Updated: Oct 31, 2018
Author Jenn Mishra
Tiffany Weems is a portrait and product photographer based in Las Vegas, Nevada. I wanted to talk with Tiffany about her photography and also about the group Women in Focus (WIF). Tiffany has started chapters of WIF in Chicago, St. Louis and - as of January 2018 - Las Vegas!
WIF is a non-profit, artist-initiated group of women photographers who have joined together to support and promote the photographic arts (see their full mission statement). WIF is designed as a non-competitive, nurturing environment for women who all love the same thing – photography. It doesn’t matter what camera the photographer uses or if the photographer is an amateur or making their living at photography. The women in WIF all share the same passion. They support each other’s successes and help each other through mistakes.
Tiffany discovered WIF when she moved to Atlanta. The Atlanta chapter of WIF, under the long-time presidency of Gittel Price, is where Tiffany found a photographic home. When Tiffany moved from Atlanta to Chicago, she formed relationships with women photographers in the area and realized that her experiences in WIF in Atlanta could be replicated in Chicago. In 2014, Tiffany founded the Chicago chapter of WIF.
Life took another turn and Tiffany relocated to the St. Louis area, handing the reigns of WIF in Chicago to Karen Egerer. Tiffany started WIF in St. Louis almost immediately upon her arrival in the city. “I didn’t know anyone in town!” She found a meeting space and began networking through the meet-up groups making connections with women photographers in the area. When Tiffany left for Las Vegas, Caren Libby took over as president of the St. Louis chapter of WIF.
After 20 years, Tiffany is back in her hometown, Las Vegas with her little boy Heathcliff. Her life has come full circle. Along the way, she found photography and Women in Focus.
“It’s a lot of work running the WIF group. It’s a labor of love. The St. Louis group came at a time when I was going through a painful divorce. The group got me through it. There were others counting on me, but there were also women who’d been there, done that. I made a lot of friends in Women in Focus. There’s a bond that happens when we share a creative passion.”
The high level of talent in all the WIF groups blew Tiffany away. “Even photographers who just swear they are just amateurs are amazing!” This high level makes everybody step up their game and want to do better. The photographers grow by sharing techniques in meetings and going out together and shoot on field trips.
Tiffany’s own journey in photography started in Los Angeles. She was an aspiring actress. After a million auditions and having her headshot taken a million times, she was bored with it.
“I was being photographed by a guy who was having a blast and I was over it – he was having so much fun. I wondered what it was like being on the other side of the camera.”
Tiffany got a digital camera and took a few courses at UCLA to learn the mechanics and she was off on her photography journey. She started in product photography, moving to a job at Disney. She had some wonderful women mentors along the way. She also had the opportunity to assist Art Steiber a few times and learned a lot. “He was an inspiration not only his work, but I learned a lot from him on how to treat people.”
During our interview, I asked Tiffany about how she feels when she is photographing and what she feels is a successful photograph:
“When I’m taking portraits, I love seeing the person through the lens. I know I’ll have good pictures when the person genuinely seems happy when they leave. When they are enjoying the process, something magical happens. It’s like the endorphins you get when exercising. I get this excitement and I know the pictures are working!”
Tiffany loves the one-on-one of a portraiture session and loves photographing women.
“We’re all so different! All women are so beautiful. It’s so funny, the things I like to see – lines on a face - that’s first thing they want removed. As a photographer we’re seeing something extraordinary in the person.”
When Tiffany left St. Louis, the WIF chapter threw her a beautiful going away party. “It was amazing. Everyone was thanking me saying things like ‘You made me pick up camera again after 10 years’ and ‘I finally got to say that I was in a gallery show!’”
WIF is about nurturing other people and creating life-long friendships and bonds.
If you’re interested in stating a WIF group in your city, look at the mission statement and the various chapter websites (links below). Then contact one of the chapter presidents for some insight.
“It’s a lot of work, but the bond that is created through sharing a love of photography can lead to life-long friendships.”
If you’ve been a part of WIF, please comment below with your thoughts and experiences!
** This post may contain affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.
Article Written by Jennifer Mishra
Jennifer Mishra is an American travel photographer born in Colorado and based in the St. Louis metro area. She has a background in classical music and academia. She is the founder of PhotoYoga. Her photos are published at Wits End Photography or follow her on Facebook or Instagram.
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