Our Team


Pageant Photography is dedicated to documenting and preserving the experience of competing in the nation’s most distinguished pageants.

We’re a team of seasoned professional photographers and filmmakers with extensive experience in photojournalism, fashion, advertising, and sports.  We’ve been published in most of the significant magazines in the USA and abroad.

The pageant experience provides young women with a weekend for personal growth in an exciting and glamorous environment.

Our focus is to help contestants relive and share the excitement of that most memorable weekend with family and friends. And to produce photography that showcases the pageant experience for future contestants.


In most major NBA/NHL arenas, the team photographers, local major newspapers, magazines and wire services use what is usually referred to as arena lighting.

Simply put, arena lighting consists of high powered strobes co-located with the venue’s stage lighting.  In he same manner that Sports Illustrated, USA Today, AP and the teams themselves use arena lighting, we use the same to “fill out” deficiencies in stage or venue lighting.  It’s an acquired skill to set up and balance the venue’s lights with strobe power and the camera’s shutter, aperture, and digital ISO.  However, the result is photographs that look like they’re taken on the set of a network production.

This is especially important for state and regional pageants because they often don’t have access to the lighting teams or resources that are a staple of nationally televised pageants. In most cases, having an extensive stage lighting package would be cost prohibitive for state/regional pageants.

Moreover, production teams are increasingly turning to lightweight LED fixtures that don’t have the “reach” of traditional tungsten lights.  Unfortunately wide variations in color temperature and the discontinuous spectrum of many LED lights gives an unwanted color shift in photography. And the increasing use of “light walls or panels” as background elements will “fool” most in-camera exposure systems.

Our arena lighting system adapts to the use of a light/video wall onstage.

By using our customized arena lighting system, we’re able to accentuate the available lights and produce photographs that look like they were part of a much more expansive production   To support our efforts, we travel with over 5000 watt seconds of strobe power.  (FYI: Most on camera strobes are 100 watt seconds or less).

Moreover our team uses the top tier Canon 1D series cameras.  These ruggedized cameras are ubiquitous in Olympic/NFL/NBA/NHL photography and are designed for extra fast focusing with larger batteries and an advanced contrast detection focusing system. This equipment produces a much large number of “keepers” under challenging circumstances.

More significantly, we’ve also developed a unique “back end” methodology for handling large amounts of photographs.  This helps us to meet contestant’s demands for the timely delivery.  I’m confident that we have the best delivery times in the business given the quality and quantity of photographs produced.

In an era of social media sharing, we believe it’s vital for the continuing health of any pageant to have outstanding photographs available.  Photography that accentuates contestant’s memories of their pageant experience and showcases those experiences online.

It’s important to realize that, given the challenges, a specialized and comprehensive methodology for producing outstanding work is a necessity.

I’m certain that our consistency and quality is the best in the market.

We love pageants and are thrilled to be part of the pageant experience.


Josef (Joe) Willis

Joe is the founder of Pageant Photography. To produce a premium product, he has recruited a team of highly experienced professionals to compile a documentary of pageant weekend.

Joe is a graduate of the University of Tennessee who attended the Masters Program in Photojournalism at Ohio University.  An employed photographer since the age of sixteen, Joe was a national finalist in the William Randolph Hurst collegiate photojournalism competition and interned at the Providence Journal and Baltimore Sun.

After graduate school, Joe worked for a number of newspapers, including the Daily Iberian (LA), Beaumont (TX) Enterprise, Kingsport (TN) Times, and the Ft. Lauderdale (FL) Sun Sentinel. He is the recipient of many photojournalism awards from the National Press Photographers Association, the Associated Press, and others.

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Leaving photojournalism for advertising and fashion Joe was based in Miami / South Beach where he completed projects for most fashion catalogs including Eddie Bauer, Lands End, Maurices, Parisian, Woodward & Lothrop, as well as advertising projects for many major advertising agencies for clients such as AT&T, IBM, Brown & Williamson, SeaWorld, and others.

Joe is an acclaimed documentary filmmaker as well as still photographer.  His is currently working on a project filmed on location in Vietnam.

He currently resides in Texas where he coordinates the Pageant Photography team, operates a still photo studio and works as a documentary filmmaker.seaworld


Lisa Ruschetti Willis

Lisa is the chief editor overseeing the production of orders and she provides the glue that holds the team together.

Lisa left a career as a Court Reporting Instructor at the Court Reporting Academy of Virginia to pursue fine art photography.  She has won critical acclaim for her photographs of Abandoned Appalachia.

Lisa supervises the assembly and production of orders.  It’s her close attention to detail honed during her experience in court reporting that enables her to edit the 100,000+ photographs taken during pageant season.


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