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Interview with Summerana Resident Instructor Jillian Varnea

Introducing Jillian Varnea 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.

“I’m Jillian Varnea Plaminek. I am a silly and happy spirited person. Most people that know me would say I’m an old soul. Someone once told me that you should always do what you can for others when you are able to, whether it be big or small. I always remember and implement that into daily life.

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago Illinois where I still reside with my husband and 2 children. My daughter has Cerebral Palsy and becoming a special needs parent has really showed me what is important in life. She works so hard each and every day to do simple motor tasks that we take for granted and that has taught me to appreciate the little things. I am beyond grateful to be her mommy. My son on the other hand… gives me gray hair, but he also keeps me sharp on on my toes.

I have been a professional photographer since 2016 and went full time in 2018. What started as a hobby for me quickly became my passion. Fine art photography has been my main focus for the last 3 years and I love seeing my personal growth year to year. (as much as it makes me cringe sometimes hehe) I love to shoot Maternity and breastfeeding sessions most. There is something very special and sentimental about them. I am so excited to be a part of the wonderful Summerana family and to share my methods of making art with this community. I often wish that this community would have existed when I first wanted to learn painterly style editing. In a world full of online content it can be overwhelming when investing in your future. Summerana’s subscription is an amazing value for the variety of instructors and education it offers. I am so happy to help you grow as an artist too!”

If we asked your family, who are YOU, what would they say?
My family would probably describe me as silly, creative and talkative. A jokester, but also driven and a workaholic.

What was your first year as a professional photographer like?
Full of life lessons. Many trial and errors later I learned that a good workflow makes or breaks your business.

How would you describe your photography style?
Whimsical, dreamy and ethereal are the two words I hear most when people talk about my style. I was obsessed with fairytales when I was little. So, I would like to think that had played a large part in developing my style.

What are some techniques that members should look forward to learning from your resident instructor tutorials?
I love the style I have developed of fine art painterly editing. I want to introduce you to using ACR and PS hand in hand. We all have our special ways of making our work unique and I look forward to sharing my favorite ways to edit with you!

If you had unlimited funds and you could go anywhere in the world, what would your dream photoshoot look like?
You would find me somewhere in Scotland at an abandoned castle or in a old village somewhere in England.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned as a photographer?
Practice is the only way to prefect your skill. Much like Rome wasn’t built over night. You don’t learn photoshop over night.

If you could have dinner with 1 person (dead or alive) that made an impact on the photography industry, who would it be?
Annie Leibovitz! Her work is just amazing. At one time photography was quite the boys club. She among a lot of other women helped pave the way for us women entrepreneurs working in the industry today.

What inspires you to create?
Anything and everything. Sometimes I will see a fallen down tree and it will spark a vision that I have to create in reality.

Favorite Quote
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” -Aristotle

Watch me edit: 

Editing Workshop: Santa & Me Composites with Jillian Varnea – Overlays & Digital Backgrounds
Want to watch me edit this image in Photoshop from start to finish? It is available to watch in the Summerana Membership here.

Join Resident Instructor Jillian Varnea as she teaches you how to composite with Santa and Holiday collections in the Academy. Watch her combine the Santa Frames and a digital backgrounds into a complete composite!


Learn how to uses one of our ‘Santa & Frame’ overlays to create a composite for your clients with Santa. This is a wonderful way to safely capture the memories of children with Santa, even in a situation where an in person Santa visit may not be applicable. Spread holiday cheer to your clients, and their kids, this holiday season!

You’ll learn how to:

  • Composite subjects onto a digital backdrop
  • Use an overlay and embed an image
  • Realistically place them into your digital backdrop
  • How to edit and blend your subjects into your image


  • Already a member? PERFECT You can find the Santa & Frame Overlays : > HERE < 
  • Not a member? For only $19 you get EVERYTHING in our entire catalog, including our entire Santa Claus Collection: > HERE < 


Jillian Varnea
Jillian Varnea Fine Art Photography

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