Longtime Whim favourite Leigh Ray Photography is back with a desert-themed shoot we love.

We’re so happy to publish her shoot and to chat to her about her inspiration, progress, and versatility as an artist.

‘Wanderlust’ was shot on location at Balboa Park in San Diego. Photographer Leighanne arrived at the concept through the need to convey a real “travel” theme and to portray a destination, setting up amongst the park’s beautiful cactuses and palms.

Airy white fabrics (and a very handsome white dog) contrast the hot oranges, bold prints and shadows that signal it’s time for one more margarita by the pool before dinner.

As well as being Leighanne’s first full “concept”, styled shoot, these images feature some truly stunning portraits of her models, showing off Leighanne’s ability to make her subjects feel truly relaxed and powerful during a shoot.

Q: We’ve been honored to feature your work many times here at Whim over the years – how do you feel you’ve grown as an artist in that time?

A: I’m so happy to have been able to be featured with Whim several times, and I am thankful for another opportunity to share my work! Since my last set was shared I think I’ve really begun to hone in on a style that I am proud of. I love those rich and moody tones which I think I’ve started to capture really well, both in camera and in post.

Photographers styles tend to change as they grow, not only as artists, but as people. I find that my personal work tends to have more depth when I have a wider range of creative freedom. I love that about photography, as well as any other art medium. Your style is always changing while you change, even if it’s in a very small way. It’s still changing to fit who you’ve become.

Q: How did you arrive at the concept for “Wanderlust”?

A: ‘Wanderlust’ was inspired from a beautiful set of images I came upon on Pinterest. I fell in love with the feeling and the sense that these particular images had. They were surrounding the idea of travel and places with a lot of sun with light airy clothing, and I had not done a shoot before where basically every detail was thought out. I got to work with a stylist for the first time who had beautiful vintage clothing that fit our theme perfectly. Our entire team was spot-on for this shoot and I’m very happy with how it turned out!

The location did inspire me as well for this concept. I knew I wanted to shoot in an area that fit the travel theme, and that’s how I decided on Balboa Park in San Diego. The buildings there are beautiful and the entire area itself was perfect for what we wanted to pair with our clothing. It’s got a a vibe that just sort of screams “destination!” I knew that it would be perfect for our concept.

Q: You’re also a portrait, wedding, and military photographer – what does being so multi-skilled bring to step up your photography game?

A: I think having worked in so many fields of the photography world, you get to know so much about people and you get to work in many different situations. Both military homecomings and weddings have chaotic moments, while both portraits and weddings have calmer and more focused settings.

Being able to bring what I know to each individual shoot has helped immensely when knowing what to do and how to react when a certain situation arises. However, I do pride myself in being able to deliver a setting that is relaxed and that can help my subjects be themselves in any of my sessions. It’s one of my biggest concerns that everyone on board is feeling secure and comfortable when they work with me, whether they are a model or a bride.

Q: What are you working on next?

A: For now, I am attempting to set up a styled bridal shoot! I have been focusing more on client work as of late since I recently changed my business model, but I always make time for creative shoots that are kind of just for myself. As an artist I crave that outlet.

Photography has never been about business for me. Sure, I need to know the ins and outs of running and successful business if I want to make it my career, but its always been about the art, the creation, and the fun! Picking up my camera is a stress reliever honestly. I would love to expand my portfolio with many more fun and creative shoots, especially before I leave California. So for now, I am just going to go get inspired by what’s around me!

Leighanne is based in San Clemente, California and specialises in portrait photography. For more of her wonderful work, visit her online, like her on Facebook, or follow her on Instagram @leighrayphotography.


Full credits: Photographer: Leighanne Deeney / Leigh Ray Photography | Models: Nyadhour Deng + Deonna Tillman | MUA: Thirati Kay | Hair: Shawnt’a Ford Johns | Stylist: Victoria Avalos


Cecile Blackmore is a writer from Brisbane, Australia. She writes and edits at The Creative Issue and hoards vintage clothing – follow her adventures on Instagram at @saintcecile.

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