The Pictures I Didn’t Take

As I scrambled to find the last picture I took (with my DSLR camera) of my dad I couldn’t stop kicking myself for not having one that was more recent. Oh of course I have plenty of cell phone pics. But I was desperate to find one taken with my camera. I didn’t even know why at the time. It is clear to me now though. 

“The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.” – Andy Warhol

As a photographer I felt I had failed somehow. All this ‘preaching’ I do about the importance of printing your pictures and capturing your history was what? Just words? Nope. Not at all! I realize now I was just being hard on myself to avoid what I was really feeling. Heartbroken. You see, my dad passed away very suddenly on May 27th. And I threw myself into the funeral planning to ‘be strong’ for my mom and my siblings. Having a slideshow of my dad’s history was so important that it launched me into my frantic search. The image you see above is one of those pictures. 

“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”  -Karl Lagerfield

This is the last picture taken of my dad with my cell phone.

My father was a great man! He taught my siblings and I what it looked like to work for what we wanted. His love for my mother gave us hope for the kind of marriage and relationships we would later seek. They held hands often, danced whenever they had the chance, laughed probably every day, and always showed affection to each other. He always said he was proud of us and said, “I love you” often. 

My dad was a domino king. He could tell which dominoes you had sometimes by the 3rd round. It’s a game I’ve taught my own kids how to play. 

Every year he tried to be the first to wish me a happy birthday. And if that meant calling me a week before then that’s what he did. Ha! 

He loved his kids, his grandkids, and his great-grandkids. He even loved our childhood friends growing up. 


My dad also appreciated the value of a photograph. The day we took this photo we had taken pictures of him with all his grandkids, him and his daughter’s only, him and his sons. Every time we came together for family gatherings we’d do the same poses to compare with past and future pictures. Thinking back now I remember he was only ever grumpy about taking pics a handful of times. 

I have since found tons of pictures of my dad that I will treasure now more than ever. 

Joe Henry Ramirez September 8, 1956 – May 27, 2017


So this brings me to why I wrote this blog. With Father’s Day around the corner I’d love to give someone memories they can treasure forever. I’m having a Father’s Day giveaway! To win a one hour session, please email me at hello@figleafphotos.com and tell me why you’re dad is number one. And if you’re dad is no longer here on earth and you want to gush on your husband or significant other let me know too! Winner will be selected and announced Sunday, June 18th. 

Rules: Emails must be received by Friday, June 16th (2017). Facebook messages will not be accepted as a form of entry (only because I don’t always get messages so I don’t want anyone to miss out). Session will be limited to father and kids only. You must live in Houston or San Antonio and you will receive an email with more details after you enter. 

“We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.” – Ralph Hattersley

Thank you for reading this to the very end! And remember, I’m available to capture your history! 

Love, 

Vanessa Figueroa


Maria & Abel: Maternity Session

Now that this gallery has been delivered I wanted to share my favorite images from it. This last minute maternity session turned out beautiful! From the beautiful park to Maria’s stunning dress, I was so happy with the memories I captured for her and Abel. (Keep scrolling to see what I mean by last minute.)

Maria and Abel are first time parents!

When Maria first contacted me she was racing against the clock. Not only the new baby clock but the all too familiar baby shower clock! She wanted both her digital portraits and prints back in time for her baby shower. With my turn around time about 10 -14 days we both did some tweaking to our schedules and agreed on a date and location just 3 days before the session. 

Ray Miller Park was beautiful!

Ray Miller Park is located on Eldridge Parkway north of Westheimer.  For my first time shooting at this location, the weather could not have been more cooperative. It was the perfect compliment to this type of session. As a natural light portrait photographer the sunlight through the trees is something I always hope for. And the ‘mini forest’ in the rear of the park was a total bonus! 

New Beginnings

I was honored to capture genuine love between these two. Abel was already the protective father and husband. And Maria the eager mom-to-be.

They were so relaxed throughout the session and up for anything which made this session even more beautiful. Several people have asked where Maria found her gorgeous dress which I now know was purchased at Forever 21.

Maria and Abel are expecting a baby boy later this month. I wish their little family all the best! 


Celebrate Valentine’s Day a Little Differently This Year

Being the hopeless romantic that I am, of course I had to do a Valentine’s Day blog! “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” SWOON! That was a line from one of my favorite rom-com’s Notting Hill.  But let’s continue before I really get sidetracked! So Cupid’s Day falls on Tuesday this year and most couples plan to still go out to celebrate even on a weeknight. I’ve come up with a few ideas that are just a little different from the dinner and a movie tradition. 

