48 Bolinas Road
Fairfax, CA 94930
(415) 454-2102; www.creativeportraiture.com
What do they offer?
Creative Portraiture specializes in family photographs, including babies, children, and senior portraits in black and white or color.
Owner Stephanie Mohan's studio is a relaxed atmosphere where clients are encouraged to kick off their shoes and interact naturally with each other and with her camera lens.
Both photographer and location are pet-friendly. Inside, she has taken pictures of dogs, cats, chickens, pigs and goats. Sometimes solo, but most often with their loving owners. Mohan also does maternity shots, actor and corporate head shots, website photos, school pictures and party photography.
Her approach is non-traditional. In working with children, the down to earth Mohan says, “I think of myself as a twelve-year-old boy and will do anything to get them to relax, be animated and show me ‘that moment in time.’ We sing. We dance. We act silly. I talk to them in their language and we laugh.” Especially with photographs of children, her goal is to capture a certain look, stance or spirit, which their parents immediately recognize as their essence.
After the session, Mohan puts up a viewing website which she’s already edited. The client comes to see those photos, then places an order.
Who are they?
The family-oriented Mohan sees herself first as a wife (husband Sean owns Shining Star Electric), proud mom (eleven-year-old son Noah, who attends Cascade Canyon School, is lead singer in a rock band), and active member of the Fairfax community (she’s participated in many First Friday events). She shares her Forest Knolls home with her family and "a houseful of dogs and cats."
Growing up in Redondo Beach, in Southern California, Mohan loved taking pictures and developed them in the closet she used as a dark room. She said it held strings of negatives and remembers that her clothes smelled like fixer.
At the time, photography was just a sideline. Mohan graduated from San Francisco State with a degree in journalism and it was not until her late twenties that she decided on a career in photography.
She first started photographing nudes in the natural light of a serene private setting, a rustic Lagunitas barn. When she looked at what surrounded her in the valley, she began to see the beauty of barn animals as photography subjects. For instance, she looked closely at a vulture, a type of chicken with a long red neck, and noticed that the white pouf on its head looked like a toupée on a man’s head so she found a white feather hat and photographed the owner wearing it as a matching head piece. (See photo gallery at right.)
How long have they been here?
Mohan opened the Fairfax studio in 2000. There are several backgrounds set up inside, but she prefers to focus on the person (or animal) so that their personality and inner beauty shows through.
She asks that people wear comfortable “street clothes” and encourages them to be barefoot. Mohan strives to capture the natural interaction between families, or owners with their pets, and feels it is mission accomplished when someone says, “you caught that expression perfectly.”
Why are they business of the week?
Mohan is very involved with and with our local schools in general. “In terms of donating, I never say no to the schools,” she says.
She calls herself a Mamarazzi (paparazzi) because she is always documenting her son’s rock band with has five members, two guitarists, one drummer, one bass player and Noah as the singer.
Three years ago, she created a photo summer camp called “Fun”da-mentals of Photography. In the beginning and intermediate sessions, one week each, she teaches junior high kids the basics of photography, asking that everyone put their camera on manual (no automatic settings).
“Until I was about twenty-six, I didn’t know that making creative photos could be a career for me. I realized I could take real people and show their inner spirit and beauty. I was never very attracted to what magazines consider beauty – with the staged photos which are very slick and always retouched. I prefer a more natural approach.”