Our next photographer is pretty darned popular in the St. Louis area, she's won awards and has some pretty awesome celebrity clients :) And I am lucky to be able to attend her workshop next month! Meet the lovely Stephanie Cotta ...
What inspired you to become a photographer?
Jacob Allan, our first little one, was born back in February of 2009. I started blogging about our new family as a way to document all of our days and with that came a need for lots of photographs… He changed so quickly that I just didn’t ever want to look back and not really remember all of those special (or not-so-special moments). Those photographs from those first few months are so precious to me… my attempts at styled sessions with my perfect little model, my first attempts at editing… and while it was so not perfect, it did what I needed it to do at that time… forever allow me to remember those days of baby’s first year.
At what point did you specialize? And what drew you to newborn photography?
I’ve always loved babies… old photographs of me with our extended family will always show me with one of my little cousins or siblings in my arms. April of 2010 was when I decided to really take my passion for photography and turn it into a business. Without a doubt, I choose to specialize in newborns. There is something so special about those first two weeks with a new baby… the new love, curled bodies, teeny toes and fingers… it’s really just amazing and I love documenting it for people.
What is in your camera bag?
Canon 5d Mark II, 50 mm 1.4 and 100 mm 2.8. And lip gloss. And Smarties. Yes, Smarties. It’s my go-to bribery trick to get the older siblings to pose with their new baby brother or sister. Melts in their mouth, no mess and they can be eating it (and smiling) while I grab the shot and no one can ever tell.
What has been your best investment for your business? Camera upgrade, lens, prop, etc...
Upgrading to a full frame camera was definitely a big one. I would also have to say the decision to go into an actual studio. I used to do all of my newborn sessions out of my home and I felt more limited in space, along with the fact that it was hard for Jacob to not want to be with me when I was right there. Not only is the lighting in my studio amazing, but it’s so much nicer to have the work/home separation.
What was the last book you read (not photography related)?
I love all of Jodi Picoult’s novels, I’ve been trying to find the time to read 50 Shades of Grey (yes, I know.. how could I not have read that yet?), but to be completely honest the last book I read was Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to Jacob and Audrey Rose. And The Giving Tree.
Do you use natural light or studio lighting?
All natural light. My studio has an entire row of east facing windows which provides the most gorgeous light for morning/early afternoon newborn sessions.
How do you "get away" from business? What is your escape?
Turn. Off. The. Computer. It’s a tricky thing to do and to really make myself do in the evenings, but I must. I love editing sessions, but I have to remind myself that it doesn’t have to always be right away. I give my clients a two to three week turnaround time for their gallery and I have a twenty-four hour policy in terms of returning emails/phone calls (except on the weekend). I remind myself that my little ones and my family are my priority, I workout to keep myself feeling good, and my husband and I try to sneak away at least three times a month for a date together.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Everywhere! On walks in the park with Jacob and Audrey Rose, magazines, play dates, afternoon get-togethers…. I think there is beauty in so many places in this world. It’s about finding that one little thing/prop/pose/etc.., brainstorming about how to add my own style to it, and then making it happen. I’ve been known to type notes into my phone at 4:00 in the morning because an idea has just come to me.
When did you figure out your own style? How long did it take to find YOU?
I think my style first evolved when I picked up a camera and focused on a newborn. Somewhere between then and now, I came up with ways to create art with a newborn in a simple, classic way that forever keeps the focus on the newborn and how perfect they truly are.
When did you start your business? And are you self-taught or did you take classes to help you get where you are?
I officially started my business in April of 2010. Completely self-taught, although I could argue that my Bachelors in Psychology and Masters in Mathematics has helped me in certain areas of this business. I’m definitely a perfectionist and believe that my many hours of watching YouTube videos, reading manuals, practicing (failing) and then practicing some more (and some more) have helped develop my ability.
Shameless plug (share links to workshops and such) ...
Newborn Mentoring Workshops: http://stephaniecotta.com/?page_id=14
Seattle Newborn Workshop hosted by Lilian.Grace and Trinkets & Pixie: http://stephaniecotta.com/?p=514
If you are in the Seattle area and want to attend a pretty fabulous newborn workshop please email Stephanie at email@example.com!!!