Written by: Tracy Manning, Spotlight Editor

Twice per month here at HubHack we showcase the work of YOU – our valued members! We’d like to think of this as a way to help you learn and grow as artists as well as a chance for us to promote any current courses or educational opportunities that you are taking on! But even if teaching isn’t your gig, we hope that you will enjoy learning about some of your fellow HubHackers and possibly find some new inspirational artists to meet and follow!

This week our Hubhack Member Spotlight is shining on the incredible Marissa Gifford. 

(Amanda’s side note!  Right now, Marissa is running a  G I V E A W A Y  over on Instagram for a FREE study-along seat to her workshop, Photoshop for Beginners.  If you’ve been intimidated by Photoshop but know you need to up your edit game, check out her workshop and enter her giveaway here!)

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About Marissa

Marissa lives in Vancouver, WA with her husband of 15 years and her 3 sons, ages 8-13 years. She is an alumnus of the University of Arizona, a lover of shoes, pretty dresses, and a self-described Target-aholic  (Who isn’t, Marissa? Target is delightful :D) She is a devoted student of foreign languages, a desire she is working to instill in her boys.  Y’all, she’s fluent in English, Spanish and Norwegian AND has varying degrees of proficiency in Swedish, French, and Italian. This fact bowls me over with admiration because I’m barely literate in English. She loves podcasts, pizza and singing at the top of her lungs regardless of her ability, she notes (pun intended ;D). Her one and only flaw that I can find: She hates chocolate! I forgive her…maybe.

Marissa really earned a special place in my heart with with these next bits. She describes herself as being obsessed with her family and creating memories with them. She believes in being kind and accepting, and in extending the benefit of the doubt to people who are unkind. In that same spirit, she tries to give herself the same grace she extends to others when she falls short. Which, I must say, if we all had this approach to life the world would be a much happier, more peaceful and connected place.

Marissa fell in love with photography, as many of us did, when her children were born. She quickly became a ClickinMoms member in 2011 and joined the ClickPro Mentor team in 2013. For the past 7 years, she has had a thriving client-based photography business, specializing in high school seniors as well as lifestyle family and newborn photography. She longs to dig deeper into boudoir photography. We here at HubHack can’t wait to see the images she produces in this genre! 

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Marissa’s biggest inspiration currently is light and I just love how she describes her approach: 

“Gorgeous light can make the most mundane things look beautiful and interesting. I absolutely love the way direct sunlight is so bold and contrasty and how it creates such deep and strong shadows and it is one of my favorite elements with which to play. I also adore window light and the soft directionality it creates!”

Marissa’s images are infused with interesting compositional elements, light, movement, connection and the purposeful use of color. She uses these elements to create the most compelling and impactful images.  If somehow you aren’t familiar with her work or even if you already are… grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and spend some time feasting on her incredible body of work! You can check out her jaw dropping images here:

Website Marrisa Gifford Photography 

Instagram @marissa_gifford

Facebook @MarissaGiffordPhotography

What’s in Marissa’s Bag

For client work, she shoots with a Canon 5D Mark IV and a combination of her 135mm and 24-70mm lenses. For personal and travel work, her go to kit has recently become the Fuji X-T3 mounted with her 16mm and 35mm lenses. She loves the X-T3 for its tiny, lightweight size and sings the praises of it’s stellar image quality. You’ll find her carrying it most days in her ONA Prince Street bag which is small enough to force her to prioritize yet big enough to let her bring what she needs.

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Marissa’s Inspirations

Marissa has many colleagues that she draws from for inspiration. She adores he intense emotions that Chloe Ramirez (@chloeramirezphoto) brings out and captures in her subjects. She also loves Tarah Sweeney (@tarahsweeney) for her “flawless use of light and warm, delicious editing style.”  Courtney Larson (@inloveness) is a favorite for “her bold use of light and compositions”, and Merja Varkemaa (@merja.varkemaa) for her insanely beautiful Parisian street photography.

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Marissa loves the experience at Click Photo School and has taken many classes. Two courses stand out as the most transformational for her. First, Mastering Natural Light Indoors with Megan Cieloha  is the course that Marissa credits with helping her learn to read, analyze, and manipulate light primarily through Megan’s insightful critiques.  She feels it was a complete game changer in her photography. The second course is Composition and Creativity with Sarah Wilkerson. Marissa mentioned that it stretched her more than any workshop she’s ever taken and to quote Marissa, “It made me cry and invaded my dreams. But in the best way ever.”  This course sells out immediately when it’s offered but she says YOU MUST TAKE IT!  Warning: With a recommendation like that you will have to fight me for a seat.

(Amanda’s side note: I took C&C as a study-along student (it sells out too fast for full participation unless you’re a lifetime member and are super quick on the draw) about 3-4 years ago.  It was one of the most incredible workshops I’ve ever taken, and I’d honestly take it again in a heartbeat. I use what I learned in that workshop with every single picture I take.  I’ve been bugging Sarah for years to offer Elements of Design, the follow-up workshop to C&C.  But yup…that workshop most definitely lives up to the hype.)

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Marissa’s Courses

As part of the ClickPro Mentor team, she loves to teach photography and Photoshop. She expressed to me a genuine love of helping others get over those hurdles that can be intimidating to tackle alone.  In Marissa’s words, her approach to teaching is “Check your photography and Photoshop intimidation at the door – I’m there to answer all your questions and provide all the hand-holding you need along the way.” If you’re thinking… hey that’s the kind of teacher I need, well then, you’re in luck because Marissa has TWO workshops beginning soon.  Her workshop “Photoshop for Beginners” starts January 28th, 2019 (and is offered a few times a year, if you happen upon this post after that date.)

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A little about Photoshop for Beginners from Marissa:

“This course is perfect for those who are starting out in Photoshop or for those who want to fill in gaps in their foundational knowledge. It is the ideal course for someone wanting to familiarize themselves with Bridge, ACR, layers, layer masks, skin tones by the numbers, cloning, and many other concepts – with both corrective and creative applications of the tools we learn. I walk you through each concept with a written PDF as well as provide video demonstrations how to accomplish each task and lots of tips to streamline your workflow.” 

“Students also receive a weekly folder of practice images from the PDF/Videos so they can edit alongside the videos to become more comfortable with the new concepts. Plus, we have a brainteaser exercise each Wednesday to help students think analytically about the changes that have been made to the image and how to go about replicating those changes based on the tools we’ve covered up to that point.”

Register here: Photoshop for Beginners with Marissa Gifford

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A little about Mastering Manual Exposure from Marissa:

“You will learn how to meter in-camera and control your exposure and white balance while making informed decisions about ISO, shutter speed, and aperture in order to achieve your vision in-camera. We’ll spend time examining common exposure pitfalls and learning how to correct them in camera. We’ll also engage in a variety of creative assignments which will give you the confidence you need to capture consistent and beautiful images in any kind of situation!”

Her Workshop  Mastering Manual Exposure” begins February 25, 2019 (and is also offered a few times a year.)

Register here:  Mastering Manual Exposure with Marissa Gifford


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Marissa has also created multiple collections of PS actions and LR/ACR presets to help photographers streamline their editing process.

You can find them here:

Photoshop Actions: 

Marissa Gifford Photoshop Actions

LR/ACR Presets:

Marissa Gifford Lightroom and ACR Presets


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This post was written with love by Tracy Manning, one of our blog editors.  Learn more about Tracy below, visit her website and her Instagram gallery.