Vacationers fall in love with Destin within moments of visiting. Photographer Vena Sensenbaugh didn't even need to enter the city. When she reached the crest of Brooks Bridge and spotted the emerald water, she knew she'd found her home.
She and her husband, Pete, lived in Merkel, Texas, at the time. Over the next couple of years, the two drove 14 hours to visit their daughter in Destin every three or fours months. Meanwhile, Pete put in hundreds of applications for jobs in and around Okaloosa County.
Finally, Vena and Pete decided they would move to the coast on June 1, 2011, whether they had jobs or not. In May, they were in Florida to attend their daughter's graduation from nursing school, when Pete got a life-changing phone call. It was TSA Consulting Group in Fort Walton Beach. They'd seen Pete's resume online and wanted to interview him for a job.
"My husband said, 'I just happen to be here. I'm loading up to go home right now,' " Sensenbaugh told The Log. "I knew instantly God had answered my prayers. He went, (and) they hired him on the spot."
The other life-changing moment for Vena, a former jewelry designer, came a few months earlier, when her daughter gave Vena her first DSLR camera, a Canon T2i, for Christmas. Vena quickly began to learn how to use the camera. From learning how to use manual settings, to the ins-and-outs of professional processing software like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, Vena became an enthusiastic student of photography.
"I'm the type of person that once I want to learn something, I become a sponge," the Fort Walton Beach resident said.
Her hobby soon became a full-time job when Vena and Pete moved to the Emerald Coast. Under the name Vena-Yvonne Photography, Vena creates and sells prints of coastal landscapes of Okaloosa County. With brilliant colors, sharp contrasts and brilliant compositions, Vena's photos prove she is far from just a tourist with a camera.
This Saturday, beginners, enthusiasts and professionals alike will get a chance to meet and learn from Vena when she hosts a free photo walk at the Destin harbor. Photographers will meet at HarborWalk Village, and then spend time taking photos of whatever they please. Anyone with a camera — whether it's a smart phone, disposable point-and-shoot or a top-of-the-line DSLR — can take part in the free event. After the walk, participants will meet up to discuss what they did and share their favorite photos.
Each participant will get to post one photo onto Vena-Yvonne Photography's Facebook page, where fans will vote on their favorite. The winner will receive an 8x10 canvass print of their photo.
Vena said she plans to host photo walks about four times a year. For more information on Vena-Yvonne Photography and to view her work, visit facebook.com/VenaYvonnePhotography or venayvonne.com.
TAKE A PHOTO WALK!
What: Photo Walk
Where: Destin HarborWalk Village, meet at stairs across from entrance to Harry T's
Who: Led by Vena Sensenbaugh of Vena-Yvonne Photography
When: 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7