Crash Taylor Interviews Cherie Steinberg Cote

Happy New Year to all my subscribers and readers. 2009 was an incredible year with over 200,000 unique visitors from all over the world. 2010 is going to be an amazing year for all of us. I will continue featuring the finest photographers in the business and I will be starting a new 'Talk about the image series' with past interviewees. I hope the interviews are inspiring you to take your photography and business to the next level. All the best - Crash

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This week I welcome Cherie Steinberg Coté. Cherie is an artistic photographer who absolutely loves photography and people. She is a good friend and, even better, from my hometown of Los Angeles. Her passion is contagious and she is always willing to help others succeed.  Cherie began her career as a photojournalist at The Toronto Sun newspaper in Canada; she had the distinction of being their first female photographer. She has won tons of prestigious awards and is a Getty Image Stock Photographer whose works are sold worldwide. Cherie was listed by Nikon as “one of the worlds great photographers.”   Her work has appeared in many magazines worldwide some of which include: Grace Ormonde, Nikon World,  Digital Photo Pro Magazine, Rangefinder Magazine, Bride & Bloom, Los Angeles Weddings amongst others. She runs CHERIEFOTO with her partner Hedley who is also an awesome photographer. Enjoy the interview and remember to leave a comment!

Hi Cherie,

cherie_hedleyCherie and Hedley

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am an LA based wedding, boudoir and portrait photographer…..

Where is home?

Home is Los Angeles and Toronto…..

If you could live anywhere on this awesome planet where would you build your dream home?

I love this question….Is it a trick question?….OK I am still thinking…So far Jamaica, Lake Como, St Barts, Baja, St Marten, Monte Carlo and Los Angeles….

What is your current state of mind before we continue with the interview?

Well now that I have been dreaming about all the wonderful places I have travelled to gather the right info for the last question I feel pretty good….A lot came rushing back to me since I have travelled to 45 countries in the world…..

Did you go to school to study photography?

Yes and no….I took a course at my University just for fun…and had a hippie professor…..His direction was not really there…but I think looking back on it he also never took any creativity away from us…He let us just do our thing…..which as a photographer and an Aquarian I love when people just let me do my thing!!

How long have you been a photographer?

Oh do I have to answer that one….Well ok…20 years…..

How long have you been a wedding photographer?

7 serious years….

What or who got you started in wedding photography?

The New York Magazine….I saw a spread on wedding photography and was blown away….It was not what I thought wedding photography was all about..I think it might have been some great pictorial of Joe Buissink’s work…back then..and I was struck by the lighting…..

How would you describe your style?

Hmmm…I get asked that question a lot…and really do not have an answer for it…..I just shoot from the hip…..and the mood of the wedding and the girl...the day really dictates how I shoot…I never do the same thing twice…..kind of….I shoot with the mood…So maybe my style is Mood photography….

How many weddings do you average per year?

25 - 30

Do you have a few awesome images you can share with us?

























What type of cameras do you shoot with?

I am a Nikon girl..and have been for a long time…..

I use the D3, D700 and the D300 - Lenses 50mm 1.4, 85mm 1.4, 35mm 2.0, 70-200mm 2.8, 105mm 2.8 macro, 60mm macro, 24-70mm 2.8, 14mm-24 2.8, shift lens

What is your favourite photography accessory, other than your camera?

My lipstick……Oh sorry my photography accessory….Alrighty then….I will get serious….My pain pills……kidding…My Lensbaby for obvious reasons…..

If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?

The 60mm macro…It has everything I need to shoot the entire wedding..I love close ups and I love shallow depth of field and if I add a flash I am good to go with that too….

What lighting equipment do you take on a shoot?

It totally depends on the shoot. For weddings I take Dynalite lights for the room and dancing, a few SB 800’s, Pocket Wizards, a Stroboframe and a few lenses….50mm, 60 mm, 105macro, 18-200mm to  name a few….

Can you describe how and when you use flash, video light, reflectors and natural light during a wedding?

I look at the situation I am in and what is in front of me and decide what is the best way to get the best results and that is the method I use…It is a split second decision…

What is your favourite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer?

I am a Mac girl…..and I do all my editing on my computer….in Iview and Lightroom

How important is Photoshop in your final images?

