CreativeLive -Day 1

The CreativeLive Experience

What an incredible three days.  With a pre-production day, it was really four days.
My trip started on Friday while driving home from the gym.  I had 42 million things on my  mind, a haircut later in the day, packing, picking Anna up from a party at the park and of course I was bubbling over with excitement about CreativeLive. With all of that on my mind I was not paying close attention to driving and while making the left turn onto my street I crashed into another car.....

I’m not sure if I was more upset about the car or the fact that I would have no time to have my hair cut and colored before my camera debut on CreativeLive.
Luckily no one was hurt and my car is being repaired....

I’ve been teaching, lecturing and giving workshops on the subject of photography for just about 15 years but this would be the largest audience I would speak to and I would not be able to see them.  It was both a little nerve racking and exciting at the same time.  

It’s Saturday morning now and I am on my way to airport.  I make most people I travel with nuts because I have very specific timing for getting to the airport.  I don’t like to sit around and wait for my flight so I plan my timing just right in order to drive, check bags, go through security, grab a cup of coffee and a bottle of water and walk right on the plane.  This method of traveling makes most people nervous - I however don’t like to sit around the airport since I spend a fair amount of time there anyway.... (Sorry about my little side bar)

Despite the airport being busy with spring break travelers, my timing was right on as usual.  And, of course I slept from before take off to touch down.

CreativeLive had a car waiting for me at the Seattle airport and before long I was off to my hotel.
The hotel was directly across the street from the CreativeLive studios which we did not use for my workshop since they were undergoing renovations.
I spent the evening checking out the area and having dinner at a local Italian place.  I sat and went through my slides and images adding some final touches to my Keynote.
For a lot of people the thought of sitting at a restaurant alone is scary but I have to say I kind of like it.  I enjoy working while having dinner, a glass of wine and people watching.

Falling asleep on Saturday night I felt like a 5 year old on Christmas Eve listening for Santa.  I was so excited I could barely contain myself.  
Sunday morning I headed down to the gym and did an hour workout.  I brought enough gym clothes for every day but that did not work out.  Malika picked me up around 10 and I was thrilled to meet her.  We had exchanged lots of emails and had several phone meetings.  Off we were to check out the location and go over pre-production.  
This was a pretty easy day and it was fun watching the set designer create the living room setting that we would be using.  The film and audio crew was also there setting up and before long I was feeling a little like a hotshot talk show host.... We went over the schedule and the areas I would use for shooting (weather permitting).  

As Malika dropped me off at the hotel she said “Get a good nights rest. The next few days will be a little crazy”,  it was like she jinxed me. At 1:40 am the hotel fire alarm was on full blast and I was startled right out of a good nights rest.  
I tried to ride it out but within a few minutes I could hear fire engine sirens and people running in the hall ways.  WIthin a few minutes I was standing outside the hotel looking up at a building that had no signs of being on fire.  
Since I am married to a firefighter I felt it appropriate to call and wake him up at 2 am to tell him about the alarm..... needless to say he was not amused.  All the fuss was over a piece of burnt toast on the third floor.  Who burns toast in the middle of the night in a hotel room?

Monday morning rolled around and the adrenaline and excitement were not going to let me feel anything but ready to go.  
I wanted to feel comfortable talking to the cameras so I decided to name each of them after friends that are always easy to talk to.  Camera 1 - Louise,  - Camera 2 - Terri and Camera 3 - Rudy.  The camera guys did not seem amused by the camera names.
Monday we would be shooting “in studio” all day.  The interesting thing about talking to cameras is that I was missing the reaction I’m used to getting from a large audience.  I can usually gage how I am doing by the audience reaction and now I was a little lost.  The camera guys are doing their job not really paying attention to me, the hosts were checking the chat rooms and paying a little attention to me and I had three studio member who were all awesome - but I was missing the laughs from the big crowd.  Thankfully, Malory and LaRae started to give me some feedback from the chat room and I started to relax knowing there were folks out there watching and laughing with me.

Day one wrapped up and I was thrilled.  Even though I went through my material a little faster then I expected to, it all worked out.  Whew... day one was done and I felt pretty relaxed.  Tuesday would be awesome because I had a family of 11 to photograph, mom, dad and their 9 children ages 6 months to 17 years.... (I was ready for the unexpected).

Well alright.... Monday took a lot more writing that I thought it would so I think I will break this blog post about CL into 3 posts (one for each day).

I can end Monday letting you know there were no fire alarms and I had a great night sleep.  

The set on Monday morning.

The firefighters looking for burning toast....


Then and Now... Brooke

  • Published March 19th, 2013 by Michele Celentano
  • 1 Comment

Then and Now... Brooke

When I thought of the idea for this “Then and Now” blog series I did not realize the impact it would have on me personally.  
This is Brooke.  She is a high school senior and an incredible artist.  The tattoo of the elephant on her calf is her own drawing.  Since I love elephants I absolutely love her tattoo.  These senior portraits of her were created just a few weeks ago.
The image of her and her sister (Brooke is leaning over her younger sister) was taken in 2004 - more than 9 years ago.  Wow!  What a difference 9 years makes. It is incredible to photograph and see children grow into young adults.  This photographic career is such a gift.  Brooke - thanks for being a part of my photographic history.


