VK LEAVES BK

The V.K.Rees team and I recently left Brooklyn to go spend a few days in the country. We exchanged concrete for grass and buildings for trees. We drank many Clementine Thyme Cocktails. It was delightful and I was inspired. This was the result.

Food styling by Ali Chiappinelli. Hand Modeling and Photo Assistance by Mélanie Duault and Christine Soares.

by V.K.REES
by V.K.REES
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West Falls

West Falls by V.K.Rees
If you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably seen me tag my lovely prop stylist, Kelly Shea, in quite a lot of photos. A few months ago Kelly told me that she and her boyfriend were moving out of their Brooklyn apartments, had bought an old VW van, and were taking a 5 month road trip around the country. My first reaction was panic over who was going to prop style for me while she is away. Kelly is super talented and a joy to work with- not easy to replace. After I got over my selfishness, I was excited for her. And super jealous.

Kelly and Brendan aren’t just taking a long road trip. They completely renovated their van and have turned it into a film production studio on wheels. I took a still life photo inspired by West Falls (above) and got some shots of them and their van the day before they left (below). Kelly is going to tell you a bit about what they are doing because, well, it’s badass and I wanted to share it with you guys…

V.K.Rees

Brendan and I have recently moved out of Brooklyn and started a creative studio called West Falls. We will be traveling the country in a 1984 VW Westfalia camper van and connecting with companies and brands that are making beautiful products in America. After working for years in the film and advertising world, we decided to do our own thing.  Our focus as we travel the country is to create high-quality video and photo content for smaller brands who are put off by the high prices, long timelines, and muddied voice of working with big agencies.

We have connected with United By Blue  a Philly-based company who gives back by donating their time and efforts to clean up oceans, rivers, and waterways.  We, like UBB, believe that giving back is an important part of owning a company and we couldn’t be more excited to be associated with them ( #bluemovement).

Throughout our trip we will be creating a video series about american makers and doers [the Vancrafted series], posting daily to Instagram about our adventures [@vancrafted], and creating thoughtful blog posts about some of the emotional aspects of life on the road, starting a business, and finding ourselves [vancrafted.us].

West Falls by V.K.ReesWest Falls by V.K.Rees

West Falls by V.K.ReesWest Falls by V.K.Rees

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Spring and Tea

After months of shlepping around Brooklyn in snow boots, wearing sixteen layers of clothing, and opting to have absolutely everything delivered rather than step a foot outdoors,  spring is finally here. This post is inspired by the arrival of spring in all its glory. Melting snow, cool mornings, pouring rain and blooming flowers.

Prop stylist Kelly Shea, food stylist Lauren LaPenna, tea enthusiast Demetria Provatas and I combined our powers to  create this post.

My talented intern and culinary student, Demetria, researched tea blending and came up with a white peony lavender tea. Ms. Provatas tells you all about it below. Be sure to check out her blog to see some behind the scenes photos of this shoot!

Spring Tea, Photography and Art Direction by Vanessa Rees, food styling by Lauren LaPenna, Prop styling by Kelly Shea.

Spring Tea, Photography and Art Direction by Vanessa Rees, food styling by Lauren LaPenna, Prop styling by Kelly Shea.Spring Tea, Photography and Art Direction by Vanessa Rees, food styling by Lauren LaPenna, Prop styling by Kelly Shea.Spring Tea, Photography and Art Direction by Vanessa Rees, food styling by Lauren LaPenna, Prop styling by Kelly Shea.Spring Tea, Photography and Art Direction by Vanessa Rees, food styling by Lauren LaPenna, Prop styling by Kelly Shea. Spring Tea, Photography and Art Direction by Vanessa Rees, food styling by Lauren LaPenna, Prop styling by Kelly Shea.
Spring Tea, Photography and Art Direction by Vanessa Rees, food styling by Lauren LaPenna, Prop styling by Kelly Shea.Spring Tea, Photography and Art Direction by Vanessa Rees, food styling by Lauren LaPenna, Prop styling by Kelly Shea.Spring Tea, Photography and Art Direction by Vanessa Rees, food styling by Lauren LaPenna, Prop styling by Kelly Shea.

