About the Company
A business in the name of Rocco Ceselin – lifestyle photographer, was born and raised in Italy, he completed studies in photography and creative design at the Advertising School in Udine, Italy. He spent several years polishing his skills, gaining valuable hands-on experience in all facets of photography.
Italy, world renowned as a source of art and culture, provided Rocco with a deep well of inspiration for many years. He came to appreciate, however, that he was eager for a new and creative energy, and resolved to experience the natural beauty and pioneering spirit of California.
In 2001 he began to explore the vibrant environment of Northern California, moving to San Francisco. He quickly gained a solid reputation as a creative photographer with an impressive listing of satisfied clients in both San Francisco and the Napa Valley.
Continuously developing his professional ‘eye’ and innovative design skills, in 2004 Rocco recognized an increasing appreciation of his talent by new clients in Los Angeles. New projects provided important opportunities and he was drawn to the region’s exuberant vitality. Rocco now makes his home in the heart of Hollywood, where his creative core is fueled by the celebrated diversity and unique energy of the area.
He has also received various awards and have participated in competitions.
- APA LOS ANGELES “Off the Clock” Photo Competition – Finalist
- SANTA FE WORKSHOPS (USA) Photo Contest, “Light”: 3rd Prize – Santa Fe, New Mexico
- THE CENTER FOR FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY (USA) Visitor Choice Award – Fort Collins, Colorado
- CALUMET PHOTOGRAPHIC (USA) Photo of the Week
- CANON LONG LIVE IMAGINATION (USA)Finalist
- PDN / RAGEFINDER MAGAZINE Finalist & Honorable Mention for “Seeing the Light” Photo Contest
- LOUIS ROEDERER WINE WRITERS AWARD 2013 Finalist in the Artist Section, London UK
- ASMP NYC IMAGE 13 Finalist & Honorable Mention
- THE CENTER FOR FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY (USA)Finalist for the “Family” Photo Competition – Fort Collins, Colorado
When did you figured out your passion for photography?
When I was a little boy, I loved looking at black and white photos my parents took and developed in the basement of my house. They were mostly candid shots. Since then, my passion for the images got stronger. I felt much more an emotional connection with visual arts in general, from paining, sculpture and finally photography. Initially, landscapes and nature and finally people and street (Cartier Bresson, Eugene Smith, Berengo Gardin were my inspiration)
Did you go to any school to study photography? What would you recommend the young generation to learn in order to excel in photography?
I studied graphic design and advertising in a private school here in Italy. This initial background and preparation gave me a sense of how image needs to be used and selected for different purposes. I’m not sure if a photography school would be the right choice. The photography world is constantly changing. Advertising / graphic design worked for me anyways.
What sort of photography do you like the most and why? Objects, Persons or Nature
I personally love photographing people. What moves me is the human presence and interaction in the images. It just gives me a more “story-telling” visual message. I still love and appreciate looking at great images takes by professionals who specialized on other specific fields such as nature and landscapes or photojournalism.
Which was the first camera you bought?
I actually borrowed my parents camera when I was a teenager. It was a Yashica FX-D with a 50mm. I still have it. It looked very fancy back then and I love the lightness of it. I remember I could use contact / zeiss lenses on it as well.
How do you prepare yourself to take better pictures?
It depends if it’s a client assignment or a self- assignment or solo trip. For commercial projects, I have a producer who helps me with all the aspects of the production: location, permits, crew, assistants, mood boards. It’s a team work anyways.
For my solo trips, I love being open to whatever I experience outside. I need to be “empty” and absorbed by the environment. This is more a candid approach to photography. My favorite one, with no expectation. I like being surprised.
You started your career with Wine Industry (www.roccotravel.com), how satisfying was that? Would you share your journey of success with us?
My hometown is Italy. It belongs to a wine region, which is pretty famous for the white wines. Every teenager back in the days, worked in the wine business in order to make some money during the harvest time in the vineyards, or in the winery’s every day production.