Then and Now...

Then and Now....

It’s Sunday morning and I am just beginning to recover from WPPI in Las Vegas.  I have attended this convention since 1995 and wouldn’t miss it.  In the last 12 years I have spoken many times as a platform speaker but this year there was a really special energy.  
The feeling of excitement was electric and people were incredibly interested in learning how to become better photographers and better business people.

For most of my speaking career I start my programs with some of my very early work.  Going back to my younger days I remember sitting in programs and listening to amazing photographers talk about their work and there was always a little piece of me that wondered “how will I ever be that good?”.

It was daunting as a “newbie” to feel I had such a long way to go.  With that in mind, I decided when I started speaking that I would show my early and very bad early work as a way to show photographers that education is the most important thing you can do for your career and that if I could improve my work so could the students sitting in my class.

SInce then, dozens of photographers have thanked me for being brave enough to show my first wedding images.  They let me know that it really helped them to see that anything is possible - If I could do it so could they...

This exchange sparked an idea for a blog series I call “Then and Now”
Each blog will be dedicated to showing an image from my early work and an image from my current work.  I’m going to have to dig deep to find old images and pair them with new ones but I think it will be fun for everyone.  Fun for me as it will remind me of how much I have grown in my craft and hopefully fun for you to read and learn from.

Since I started my career in wedding photography I thought I would start this blog there.

Here are two wedding images taken years apart.

The first one makes me laugh because I can remember what I was thinking.  “Sweet, a nice gazebo, flowers in front, I’ll throw a flash behind the bride and groom and light them from behind like I learned in my last class.  I’m going to nail this shot”
I came close.... Okay except for the glasses I left of the railing of the gazebo, the backlight is too hot and pointed in the wrong direction and the posing sucks.... But at the time - I nailed it.

The second image is from several (okay maybe 12 years ago) but it is still a classic.  I used the environment, used the directional light, turned the faces of my subject toward the light and they are posed beautifully.  They are both open to the camera, there is detail in her dress as well as his tux.  To me this is a timeless image that could have been taken 12 years ago or yesterday.  

I’m pretty sure image 2 is a far cry from image 1.  

I still can’t believe I didn’t move the glasses from the railing.  Classic rookie mistake.


Categorized In: celentano | photograhy | portraits | weddings | wppi

One more reason to attend Summer School


If you are looking for one last reason to sign up for Skip's Summer School coming up this August in Chicago.... Well, here it is.

Not only will Michele Celentano be teaching about photographing children and families she will be kicking your butt in Skip's Summer School Bootcamp every morning.

Check out the video and go regisiter.....

Categorized In: skip's summer school

Skip's Summer School

Skip’s Summer School-


Has the Internet totally killed the personal experience of hands on photographic workshops?

Growing up in this amazing industry I can say without a doubt the most valuable thing I did for my career was attending weeklong workshops with amazing talented photographers.  My first weeklong class was actually with Clay Blackmore almost a million years ago.  I still keep in touch with friends I made that week – I remember the energy and excitement that all of the students shared.  Not only did we learn from our instructor but we learned from each other as well.

It’s super easy and convenient to watch online videos to learn about your craft but there is nothing quite like sharing time and immersing yourself for several days with other photographers. 


The lineup that Skip has put together this year is outstanding.  I am personally looking forward to spending time with all of the teachers, students and Skip.  This is the time friendships are either formed or expanded upon. It’s a time when you can step away from every distraction in your life and have fun learning and playing.


My love of teaching comes from my greatest mentor Monte Zucker.  That man had a love for people and teaching like no one I have ever met.  He could make you laugh and cry all in the same sentence and when you left a Monte class you knew something magical had emerged in you.   Truthfully, that is what summer school is all about-

It’s about the coming together of like minded individuals who love to share what they know with others, it’s about creating the kinds of friendship you just can’t nurture through facebook, it’s about reigniting a creative energy within your photographic soul.  Skip’s Summer School is about learning and growing as a photographer and so much more.  It’s about the intangible connections we make with inspirational people who move us in new ways…..


This is going to be a great summer – I hope you will join us.



Michele Celentano



Skip's Summer School from Clay Blackmore on Vimeo.

The Secret

We should all read this every morning before our feet hit the ground, maybe again at lunch time and then again before we lay our heads down to sleep.  

I Promise Myself... by Christian D. Larson

To be so strong that nothing can disturb my peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person I meet.

To make all my friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make my optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as I am about my own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living creature I meet.

To give so much time to improving myself that I have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of myself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud words, but in great deeds.

To live in the faith that the whole world is on my side, so long as I am true to the best that is in me.

Categorized In: believe | celentano | michele | positive | the secret

Less than two weeks out....

  • Published February 27th, 2012 by Michele Celentano

 Less than two weeks out.....



Two weeks out from what? you ask...

Two weeks out from competing in my 2nd figure competition.  The training is hard. It’s 12 to 14 weeks of two a day workouts and eating clean every three hours. However, right now that seems like the easy part.  