In Vermont there was an English style tea shop cozied up on the bottom floor of an old Victorian home.  It sat alongside the river and gazed out to scene of stark, green mountain peaks and large stones supporting the muted colors of the riverside homes – essentially comprising every component of quaint Vermont cute.  I would go there in the morning, before my classes, sit at the table overlooking the river, and quietly drink my tea, marveling at the serene, sun drenched space.  It was there that I had my first white tea.  It was a lovely blend that was silver needle white tea, rose petals, and a hint of vanilla – and I was hooked.  The white tea comes from the same plant as black and green tea, but it has a much more delicate, slightly sweet taste that avoids the bitter and acidic taste that can come with black and green teas.  When the white tea was paired with the rose petals and vanilla it was nothing short of pleasant, delicate, and even vaguely ethereal.

So, when coming up with a tea blend of my own I returned to the lovely white tea and decided to go with the more full flavored of the white teas – white peony.  The white peony includes young leaves in addition to the top buds or leaf shoots, whereas silver needle is only the leaf shoots, making the silver needle more delicate, more subtle, and more expensive, and the white peony with a fuller flavor and greater potency.  I decided I would pair it with other calming, and light, floral flavors to complement the the delicate white tea.

When brewing your own tea at home it is important to check the amount of time your tea needs to steep to avoid the bitter and astringent tastes that can come from over steeping.  Each tea – black, white, herbal, green, pu-erh, red, and so on – has a specific time and temperature that is most ideal for steeping and allows you to get the fullest and most pleasant flavor from each. The time and temperature will often vary slightly by blend and strain from there.  Here is a basic and super cute illustrated guide you can refer to when brewing teas at home.  Have fun blending!

White Peony Lavender Blend
By Demetria Provatas of Engrained Blog

Makes about 30 cups

1 ½ cups  Organic White Peony
½ cup Organic Lavender
⅓ cup Blue Cornflower Petals
¼ cup Chamomile
2 tablespoons Hibiscus

I.  Make sure all ingredients are dried.  Mix all together gently in a large bowl.  Package in paper bags, jars, or make your own small tea bags by putting 1 tablespoon in an empty tea bag, close and tie together with string.

II.  To brew heat water to about 175 degrees Fahrenheit/80 degrees Celsius.  Let sit for 3 minutes.  Pour water over 1 tablespoon of tea blend per 8 ounce cup.  Let steep for 4 – 6 minutes.  Enjoy this lovely, relaxing, and lightly sweet blend!

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Treat Yo Self, Part II

Treat Yo Self
Last week I posted a Donna Meagle inspired Treat Yo Self photo. This one is inspired by her costar, Tom Haverford. Once again, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you should watch Parks and Rec! Or this clip.

As I said in the previous post, I’m starting my own line of greeting cards! This is the latest addition.

The cake photographed here is Isa Chandra’s Chocolate Yogurt Bundt Cake and it is, without exaggeration, my favorite chocolate cake recipe. Here is another photo I took of it for a different purpose.

Now, go treat yo self! =)

Chocolate Yogurt Bundt Cake by Vanessa Rees

 

 

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Moody Flowers

I recently did some mood shots for H.Bloom flowers and thought I’d share a few of my favorite photos. We titled the mood board Silver Autumn and ideas came easily from those two words of inspiration. A big thanks to the clients over at H.Bloom flowers for giving me some creative freedom in this shoot. It made the project extremely rewarding.

Flowers by Vanessa of V.K.Rees PhotographyH.Bloom Flowers by Vanessa Rees
H.Bloom mood shot by Vanessa ReesFlower Mood Shot by Vanessa Rees
H.Bloom Flowers by Vanessa Rees

Till next time! xo

 

 

 

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