Following decades working in various fields in the design industry, Deborah Cota moved to Evergreen and opened a photography company, StudioCota Photography. This wasn’t her first foray into entrepreneurship, as Cota had spent the major portion of her career in her own design firms.
With a BA in Interior Design, Cota ventured into the design industry as a space planner in an architectural firm in the late 70’s in Miami. “I loved the idea of 3D design and it really was my passion at the time,” Cota says. She moved to New York City in the mid 80’s and worked for a firm that focused on graphic design and advertising, then found herself doing a little bit of everything from copywriting to layout in that pre-digital era. She learned a lot from vendors, artists and a collaboration of people. “I found it very stimulating to get my hands in everything. I loved doing it all to get my feet wet in the industry,” Cota says.
Eventually she opened her own firm and retained a similar diverse client base of retail, fashion, sports and corporate accounts. After a decade in the business, she and her husband decided to relocate to Evergreen where she co-founded a home furnishings business with hand-crafted furniture. “We chose Colorado for a lifestyle change,” she says. “In that business, I utilized photography and imagery for advertising and all things related to marketing. I was fortunate to have partners who were also completely on board with photographing and visually representing the furnishings collection and so photography became a byline of the business for me,” Cota explains.
When the furniture business was sold in 2005, Cota introduced interior designers, architects and friends to her new company, StudioCota Photography. “Many of my former clients were aware of my photography work so the transition to full time photography was great,” Cota states. She adds, “The decision to pursue photography full time, especially architectural and interiors, was a full circle career move for me. Returning to my passion for design and architecture, while utilizing the medium of photography, was a means to grow and expand the creative process. Who wouldn't want to earn a living doing what they love."
“A typical interior shoot is a multi day process. Whether the shoot is one or four days, a walk-though with the client is preferable to capture each room and its details, or exterior views, as they relate to daylight and orientation of the home and time of year. The goal is to know how to photograph the home with the vision that the designers and homeowners intended. It is a delicate dance with respect to how each room or exterior interacts with daylight. I like to go see the project and do a walk through and do the work later. I map it out geographically to see the natural light,” Cota states.
Some shoots can be challenging as well as rewarding, as Cota shares. “The most challenging project to date was the Snowmass Village residence. A beautiful contemporary design by architect Michael Fuller, the architectural design is a combination of massive curved glass walls married to angular walls. Not a single right angle in this house! The curves are fluid and a photographer could stay in those waves all day. It does bring out the best in you when you are photographing the interior spaces with no 90 degree angles. It was yet another amazing home.”
Much of Cota’s work is highly technical and constantly challenging. “My first client in the Roaring Fork Valley is a former client who I’ve worked with for years—Joyce Wirth of Weiss and Wirth Interior Design—and with years of collaborating, there exists an innate understanding of my client's needs.”
In addition to photography, StudioCota offers complete visual communication services. Among other items, they design and produce tabletop books for clients to include in their marketing mix. Cota sees the tabletop book as a handsome, permanent reminder of a great body of work or single project.
In addition to photography, StudioCota offers complete visual communication services. She finds a bulk of images can be used to tell a client’s whole story. Cota explains, “Although we, as an industry, tend to focus on the immediacy and effectiveness of our social media platforms as marketing tools, I have found that the printed medium remains vital for my clients. We design and produce advertising, direct mail, and tabletop books for clients to include in their marketing and promotional mix. A tabletop book is not only handsome, but a permanent reminder of a great body of work or even a single project as a gift to the client.”
StudioCota Photography + Design
Bio: Kathy Smith is a freelance writer and editor, who writes regularly for the New West Publishing family of magazines, as well as other local and national publications. She has a keen interest in writing about architecture and interior design, profiles, food, restaurants and anything Colorado. She is a chef, mother of four and a fitness enthusiast.
Daniel Junge is a documentary filmmaker, director and won an Academy Award and 2 Emmys for his film "Saving Face." Learn more in recent CE!