Jeannette Balleza Collins – Creative Portrait – Arkansas Photographer

Jeannette Balleza

I was excited to be asked by a business publication to take a portrait of Jeannette Balleza Collins. Excited because she is not only an awesome person, but she’s a long-time friend. Jeannette and I went to high school together and our paths have continually crossed during the last 20 years. It seems like we mostly run into each other when we are working, and I am always amazed by everything she is doing.

For the portrait, I wanted to do more than photograph her in her environment. I wanted to do something creative because I felt like it fit her personality… and I knew Jeannette would be up for anything I threw her way. I came up with the idea to surround her with light bulbs because of her work with start-up companies. I wanted to show that she was surrounded by bright ideas. I started to research images and realized that I would have to get my hands dirty and build something if I wanted to make the idea that was in my head come out in print.

I used my knowledge from hard-wiring lights at college basketball games and started building. I had to attach the light sockets to a cord, and then add a plug. I was a little nervous because I’ve never actually used electricity in anything I’ve wired, but luckily I didn’t burn anything down! I think my child was entertained as he manned the fire extinguisher when I plugged in the first light.

10 lights later, I drilled holes in the end of a board and mounted it on my background stands. I used hooks and clamps to attach the lights to the board, and took care to notice the spacing of the bulbs. I didn’t build the prettiest set, but it worked!

My initial idea was to shoot straight on with a ring flash. I was liking the image, but it still just didn’t feel right. I decided to try to shoot wide and have the lights in the foreground. I had Jeannette lean against the wall, and her fun personality began to shine. I made adjustments to the lights, and ended up using the ring flash off camera. I love it’s round reflection in the light bulbs.

I had a lot of fun with the photo shoot. I really enjoyed the freedom and creativity, but most of all I enjoyed working with my friend.

Environmental portrait of Jeannette Balleza Collins for Arkansas Money and Politics taken on August 11, 2014, in Fayetteville, Ark. Photo by Beth Hall (Beth Hall)

 (Beth Hall)

 (Beth Hall)You can read about Jeannette in this month’s issue of Arkansas Money & Politics.



Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Shannon Magsam
September 11, 2014 at 8:31 pm

I love these shots of Jeannette! She’s awesome. And the light bulbs are perfect 🙂

October 6, 2014 at 8:38 pm

Hey! I grew up across the street from her! I used to play with her and her sister. Awesome photos! I love the light bulbs.

Beth Hall
October 7, 2014 at 9:40 pm
– In reply to: Annette

Thank you. It was a fun photo shoot!