Michele Celentano Portrait Artist


Thank you for your interest in my portrait photography.  You are about to embark on a truly enjoyable journey for you and your family.

My passion is to create an amazing portrait experience and to design portraits that will not only be a part of your

home decor but a treasured memory.

There is no “perfect” time capture your family.  You will never regret having a family portrait ~ but someday you may regret not having one.

What is the #1 reason most women put off having a family portrait session with a professional photographer?


I have written about this before – and this morning I received and email from one of my long time and favorite  clients.  Kris has had her family photographed by me 4 times over the past years. She sent me this email this morning and it totally made my day.

-“You are soooo AMAZING!  I look at my pictures on my mantel and wall every day & smile.  So glad I didn’t wait till I lost weight to have them done.” Kris

This brings me to the absolute #1 reasons moms tell me they want to wait until they lose some weight.  Believe me, I get it! After competing in a figure competition over the last 2 years I added a little extra weight and like most women it makes me a little crazy when I see pictures of myself.  The important thing to remember is the people we love do not see the same flaws we see in ourselves.  We are the hardest on ourselves and as women we do a pretty good job at beating up our inner child.

I have said this at least 100 times……  Have you ever looked at a portrait of someone you love and thought to yourself…? “Wow – I really love him/her but they really should have waited to have that portrait done until they lost some weight”

If only we could see ourselves they way our children, parents, spouses and best friends do – even if it was for just 5 minutes.  That would dramatically change the way we see, love and care for ourselves.

My nanny was 4”10” and 90 pound soaking wet.  For some unknown reason she hated the camera and would always turn away or put her hand up unless she was forced to be in the picture.  Now 20 years after she has passed away I wish I had more pictures of her.  Printed pictures by the way not just digital pictures.  I almost never look for pictures on my computer but I look at the ones that are printed, framed and displayed all over my home.

To hear a client say they were glad they didn’t wait means so much to me because she gets it.  She gets that having the portrait is more important then what you weigh when you have it taken.

Kris, loves and values every image I ever created for her and I’m sure she would tell you if she had waited until she lost the weight she would not have any portraits from the last few year.

Her kids would be left without them, someday wishing they had more pictures with their mother.

So, the message here is don’t wait.  You never know what may happen and what if you don’t ever lose that weight and what if something else happens and the what if’s can go on forever.

The reason you seek out an experienced professional photographer is because they know how to make everyone in the portrait look and feel good.  They know camera and lens techniques that can actually make the body look thinner.  An experienced portrait photographer understands the art of posing and how to hide the things that mom does not like about her body and focus in on the face her family loves so much.

Thank Kris, for your email this morning and reminding me that if you wait until you feel perfect to have a portrait session you may never have one.

WPPI 2015

March 6, 2015

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WPPI 2015

After 20 years it never gets old….

I have literally just walked through the door after driving 4 hours from Las Vegas and WPPI.  I knew if I didn’t write about it now some of my excitement maybe diminished by morning.

It is really is hard to believe I have been attending WPPI for 20 (if not more) years. Driving to and from each convention are such completely different experiences.  Driving to is exciting because of the anticipation of seeing old friends, making new ones, seeing great programs, being inspired by up and coming talent and just the pure electric energy. I have quite the lead foot while driving to WPPI sometimes clocking close to 100mph (it’s wide open road and I have a zippy little car)

On the opposite side, my drive home was much slower.  No lead foot – no speeding – just time to be quite, reflect and process the entire week.

Tears were shed on this drive home. They were not tears of sadness, they were tears of inspiration and grateful emotion.  WPPI is the once a year international family reunion I look forward to every year.  I do not say “family” lightly in this case – I’m saying it with full conviction.

Like all families: You have your favorite aunts, uncles and cousins you can’t wait to hug, catch up with, have a drink with and just hang out.  Then of course there are a few of the cousins you might try to avoid and the weird uncle everyone complains about but they love him anyway.

Yes, WPPI is a huge amazing family – just as wonderful and dysfunctional as any other family and I wouldn’t trade a single member of that group for all the tea in China.

This week gave me so much to think about that I never turned on music in the car.  Four hours of silence is a rare gift in any of our busy lives so I chose to enjoy the silence and replay so many great memories in my mind.

There are quite a few highlights from this week.  The first was being invited to be a judge for the print competition.  It had been a few years since I had sat on the judging panel and I was really excited about the panel of judges I would be sitting with.  Some of them I knew by name, some I kind of knew, some I knew well and some I did not know at all.  You can really learn a lot about a person by listening to them judge photography.  It isn’t so much about what people say but how they say it an the intention of the message they are sending to the maker of the print.

It can be easy to be harsh, critical and dismissive.  It takes a much great soul and talent to use judging as an opportunity to teach, encourage and enlighten.  Without a doubt I sat with some of the worlds best photographers with the kindest hearts and a gift for giving.

