Higher Education Photography


I love photographing in educational settings. There’s an energy in the air fueled by the curiosity and exploration of ideas, the theories and experiments, the discovery and pursuit of one’s passions. I’ve recently added a new gallery featuring some of my higher education photography to the website, including work done for the Stanford School of Engineering. Here’s a small selection to preview. I hope you enjoy!

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Todd Wilms: A Martin Schoeller Inspired Portrait


I’ve had the pleasure of working with Bay Area marketing expert Todd Wilms for several years now, and I feel lucky to have made a great friend along the way.  You can see the images we created on location in San Francisco for his website here.  Recently, we took things in a different direction and did a Martin Schoeller inspired portrait shoot in my Oakland studio.  Schoeller is a German born photographer who works in New York.  I love his photography, including his celebrity portraits and his conceptual work. He is particularly well know for his detailed close up portraits, shot with a shallow depth of field and a lighting style that results in intense catch lights in the eyes. While I didn’t spend the thousands of dollars it would take to replicate his exact lighting and camera set up, I created a set with my trusty Profotos that yielded results we found quite pleasing. Thank you, Martin, for the inspiration. And thank you, Todd, for being the perfect model!

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June Manley & F4 Capital: Revolutionizing Venture Capital Funding

Did you know that less than 3% of venture capital funding goes to companies with female founders?  I didn’t, until I had the chance to photograph my client June Manley for her next big project.  I’ve been so honored to work with June over the last few years. She is a passionate entrepreneur and industry thought leader with over 15 years of high-tech experience at companies like HP, Citrix, Riverbed, and NetApp. When she came to me for photos and videos to promote her new organization, I was more inspired by her than ever.

After her experience seeking funding for her own startup, Phala Data, June learned first-hand the extent to which VC Funding is not as available to women as it is to men.  Never one to sit on the sidelines, June was inspired to do something to fix a broken system. June founded Female Founders Faster Forward (F4 Capital), a non-profit with 501c/3 status, in 2017 to address gender bias in venture capital funding.  Their immediate goal is to increase the VC investments for Female led startups from 3% to 20% by 2020.

I’m thrilled that we had a chance to talk with June about this important work.  I hope you enjoy our conversation and take the opportunity to support F4 Capital however you can!


NR: What surprised you when you started your first company, Phala Data?

JM: There were a few surprises when I founded Phala Data – a big data analytics software startup. The positive ones were: I thought getting a product developed from an idea in my head was going to be a challenge, but not only did I successful get the product developed, I was able to file six patents along the way. I thought getting my first customer was going to be a challenge but ended up with a Fortune 50 software division with over $3 in revenue.

The negative surprises came when I began seeking venture capital funding. It wasn’t the rejections that were the surprises, it was why I was being rejected. The reasons that I had no control over, it was not because I did not have a viable product in a massive market, it was not because my investor pitch needed improvement, it was because I was a female founder without the right social connections. What surprised me most was less than 3% of venture capital funding goes to startups with female founders. In 2017, nearly $84B was invested in startups, again only 2.2% of the investments went to startups with female founders.

NR: Did you receive venture capital funding? What was is like to try to get

JM: No, I did not receive venture capital funding. I bootstrapped my startup all the way through product development, first customer and filed six patents. I walked away after I realized that unless I was willing to bring a male counterpart to the VC meetings I wasn’t going to get the funding. That was not how I wanted to get VC funding. If they did not believe that I could bring a product to market, without a male co-founder then I didn’t want their investment.

NR: Without venture capital funding, what options do startups have to establish and grow their companies?

JM: Without venture capital funding there are limited options to establish and grow your startups. According to research conducted by the Kauffman Foundation 80 percent of female founders used personal savings as their top source of funding for launching their new startup. Women go broke, even bankrupt, trying to bring viable enterprises to market. It shouldn’t and doesn’t have to be this way. Imagine the startups that get left behind due to lack of sufficient funding. They represent lost opportunity, unrealized, positive financial impact, possibly paradigm-changing solutions that died on the vine. These ventures could have changed an outcome in a person’s life, a business, an industry, an economy.

NR: What advice do you have for people who have want to start a company but
don’t know if their idea is viable?

JM: I would suggest leveraging a tool like Business Model Canvas or start
with the questions below to guide your thinking.
1. Who is your customer? For example, if your customer is businesses,
answer: What kind of businesses? How big or small is the typical
business? In a particular market? What is the title of the buyer?
2. What problems are you solving? How does your product solve those
problems? How does solving their problems make their life better?
Does it make them more money? Look better?
3. What are the key features of the product? The features need to solve
specific problems. The more quantitative (e.g. time saved, money
made), the better.

NR: What inspired you to start Female Founders Faster Forward?