I am a stickler to try to do it in the camera and I spend a lot of my time learning more and more every day…and honing my skills…(That is the one thing I love the most about photography it is a never ending education) and with all that said….I use Photoshop to enhance only..some images are a 2 minute job only…But my fav images I will work on or my retoucher…and all my album pics are Photoshopped and retouched…..Some more than others…..I do like my pics to look real….and the ones that I really work at more of my own personal work……are obviously Photoshopped…..

What is your most used Photoshop tool, plug-in, action set etc.?

Nik Filters

Are you a MAC or PC lover?

Well what do u think Crash!!!...Love your name BTW!!

Do you plan on buying any new equipment and if so what do you have your eyes on?

New lenses..I want the 14-24 and the tilt shift lens…

I finally feel I have mastered my Crash-Art workflow, can you briefly describe for the readers your photographic workflow after a wedding?

I load every card to it own Iview catalogue…I pick the pics I want…I put them in a folder…The times are all correct I hope….…I put them in the right order….I rename them…Then I send them into lightroom and tweek them a bit….and pick out 50 of my favs….that I work on…..

I use Queensberry albums, what wedding albums do you supply your clients with and do you design them yourself or outsource the design?

I used to do the design and loved it but now I am to busy and I have been fortunate enough to have a great girl that I have been working with for a year and we have it down finally..It took so much time to train her to look at the work like I do…but it is worth it for me..I cannot afford the time now to sit and do the books myself…but I was never happy with companies doing the design I had to personalize it and make it my own….I use Graphi …and now I am starting to use Forbeyon….

How do you feel about cropping an image?

I do it very rarely..I am an in camera cropper!!! But with that said if it makes the image better it is kind of like plastic surgery…Hey go for it!!!

I choose photographers for these interviews because their work inspires me and gets my creative juices flowing, hence the interview. What gives you ideas and inspires you to create such amazing imagery?

Thanks Crash you inspire me too….I can be walking to get my mail and see a leaf on the ground and then it is in my shot…The nude of the girl against the great background that is what happened..The branch had fallen down from the tree and was in my path from my house to my studio..I picked it up..and it made the shot…This really happens to me all the time….or I see a location and make a note of it…One of my favorite shoots to date was my wonderful bride Anjale…Don’t you love her just because her name is Anjale..She was such a joy…I had gone on a drive exploring LA one day and happened upon a really cool bridge..and saw the place I wanted to do a shoot..I did not know what I wanted to shoot in that spot..but I loved the shot….After my Anjale wedding I asked her to dress up for me..and come out and have some fun…Hedley and myself and one makeup artist hit the bridge on a Sunday afternoon…and it was a shoot that everything was perfect…The sun was in the right spot yada yada yada….The bridge inspired me….Life inspires me..Girls inspire me…Shoes inspire me…Kids inspire me..dogs inspire me..old people inspire me…Inspiration is in my head….It is everywhere…really!!

What has been your most memorable assignment and why?

My most memorable assignment was with Nikon when they asked my partner Hedley and I to shoot the D700 brochure for them….It was really a dream assignment…They sent me a list of requirements and I had to come up with locations, ideas and make it all happen in a very short period of time…The adrenaline was flowing I have to admit and I really dig that…..I think that is why I like to shoot weddings….Anyway…the team from Japan and New York, Soichi, Mr. Shirasaka from Japan and Mike Corrado from the New York office…..were amazing people to meet and work with and it was kind of a love fest…we were all really into this work together and it was just such a major rush….I have done a few for very memorable shoots for Disney (how could you not love shooting for Disney) as well but Nikon is my #1…

If you could shoot a wedding with another photographer who would it be and why?

Probably the two big boys…...Yervant and Jerry….They love girls..and the Brides and so do I and they would be so much fun……I love having fun and laughing at all shoots…..so I include weddings in that list…..I actually started shooting weddings to really have fun…and what better thing for a Jewish girl but to go to a party and make money doing it…!!

Do you have an assistant/2nd shooter that accompanies you on wedding assignments?

My partner Hedley and I shoot all the weddings together and then we have assistants…

How many images do you average per wedding and how many do you usually present to your clients?

