Betsy Hansen Keeps True to her Florida Roots

September 10, 2012

By Jacqui Palumbo

© Betsy Hansen

Model Nicole Kay Clark in the wetlands for Hansen's mailing campaign.

Fashion, beauty and editorial photographer Betsy Hansen finds that she thrives through risk-taking. She looks for inspiration in images that step far beyond the box and always looks to be innovative in her own work. “It invigorates me when I see people taking risks with photography,” she says. “People who dare to be creative inspire me, the more daring the better.”

Hansen knew she was taking a big risk when she opted to stay in sunny Orlando rather than make the move to New York City for a larger fashion and beauty market. “I am what some might consider a fish out of water,” she comments. “I came to a point in my career where I had to make the decision if I wanted to move or to keep my business here and face the difficulties of building myself in this area. I decided to stay here.” 

Alice in Wonderland editorial with “a twist of orange,” Floridian View Magazine, Feb 2012

Hansen is a ninth generation Floridian, and she knew there were some unique advantages to staying in the state, such as the nine+ months of beautiful weather for on-location shoots and the quality and diversity of landscapes across the peninsula. She explains, “You can drive from beaches with powdery fine white sand and palm trees, to beaches with coquina rock and red sand, to wetlands with cranes and gators, to lush forests and more in a matter of hours.”

The wetlands were Hansen’s backdrop of choice when putting together her first major mailing campaign to cosmetics companies. Building a fashion and beauty photography career in Orlando has not been without its challenges, but Hansen consistently produces work for top clients such as Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, The Body Shop and Sephora, as well as editorial spreads in a variety of publications. 

One of Hansen’s strengths lies in her lighting. She comments, “There are so many subtleties to light and it takes special talent to not only see it but manipulate it and mold it into something wonderful.”

To catch the eye of new clients, she opted to create an unusual mailer that would be both personal and memorable. She took a small crew to St. John’s National Wildlife Refuge for a beauty shoot with model Nicole Kay Clark. Working with makeup artist Allison LaCour, stylist Sasha Ellis and hairstylist Angelica Chrysler, she shot a moody set of images set against the untamed nature of the Floridian refuge.  The photos were accompanied by a small box lined with green moss with a nest of twigs inside that held small plastic eggs and a single tube of lipgloss.  “I wanted the promo to be crafted in such a way that the person opening it would know I took the time to reach out to them instead of the usual mass mailing,” she says.

Hansen keeps her business personal and takes extra care with her clients, saying without them, she “wouldn’t have the opportunity to fulfill her passion.” Being personable, observant and patient are all qualities she embodies and she enjoys pulling a variety of professional talents to work with her on set. 

Above all, Hansen is always searching for beauty in the unexpected. She experiments with her lighting and technique and searches for faces that leave a lasting impression. Model Annelise Adams from the television show Remodeled caught her eye and she spent eight months trying to sync their schedules up for a test shoot. “She has this curious little gap in her front teeth, and I just love it,” Hansen says. “I love that beauty comes in all forms. She’s not cookie cutter, and that is what is so amazing about her.”

Annelise Adams from Remodeled.

For more work from Betsy Hansen, visit her Web site.