Behind the Lens: Vanessa Lucas

Vanessa Lucas has been a graphic arts designer for various publications, a stage designer and an art exhibition manager. She is also a rising photographer, and has accomplished all this at the tender age of 20. Kreol Magazine recently caught up with this dynamic young woman to learn more about her and the secrets of her success.

Getting Started

It all began with assignments for a local newspaper when she was just a teenager. Victoria-born Vanessa Lucas was sent out with a camera to take pictures for news stories. Cradling the Canon in her hands, experiencing for the first time the art of capturing the perfect angle and moment, Vanessa discovered the joy of photography and instantly fell in love with the medium.

Her passion for photography shone through as she continued with the newspaper. Others noticed her talent with the lens, and requests began rolling in. Soon, Vanessa was taking portraits, snapping school pictures and memorializing weddings and other events for her own clients. The Canon is still her “precious,” with the EOS 1000D being her camera of choice.

Artistic Technique

Posed pictures have their place, but Vanessa prefers candid. “As soon as people see a camera pointing at them, they start tensing, fixing up different unnecessary poses and putting on fake faces,” she notes. “It’s best to capture someone when they least expect it. Natural photography is more meaningful to me,” she confides. “You can capture the natural beauty, where you get the real gesture and mood. It makes your photo more vibrant and special.”

Revealing different perspectives is important in her photography. “You can be amazed how one photo can have so many meanings,” Vanessa says. “Through a simple photo, you can tell a story or explain a given issue or situation.” Vanessa points to a recent work on breaking free from drugs. Her subject was a water lily, “that flower which grows in ponds finds itself amongst dirt, mud, and leaves, and yet still finds its way out of it all and grows into a beautiful flower that stands out from its surroundings.”

That same project, entitled “Breaking Free,” produced Vanessa’ personal favourite picture. “I had a model’s hand in chains on a broken pillar,” she recalls. “He had simply laid his hand on it, but it still gave a sense of breaking free from the chain. Through editing, I came up with a beautiful piece of work in black and white, which appeared more stirring than whilst it was in colour. The photo itself is simple but poetic, and whenever I look at it, there’s a sense of achievement and pride in me.”

Focusing on the Future

Vanessa currently studies Graphic Design at the Seychelles School of Visual Arts. Her aim is to obtain a university scholarship and complete her degree in photography journalism. “My dream and ambition has always been and still is that I become a professional photographer, earning my living through what I love doing,” she declares. “I want to visit different places, live through different cultures…if it were up to me, I would capture the whole Earth, and tell its story using photography.” Her long-term goals include working with a well-known magazine and displaying her work in a gallery.

Juggling work and school is demanding, but Vanessa’ devotion to her craft is evident: she carves out time to take about 400 pictures each month, sometimes taking over 300 pictures for a single client. She may snap hundreds of images for an exhibition, then whittle the collection down to fewer than ten noteworthy specimens.

A busy schedule doesn’t interfere with capturing great shots. Even her 8.1 megapixel cell phone camera can grab spontaneous images. “If I feel I am seeing something good, out of the ordinary, I may be at school, the bus stop or walking home,” Vanessa explains. “I just take out my phone and shoot.”

The Secret of Success: Just Go For It!

Vanessa urges aspiring photographers to focus on their craft. “I believe so many amazing poems without words can be created if you just believe in yourself, and that nothing can stop you.”

As to the secret of her success, Vanessa references W. Clement Stone’s famous quote: “Aim for the moon; even if you miss, you’ll land amongst the stars.” She encourages young people to challenge themselves to achieve remarkable goals, and to persist even when there are roadblocks. Vanessa counsels, “If you’re doing something you love, then nothing can stop you from getting better at it and excelling in life.”

Vanessa believes those who truly want something will do everything possible to attain it. “No matter how hard it is, don’t give up on your dreams,” Vanessa advises. “That’s what keeps me going. I know what I want in life, and I am going for it!”