Lori Sortino founded Essence Captured in October, 2006. 

Lori is an accomplished photographer, artist, and designer with experience in print media, landscape fine art photography, portrait photography, wedding photography, sports photography, and event photography. She joined a photography club in high school and has been developing her skills ever since. She studied art and photography at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and has a degree in Applied Art and Graphic Design.

Lori has been the official photographer for the annual Long Dance ceremony held in SLO County every September since 2007.  Lori was the Image Editor for Conejo365, a quarterly event magazine published in Westlake Village, California from 2014 - 2019.  Lori provided extensive photography services for Naam Yoga L.A. and Rootlight, Inc. for web and publication projects.

In addition to her work for clients and her freelance work, Lori photographs wild mustangs and creates fine art image prints.  Her work is often on exhibit locally.  

Lori reminds us that we see with our heart.

woman in long coat and hat standing on hillside at sunset, holding camera
Lori Sortino, on location in San Luis Obispo.                 Photo by Pat Price.

The Essence Captured Equine Photography Group

Essence Captured was the official photographer for Hunter/Jumper 'B' Shows and Schooling Shows at the Paso Robles Horse Park from 2019-2021.  Essence Captured covers some of the Arena Polo events in Los Osos at the Central Coast Polo Club.  In 2021 we were invited to cover the Combined Test and Horse Trials at the Fresno County Horse Park and the West Coast Connemara Show in Watsonville.  We became the official photographer for the Sea Breeze Schooling Shows in Watsonville in 2022.

female photographers

Contract Photographers

Deb Hofstetter, working at the Paso Robles Horse Park.           Photo by Hunter Kilpatrick
Deb Hofstetter

Deb Hofstetter

Deb Hofstetter joined Lori as an equine photography partner in 2019. Deb and Lori found so many similar interests in their photography pursuits, that the partnership made perfect sense.  Together, they stewarded the Essence Captured Equine Photography Group into being.  Deb is a skilled technical photographer, has created a home studio and has been an artist in residence at Studios on the Park in Paso Robles.  She grew up here on the Central Coast and is extremely familiar with the area.

Equipped with the tools of the trade, life's experiences, years of practice, desire, education and training, Deb has embarked on a mission to fulfill her passion and capture the highest quality images for her clients.  "Every day is filled with new possibilities in photography and I want to be part of that discovery.  I want people to feel and be in the moment with every picture I capture."  "I'm excited to be living my dream - Photography."

Deb retired from equine event photography in 2021 to pursue projects closer to home and to enjoy time with her husband who also retired in 2021.  In 2022 she was my equine photography workshop co-leader.  I am so glad to have had her support in the workshop offerings.

Deb reminds us that we all have something to contribute and together we are greater than any one of us alone.

Cathy Wallace

Cathy showed up at the Paso Robles Horse Park at one of the events we were covering, taking photos.  Lori said hello and they struck up a friendly conversation.  "Would you like to work for us?" was part of that and "send me the photos you're taking today to look at!" which Cathy did, and her photos were good and they keep getting better.  Cathy is a long time horse person.  She has ridden and competed for much of her life and knows what she's looking for with her camera, and since she no longer owns a horse, this gets her out with horses, which just makes her day.  It makes our day to have her on the team!

Cathy stepped up to the roll of Partner Photographer in 2021 and managed our photographer training and scheduling.  Considering we sometimes had a dozen photographers working during a 4 day show, this was a monumental task.  Between her work ethic, her photography skills, and her horse knowledge, Cathy has been an invaluable asset to the organization.

In 2022, with a shift in what we were covering and a drop in how many photographers we were managing, Cathy simply shifted into being supportive and flexible.  We work really well together.

Cathy feels that when she's horseback, all is right with the world. Growing up in Ventura County, her focus was dressage and hunter/jumper events. In her younger days, she worked as a riding instructor, trail guide and pack horse wrangler before moving into a career in sales and logistics. Cathy had been intrigued by photography since she was a teenager. After retiring from her corporate career, she acquired a DSLR camera and took some classes. Photographing equine events was an obvious choice for her. When following a horse's movement with her camera, she will often times talk to the horse as though she was the rider!  Check out her web site!

Cathy reminds us that we bring our love of the horse's spirit to our photography work.

Cathy Wallace, on location at the Paso Robles Horse Park.                 Photo by Lori Sortino.
female photographertwo female photographers
Cathy Wallace and Lori Sortino at the Paso Robles Horse Park.                 Photo by Kyoshi Becker.

Bill Myers

The Rev. William Darius Myers, MMinPC, MDiv, DMin, CT (“Just call me Bill.”) became a contract photographer with Essence Captured when he responded to an announcement that Lori placed in the San Benito County Photography group on Facebook.

