In 1991, Lisa (Verdoes) Asp graduated from Redwood Falls-Morton High School.

During her years as a high-school student, Asp found she had a passion for art.

“I always loved art,” said Asp, adding she enjoyed the classes she was able to take in high school.

Asp then pursued a degree in art at Mankato State University. It was during that experience when Asp was exposed to an art medium that has changed her life.

“I had to take photography as a general art class,” said Asp. “I fell in love with it instantly and regretted not taking that class sooner. I took every class I could from that point forward. (For me) the darkroom was magical.”

Asp said in high school she was part of the yearbook staff, which meant taking plenty of photos. Yet, she admitted at the time that level of excitement wasn’t there.

Having earned a double major in art and mass communications, Asp began working as a TV news producer, while doing some portrait photography on a part-time basis. Asp said her first apartment out of college had a huge closet that she turned into a darkroom. 

After two years, Asp left TV behind and began a full-time career in photography.

“The more I learned about photography the more I got sucked in,” said Asp, “and even today, after more than 20 years, I still get excited by pushing myself creatively and technically.”

Asp said she loves knowing she is involved in art and can make a living doing it. Having spent some time in Connecticut, Asp moved back to Minnesota in 2011 and brought her business, known today as Tangerine House of Design, with her.

Today she lives in Edina with her husband, Kevin.

The name of her business intentionally does not include the word “photography” said Asp, as she wanted to keep her options open for other potential artistic endeavors.

Asp said the name “tangerine” came from another business she had heard about that used it, and it stuck.

“I didn’t want to use my name, as so many other photographers do, because I find it so boring and expected,” said Asp, adding since moving back she has been so busy with her photography that the other endeavors she wants to pursue have been put on hold.

There just are not enough hours in the day, she said. Asp is a portrait photographer, and specifically is gaining a reputation in what she called pet portraiture.

“I’m a huge animal lover and had been doing an annual fundraiser for a shelter in Connecticut for many years,” said Asp. “I made arrangements with a rescue in Minnesota right away when I opened, and the pet photography took off."

Yes, added Asp, she still photographs the occasional human, but not very often.

“I like to say I offer ‘personality portraits of your four-legged (and two-legged) family members,’” she said.

Asp said her knowledge and use of studio lighting sets her apart from others.

“My clients often ask if my work is actually a painting, and they are surprised when I tell them all of my work is photographs,” said Asp.

Asp, who also does some teaching, said she explains to students that “shadows are our friends.”

She added the use of highlight and shadow sculpts the subject and makes them appear more three-dimensional in a two-dimensional photograph.

Asp said she recently has been doing some landscape photography, adding at this point it is more of a hobby simply because it is costing her money to do it.

Over the past few years she has had the opportunity to do some traveling, including recent trips to Scotland and Iceland to take photos of the scenery. While Asp started out using a film camera, today’s photography is all digital.

“I love digital photography, because it is so much more flexible and you can get instant feedback,” said Asp, adding she also enjoys editing photos to her exact specifications.

Of course the world of digital photography has also been a challenge, as more and more of the world has the technology at their fingertips. Asp would argue there is nothing that can really replace the work of a good professional photographer.

So, is Asp any good?

The list of awards she has won over the years would indicate she is. With nearly 60 awards in her portfolio, Asp has been recognized by her peers and the industry as a whole.

In January she was presented a grand imaging award during the Professional Photographer’s of America convention. She earned second place for an album entitled “Rescued” in the international photographic competition – having scored a perfect 100.

“Over 5,000 entries are submitted to this competition, and only a handful score 100,” said Asp.

She has won the Fuji Masterpiece Award, the Lexjet Sunset Award and has been named a master photographer of the year, a certified photographer of the year, portrait photographer of the year and illustrative photographer of the year.

Asp has also received top portrait and top illustrative image awards.

Giving back is also something that is important to Asp, and over the past few years she has submitted some of her work for the annual Dollars For Scholars art auction held locally. She has submitted three landscape prints for this year’s auction.

“I was awarded an art scholarship when I was in high school, so I feel it’s important to give back to someone else who might need a little kick start,” said Asp.

More about the annual art auction will follow in an upcoming edition of the Gazette.

To learn more about Asp and her photography, visit her web site at www.tangerinehouseofdesign.com.