We had the good fortune of connecting with Pauline Fortuna and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Pauline, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
As with many other creative business owners, I wanted to start my own portrait studio to connect clients that appreciated my creative portraits plus I wanted full control of what I was producing and selling.
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.
I specialize in high-end portraiture for families, high school seniors and professionals. From time to time, and when Im lucky, I’m hired to create a more artistic portrait utilizing my advanced skills lighting and Photoshop. My favorite line from a client, “you’re the expert, I trust you”. I love to photograph women. I don’t exclusively photograph women but when I get the chance I am thrilled and find myself in creative-mode. Which brings me to my style; I don’t have a singular style with portraiture but I do tend to lean towards classical portraiture because it’s timeless and clean. My style can fluctuate depending on new skills or changes in my personal life, which arguably can be a business “no-no”. But I have to appreciate my variances because I can work in challenging environments and cater to different tastes. Sometimes I like subdue and conservative and sometimes I love color and over-the-top expressions. When I met my husband in my 8th or 9th year of business, his career took us to Okinawa, Japan for 6 years. Photographing in Colorado’s landscape was much different than the bright-sunny beaches of Okinawa. Okinawa’s tropical atmosphere required a different way of photographing, thus changing the appearance of some of my work. Conducting business overseas was challenging too, so prices and products had to be severely altered so as to make it less confusing and difficult for my old and new clients.
To keep sharp,I attend seminars and workshops, plus I enter photo competitions to push my skills. I became a Master Photographer through the Professional Photographers Association in 2015 and my next goal is to become a Master Photographer through the WPPI program.
I have been extremely fortunate to have the MOST loyal clients. Over the years, many of my clients have turned into friends where we catch up with hugs and stories. It is a surreal experience when you photograph a clients 4 year old child and then do their high school senior portraits. I have been so lucky to have had this experience but I do believe my clients stick with me because I do take care of them. I give them 200% of my focus and time and they come back every year and I am grateful for their patronage. I am proud to say that during my stint in Okinawa, I would travel back every August to photograph my most loyal clients.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My best friend would definitely come out in the summer because she’s not keen about cold weather. After a fun-filled week of river tubing in Golden Colorado, hiking at Red Rocks and Garden of the Gods, we would definitely head to Denver to let loose a bit. My best friend is an early bird so we would seize the day by renting bikes and heading down the South Platte River canal. We would “ooo” and “ahhh” about the glittery Platte River while we wave to friendly bike riders. We continue our Denver tour by catching an afternoon Rockies baseball game then head down to The Sand Lot Brewery inside Coors Field and rave about the local brews. The day’s not over, because Union Station is the perfect location for us to sit down, chat and watch the beautiful people of Colorado pass us by! At the end of the week, we will visit my dear friend, Tiffany McCray of Blush Artistry and Company, and her magical hands for Hydrafacials and dermaplaning.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are many people that have helped me along my journey from art college to photography jobs but I do remember a few friends that were absolutely significant in my journey. Perhaps they were insignificant moments to them but I acutely remember my panic in those anxious moments. There was a time in college when I borrowed a classroom for a “fashion shoot” where I rented photographic equipment and brought models in, only to loose my cool when I could not properly load film into my fancy rented camera. Natalie Beck, a friend from college who worked in “The Cage” (darkroom) came to my rescue and patiently taught me how to properly load a medium format film camera so I could continue my big-important shoot. Helen Noakes, was another dear friend who taught me how use a digital camera in 15 minutes so I could start shooting at a portrait studio. Although it took me a while to get use the camera, her patience and ease with instruction was absolutely invaluable. These were high-stressful moments that were relieved by people who took the time to help me and I will never forget them. Shout out to friends who paid me to photograph their loved ones early in my career. Shout out to all the fellow photographers that I have met during my journey who have inspired, uplifted and shared their knowledge with me. Shout out to Jeff Johnson who became a mentor to me when I joined the PPA. Shout out to my loyal clients who have stayed with me for years even when I lived overseas. Of course, shout out to my family and my lovely husband who have endured my breakdowns, rants, the clutter of my equipment, and the hurricane that it is me.
Roller Girl – MUA Marisol Garcia Ethereal looking white woman – MUA – Jessica Ochoa Spiral background blue hair – MUA – Summer Johnson Golden girl with heart glasses – MUA – Tiffany McCray Image for Trice Jewelers Colorful background with flower hat – MUA Ryan Alvarado