When I started my photography career, later on, I started shooting for some wine companies, since I had a better understanding about the whole process. This helped me a lot when I moved to California. I knocked on some Napa Valley wineries’ doors and offer my services. Shooting from landscapes, products, people, lifestyle… I covered a pretty large spectrum of photography. This helped me to move forward with my lifestyle outdoors specialty when I moved to Los Angeles.
How do you keep yourself motivated through difficult times?
I think as a photographer you need to have different photo projects. You can have some slow time from work and this is the right opportunity when you need to be focused on your personal projects. Travel and create your own stories. At the end, we love what we do and somehow, we always hope to have some down time.
Would you share your lifestyle and some of the portrait work done by you?
Here are some of the photos I think represent my photography style: travel, portraits, lifestyle. Some are part of assignments and some are personal projects.
Have you taken someone’s photograph without their consent?
I would say that when you shoot urban and street photography you take photos on the street or on the road anyways. You don’t use those photos commercially and you want them to be as authentic and organic as possible.
How much fulfilling is this profession? Would you recommend this for the young aspirants?
I would recommend this profession to anybody who loves visual arts and loves story telling. There are lot of photographers in the world and so many good ones. As long as you have fun, you have your own style and create your own niche, I believe you can turn this passion into a real job and have a lot of fun doing it. You just need to be aware that you will have downtime and at the beginning you will struggle. Keep being hungry and critical with your work.
What is the biggest risk you have ever taken?
When I moved to the US in my early 30’s and left Italy and all my friends and family. Plus when I decided to drop most of my web and graphic design work and embrace photography.
Can you briefly describe our followers, your cinematic workflow?
I love photographs that look like real photos and not over retouched and overdone. When I shoot my personal projects I carry a light equipment with me and I shoot RAW on my Canon 5d Mark IV. I mostly use a 50mm and a 24-105mm which allow me to cover most of the street scenarios. For commercial assignment I shoot tethered directly on my laptop and I use Capture One software. I create a “look” a head of time which is my organic and colorful style. After the shoot I usually select my favorite images and I work on the few I selected. Most of the time I just color correct the RAW files and adjust contrast, while balance, highlights and shadows.
What is your definition for success? How do you see yourself?
For me success is to have a healthy lifestyle and do what you love to do properly. To improve your body of work and see that clients keep hiring you and people encourage your to keep working on what you have been doing so far. Certainly, it’s nice to see your photos published and win awards but you need to get better and better… this should be a fun process anyways.
What is unique about your way of doing photography?
If I need to credit myself, I think my way is to create an happy and fun environment with my crew and my clients. People should have fun and leave the shoot with a smile, knowing that we create something good together.
Do you have a team? What’s the size?
Yes, I do have a team. My producer Rose Cefalu is my biggest assets. She helps me to organize and plan the shoots all the time. I have a selected number of people I hire according to different assignments: photo assistants, make up and hair stylists, wardrobe, PA’s, tech guy, videopgrapher etc. Sometimes we can have a group of 10-12 people altogether.
What are your future plans to excel in the photography career?
Being up to date with technology, being fresh and create always new body of work, listen and being open to new ideas and what is the direction of the business.
Which is your favorite business tool?
I think social media tools can be considered as business tools now. Instagram is my favorite.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Study graphic design, color theory and learn how to use the software photographers and designers use. Embrace video as well and being critical with your work. Your facebook friends will always love your photos, but they won’t hire you.
If you weren’t doing photography, what would you be doing?
I think I would still remain in the visual arts, such as documentary or director.
What gear do you use, which is your main camera?
I shoot Canon and I have a Canon 5d Mark IV and one Canon 5d Mark III. Various lenses from 50mm F1.4 (for portability) to 85mm F1.2, 24-105mm F4 (for travelling) and a 70-200mm F2.8 for some portraits and lifestyle.
Do you think only good camera can yield a good photographer or the skills do matter?
Skills are vital. Gear is important when you are confident and comfortable using it. You can shoot a great photo with any camera and mobile device nowadays.