JM: Last June when I was reaching the end of the runway for Phala Data,
and I had to shut down the operations and the development effort, I was at
the lowest point in my career. I was looking through a presentation that I
did for the SBA’s Innovation & Investment Office Director back in March 2017, I had a used a tagline: Female Founders Faster Forward. It dawned on me that I had to change how startups got funded. I had to be part of the solution that increased the current 3% of venture capital funding to 20% by 2020.

NR: How can we support the work F4 is doing?

JM: F4 represents the struggles of female and all under-served founders
being systematically shut-out of venture capital funding—not because of
their startup investment viability, but because of their gender, race and
social economic background. F4Capital was founded specifically to help
change the current, archaic, venture-investment model and to help deliver
more venture capital to female founders. Our Startup Investment Model
Index (SiMi) effectively measures startup maturity, opportunity, and risk,
while eliminating bias and prejudice in prevailing venture-funding

In the simplest of terms, SiMi is like a FICO Score® for Startups. Much like
the impact of the FICO Score on consumer lending, SiMi assesses,
informs, and empowers startup founders on venture investability—outside of gender, race, or other identities. By focusing purely on the state-of-the-startup, SiMi also facilitates smarter investing. Using sophisticated data and analytics driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning, SiMi delivers entirely new levels of funding transparency and benchmarking, creating entirely new positions of funding for under-served founders, whether women or other minority groups. Our effort is not about personal profit. We created SiMi to literally disrupt and revolutionize startup funding, so that more qualified startups succeed, whether founded by women or not. As such, we organized as a 501c3 non-profit.

You can help get SiMi developing by donating today.

NR: You’re an incredibly dynamic person, what do you do to maintain your

JM: Thanks Nancy. My family and friends have been tremendously
supportive in my journey as a female founder and in leading the effort to
increase the investments for startups for female founders from 3% to 20% by 2020. When you have an ambitious 10-yr old daughter who wants to be an entrepreneur, an innovator and a future female founder, you find the energy to be part of the solution that paves the way for the next generation.

NR: What are you currently reading?

JM: Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

NR: Thank you so much, June!

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Dylan H. Jones: Bay Area Author Portraits

Crime fiction. Detective fiction. Mystery. I’m not exactly clear on the nuances that distinguish these genres, but I can tell you that I’ve been hooked for a while.  I’ve fallen in love with eccentric detectives ranging from Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, to Donna Leon’s Guido Brunetti.  So, you can imagine my delight when I had the chance to photograph Dylan H. Jones, author of the Tudor Manx Mysteries. 

Dylan is a native of the Isle of Anglesey in Wales, where his first book Anglesey Blue takes place, and has been living in Oakland for the last twelve years.  When he’s not writing, he runs his own video content agency, Jones Digital Media.  After our shoot to update his author portrait, he was kind enough to give us a bit of his time for an interview. Have a read and get to know your not-so-local, local author.

Oh, by the way, if I’m not returning emails, I’ve probably got my nose buried in Anglesey Blue; I highly recommend you check it out.  Don’t worry if you get addicted, he has another book coming out in March!

Find Dylan online at: www.dylanjonesauthor.com or go directly to Amazon to buy his books.


Have you always been a fan of crime fiction?

As a kid, I loved reading horror stories then graduated to crime fiction later in life. I’m pretty genre-agnostic. If it’s well written, with a compelling plot and sympathetic characters I’m fully hooked.

Who are your favorite mystery writers?

I love reading the Scandinavian writers like Jo Nesbo and Henning Mankell.

On the British side, I never tire of Val McDermid or Ian Rankin.

Recently, a friend turned me onto Dan Choan, an American writer who’s known for his ‘literary crime’ novels, which I think just means they’re very well written!

When you start a new book, do you begin with a clear idea of the plot outline, or does it unfold as you’re writing?

I start with a very general idea of what the story is, then it becomes clearer as I write. Or sometimes, even muddier. That’s the pain and joy of writing.

What do you love about your protagonist, Detective Inspector Tudor Manx?

He’s tenacious, doesn’t take himself too seriously but is incredibly dedicated to his job.

He’s also dealing with many demons and personal issues which keep catching up with him, which add depth and mystery to his character.

What’s it been like writing about your birthplace, the Isle of Anglesey?

It’s been a trip! It’s surprising how much you remember once you start writing about a place you left several decades ago. I still go back most years, but it’s good to write about it from several thousand miles away, it gives me a fresher perspective.

What is your writing process?

Three to four hours most mornings if I can, then the day job for the remainder of the day. I do a lot of re-writing as I go along. I’m not one of those writers who can motor on without sweeping up my work from the day before work and making it better.

Favorite place to write?

Cafe Trieste in Oakland.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee in the morning, tea late afternoon. (I know, clichéd Brit!)

What’s next for Tudor Manx?

The next book comes out on March 18th. It’s called Doll Face. Manx faces a twisted serial killer who leaves mysterious, religious texts buried deep in his victims. Not for the faint of heart!

877-881-7221 | nancyrothstein.comnancy@nancyrothstein.com