We had the good fortune of connecting with Staci Zohlen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Staci, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I grew up in a small town in Indiana, with two brothers born 12 months before me and 20 months after me! My parents are the two hardest working people I know. My dad was a brick mason who woke up each morning at 4:30 to get to his job site, often working overtime, holidays and double shifts. My mom stayed home with the 3 of us until I was around 12 when she earned her real estate license. She never once missed a sporting event or special activity for any of us, while at the same time working her way to being one of the top sellers in northwest Indiana. She is still working now at the age of 74! I like to think that I inherited my parents work ethic and hustle, but I would be lucky if I even have half of it!
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’m a minimalist at heart; I throw away more things than I keep! While I admire pretty things… I prefer everything to have a purpose or meaning. I think my images reflect this part of my personality. I don’t set up scenes, or use an abundance of props. I don’t pose people in ways that don’t reflect their personalities. I shoot what I see and make small adjustments – I want my clients to be comfortable being themselves! My goal is for all clients to feel at ease and beautiful, and then I shoot – and that includes an environment where they feel most comfortable. Pretty places can be found in nature, or in an urban setting. Together with my client, I work hard on the front end so that they are positioned to be confident in their look and environment being themselves. I love to capture joy in my photos, especially in interactions and relationships.
I’m most proud of and passionate about my work with High School Seniors. I have so much admiration for the confidence and independence of this generation. While parents and I do communicate ahead of time ensuring transparency, I do most of my work directly with the Senior. We work together ensuring the positive experience, and the outcome they are seeking that is reflective of their personality. We have a FaceTime style consult, texts back and forth on ideas, and then we have fun! My favorite part is sitting down with them the following week, reviewing their slideshow. I love to see their faces as they see first hand how amazing they are! We spend hours together at the computer choosing favorites and designing albums and wall galleries. Our relationship continues to the end of their senior year when they choose their graduation announcements and potentially come back for a cap and gown session really earmarking the occasion!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh, that’s hard because there are so many options! We moved here 3 years ago and one of our biggest draws to Colorado is that it has four seasons. I’d like my visitor to come back for each one so they can experience them all!
In the winter, I would take them to Keystone for skiing. We love how family friendly the mountain is! The next day I’d take them to Breckenridge for shopping and lunch.
During baseball season, we’d have to take in a game at Coors Field. Though we would need to time it so that the Cubs were playing that day.
If we were staying close in Castle Rock, we’d have brunch at B&B Cafe where it’s not uncommon that my whole family orders a “Wrap it Up” breakfast burrito. I’d take them browsing at the Barn and Emporium. We’d stop by Sugar Spoon Candy, where the owners are amazing, the fresh spun cotton candy is sky high and the homemade chocolates are absolutely delicious. And then we’d finish the day with dinner at drinks at Sinners and Saints.
My kids love spending time at the MAC, Miller Athletic Center. On a nice day we’ll do the 200 step incline a few times, bring a soccer ball to play on the turf or spend a few hours on the 4 level ropes course. If it’s too hot or too cold, we head inside for swimming or the trampolines.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’ve been incredibly lucky to have the full support of my family and friends since the beginning of this journey. My husband encouraged me and we invested in time, education and professional gear into starting my business. Many of my first clients were our friends and even now about half of my shoots every year are with the families from my kids’ baseball and soccer teams. My children are involved in my business as well. I used to have to bribe them with an ice cream outing to go scout a location with me or let me practice a new technique, but now they willingly help out and actually appreciate the images of themselves! My oldest two will often accompany to a shoot to hold a reflector or light stand, keep me on schedule for my mini sessions or shoot behind the scenes footage for me.
There is a group of professional women photographers in Castle Rock who get together for social occasions as well as provide education to each other, share locations and editing techniques and give advice on anything from a tough client situation to new gear reviews. I am blessed to be a part of this group who value community over competition.