By Alina Fridman -
“Do what you love, and success will follow. Passion is the fuel behind a successful career.” - Meg Whitman
To pursue your passion is a dream. Now imagine waking up each morning and living that dream. Creating your own rules, mastering your craft and never having to feel regret that you didn’t try. I sat down with my good friend and frequent collaborator, Stefani Ciotti, to discuss how she turned her unexpected passion into a successful business.
Around the time Stefani got into high school, her family began to fall in love with traveling. It occurred to her rather quickly that no one in her family really enjoyed taking photos. They would return home from an incredible trip and have nothing to show for it. So “out of necessity”, she took it upon herself to become the family photographer because she never wanted to forget a single thing about the adventures; the laughs, the sites, the new experiences, the people, the flavors and smells.
It didn’t take long before she was completely obsessed! Stefani realized that what she was actually obsessed with, was not just the photography; but capturing and documenting the memories. The moments and the feelings in those moments. Stefani started to branch out into all kinds of photography; landscape, products, food, headshots, corporate events and so on.
“I enjoyed them all, but eventually I found myself assisting at a wedding and working with families and I am so grateful for that experience, because I fell head over heels and have never looked back. I was overwhelmed by how much love and joy was in the air that day and I was hit with that same urge/need to document every moment for them, just as I had had with my own family during our adventures together.”
“I believe every one of those moments should be captured and never forgotten. I believe you should be able to look back at your images and be able to relive exactly how you were feeling in that moment in every photograph. Beyond that, I believe your children and your grandchildren should be able to look back at your images and understand exactly who you were, they should be able to feel the love you felt and the joy that was present in that moment. Simply put: photography should tell our story, authentically and in all of its beauty… and I want to help tell those stories.” Stefani explained.
I asked Stefani: Did you go to school for photography?
Stefani: No, I actually went to college for Theatre Arts. (I always thought I’d be dancing, singing or acting either on stage or on camera - never imagined I’d have ended up behind one!) But I was very lucky to have trained under, assisted and worked for some of the most incredible photographers here in Southern California when I was starting out. Being out in the field with them was the best education I could have hoped for! I am forever grateful for that.
I asked Stefani: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
Stefani: That it is surprisingly very physically demanding and that it takes a toll on the body if you don’t take care. I wish I had gotten in better shape for it earlier on! haha!
I asked Stefani: If you could take your art in any direction without fear of failure or rejection, where would it lead? What new thing would you try?
Stefani: Boudoir photography has always interested me… there is something so powerful/empowering about it. Just flat out owning your inner and outer beauty, laying it all out on the table, allowing yourself to be vulnerable and embracing it. It’s incredible and beautiful. It’s something I hope to explore more of in the future!
With Stefani's creativity and drive, I think I see Boudoir photography in her future.
Stefani took her passion and crafted a life she truly loves. Today, Stefani is an award winning and published photographer. Her company, Stefani Ciotti Photography, shoots weddings with focus on capturing raw, beautiful moments that tell a story. Although Stefani resides in Los Angeles, she is in high demand which offers her the opportunity to travel across the country and even abroad to shoot weddings. What a fabulous life she has created.