 

 

CATERED DINNER FOR TWO AT HOME

Have a catered dinner at home! Enjoy the deliciousness of a fancy dinner in the comfort of your home. This could mean ordering take out from your favorite romantic restaurant or hiring a chef to come to your home and cook for you and yours truly. It just so happens I came across Succulent Cuisine and they do offer private in home services!

 

MODERN DAY BACKYARD CAMPING

Still enjoying the idea of staying home? Take dinner outside! Fire up the pit and cook your own dinner OR still order from your favorite restaurant and enjoy it by the fire. Plus, it’s easy to add dessert to the menu. What’s a backyard campfire without s’mores?

 

AT HOME SPA NIGHT

 

We’re sticking with the stay at home theme with this one. Hire a masseuse for partner massages before your romantic dinner or plan to give each other a massage! Oh don’t forget to pick up dinner.

 

STAY AT A LOCAL HOTEL

If you have littles and can’t find a sitter on a weeknight this idea is perfect for the weekend. Book a one night stay at a local hotel. Find one that also has a restaurant in it for the perfect dinner (and breakfast). My husband and I have stayed at the Hilton Houston Westchase and the breakfast was fantastic! If you are in the Houston area we highly recommend it!

 

SURPRISE! IT’S A GIVEAWAY!

As I mentioned above, I am seriously a hopeless romantic. And one type of photo session that I haven’t done, and I would sooooo love to do, is a surprise engagement! If you or someone you know plans to propose soon please shoot me an email at hello@figleafphotos.com and you’ll be registered to win a FREE surprise engagement session! Just include the following details in your email:

  1. Introduce yourself and your ‘future fiance’. Include a picture please.
  2. Share your love story. Where’d you two meet? Why him/her? What’s the best part about forever with this person? Tell me everything!
  3. Ideas of where, how, and when you’d like to propose.

Easy right?! I’m so excited! Winners will be notified on February 1st via email first and then on social media.

 

I hope you enjoyed this blog! Feel free to share your most romantic Valentine’s Day in the comments! And don’t forget I am booking for March sessions. Family, Milestones (Birthdays), Seniors, Maternity, Couples (wink wink)!


3 Small Ways I Like to Save Money

 

 

 

 

If saving money was one of your 2017 resolutions I applaud you and wish you the best of luck! I have to put this little disclaimer though. I am not a financial expert nor do I claim to be one. I have worked hard not to have lousy credit (anymore) and have found a few simple ways to save money. I’m sharing them below and if you have your own little money-saving tip by all means, share your knowledge! Let’s get this started shall we!

Save your bills!

Now this tip I actually got from a former co-worker. JoAnn and her husband would save $5 bills whenever they received change. I never had cash on me so I thought this was absolutely genius! You can always start with $1 bills. I have been saving both actually. The $1 bills get put away for street people. And by that I mean someone standing on a corner asking for money, a little league football team trying to raise money for their team, or even the local fire department during their “Fill the Boot” campaign. I know I can help if even with just a little bit. The $5 bills I save get put in a special (easy to open) piggy bank. I wanted to be able to have money whenever the kids wanted to flag down the ice cream man or when they wanted extra snack money for school.

 

Good Ole Fashion Piggy Bank

You can actually use any old jar or container for this one. All of my loose change goes into two separate piggy banks. One is a jar and the other is a 5 gallon water bottle. The jar is mostly quarters that I plan on depositing into my bank when it gets full. The water bottle is pretty big and still needs a while to fill up so I haven’t decided what we’re saving that for. I shouldn’t but I get really excited thinking how much it will total up to!

 

Bank Transfers


I know a lot of people do online banking so this tip is for you. It has saved me money and headaches! If you don’t have a savings account, get one! Then schedule an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings every time you get paid. Now these are just suggestions. You know your financial situation better than I do so you do what’s right for you. If you get paid weekly I suggest starting with at least $20. It’s the fastest way to see your savings account grow to $100 in just a month. If you get paid bi-weekly I recommend starting with $40. You can save until you reach a certain amount or leave it with no ending date.

