Beauty is in the eye of Vanessa Falle

A local photographer is dedicated to changing the way women perceive beauty, and she's doing it through her own lens. Vanessa Falle has launched a "beauty and glamour" photo shoot package at her studio on Main Street.

A local photographer is dedicated to changing the way women perceive beauty, and she’s doing it through her own lens.

Vanessa Falle has launched a “beauty and glamour” photo shoot package at her studio on Main Street.

It comes with a consultation, a makeup session and the loan of a range of accessories. She provides all these services because she knows that usually, “Yukon women don’t buy sequins,” Falle said.

The 36-year-old mother of two became an entrepreneur when she was just a teenager. As a 17-year-old, she would provide a mobile coat-check service to various events in Victoria, B.C.

She’s practically been self-employed ever since. At 21, she was a “one-woman sweatshop,” designing and sewing wedding gowns and prom dresses in her apartment. In 2004, she quit that business to open a scrapbooking website, where people can order designs and materials from her.

The scrapbooking and the birth of her youngest son led her to pick up a DSLR camera and master photography. “I was scared of it so I had to learn it,” Falle said.

Being a go-getter seems to be Falle’s modus operandi. She used to poke fun at her friends who enjoyed running. This year she trained and ran a full marathon. “If I do anything, I do it full throttle,” she said.

She learned photography by watching free workshops online, calling herself an “education hacker.” She also invested in photography conferences so she can “hang up” her mom and wife hat for a few days and learn more about the art and business of her craft, Falle said.

But a stroke of bad luck in the last two years is also what led her to change the way she sees people and the value of photography.

In September 2011, her truck was stolen in a Bonnie and Clyde style robbery while she was in Atlanta with her husband, Ray Falle. Their house, which is located on the Falle Sod Farm that they also own, burnt down in March 2012.

Since the tragedy, something changed for Falle.

“One of the possessions that I grieve the most was a portrait of my great grandmother,” she said, choking back tears. “In this digital age, we forget the importance of having prints to remember our loved ones by,” she added.

The portrait reminded her so much of the strength of a woman. Falle describes her great grandmother, Marguerite Defty, as a strong woman who could really “take you out.”

Defty was separated from her husband at a time when that wasn’t “fashionable” and she raised Falle’s father on her own as a board operator for Bell, Falle said. Needless to say, Defty was Falle’s role model.

From then on, Falle decided her photography studio was not just a business. “It’s not just about ‘push a button, sell a print, on to the next client.’ That’s really secondary,” she said.

“The focus is on encouraging women to stop saying the cruel, hurtful, fictional, garbage things we say to ourselves and to see the beauty that each one of us possesses.”

Indeed, the photos in Falle’s studio and online portfolio highlight women’s ordinary assets in an elegant light. Curvier women look into the camera with bedroom eyes, women with crooked teeth smile ear to ear, and young women sheepishly grin with flowers the size of honeydew melons in their hair.

Falle puts her money where her mouth is, empowering other female businesswomen in town. She offers her clients vouchers to the Color Bar Hair Resort and Unity Clothing, because she’s partnered with the “power-house” women who own those businesses, she said.

Asked what she would say to feminists who think that makeup and beauty sessions still cater to society’s stereotypes of women’s beauty, Falle said that’s not the intention of her photography.

“It’s about taking time off for yourself,” she said. Her clients would come to the studio with their mother, their sister or their best friend – a process that ends up bonding the two women, as tears and laughter are often part of the experience, Falle said.

The makeover sessions also become a self-esteem booster. “I tell girls, ‘It’s a mental health day! Tell your fellas to plan to take you out for dinner because you’ll be looking gorgeous,’” she said enthusiastically.

Healing through photography is another aspect of Falle’s work. She also volunteers to take pictures of children with a life-altering illness or a disability with Helping Hearts.

Next month, she will be photographing a woman who was misdiagnosed several times for a lump on her spine. Now that she has been properly diagnosed, the woman will endure a surgery that involves cutting her skull.

That woman wants to take pictures of herself, including staples, after the surgery. Through her photography, Falle said, “she wants to reclaim her health, her wellness.”

Photo sessions are $400 including hair and makeup fees, with varying costs for prints. Falle can be reached at her studio at 101-107 Main Street or through her website, vanessafallephotography.com.

Contact Krystle Alarcon at

krystlea@yukon-news.com

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