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Meet Shaleena VanCanneyt

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shaleena VanCanneyt.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I started out playing with my parent’s cameras when we lived in Minnesota. I used to use all the film on random things around the house and at my grandparents’ houses. When we moved to Arizona and I got to be like 8-9 years old my parents gave me a Sony Mavica which is a square-shaped camera that took floppy disks, so I started taking more pictures, mostly of our cats and the dog, but I also took pictures of the mountain since we live right at the foot of the Superstition Mountain. When I got the be 11-12 my parents gave me another camera, a Kodak EasyShare that was 4mp. That was the camera I used to do my first sets of portraits and my very first wedding.

From then on I would practice and shadow other photographers. When. I turned 17 I decided I wanted to take pictures and get paid, so I worked and saved and bought myself a Sony Cybershot camera, I actually had two of those, and when I got to be like 20? I finally purchased my first DSLR, a Canon Rebel t5 and I thought I was a straight PRO with my interchangeable lenses. I practiced more and edited with a website called Pic Monkey (lol) and thought I was doing amazing, you know how you are when you are super young and you think you know all.

I did my first portrait session for a senior who graduated from Apache Junction High school. Not long after I did my very first wedding for a friend of my mom. I was around 11-12 then and did both with my 4mp camera. It is really neat to visit those friends and see my very first portrait sessions on their walls.

Its been so rewarding to be able to document such important moments in my clients’ lives. I have a client who has hired me for the last 10 years and has printed all their images. Walking through their house is like walking through a museum of my work. Seeing my progress and growth side by side is one of the coolest things to see.

I’ve had the privilege to photograph 50+ weddings, and 200+ sessions and I’ve even been given the opportunity and absolute honor to photograph a baby being brought into this world by an incredibly strong woman.

Out of all the moments I’ve documented the birth was without a doubt my favorite. That moment will be in my heart forever.

Being able to grow my skills as my clients grow their families has been the greatest privilege of my life.

It’s also amazing to be able to learn to use film in all its formats and bring that back for my clients to see. Waiting for the film to develop and then seeing the results is something that I think is a fun experience not just for myself but for my clients as well.

There is just something so real about film photography and so authentic and beautiful, it just can’t be matched, so now I try my best to emulate film and do the film justice with my digital images.

Being in business has been a process. It’s really hard to be successful in such a saturated market. Seems like photographers are a dime a dozen and there are always new photographers popping up. So trying to be relevant and desired as a photographer has been a challenge like no other.

Luckily I’ve managed to have a unique business model and goal. For me I want my clients to know that I will always continue to grow and learn and that I put my client’s feelings first in my business and I put my art and passion first with my camera.

I want people to look at my photos and feel something, not just look and say ‘oh how cute.’ I desire emotions and genuine looks above all else.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Well like I said the fact that the photography market is so saturated makes it hard to stay relevant and get work.

Especially when people want good work for a cheap price tag.

Unfortunately, I have to step on a lot of potential clients’ toes due to my pricing. It’s really important to know your worth. The moment you lower your pricing or add something for “free” or use the word “discount” you lower the value of your work.

That’s something that I think everyone needs to be careful with when it comes to giving discounts or giving things away for free. Another good thing to remember is that people who want things for free tend to never be satisfied with what you give them, so it’s best to be careful when picking clients.

Don’t take people on just because of the paycheck, make that they know your worth.

Running your own business is never a smooth road but it is definitely worth the struggle.

The other thing that can be difficult is when you have competitors who feel the need to be vicious. I’ve had my own issues with these things even with friends of competition slandering my business over social media.

It can be really really hard and it can be discouraging. Still, my advice to those struggling with this is to find people in your community who will support you and uphold the “community over competition” idea. Those are the people you want to stick to because they Rae what will get you through difficult times as I mentioned above.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I’d say I’m most proud of my ability to prompt genuine emotions and laughter from my clients.

I just love being able to get real smiles and giggles from both children and adults.

I’m also super proud of the composition of my images, it’s been years of hard work and practice but I can see my improvement and my clients comment on it as well which is wonderful to be validated by someone other than my mother. Haha.

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
I run a wedding planning community and website and my community is probably the best support I have next to my family and close friends.

They share my work and cheer me on even when I’m down and cranky. Seriously having a community of people in the same field as you are the best thing you can do for your growth and self-esteem.

Find a community! You won’t regret it! I promise!


  • Wedding Collections begin at $2,650
  • Branding/Seniors begin at $325
  • Couples/Engagements begin at $350
  • Family Sessions: 5 people or less $375 | Up to 10 people $450
  • 3 hours of Wedding Photography begins at $900

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Shaleena Danielle

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