving up towards that – each lens or piece of equipment I buy is a big investment and sometimes it’s hard to keep up with what I need and what I want on a student budget. As for editing software, I currently use Lightroom and Photoshop. Eventually, I would like to begin experimenting with videography and will definitely be downloading Premiere at that time as well. Adobe Creative Suite has excellent programs that serve every purpose you need when working in photography.

 

Woodbridge, Virginia USA
2016 Lauren Diagle at the Hylton Memorial Chapel 

As a professional photographer, how do you continue to educate yourself? How do you come up with new ideas, techniques, and styles?

I have never been formally educated when it comes to photography. So to continue my education, I do what I have done from the start – I teach myself through YouTube videos, analyzing the work of those I admire, and interacting with older and more experienced photographers as much as possible. I try to soak up as much information and as many new ideas as possible – thankfully, the Internet is a great place for that!

 

Silver Spring, Maryland
2017 Senior Portrait- Kerstin

It creates this human to human connection – between me and my subject, and between my work and those viewing it

 

What is the best part about being a photographer for you? What keeps you going and interested in your career path?

Photography is simultaneously creative and technical. I love that it works both sides of my brain, and when I finish a shoot – even one that may have not gone as I expected – I look at the photos, I work on my edits, and I realize how fulfilling it is to be pursuing something so beautiful and interesting and important as photography. It creates this human to human connection – between me and my subject, and between my work and those viewing it. That’s something I’m reminded of every day, and realizing that I’m an integral part in those connections made and those communities formed through my work is so important to me and keeps me going every day. There is beauty to be found in everything and everyone, and I hope to show that – even a little bit – in all of my work.

 

Washington D.C., USA
2017 Protester at the Trump Inauguration 

Sometimes you’re going to feel discouraged and uncreative…

 

Do you have any advice for those wishing to pursue a career of professional photography?

Pursuing a career in photography can be intimidating. It doesn’t always generate a steady or reliable income. It can be frustrating and it can be exhausting. There will be heavy gear to carry, long nights of editing, and a lot of times where you might miss the money shot. Sometimes you’re going to feel discouraged and uncreative, but if you can push yourself to keep going through all of the obstacles, it is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding careers to pursue. You will learn so much about yourself and about the world, and all it takes is a lot of hard work, commitment, and dedication. Keep pushing yourself and always stay open to criticism, even when it hurts your pride. It’s important to keep an open mind and just continually move forward.

 

Woodbridge, Virginia USA
2016 Lauren Diagle at the Hylton Memorial Chapel 

 

If you’re in the Maryland/D.C./VA area and looking for a photographer you can reach Vanessa via her website to view her portfolio, rates, and contact information. Or, if you want to check out her latest shoots and see what she’s up to be sure to follow her Instagram account for her day-to-day updates.

Website: https://vanessabaioni.com/

Instagram: vanessabaioni

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Photos: Copyright Vanessa Baioni