Boss Babes: Meet Vanessa Black

Photo cred: Vanessa Granda

We felt like serious VIPs shooting this week’s Boss Babe, as she’s not usually one to stand in front of the camera. Instead, our Boss Babe tends to remain behind the lens as a photographer, videographer, filmmaker, and documentarian extraordinaire whose produced some of the most inspiring work we’ve ever seen. She’s traveled to Ukraine to document the real truth of the crisis there, is currently working with one of Obama’s 24 National Change Makers, started and owns her own production company BLKFLM, and oh yeah, she’s 27.

So we’re proud to bring today’s Boss Babe, Vanessa Black, out from behind her lens because she’s someone that you should all know. She’s gorgeous, she’s talented, she’s kind, and she’s making big things happen. Meet her now and remember her because we’re guessing she’ll be going down in history as one of those people who changed the world.

But on a lighter note, we met up with Vanessa last week in her Brooklyn apartment for some good fun and girl talk, and here’s what went down.

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Photo cred: Vanessa Granda

Photo cred: Vanessa Granda

Birth place:

Del Mar, Ca

First concert:

I think it was George Straight with my grandma LaRita.  She used to have a cardboard cut out if him in her house. God bless that woman!

Favorite place in the world:

Driving on the Pacific Coast Highway along the ocean in my hometown.  I’m probably eating a VG donut, definitely basting music, and most likely driving between my sister’s houses.

Hidden talent:  

I am cooking obsessed.      

  Best NYC spot for a first date:

You’re going to make this too easy for the guys!  Something adventurous. I’ll leave it at that.

You travel a lot for work. What are 3 things always in your carry on?

My pelican case for my lenses and camera, my journal and a scarf so I can sleep and not embarrass myself.

Photo cred: Vanessa Granda

Photo cred: Vanessa Granda

What does Friday night with Vanessa Black look like?

Dinner with friends and a funky dance party.  We love stopping by The Garret for drinks and anything hosted by MATTE in NYC is a great time.

What sparked your interest in photography and filmmaking?

There is something magic in filmmaking.  When I’d shoot 35mm photos as a kid, I loved the chemical process and the mystery to developing an image.  The smoke and mirrors of filmmaking is so intriguing; the spectacle of it seduced me when I was little.

Working in any creative field can be really tough in that you have to be constantly on your game. What do you do when you find yourself in a bit of a creative rut, on those days when you’re just not feeling inspired?

That is a dark hole I work hard to avoid.  As an artist you show up everyday and fill your life with interesting people, books, outings and anything else that can feed your soul.

How would you describe your personal style? As a photographer/filmmaker or just as a gorgeous Boss Babe?

If I am directing: sneakers, black jeans and t-shirt.  Practicality is key in the strange places I tend to find myself.  If I’m producing, I try to boss it up with heels and a button down.  Afterhours, I am California casual with eclectic jewelry from my adventures.

Photo cred: Vanessa Granda

Photo cred: Vanessa Granda

What inspired you to start using your photography and filmmaking as a means to talk about global issues? Was that always your vision?

There is a strong connection between media, culture and how that shapes society.  I love using entertainment to playfully or creatively talk about global issues.  I’m trying to bridge the gap between the entertainment value of scripted content and bring that into the documentary / news space to engage more people.  My end goal is to produce and direct docu-style TV to reach a wider audience.  I like thinking of media as a way we can educate the masses.

What’s the project you’re most proud of in your career thus far:

I’m most proud of my Defenders Photo Series. It is a  series of 180 large format photographs shot at the onset of the Ukraine Crisis. I took photos of barricade landscapes and portraits of the voluntary army in Kiev.  There were so many challenges pulling it off.  The day I picked up my negatives, I was escorted by 5 soldiers to the photo lab after shooting with them all day on a  video project.  I started crying holding the negatives over the light box.  I couldn’t believe I pulled it off.  I’d love to set up another gallery show with the prints in NYC.

Photo cred: Vanessa Granda

Photo cred: Vanessa Granda

Tell us about your newest project, Kid Warrior:

Kid Warrior is a short film I directed about this incredible 14 year old, Xiuhtezcalt Martinez.  He started a non-profit called Earth Guardians and  he is inspiring young kids around the world to demand policy change to protect the environment.  I was grateful the video helped put X’s story out for a diverse audience.  It was featured on MSNBC, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Esquire, RYOT News, Beautiful Savage Magazine & Huck Magazine.  Nat Geo will publish the video in a few weeks and I found out this weekend Rolling Stone reached out to interview X.  If you haven’t seen it, check it out on!

Can you give us some inside scoop on what we can expect from you and Xiuhtezcatl this summer?

Lot’s of adventures ahead but nothing I can talk about yet.  Stay tuned!

If you could shoot anyone, who would it be?

I would love to shoot something with David Byrne because he has the most interesting mind.  Overall, I love people and working with individuals you wouldn’t necessarily know about are actually my favorite people to shoot.

Photo cred: Vanessa Granda

Photo cred: Vanessa Granda

Who’s inspired you most throughout your career?

I love learning about women in my field who have helped pave the way for the up and coming ladies.  I owe it to my high school video teacher Judith Kahan Kampmann for starting me on this journey and introducing me to my life’s great love affair with film.

What’s something you’ve learned that you think all aspiring Boss Babes should know?

Don’t ask for permission.

Last question: What do you want your final meal to be?

Tacos and a spicy margarita.

To keep up with Vanessa’s work, follow her on Instagram and make sure to check out Kid Warrior below.

Kid Warrior: The Xiuhtezcatl Martinez Story from BLKFLM on Vimeo.

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