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Rising Stars: Meet Rachel Mostofizadeh

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Mostofizadeh. 

Hi Rachel, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I got my first camera when I was 16 years old. From there I started taking photography classes in high school and continued on throughout college. I earned a BA in Studio Art from the University of Arizona in 2000 but didn’t officially start my photography career and business until nearly 10 years following. 

Toward the end of that window of time, I worked for the company that has the wedding photography contract with most of the hotels on the Las Vegas strip. This is where I decided to take the leap and open Rachel Elizabeth Photography in 2010. Over the last eleven years, I have lived in and operated in Nevada, Florida, New Hampshire, and now Arizona. For much of this time, I have focused on family photography with some work photographing weddings and high school seniors. 

When my family and I moved to the Phoenix area in 2018 I realized I had moved to a saturated photography market. I knew I would need to find my niche here. Given my family circumstances, I organically gravitated towards families with children with special needs and families that work in public education. This was in part due to my experience with my own daughter and navigating her disabilities. I have found success and great rewards working with these dynamic families. 

As I feel it is important to stay abreast of the latest in my profession, several years ago I felt it important to start to educate myself on the special needs community. Over the last two years, I have taken classes and certifications to understand better ways of working and best practices for these families. I have since worked these learnings into my business model. I am accredited by Special Kids Photography of America and I have my Autism Certificate from IBCCES. I have also been a member of Professional Photographers of America for the last 9 years. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Being a business owner has definitely thrown some hurdles in my path. The hardest thing that I deal with currently is balancing being a mom with running my business. I serve as the Co-President on the PTO at my kids’ school so between that, running a business, and taxiing to my daughter’s therapies and my son’s activities, I am sometimes stretched a little thin. I am a terrible housekeeper and a lousy cook, so luckily, I have an awesome husband who takes on a lot when he is home. However, he is a pilot and often has an unpredictable and heavy schedule. I have had to really hone my time management skills, especially in the busy fall season! I try to limit the time spent in my office to school hours and I have hired people to help with accounting and things around the house. But even with that, my house is a disaster from September to January! 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a professional portrait photographer and I specialize in family photography. Although it is constantly growing and evolving, my style has consistently been relaxed and natural with a storytelling approach. My business was (and still is) largely built on word of mouth. My mom always calls herself “a people person” and I definitely inherited her “gift of gab”. I think having these qualities makes people relax in front of the camera and want to come back year after year. I genuinely love people and I genuinely love my job and I hope that people can see that. Most of my clients become my friends and several of these families have my photographs on their walls going back 10+ years. 

My ideal clients are budget-minded families that want their honest memories in their photo albums. I am not interested in being an influencer or impressing anyone but my clients. I think this shines through in how my business is perceived. 

I started focusing on families with children with special needs when another mom told me that she doesn’t do family photos because the stress was too much due to her child’s high anxiety and ADHD. I wanted to be a safe place for families like hers to have photos done and not feel judged or rushed or stressed. I think I have been successful in doing that by providing options and learning as much as I can about the families before the day of the session. My daughter’s struggles have given me patience and understanding that have helped me not only be a better mom and person but a better photographer as well. There have been times that I have waited with the family in the parking lot for 20 minutes or so until their kiddo could be talked into coming out of the car to meet me and there have been times when I have spent the entire hour chasing kids through the desert while they giggle and dodge cholla bushes. Whatever a session brings to me, I feel like I am up for the challenge and prepared to do my best to photograph the families just doing their thing. 

Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
As a creative person, I have struggled with the business aspect of my business. My advice to folks just starting out is to not be afraid to hire help where you need it. Having good professionals in my corner to pick up the slack has been very helpful for me. 


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