We shoot together about 2500 images and present about 1500..We kind of shoot like film…every image counts…..

Where would be your dream destination wedding?

The Isle of Capri

How do you make the bride and groom, bridal party etc… feel relaxed in front of your Nikon?

When I am in front of groups of people something happens because I have this camera in my hand….It is as if I become a comedian…It is as if the camera makes me funny and I just make people laugh….I actually really wanted to be a comedian when I was 5…..So this is just an extension of that…..and the camera is my license to do anything I want and go anywhere I want!!..I really love that part…..

Have you ever had anything go wrong at a wedding and if so, how did you handle it?

Is this a trick question Crash……Things go wrong like every second of a wedding it seems to me…..I always seem to be very in control and think fast and just handle things as they come up…and always look like I know what I am doing…..Haha…..It seems to work…I think being calm is a good policy…People really respond well to that and feel more secure….

What are your favourite three images you have shot recently? Can you describe their creation in regards to location, lighting, composition, camera settings etc, also your thoughts when creating the images and what they mean to you?

Wow this is a jam packed question and answer Crash!!

Three…This will take time to pick..I will get back to you….


In the forest-I had a vision of this pic in my mind…so I created it…..D300 18-200, f6.3 1/25th manual 400 iso, off camera flash.


Designer Dress…Was asked last minute to come over and shoot Isabella in her wedding dress….She is a celebrity in Mexico..and a darling person….D3, 35mm, 1/200th f5.6, manual, 800 iso, video light…


The running bride…..At a wedding she was running I snapped it…D700, 1/80th, iso 1250, 450 mm, f2.2, available florescent lights….


What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing weddings?

The most challenging thing for me is being up and on and full of energy for all the hours of the wedding and carrying so much stuff…..I have assistants but sometimes the moment is so now..and I have to have everything in my hand in a second so it is just easier to carry it all myself….

Also the lighting is the challenge as well as with all photography...At weddings I do take a set of Dynalites to use at the reception and sometimes I will take in a Photoflex light...depending on the wedding....

What do you think of the wedding photography industry at the moment and where do you see it in 5 years from now?

I am afraid to think of it in 5 years…..Everyone in the world will be a wedding photographer!!!

I see a lot of really bad photography and photographer’s doing weddings….and that will give the industry a bad name….Lots of horror stories…..which I hear all the time….BTW….Five years these days seems to be such a long time….

I will try to imagine….….There will be more movie making and taking stills from that…due to the amazing technology…..Weddings will still be around and lots of them…and there will be great competition….Because there are so many amazing wedding photographers….

And the quality of the imagery and the imagination will be wonderful to see unfold…Actually really exciting….

A wedding photographer who inspires you?

The usuals…..Elizabeth Messina, Yervant and Jerry!!!

It’s almost that time of year for a CHERIEFOTO family portrait. Is there any photographer out there that you would be stoked to say – he/she took my portrait?

August Bradley

Giuliano Bekor

Melvin Sokolsky

Jan Saudek

Howard Schatz

A website and/or blog you visit often?

Style Me Pretty and wedding type places…seeing lots of cool things from fashion to great photography….

The first photographer that comes to your mind and why?

Helmet Newton…..He was my hero….

The last workshop or seminar you attended and why?

A business workshop to learn how to do the business of photography…

I see you create cool borders and textures for photographers and also offer a retouching service. Can you tell us more about this?

I designed them for myself..and made them the way I wanted them to be.....after having a lot of trouble finding borders and edges that i liked..and that were easy to use....
so many people loved them so I decided to share them..they are super easy to use...anyone that has photoshop.....can use them....pro photographers and amateurs.........people have been using them for awhile......and they are super easy to use.....and if u want to buy one..that is ok..or the entire collection..that is ok too...i always hated with these kind of things that I might have to buy a bunch of them and I really only wanted 2 of them.......so I made it for people to be able to buy only a few....check them out....

I have a small department.....for retouching....and I feel that for some things...it is really....important..here are a few before's and afters......so u can see what I am talking about.....i especially use it for my boudoir, weddings and commercial....i think it is the difference between a good shot..and a great one....and we are all after great ones!!!







What photographic organizations do you belong to?


One way you market CHERIEFOTO?