Now that last tip has several benefits. First, after doing this I realized that I could actually survive if I saved money. It’s funny to me now but that was the main reason I didn’t try to save money. I didn’t think I could survive since we were living paycheck to paycheck. Having that money easily transfer had me disciplined to not count that money in my budget. And second, because I realized that I could survive by saving money this way I was encouraged to increase the transfer amount. By just a little bit but guess what? I’m still surviving!  Have I had to dip into my savings since I started? Of course! Life happens! Which brings me to the third benefit. It’s your money and it’ll be there when you need it.

 

I hope you found at least one of these helpful and please share any tips you’ve learned in the comments. Oh and if you’ve saved money for a session with me, wink wink, click on the contact tab above!  You can check out my last session here and on the portfolio tab.
Best of luck to you!

Sincerely,

Vanessa 


My Last Session of 2016

For my last family session of 2016 I could not have asked for a more fun family to photograph! I’ll start by giving a huge THANK YOU to Christina and her family! Her and her family made it a great one! They came ready to smile and ready for fun!

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Christina and I go way back! I won’t spill how many years but I will say that we went to high school together. Her and her family were in front of my camera in March of 2015 so when they came to me for Christmas card photos I was thrilled! Not only because I was going to see them again but because I was going to photograph her parents and her sister’s family! They are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet!

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A tree can only grow tall and strong with good roots. You could tell from the start of our session that this family tree is strong because of these two. I have to mention that they were up for anything, which you will see in a bit.


We met at Brackenridge Park in San Antonio, Texas and started out near the San Antonio River.

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It was THE perfect spot for family photos!

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The weather was a little concerning but as luck would have it Mother Nature was on our side! It sprinkled just for a bit and not until after our session had ended. It really was so much fun to do this session!

Here are more images from this session. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

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To book your family session please visit my contact page at the top or simply fill out the form below. I look forward to working with you!  


Celebrating Danaly’s Milestones

When Dulce and Daniel came to me the first time it was 2014. Their sweet baby girl Danaly was about to be a one year old and she was getting baptized and they needed a photographer for the ceremony. I was super bummed that I already had something scheduled for that day so we settled on a portrait session instead, at the very least. Danaly was so adorable in her baptism dress! Seeing her in it reminded me of the very important job I had. To preserve this significant moment in her life and in her parents’ lives.

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Look at that smile!

 

We met at Buffalo Run Park in Missouri City, Texas. It has a large lake and the walking bridge you see in the pictures leads to a two-story overlook of the entire lake. A walking path, picnic areas, and another bridge complete the landscape here. It is very peaceful and quiet and I look forward to working there again.

 

"I'm just enjoying the view."

“I’m just enjoying the view.”

 

Here’s one last image from that special day.

 

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The second time I would see Danaly would be for her 2nd birthday portrait session. We met at the lovely Helen’s Park in Houston, just southwest of downtown near the beautiful area of Bellaire. You may have seen a few of my other sessions taken at the this park, including my portfolio pictures found on my introduction post. One of the main reasons I love this park is because it’s beautiful and because photographers are allowed to shoot as long as they are quiet, don’t damage the landscape and don’t bother the other park patrons.

Thinking if this session is for her.

Thinking if this session is for her.

Danaly came dressed for the session wearing the cutest outfit! However, she wasn’t too keen on having pictures taken this time. After some help from mom, dad, grandma and aunt, oh and the tiny river that runs throughout Helen’s Park, she settled in nicely and we were able to get some great images!

 

This is one fashion forward little lady!

This is one fashion forward little lady!

 

The birthday girl was happy playing with the water!

The birthday girl was happy playing with the water!

 

I was honored when Dulce booked a session for Danaly’s 3-year-old pictures! I couldn’t wait to see how she had grown and to see Dulce and Daniel again. They booked a 9:00 a.m. time slot of one of my “Summer Me Pretty” teepee sessions and we met at another favorite park of mine, Christia V. Adair Park in south Houston just north of Pearland. (Check out my first Facebook live video from this park here!) This time the session didn’t go quite as smoothly as I had hoped. Again, Dulce and Daniel did their very best to prepare Danaly for this session days before the session and even on the ride to the park.

Danaly didn’t disappoint in her wardrobe! She was dressed just as the little fashionista I remembered. My how she has grown! I didn’t get a chance to see that beautiful smile but these are my favorite images from the session!

 

Happy 3rd Birthday Danaly!

Happy 3rd Birthday Danaly!

 

I really did enjoy shooting this session! It reminded me that toddlers sometimes rule the world, haha, and that I need more tricks up my sleeves!

For some tips on how to get your family ready for your portrait session check out my blog here. Then head on over to my contact page when you’re ready to book your session.