When Vanessa Longuski took her Sunset Print Award-winning photo, “The Next Step,” she was in the middle of a wedding photo shoot in Lansing, Mich., on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol building.
To get the dramatic shot, she simply got lucky during a time crunch on the couple’s wedding day. The videographer was filming the bride and groom, and the image was one of only two photos without him in it.
Longuski began her photography career as an unofficial yearbook photographer at Bad Axe High School in Michigan. She went on to study arts photography at Central Michigan University, but she knew she wouldn’t be able to make a living with tradition darkroom experience, so she switched to digital. She started her own business two months before graduation and bought a studio less than a year later.
Since opening the studio in 2008, she has photographed 300 weddings and is currently working toward her PPA master’s degree. Longuski offers portrait and commercial work in addition to wedding photography, and says her passion for her work is fueled by making “people happy by doing something for them … it’s what I love to do every day.” Capturing natural poses and facial expressions is the key to helping her subjects feel and look at ease.
She’s inspired by her customers because “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them, I love working with them,” she says.
Print competitions, like the Sunset Print Award in the PPA North East District, keeps the learning process alive for her. “Winning is a great feeling … to know I accomplished something,” she says.