My clients refer me…..So I really keep in contact with them….They become like family…..And I am really nice to Wedding Planners…..and event people…… I try to be really nice actually to everyone!!!

Do you advertise? If so where?

Not really..........

How important is an awesome website for your business?

It is the soul of the business I think….It is the backbone of the business…It is the place where everyone loves to come and catch up…I find…..It is a calling card…..

If not a photographer, I would have liked to be a marine biologist studying the great white shark. What would you have been?

A back up dancer for Earth Wind and Fire!!!.... My second love is dance and music….

I realize that each great photographer has a particular penchant or love for photographing a particular subject whether it be nature, portraits, sea or landscapes, shadow and light, etc. as a result I would love to have you talk about and share whatever images you feel appropriate of your own private obsession in the magical world of photography.

I like to do pretty, sexy, mysterious pics….

I do not have a series or anything just random pics that I do when the feeling is there and the time is right……
















Is there anybody or anything you would love to photograph?

I love spiritual beings on the planet…They inspire….So the Dalai Lama….would be of course a rush….I like shooting performers…. because they love the camera….and I love to shoot beautiful women in fabulous clothes…So like maybe all the Victoria Secret girls….or maybe even one of them….I also love to travel…..after travelling to over 40 countries in the world…that always is an amazing feeling…

All my travel work is a private collection…when I have time I will crack them out….

When I was 2nd shooting I was picking everybody’s brain, I still am actually. That’s why I love these interviews so much. Every interview I learn something that makes me a better photographer. What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue wedding photography?

Learn your craft…..and women have to learn twice as much so they do not have to say…..”Well I don’t really know about that stuff….I am not really very technical”

We know that each of us has someone or something, which inspires our life and work. Can you tell us the true basis of your inspiration?

I love shooting people most of all so the true inspiration is making people feel really wonderful about themselves…and helping them discover the real essence of themselves…..right in front of me……I have had so many shoots where there is such a warm and loving feeling at the end between everyone that is there..and that is what I love the most….The connection….

Is there anything you would have done differently during your photographic career?

Oh we don’t have time for this one!!!

Name a photographer you would like to take a portrait of?

Karl Lagerfeld, Brad Pitt..He is also a photographer...I bet you did not know that....!!

Do you have any workshops on the horizon?

Working on a few things…..

If you could be invisible for one day with your camera... ..

Go to the Oscars or the Grammy’s….

I’ve learned the most from…

My Aunt Maria…..

What talent would you most like to have?

The art of persuasion…

Something you’re still learning?

How to be totally content…and then everything else….

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

I have a few…..Here are two…..My Dad and my partner Hedley

What is your greatest fear?

Losing my freedom….

Something that is overrated?

College Education…

Something you’re saving up for?

My dream studio and home….

What item do you wish you had designed?

Christina Louboutin Shoes and/or the Mac

If you could have lunch with anyone who is famous who would it be?

Sorry everyone but I guess it would have to be Brad Pitt……LOL

Where you'll find me on a Friday night at 9 p.m.?

Hopefully drinking a cosmo at a really chic hip club in West Hollywood…OR in front of my computer….

Your favourite film (movie) of all time?

The Black Stallion…surprise…..You must love getting these interviews back!!!

Who would play you in a film (movie) of your life?

I was a dare devil in my youth and travelled around the world for 7 years…going to crazy interesting places….playing polo….things like that…..she has to be a super girl like maybe Uma Thurman…or Halle Berry..I loved her in Cat woman!!

First thing you would do if you won the lottery?

Go see my Dad…..and take him on a cool trip around the world……He is 89…..

Which five words would your friends use to describe you?

Hmmm….funny, generous, kind, creative and slightly high maintenance……

What ambition have you not yet achieved?

Making enough money to not care about it…..

What would you like to be doing in 5 years from now?

My hobbies photography and travel…

And the last question, if you had one wish…

I wish I would be totally content……

Oh one more, if someone said ‘how can I be the next Cherie Steinberg Coté? What would you say?

Learn your craft and be kind to everyone….

Your readers can find out more about me:

Website: http://www.cheriefoto.com

Blog: http://www.cheriefoto.com/blog

Borders and Edges for Photographers


Master Retouching: