Say Kym Ventola's name to a bride-to-be, and the response likely will include swooning.
The Phoenix-based international photographer's reputation for capturing beautiful wedding moments precedes her, and has taken her all around the globe.
But Ventola didn't always see the big picture.
She says she never had imagined making a career out of creativity. That is, until she shot her first wedding. "The work that came out of that almost surprised me," the 39-year-old says. "I kept thinking 'I shot that?' It wasn’t a moment of being conceited or anything, it was just exciting to be moved by such an emotional experience and having a connection to the client on that level. I felt like I had been a part of something sacred, creative, and beautiful all at once."
Her style has been described as "beautifully dark." That characterization, however, doesn't entirely capture Ventola's photography philosophy.
"Personally, I connect with images that make you feel something and force you to take time to really see the entire image. Light, shadows, emotion, background — all things that I’m constantly aware of when I’m shooting," she says. "A pretty, posed portrait is not as important to my couples; they want art, they want moments captured."
Since that first shoot, she's become one of the most sought after photographers in the Southwest. That notoriety has led to her shooting weddings in Japan, Italy, and France.
"When I started my business, international travel wasn’t even on my radar," she says. "It wasn’t until a couple contacted me from Osaka, Japan. That experience changed my life and opened doors."
Now, Ventola's business has grown into more than a one-woman operation. "I have a studio manager that handles all of our office matters, which allows me time to shoot, edit, volunteer, bake, and be there for my son in the morning and evening as often as possible."
For the photographer, no matter how much she's traveling, making time for her family is what recharges her between weddings. "On the weekends — mostly Saturdays — I’m shooting a wedding or engagement session," she says. "If it’s out of state, then I’m gone for about three days; but I always set aside a few days when I return for family time."
I came (back) to Phoenix with my husband. We lived in Boston for a brief time and decided to start a family here.
I make art because I found a way to feel creative and support my family at the same time.
I’m most productive on a cool, cloudy day ... disconnected from social media.
We have a nature table. My son and I collect shells, pinecones, rocks … anything beautiful or interesting during our adventures.
I’ve learned most from failures and mistakes.
The Phoenix creative scene could use more support. I meet a lot of creatives that are stressed out about trying to run a business successfully while staying inspired to be creative for their clients and personal projects. Actually, I created a retreat for women called NINE that appeals to a lot of creatives trying to do just that.
The 2016 Creatives so far:
100. Nicole Olson
99. Andrew Pielage
98. Jessica Rowe
97. Danny Neumann
96. Beth Cato
95. Jessie Balli
94. Ron May
93. Leonor Aispuro
92. Sarah Waite
91. Christina "Xappa" Franco
90. Christian Adame
89. Tara Sharpe
88. Patricia Sannit
87. Brian Klein
86. Dennita Sewell
85. Garth Johnson
84. Charissa Lucille
83. Ryan Downey
82. Samantha Thompson
81. Cherie Buck-Hutchison
80. Freddie Paull
79. Jennifer Campbell
78. Dwayne Hartford
77. Shaliyah Ben