These last 2 weeks are by far the hardest.  I am pushing my body to an uncomfortably low weight.  It’s hard to be at the perfect weight, feel healthy and like the way I look and then push past that to a place that does not feel right.....  but that is show training.

So, why this craziness?  I have written about this before and I feel more strongly about it now than I did then.  I’m about to be 42 years young! I love my 40’s, they are already some of the best years I’ve had.  I realize as I get older this vehicle I call my body may have some issues (wear and tear).  I’m loving life so much right now I don’t want my body breaking down (getting sick) and having to worry about those issues later.


I have also dealt with clinical depression for most of my life.  Antidepressants for me are what insulin is to a diabetic.  I can however take better control of my brain chemistry and hormone systems by working out and eating clean. The difference in my moods and overall well being are night and day when doing the things I need to do versus not doing them. I can also keep medication at the lowest dose since it’s more of a booster for all the other things I do (eating clean and working out).


The actual show day, posing, figure suit, crazy colored spray tan, walking across the stage, being judged and winning a body building trophy are not driving forces behind why I do this.  I feel like the nice arms are the bonus (but wait.... there is more- if you start training in the next 30 minutes we will throw in toned arms as a bonus)   I wish I could infuse this feeling of being light, healthy, fit, strong and lean into everyone that struggles with their weight.  I just know if they felt that way for a day they could really get on board with what being healthy means and what it does for you.


I haven’t always been this passionate about health and fitness.  I have been very overweight.  When I was pregnant with my daughter I gained 70 pounds... I had to go up 2 shoe sizes and get a new wedding band, I was so big.  Keep in mind I’m 4 foot 11 inches tall. 70 pounds is about 62% of what I weigh right now.  

When I married my husband three years ago I was 36 pounds heavier than I am right now..... So I have been there.  I don’t have one of those magic amazing metabolisms that keeps me naturally thin.  I have to work hard at staying healthy, and lean.  

I am aware that I will have to for the rest of my life.  It’s not a luxury- if I’m cranky and depressed everyone else in the house is pretty unhappy.  If I have to visit the doctor once or twice a year for a check up that’s preventive medicine that I control with what I eat and how I workout.  


I’m not perfect- it would be crazy to think I am.... I have a sweet tooth - I like chocolate, lattes at Starbucks, a good burger, popcorn at the movies.... all that stuff.  I do like feeling healthy more.  Getting up at 5:30 am almost every day of the week SUCKS.... I can’t say I love getting up at that time to get to the gym.  But I can tell you that at 8 am I am so happy I got my workout in.   There is a time for a cheat or treat - the problem is that those things that used to be a once in a while treat as kids are now our everyday norm.  We have been spoon fed fast, processed junk food that does nothing but make us fat, mess up our natural body chemistry and created an obese generation.  But what if we did what we need to do for our bodies 85% of the time and allowed ourselves that little treat once in a while (15% of the time.... say one day on the weekend) 

What would happen if we all just stopped the madness and took back control of our bodies and our overall health?    



There might actually be more dinners at home with our families instead of the drive through.... We might be able to control high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, the need to have knees replaced due to years of too much weight on them...

If we could collectively achieve these things - the price of health care would drop and the national debate on how to regulate health care may not be an issue.  We can’t keep abusing our bodies and expect the health care industry to fix it! We have to take responsibility for our own lives, health and happiness.  


I personally want to grow old gracefully, fit, strong, full of energy and as illness free as I possibly can.  When I was 20 I didn’t think about these things but at 42 I better think of it now so I don’t have to manage it later. I also don’t want to place the burden of taking care of me on my daughter.


No doubt, training for a figure show is hard core and a bit on the extreme side but I have to say - I love it.  I love what it does for me on so many levels other than how my body looks.  

The discipline it takes to train spills over into the rest of my life.  It helps to keep me organized in other areas of my life.  In order to ensure I eat every three hours - I have to plan ahead.  I cook all my chicken on Sunday, portion it out to 4oz servings and all week I have plenty of chicken.  I have to shop and prepare in advance as well as plan my days out so that I can fit in everything.  My days look a little like this.... 6-8am workout- somedays I’m home at 7 to get Anna ready for school and then I head back for my second hour.  Eat, work, eat, work, eat, pick Anna up from school, homework, snack, practice (football, softball....)  cook dinner, eat... check emails again, hang out with my family, maybe catch The Voice or the Biggest Loser.  Two nights a week I teach TRX as well as traveling twice a month for seminars.  I know we all busy but the way I see it you can make time now to be healthy or you will have to take time later when you are sick....


The next two weeks are the toughest.  I look forward to adding berries, greek yogurt, apples, red wine, Sunday dinner and a few of my other favorite things back into my diet.

I hope this in some way inspires someone struggling with feeling sluggish, unhealthy and depressed to take back control of their health and do something positive for themselves.  

Some of my favorites things to read:

Oxygen Magazine

Eat Clean Series by:Tosca Rena

Runner’s World

Daily OM


Thanks for reading my little rant!