In The Field: The Best Shoot Ever With Lauren Vena

Mom, Make Up Artist, and Author, Lauren Vena

It’s funny how things work out sometimes.

I first met Lauren Vena last September, when she was doing the make-up on my friend, Kim, the morning of her wedding.  I even included one of the photos of Lauren in that post I did.

A Jersey Girl, Lauren has been an in-demand make-up artist for more than 20 years. She’s done make up on national celebrities like Vanessa Williams and Mario Cantone, countless local celebs/tv newscasters. Oh, she’s also the new beauty editor for Bella Magazine, with a new byline to her name. But her bread-and-butter are the brides, mommy makeovers, Sweet 16 and bat mitzvah events that take place all over the Tri-State Area.

But it was back in 2020 that she added another item on her already busy resume: Children’s Book Author. It was then, after having a crazy “mom morning” she wondered if she was doing anything right. Dogs barking, coffee spilling, hair crazy…but as they got on the bus, her kids told her they loved her. And she thought “If nothing else, I’m doing the best I can and the kids love me.”

So, she figured other moms needed to hear that, so she got to work on her first book, My Mom, The Best Mom Ever, while doing everything else she does.

I didn’t know all this when I first met Lauren in that Red Bank salon as she did Kim’s make up. But after Kim’s wedding, we connected on Facebook and followed each other on Instagram. I started to see the breath and depth of all she does, both personally and professionally.

Anyway, we’d comment on each others posts and started to see if we could work together. She really wanted us to do a shoot in the graffiti train in Lambertville. I was thinking ballet dancers or punk rockers…or punk rock ballet dancers, something that Lauren could really do cool make-up on.

RIP Graffiti Train

It would have been cool. But September turned to October which turned to November. Then, the town took down the graffiti train and we missed that opportunity.

Maybe because my brain is always working, even if I’m not actually shooting much, I’m always looking for locations. And, every time I’d be in the gym in my apartment complex, I’d be noticing the nice light in nearby lobby, how bright and airy it was, especially as drab winter turned to light Spring to sunny Summer. And I liked how the management company had it staged.

While these area don’t look like anything much, I always thought it would be cool to do a shoot in here.

Well, my opportunity came in May when Lauren reached out. She had a new book coming out – My Dad, The Best Dad Ever – and needed some marketing shots. But she wanted them a little different than she normally has done.

And, yeah, I do different.

I thought about shooting her on a leather couch somewhere, all tobacco and bourbon washed. Was there a hotel bar I could use? A smoking room? Was Nat Sherman’s available (It’s not. Closed.)

The more I thought, though, I realized that wasn’t right for this shoot with Lauren. She wrote a kids book about Dad’s, not a female-voiced The Maltese Falcon. So, I downshifted, trying to think of other areas.

And then it hit me…the lobby I see washed in beautiful light every day!

So, that’s what I proposed to Lauren. And even though she lives about an hour away from me, she liked the scout photos (above) that I sent and was up for it.

After leaving the gym one morning, I went to apartment manager pitched my shoot to her. First she said I’d have to talk to the corporate offices, blah blah blah. I said I would, she gave me an email. But by the time I got back to my apartment – all of a 4 minute walk – I had a voice mail saying it was fine, do the shoot.

So that’s what we did! We did the shoot in the lobby of my complex…and we both think it turned out really well!


So, we got a lot of really nice marketing shots. But the light was so nice, I wanted to do a few portraits of Lauren…because…of course I want to shoot portraits…and in case she needed new ones.


And, while I had her…I had to do some B&W’s – of course – using that seemingly basic gray wall from above.

Almost old Hollywood-ish. Like she just came off the set of Hud with Paul Newman.

Simple, but nice, I think.

Kinda hard to take a bad photo of Lauren. Plus, she has a very unique look with the full sleeve of tattoos and curly hair. But the simplicity of the white t-shirt, jeans and gray wall, to me, really worked nicely.

But we weren’t done! I only had her for about 40 more minutes – she still had that hour drive back and had stuff to do with her two kids, husband and four dogs…oh, and she’s the beauty editor for Bella Magazine and had a article to write. I needed to use our time wisely.

I knew we “got” the shots for the book, but I wanted to use another location – a path around the corner from my place that I walk every day and just love how the light falls. Lauren was up for that, but she had an idea as well. More on that to come.

So, we got in a few more shots in this setting. And we were only interrupted by a deer crossing behind her, but in my frame, and a hand-holding line of about 20 seven year old campers from the community center across the street, out for a hike in the woods. They were super cute, to be honest.

But Lauren had an idea for a female empowerment shot she wanted to do. She had a cool t-shirt that she loved and wanted to do some photos with. She’s very much a supporter for Pride Month, Equality and all things just being a good person. Especially in times like these, she said. So, we did some “hero shots”…

I knew I was running out of time with Lauren. She had an hour drive home. But, of course, I had to get one last shot with Lauren…and Flo!

Find Lauren (and her make-up products and brushes) at And find her books on her website, too! They’d make a great gift for the mom or dad in you life! Follow her on Instagram, as well.

Thanks for the great shoot, Lauren! It was the best one ever!

© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2022

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3 thoughts on “In The Field: The Best Shoot Ever With Lauren Vena

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