Roberto Valenzuela was our chair and kept us all on task.  Roberto possesses the technical with passion and that makes him the perfect chairman.


My fellow judges were:

Johnson Wee (a new friend and amazing photographer) His soft spoken mannerisms and knowledge of the craft made for a great judge.

Cliff Mautner – who I kind of knew and always respected but because we spent 2 days side by side on the panel I can say he one of the highlights of my week – just because I had a chance to get to know him a little better.

JB Salle who I know pretty well and served as a passionate advocate for prints that really moved him.  (that was fun to watch)

Justine Ungaro (I think she is a fashion icon) Her down to earth and gentle spirt was a great addition to our panel.  I loved listening to her insight.  She helped me to see things in images I had missed.

Luke Edmonson – all I can say is this guy is COOL.  I mean super cool and I could listen to him talk about photography and art all day.  When Luke talks you can feel the passion for art and photography – it just pours out of him.

Keda Z. Feng another brand new friend and seriously talented photographer.  He brought a cool edge to the conversation.

Just getting to know these 6 photographers would have been enough of a week for me but that is not the end of it.

Storey Wilkins was a breath of fresh air.  Her program on family portraits was awesome.  She is engaging, sincere, funny and passionate about her work and more importantly passionate about people. I was totally inspired by her and plan to spend time studying with her.  She maybe sorry she said yes to me….. (just sayin’) Ohh…. and David Anthony Williams is pretty fucking funny too.  (that was for you David)

Moving on to Lou Freeman….  I don’t even know where to begin.  She presented before me at the Canon booth and I had a chance to watch her program twice and to say I might be in love with her is an understatement.   I have met Lou many times – mostly under social situations and I knew of her background but I had never seen her teach before.  All I could think about after her programs was “I want to learn more from her”  – Maybe go live with her for a year…..   I’m not kidding when I say she is BADASS!!!  Love you Lou!

Running into old friends…. Joe Photo, Anthony and Frank Cava, Parker J Pfister, Jen Hillenga, Ed Pierce, Anie and Yervant Zanazanian, Mauren Neises, Tony Corbell, Barry, Rudy, Hanson, Clay, Jen Rosenbaum, Lalonde, Jerry, Melissa, Roberto, Collin Pierson, Julianna, Linda, Terrell, Sally, George, Arlene, David Sparer, Dane Neri, Steve Inglima, Jason Groupp, Natalie and Bambi too……  This list goes on and on and on…..  It is such a treat to see hug and laugh with everyone.

I was honored to speak at the Canon booth and hang out in the Graphi Studio lounge.  Our vendors become so much more than companies we do business with – they become members of our team and even better than that they become friends.  The companies I have chosen to work with have all been so good to me.  Canon, ACI, Marathon Press, Graphi Studio, Mac Group, Westcott, Rogue, Tenba, Design Aglow, Animoto, Triple Scoop Music, Táve and so many more.-  WPPI is not just about reconnecting with friends but it is about connecting with the companies that help us and this industry become and stay successful.

Amazing programs, electric energy, passionate people, great friends, great meals, several glasses of good wine and an unforgettable week all ended today with the last program, Photographers Ignite.  An incredible line up of photographers putting it all out on the line for 5 minutes each.  Sending strong and powerful messages in a short amount of time.  Messages I know will stay with me for a long time. Kevin Kubota does a fantastic job of putting this program together and this year was the cream of the crop!  It was exactly what I needed to wrap up the best week of the year and send me driving home teary eyed.

Until next year WPPI – home sweet home……

Office Collage
How 152 square feet changed my life.

Before moving to Arizona in 2002, I had a professional suite where I met with wedding clients and worked from in NY. After moving and starting a new portrait business from my home in Arizona I quickly grew out of the home office and moved into a 2000 square foot studio. I loved the studio and stayed there for five years. In 2008 I remarried and my new husband Paul and I were looking for a bigger house for our expanded family. I was also at the time a little tired of the studio and the huge overhead. The market had crashed and folks just put professional family photography on the backburner. I also realized that the majority of my work was shot on location and the huge studio just didn’t make sense. At the same time Paul and I stumbled on an amazing house that provided space for me to work and a separate space to meet with clients. I was really excited about working from home since my daughter Anna was 8 then and I was happy to be more available to her and home after school.
Flash forward five and a half years…..

The house we bought was much bigger than I originally wanted but with three girls and the option of working from home it was a great deal. Our two oldest are married and in college now and the house seemed to become way too much for us. Paul is a full time firefighter and he is also part owner in a bicycle shop. With my travel and teaching schedule we are really never home long enough to totally take care of this huge house. We have been talking about downsizing to condo for a few years but thought it would be in California and after Paul retires in 9 years. Honestly, we were both done with the “maintenance ” of a big house. The pool, the landscaping, the minor repairs…. etc.…. we were pretty done.

