We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephanie Catlow and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephanie, we’d love to hear more about your end-goal, professionally.
To be completely frank, I’ve never given much thought to the “end” goal when it comes to my career as I’m constantly in the midst of “starting”. I’m a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur, with endless ideas and ventures, that never do I give myself the time to stop and fully contemplate the end of it all. But in posing this question, I’ve come to realize that anything and everything I do entrepreneurially is focused on impact. It has always been, and will always be, my goal to help inspire and influence younger generations to harness their creativity and curiosity. So at the end of this career, if I’ve been able to encourage and influence young minds to pursue their own creative endeavors and use that passion to help others, I will deem it the ultimate professional success.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Funnily enough, I don’t think that my art sets me apart, but it’s more so my approach and personality behind the art that differentiates my photography. My business journey started in photojournalism, capturing local news stories for various publications. I thought that I would eventually become a photo editor at a major publication. But after being asked to photograph several of my former high school classmates newborns, I quickly found that my passion for capturing families and kids as their authentic selves was my real calling. I decided to make the pivot from newsworthy to newborns and have continued to build this business ever since. In the early days, I was fortunate enough to have a bevy of friends and family who were eager to use my FREE services (building a portfolio often doesn’t pay). Once paying clients were coming in, I quickly realized the difference between being an “artist” and a business owner, and struggled in figuring out how to maintain and create all at the same time. I joke all the time with my husband that it is both a burden and a blessing to be creative. On one side, I’m so grateful to have an imagination that wanders freely and a passionate personality that is abundant with ideas. But on the other side, I often feel exhausted by my constant gusto and need to create and innovate. As odd as it may sound, it can be truly overwhelming to have constant inspiration flowing into your mind at all times. So over the years, I’ve been learning (always a work in progress) how to harness that emphatic passion for projects and narrow them down to those that will help push my overall mission forward. I’m recalibrating my constant “yes yes, oh yes!” attitude to be more like a “yes, oh yes I’ll be sure to keep that idea on the back-burner.” For now, a giant notebook of “Future Ideas” is how I keep my constant need to create in check. However, one idea that I could not keep stuck on the pages of that notebook was my children’s photography education brand, Little Cheese Photo (littlecheesephoto.com). In all of my years capturing families and children, I realized that kids are eager to take pictures of their own. I’ve always tried to incorporate my tiny clients in our sessions, but I knew I could develop something just for them to engage and inspire them to create their own photo art. The ultimate goal for Little Cheese Photo is to make photography accessible and exciting for all who take interest. There should be no barrier to entry for a child to learn, practice and play with photography and I hope the Little Cheese Photo brand is the resource that makes that a reality.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
As a Chicago-native, some of my best friends would most certainly be coming to LA from the Midwest. So naturally, I’d try to make a beach-heavy itinerary, starting with a cruise down the canyon to Malibu Farm on Malibu Pier for a morning coffee and treat. We’d continue to drive down PCH to Venice where we would walk the canals. For lunch, we’d head over to Neptune’s Net for some fish fry and end the day watching the sunset at El Matador Beach.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Passion can stem from a variety of sources, no doubt, but I am a firm believer that we collect inspiration first and foremost from our parents. As a parent of two inquisitive and curious little boys myself, I’ve noticed first hand how impactful my choices and pursuits are to them and their development. My father was the inspiration for my photography career. Not only did he have a keen eye for photography, but he was an avid student of the craft. Whenever he’d purchase a new lens or accessory, he’d learn all he could about its use and functionality and practice endlessly. Watching his passion for the art sparked my own interest, and eventually, he would pass down all of his equipment so I could start experimenting with the art. But beyond the equipment and education, it was my father’s sincere love and gusto for capturing and preserving his family on film that truly moved me forward into this field. Sifting through our endless family photo albums and luggages full of photo prints created the same fervor in me to go out and do this for others that may not have the means, equipment or photo-passionate father like mine, but still want to preserve their family in a magical and important way. My father passed away in 2016 upon the birth of my first son. Every day I think about how much my father would have loved to photograph his grandson (now grandsons) just as he did with his own children. I’m incredibly grateful that I have such tangible, preserved memories, captured on film by my father and many more with him (thanks to my mother jumping behind the lens from time to time). While my father instilled the passion, it was a friend and fellow photographer, Katie Jackson (katiejacksonphotography.com), that was the push forward into my entrepreneurial journey. Katie so graciously allowed me to shadow her during several of the weddings she captured in 2014. Witnessing a working photographer, in action, managing it all while creating gorgeous portraits for her clients was a major game changer in the way I pursued my career. I’ll be forever grateful for her mentorship, encouragement, and kindness as I launched this business of mine.
All photo credits to Stephanie Todaro Photography, except my portrait is Katie Jackson Photography