By Sonia Schnee | Posted Monday, March 26, 2018
On Saturday, April 14th, NJ portrait and wedding photographer Celestina Ando will be hosting an art-opening event for her exhibit "EMPOWER - #TIMESUP" at the Trend Gallery in Montclair, NJ. Learn more about Celestina, her work, and this empowering exhibit, in our interview below:
What's your name and where are you based?
My name is Celestina Ando, and my boutique studio is located in Montclair, NJ (7 Park St. Suite 202).
Tell us about your photography work. How do you want people to feel during a session?
My portrait sessions can take place either in studio and/or on location. I photograph various genres of portraits, however, I specialize in contemporary beauty and love empowering women through my photography. I offer and include pampering and professional make-overs which can be enjoyed on your own or with your loved ones.
My clients often claim that they are not photogenic and are generally nervous and shy when they first start. However, it is my job to take the pressure off of them by guiding, posing and artistically lighting them so that they can just focus on having fun. By the end of the shoot, they are owning it! I get to capture this beautiful transformation and create legacy portraits with luxurious portrait products that my clients and their families can treasure for generations to come.
How did you get started with photography? What's been your personal journey?
I was an accountant with a creative soul that hobbied photography for years. Studies in New York City followed and now years later I'm fulfilling my passion as a contemporary portrait and wedding photographer. I love collaborating with other photographers and am actually traveling to Italy in May with 24 other photographers for a special workshop with the internationally renowned photographer Sue Bryce.
Tell us about your upcoming exhibit, "Empower." What's the inspiration behind it? What can people expect to see?
The art opening event for the exhibit "Empower" is taking place on Saturday, April 14th from 7:00 - 9:00 pm at the Trend Gallery in Montclair, NJ. I started planning this exhibit in January. There were so many amazing movements happening and with the women's march and Oprah's speech at the Golden Globes, I was inspired to create this collection. I posted a "model" call on social media and then closed the call the next day as I was overwhelmed and grateful with all the volunteers and emails received. My goal with this collection was to combine my style of photography, capturing classic beautiful portraits of a diverse group of women and girls with a #timesup theme. SAVE (Sexual Assault & Violence Education) of Essex County will be at the event and available to share more information regarding their nonprofit organization. The suggested donation of $10 to attend the exhibit will all be going to SAVE.
What words of advice or encouragement would you give to someone who wants to follow a similar passion?
I would recommend that you set up a realistic plan with goals and deadlines. There are a lot of great overnight or let's say 1-year success stories, however, for me, it was definitely a progression and process. I was working full-time and started my business part-time while working. I had put myself on this five-year plan before retiring my finance career. This allowed me time to build a strong foundation for my business before letting go of a regular paycheck.
What's next on the horizon for you? Do you have any exhibits coming up after "Empower"?
I'm looking forward to my Italy portrait workshop in May. We'll be shooting at castle Cecconi an hour and a half north of Venice. I'll be posting stories on social media if you'd like to see what we'll be doing...