About 3 weeks ago Paul mentions that a brand new condo development opened a few miles from our house. We stopped in to look at the models and three days later went back with a deposit and signed on to buy a brand new 1,850 square foot condo.
Of course, pending the sale of our current house.

I called a good friend and realtor to put our house on the market and then it hit me – I need to move my office/business. It was a priority for me since I wanted to have a seamless transition and no interruption of business.
Two weeks later I am in a brand new 152 square foot professional suite for client meetings and a remote office.
I did not realize how much of a house hermit and how lazy I had gotten working from home. Some people are super disciplined and can successfully work from home. I am way too much of an ADD Artist for that. The funny thing is I didn’t even know how lazy I had gotten working from home until I set up the new office.

This is my second working day here at the new office and I am in LOVE with it. It feels like a workspace not a home space. There are other professionals working in the building and that makes me feel more productive and more professional. I have 4 clients meetings scheduled for this week already and so far everyone loves the space.
Whether or not my current house sells and we move into the condo, moving my office was one of the best things I have done in a long time. I can honestly say it is changing my life. Work is now work and home is now home. No longer can I be easily distracted by laundry, cleaning, and dogs, the TV or by Paul being home and feeling guilty that I am working. No more PJ’s while sitting at my desk. It’s sad but there were days when I knew I had no meetings scheduled that I would be in my PJ’s all day. Personally for me, I am far more productive when I get my self-dressed for the day and when I out of the house.

I think we all fall into ruts we don’t even realize we are in. Sometimes it takes a quick and sudden change to snap us out of the daze we can fall into. I am looking forward to being more productive, coming up with new ideas for my business and I think I’m most excited about knowing I have a space to work in that will give me some separation from home.

152 square feet changed my life in one short week…. I can’t wait to see what the future holds. Good things come in small packages.

My new office is located in the Tramanto Commons on North Valley Parkway.
34975 North Valley Pkwy
Phoenix AZ 85086

What to wear 2

Between the months of February and April accounts are crunching numbers like crazy and preparing taxes for their clients.  Between the months of September and December portrait photographers are clicking shutters like crazy and preparing holiday cards for their clients.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

The holidays are often the busiest and most hectic time of the year for portrait photographers.  Most years my holiday decorations are not up until December 20th or later.  From now until December 20th I’m happily consumed with family portraits, editing, designing holiday cards and preparing portrait gifts for my clients.  After enjoying my crazy Christmas Eve feast of the seven fish, Christmas morning I’m wondering how may smiles are on the faces of grandparents opening portraits of their grandchildren.

I love seeing families year after year and it makes me happy knowing that the families I have photographed have printed portraits that they love and that will always be important to them.

I know I’ve said it before but I will say it again.  Photography is so much more that a career to me – Photographs are truly a passion of mine.  Photographs are our tangible memories.  Each passing year they become more precious to us.  I wholeheartedly believe every family should take the time to be photographed together.  Don’t put it off any longer.  You will never regret having family portraits taken with your family but there may come a day when you regret not having them.

Sessions are still available through the end of November.

Holiday session fees are $295 and include a $150 credit towards your holiday cards or portrait order.

Contact me with any questions or to schedule your family session.  480-399-3255

-Michele Celentano

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Life is a crazy series of little self evolutions.  At least it is for me.  Self-improvement, redefining, reinventing, growing personally and in my craft are all important elements of my daily life.  There is a constant dull roar in my mind of, “How can I improve?  How can I challenge myself?  Where is there room for growth?”  I recently spent time in Roberto Valenzuela’s workshop and then a few days at the CreativeLive studios.  I absolutely loved being a student and learning from other great photographers.  One of my new favorites is Lindsay Alder – what an incredible photographer and teacher!  She is not even 30 years old and is leaving an serious mark on our industry already.  I can’t even tell you how much I learned from her while sitting behind the scenes at CL.  Her studio lighting is “dope” (I had to use dope)! Now, I’m in total need of a 20″ white beauty dish!

Kevin Kubota can make anything out of nothing.  I loved watching him construct light panels out of PVC pipe.   I’m not that handy but it sure did get me thinking about other cool things I could make myself.

I’m headed out to a session this afternoon and I am excited to create something I have never done before.  Inspired by Roberto, Lindsay and so many others.

Back to the new website….   I was in need of a little make over and ready for a lighter theme and feel.   My color scheme was a bit dark and serious and it was time to infuse my own self growth and light heartedness into my work.  So here it is…..   Lighter, brighter, fresh and reinvented.  It’s nearly done with a few text additions – it will be finished.

Look around, let me know what you think.  Send me a note.

Thank for spending some time with me today-


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Michele Celentano Portrait Artist