For the second year in a row Audrey Wancket’s classical portrait photography won a LexJet Sunset Award for Best Color Printed Image at the recent PPA Northcentral District competition.

The winning portrait, called Sugar and Spice, is not an outlier; it is representative of the high-quality work Wancket produces daily for her clients.

Situated on 11 acres and built into a barn, Wancket’s studio in Spring Grove, Ill., next to the Wisconsin border, also includes a two-acre wildflower garden perfect for outdoor sessions. The indoor sessions are where Wancket truly shines, bringing the ethos of outdoor lighting into the studio.

“The key to my studio photography is the strength and direction of the light. Natural light comes from one side, and I turn the subjects’ faces slightly into that light,” explains Wancket. “And, it depends on who you’re photographing: you put the light on the side where you’re lighting less of their face and other people the broad side of their face, depending on the shape of their face. You use the light to shape them so they look best.”

For Sugar and Spice, Wancket aimed to capture the different personalities of the twins in the portrait, to stunning effect. She captured the twins with a Phase One medium-format digital camera and retouched the image in Photoshop.

The other important aspect of Wancket’s studio photography is setting the scene with painted backgrounds and subtle personal touches that Wancket adds to the scene, like flowers and antique furniture.

“I have 144 backgrounds with four new ones on the way. I get bored easily and I don’t want my clients to have the same piece of art on their wall. I used to paint my own backgrounds, but I’ve found painters around the country who have helped bring my idea to a canvas,” explains Wancket.

Though Wancket prints much of her own work, primarily black-and-white photos for clients and her own photographic artwork, she had a friend print for the Northcentral competition.

“I get all my paper and canvas that I print from LexJet, which is where I also got my printers and the ImagePrint RIP. I love LexJet; they know their stuff,” she adds.