Kim Dalton's picture
Crew Mom

Who's in the Crew? - Spotlight on Florence Catania

NAME: Florence Catania
WEBSITE - www.florencecatania.com
CREW PROFILE - https://headshotcrew.com/florencecatania
INSTAGRAM - https://www.instagram.com/florence_catania/
FACEBOOK - https://www.facebook.com/florence.catania
LINKEDIN - https://www.linkedin.com/in/florence-catania


WHERE ARE YOU FROM AND WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW?

I was born in France, near Lyon. I left France in 1994 and went to live in England. I met my French husband, Niko, in Nottingham. At the time he was an engineer for Hewlett Packard and got an offer at HP Cupertino, so we both emigrated to California in 1999. We settled down in Palo Alto in 2002, we had our two daughters, Lilie & Anouk. We tragically lost Niko in 2015 (motorcycle accident). I built the house we were about to build, sold it two years later, and moved to Pebble Beach, on the Monterey Peninsula. I love it here, although moving + covid has not been a great combo for my business. I did have a few local, very good clients this year, and still have people driving down from the Bay Area. I know it will take time to get back to the numbers I had prior to the move but I am hopeful.


HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN SHOOTING HEADSHOTS?

I quit my Development Director job at Electronic Arts in 2011 in order to become a full-time photographer. It took me a while to find what I wanted to shoot, and how. Eventually I ended up just focusing on portraits, specifically in studio. I just really enjoy the challenge of studio lighting, that’s the geeky side of me…As I started offering headshots, I was shooting the very “traditional” way : Key light, fill light, etc. and was not paying that much attention to the actual expression, I just wanted the lighting to be perfect. I really believe in continuous education so I kept watching tutorials and videos until I came across Peter Hurley.

WHAT IS YOUR LIGHTING SETUP FOR HEADSHOTS?

I invested in a Flex-kit, which was a great decision. I would say parallel lighting is my go-to set-up. My entire portfolio is built doing it. I love the softness of the feathered lights and the simplicity of the set-up. However, I am also a fan of the triangle set-up which is a very nice, flattering beauty lighting. Sometimes I shoot both during a session for a different look and feel.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR STUDIO. DO YOU OWN IT? RENT IT? OR LIVE IN IT?

When I first came to Pebble Beach to take my daughter to school, I fell in love with ONE house. During the visit, the real estate agent told me “ I think you could use this room for your studio” and she was right. From that point on, I did everything in my power to get the house because I knew it was meant for me and my two girls. My studio is 620 SF and has windows facing a cute backyard. I like to keep it minimalist and airy, yet welcoming and comfortable. I have a powder room at the entrance, which is great for my clients. I didn’t really need a garage (Yes I am a minimalist!) So I converted it into a second studio. - I use it mainly for the great natural light when I open the door. It also allows me to have all my set-ups ready to shoot and a bit more space to accommodate the COVID era.

Long term I would like to put a door between the two studios, and create an independent entrance. We’ll see.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU LIKE TO SHOOT?

My favorite thing to do is to create a high quality, eclectic portfolio of the best version of one person - I love experimenting with various lighting set-ups, different clothes. I have always been amazed by how many different Look & Feel you can produce in a minimum amount of time.

I also like to experiment with post-processing and create unique portraits. When I create am image I am happy with, I usually put it on my wall: It reminds me of what I can do If I push myself technically and artistically. HSC’s contests have helped me so much doing that, I am grateful for it.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER PH AND THE HSC?

I was constantly looking for tutorials, teaching moments. I was a member of KelbyOne.com and was browsing headshots videos. I saw a guy talking on a roof, it was Peter. I loved his energy and passion. When I saw his work, it was exactly the style I loved. It felt liberating. I went to see him in person in Santa Monica, in 2014 and never looked back.


HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO JOIN THE CREW ONCE YOU FOUND IT?

As soon as I found out about it. At the time it was called PH2. Despite the difficult moments I went through, I always find that the community gives me a sense of normalcy and consistency. Sometimes I went weeks without being present, and was never judged when I was back. This is what this community is about.

