Vanessa Salas Photography has joined the Del Rio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Members of the Del Rio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, including president Sergio Diaz, celebrated with Salas and her family Friday at the chamber’s offices in the city transportation center in downtown Del Rio.
Salas, the photographer and owner of Vanessa Salas Photography, was born in Austin, but moved to Del Rio as a child with her mother, Claudia Talamantez, who is from here.
Salas went to school in Del Rio and graduated from Del Rio High School in 2008. She began attending college here and met and married her husband, Marco Salas, who works for the National Park Service at the Amistad National Recreation Area.
The Salases have three sons, Marco Jr., Alejandro and Luis Andres.
“When I had Marco Jr., I decided to stay home with him, and when he was about six or seven months old, I decided to pick up photography,” Salas said.
It was a natural progression, Salas said, as she loved taking photographs of her son.
“I told my husband this was something I could really see myself doing until I was able to go back to school. My son was still pretty young, and I wanted to wait at least two or three years before trying to go back to school,” she said.
For her birthday that year, her husband bought her a Canon DSLR camera to replace the small point-and-shoot model she had been using.
“I just fell in love with it. My oldest son became my first model, and I took pictures of him anywhere and everywhere. I also started offering free shoots to anyone I came into contact with, and my mom would send over her friends, and I’d have friends from our church that I’d photograph for free, just so I could start building a portfolio,” Salas said.
“From there, I started looking into editing programs, software. I did a DSLR school online, and I took other courses to educate myself on camera settings to start learning to shoot in manual mode. The camera had all these settings, and everything I read was that shooting in manual was the best because you could choose your own settings, so I looked at tutorials and videos and online workshops,” she added.
She also began looking to improve to her equipment, adding lenses for specific purposes and effects.
Salas said it was about a year-and-a-half to two years before she felt comfortable enough to start charging for her work.
Salas also credited a mentor she had from Laughlin Air Force Base, Manda Koolis, who encouraged her and helped her establish herself.
“She was doing photography here in Del Rio, and I reached out to her on Facebook and told her my situation. I told her I loved photography and wanted to learn and asked if she had ever done any mentoring and asked her if she could take me under her wing, so to speak, and she was so helpful to me,” Salas said.
“She really sparked a fire in me,” she added.
Salas began her career as a professional photographer shooting portraits of children and families.
“I was doing that for a good two or three years before I thought, ‘Maybe I could take on a wedding,’ but that’s what I fell in love with, families and children,” she said.
Salas said she began doing one shoot a week, then two, then three.
“I started getting more and more clients around town, and I started thinking maybe I could do this as a business, and that’s when I made it official. I got a Facebook page, business cards and went full on with it,” she said.
Salas continued purchasing more and better equipment and added a photo booth that she can bring to events.
The booth allows participants in an event to have several pictures made of themselves at the event. The photos are printed out immediately, and participants can take the pictures home as a memento of the occasion.
She opened Vanessa Salas Photography about five years ago and said she now does more events than she used.
To contact her or to set up a shoot, find her on Facebook at Vanessa Salas Photography. Salas is also on Instagram.