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Interview with Summerana Resident Instructor Jessica Vallia

  • Summerana 
Introducing Jessica Vallia inside the Summerana Membership! We are lucky to have her as a resident instructor at Summerana, and we also got to sit her down for an interview.

Jessica Vallia, a Resident Instructor at Summerana, is a Colorado native pursuing her Master Photographer & Master Craftsman teaching degrees with Professional Photographers of America. She draws inspiration from her blended family and tries to capture the stories of the families she photographs. Here are some questions we asked:

If we asked your family, who are YOU, what would they say?
A mom who loves her kiddos (and her husband, aliens, big foot, and root beer).

What was your first year as a professional photographer like?
Rough. I had no idea what I was doing in business. The kicker was when I had a wedding that I didn’t make the couple sign a contract (friend of a friend) and they didn’t have a family member in one of the group poses even though I asked over and over if this was everyone, they showed up at my door step demanding to have their negatives as a solution to this problem (yeah, I’m that old). It was my first anniversary and I quit for several years after that.My second “first year” 8 years later wasn’t nearly as challenging. I had grown up a bit & had only taken on what I could handle. I had gone to school for advertising in the meantime and had a couple of kids. I was much more mature and far less of a pushover.

How would you describe your photography style?
I shoot how it feels… So typically warm & inviting. If there were candles lit I want to feel them. If there was a warm sun I want to feel that, too. I don’t dive into trends because I want my portraits to be a family heirloom someday.

What are some techniques that members should look forward to learning from your resident instructor tutorials?
I would love to teach more on interacting with & posing families. I also love partially replacing a background and would love to teach that as well.

If you had unlimited funds and you could go anywhere in the world, what would your dream photoshoot look like?
Oh, I would photograph families from all around the world! I know that is broad but I’m imagining vinyards in Italy with breeze blowing through kiddos hair as much as photographing families on the African plains. I want to see it all, family is family all over the world.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned as a photographer?
Value your time. Money isn’t the most important thing but if you are going to take your precious time away from those you love, make sure the compensation is worth those moments. No matter what job you have.

If you could have dinner with 1 person (dead or alive) that made an impact on the photography industry, who would it be?
Annie Leibowitz for sure! She photographs people’s souls regardless of the setting, she sees deeper into the scene than just makeup and clothes.

What inspires you to create?
Mom’s at grocery stores stealing kisses from their kids in everyday moments. I love the opportunity to photograph families dressed their best for a day, it makes everyone feel special. And I love recreating those everyday moments with my clients, kisses on foreheads is my signature soak it up moment at most sessions. I love kids telling secrets and laughing when dad makes farting noises. I love that these memories will be passed down someday.

Favorite Quote
This one is tattooed on my arm! “I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set him free” – Michelangelo

Watch me edit: 

Pink Flowers in Studio – painterly editing workshop
Want to watch me edit this image in Photoshop from start to finish? It is available to watch in the Summerana Membership here.

In this editing tutorial, Jessica transforms her studio image to show you her step-by-step process for editing a gorgeous painterly studio image.


You will learn techniques such as:

  • Learn background replacement by applying digital backgrounds
  • Blending highlights and shadows
  • Changing colors within your background
  • Achieve painterly skin retouching
  • Brighten eyes and pop catch lights

and more through hand editing!

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