With a long experience as a professional photojournalist (His first front-page byline: 4 years old. Really.), Bill often coordinates group projects involving elaborately creative collaborations, and he also often sidetracks his day-job travels when seeing something “that needs its picture taken.” Other subjects include four grandchildren, architecture, and especially the cultural events of Salinas and the surrounding vicinities. In fact, when the company that hired him to serve patients and their families in Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Monterey counties recently moved into their new offices, Bill’s commissioned images from all across the territory were hung there in all their massive, acrylic-and-stainless-steel glory. The fact that the centerpiece image is of the Bixby Creek Bridge might give you a hint at which hospice agency he serves as chaplain and counselor.

As an ordained minister of thirty-eight years’ experience, he still preaches occasionally, serves several seminaries as adjunct professor, and has contributed articles and papers to several popular, professional, and peer-reviewed publications. As proprietor of Fall River Photo (www.fallriverphoto.gallery), he continues to serve clients in the far reaches of California’s Northstate areas and into Southern Oregon, as well as here in the Monterey Bay and Central Coast regions as well.

But for as much as he loves to geek-out on the minutiae of photographic techniques and equipment (Pentax, through-and-through.), if you want the full-on nerd experience, just ask him about death, dying, bereavement, grief, and mourning. If you stand still long enough, he might just recite the whole dissertation for you.

Bill reminds us that life is precious, and like in a country song we know, just be humble and kind.

Bill at the Paso Horse Park                  Photo by Lori Sortino
Bill Myers
Edwin at the Paso Horse Park                     Photo by Lori Sortino
photographer

Edwin Mwaniki

Edwin is originally from Kenya and lives in San Jose.  He fits photography in between web development gigs.

Edwin joined our contract photography team in the fall of 2021.

Edwin reminds us to be humble and courageous in the same breath.

Daniel Steed          Photo by Lori Sortino
male portrait

Daniel Steed

Daniel is Lori's son, and has had a long time interest in photography, with both his mom and dad being photographers.  He and his wife moved to San Luis Obispo in 2019 and had a son in November 2020.  While being the stay at home Dad for now, he's glad to get out and do some photography with us at the horse park.  

Daniel's bachelor's degree is in computer science.  He has built Lori's at home studio image processing computer to suit her specific needs and has also helped with post processing in addition to shooting.

He is an intuitive as well as technical photographer and we're glad to have him working for us whenever he can.  Just be aware that Daniel is Deaf, so if you try to talk to him and he doesn't hear you, that's why.  If you know sign language, definitely say hello and if you don't, just wave and smile.

Daniel reminds us to wear our sun screen (he got pretty sun burned his first full day out with us).

Kyoshi Becker

We met Kyoshi through working sports photography together and invited him to join us in the equestrian arena.  We enjoy his laid back spirit and can do attitude.  He's got years of photography experience and excels at action photography, with motocross as one of his genres.  He lives in Southern California.  Check out his web site!

Kyoshi reminds us that it's never too far to drive for a photography adventure among friends.

Photo of Kyoshi on location at the Paso Robles Horse Park.

Video Editors

Jen McClellan, Creative/Teacher/Librarian/Mom & Video Editor

Jen joined us in 2022 as we ramped up our video service offerings and when Matt Brown took a job in Oregon and could no longer provide services.  Jen quickly responded "I'll do it" when I asked her if she were interested in editing video for me.  She fits it in between School Semesters (Teacher/Librarian Masters Certification Student at CSU Long Beach) and in between taking care of her toddler and creating art and supporting community advocacy projects.  Jen earned her Teaching Credential from CSU Northridge in 2018.  Jen's partner George is currently attending L.A. Film School in Hollywood for a degree in film and television production.

Jen is Lori's first born and they share the love of art, music, and community.

Jen reminds us to be real.

Jen McClellan,  an older favorite photo by Lori Sortino (top) and a recent self portrait with her Banjo (bottom)

Matt Brown, Videographer

Matt joined us in 2022 as we ramped up our video service offerings.  Lori watched Matt develop his filmmaking skills and finally convinced him to come work with us after nudging him our way while he was at University.

Matt Brown is a freelance filmmaker and videographer with experience in live TV, live sporting events, narrative filmmaking, documentaries, and, most recently, music videos. Since the age of 5, he has been making films, and has been passionate about storytelling since even before that. He attended Cuesta College studying Film & TV, and transferred to Humboldt State University where he graduated in May 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film, and a Minor in Philosophy - Ethics & Values.

In 2021, Matt was the Co Director of the Humboldt Int'l Film Festival, and he is currently working at the SLO Int'l Film Festival as their Box Office Manager & Volunteer Coordinator where he enjoys promoting the art of filmmaking, and campaigning for social justice. He is also currently working at Cal Poly SLO - helping film and broadcast their sporting events to ESPN, and working at a video production agency filming and broadcasting government meetings for public access.

When not filming, he enjoys the outdoors, adventuring, hiking, writing screenplays, watching films, and spending time with friends and family.

Matt reminds us to tell the story.

Matt Brown, hiding behind a camera
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