WHAT IS ONE THING PEOPLE WOULD NEVER GUESS ABOUT YOU?

I used to ride a yellow VFR 800 to commute 55 miles to my work, my daughter was only 4 months old. People thought I was crazy :-)

I am extremely disciplined. I eat a clean diet, I never drink and I exercise 5 times a week. My way of life, my daughters, my passion for photography have been the reasons why I overcame the painful loss of my husband. Today, I am serene and more determined than ever.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT YOU?

I am actually an introvert! That’s crazy but true. I always have energy for my clients, and I take the time to connect meaningfully with them, however the best time for me is when I am alone in my studio, editing my images, and take the time to achieve the vision I have in mind.

23 Comments

Ylva Tryselius's picture
Protégé

Amazing and very, very inspiring!

Angie Meyer's picture
Protégé

Such an interesting story, Florence! And wonderful work, of course :-) Love it!

Peter Istvan's picture
Protégé

Very awesome

Beth Madison's picture
Associate

So good to learn more about you, Florence! Yes, like the others, I find your story very inspiring. It's been a hard journey, but look where you are now. I love your work, both here and at your website. (Great website, by the way!!) And your studio(s) space is fantastic. Such a high-end look, to support your high-end work. Thank you for sharing your story!

Florence Catania's picture
Protégé

Thank you so much Beth

Cindy Quinn's picture
Associate

I have been an admirer of your work since joining the crew. You have now inspired me to play with light more.

Carolin Thiersch's picture
Associate

I love your work Florence and it is great to learn more about you. You had such a hard journey and it is so wonderful to see how you manage all of this and produce such an inspirational work. Great to have you in the crew!!!

Krys McMeekin's picture
Protégé

Nice to know more about you Florence. Your photography is wonderful!

Rich Soublet's picture
Associate

Wow what a story. Much love Florence! You are a stellar photographer and a very kind human.

Florence Catania's picture
Protégé

Much love to you Sir! Thank you.

Mathieu Deslandes's picture
Associate

J'adore tes photos Florence, j'aimerais bien faire ta rencontre un de ces jours! Je te verrais rider sur un bike, ce n'est pas si fou que ça ;)

Florence Catania's picture
Protégé

Merci et oui passe quand tu veux Mathieu! Bises!

David H. Roth's picture
Protégé

Florence! You are an amazing artist and human and I’m honored to know you! 🤙🏼

Florence Catania's picture
Protégé

Thank you so much David

Rainer Mueller's picture
Protégé

Thank you for let us know more about you, Florence!

Robert de Wit's picture
Associate

Amazing story. I admire your strength and your talent. Absolutely love your work.

Florence Catania's picture
Protégé

Many thanks Robert

Tara Krauss's picture
Associate

I learned so many things about you from this write-up, Florence. I know it has been several years now, but I am sorry for the loss of your husband. It is such an inspiration to see how you have surrounded yourself by those people and activities you love to pull you through the dark times. On a lighter note, I had no idea that beautiful studio I see behind you in crewcasts is in your home. I am in awe of its beauty, simplicity, functionality and airiness. And, how you transformed your garage for a second setup, is genius. Anyway, thank you for sharing!

Florence Catania's picture
Protégé

Thank you so much Tara! Much love

Steve Powers's picture
Protégé

I've always admired your work Florence. You have a quite unique, if slightly melancholy, backstory. You look to be handling it very well, using it to grow and have found a home within HSC. I know the VFR800 well (too small for me) as I ride an R1200GS. It has always amazed me how far folks in the Bay Area will ride to live in the place they love. I rode for years here in Seattle, though my commute was only 17 miles (45 minutes). No lane-splitting here...

Florence Catania's picture
Protégé

Thank you Steve! I don’t ride anymore, only an electric bike :) the commute was long and lane-splitting always exciting although I’m not sure I would do it again :)

Lynda J. Chan's picture
Protégé

Your narrative is as graceful as your work, Florence. Thank you for sharing the depth of your story; now I see it in your style 💕

Laura Kinser's picture
Associate

great to get to know you better! beautiful work!