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Marco Simonelli

From Marco:
In my years learning the craft (still an ongoing process) I have figured out a couple of constants in myself and how I approach what I do. Obsessions: are the only way to become great at something; nothing can distract you, all your energy stays focussed in a single process. Creativity requires a method: routines can be boring but like physical exercise will get you in shape and capable of repeating a performance, a method will unleash your creative processes in a controlled way and give them direction and focus. Find a muse: this has meant a great deal to me. Unlike a mentor, which you want to emulate, a muse is a distracting agent. A surprise detour you just have to follow without knowing where it will take you. A muse will help you discover instead of learning. Trust your guts: well, pretty self explanatory.

How did you get started in the business? Who helped/guided/mentored you?
I started doing photography professionally more than 10 years ago. We had a 600 square feet studio, couple of strobes and a lot of enthusiasm. Back in the days it wasn’t cool for photographers to get together and let alone share any information so we had to figure out everything the hard way. Which somehow I still think is the only way. Just going out of your comfort zone every time and try something new. By the time big online community became popular we had already moved into bigger spaces and establish our presence in our area. Now we have a large network of friends and colleagues in Kansas City and it creates a healthy competition.

How many After Dark Events have you attended and what’s your favorite moment?
I have attended 2 AD events and always walked home with new ideas, knowledge, excitement, tips and a refreshed newly appreciation for what our job is. You may be focusing on marketing classes or sales or posing and composition. But you will always get that ah-ha moment when you just figured out a better way to do something or when a new idea sparks in your head and you cannot wait to start playing with it and see where it takes you.

Why is education important to you? How long have you been teaching? What made you get into teaching? What do you get out of being a mentor?
This is my first official teaching experience. I have helped friends, trained employees, mentored younger shooters and assistants, assisted other mentors or teachers at workshops but never in a real “class” environment and with all the attention on me. It’s going to be a challenge to communicate the process and the approach that has been working for me and how I got to develop them. What I have learned from other mentors is that inspiration comes in different shapes and places and times. The trick is not to follow blindly an idea but to understand the direction it can takes us to and create our own path. Because you need get lost before you can find yourself.

What are the top 5 skills you’ll be teaching at After Dark?

  • How to create your own style
  • Method and creativity
  • Lighting 
  • Studio set up, getting dirty and equipment choices
  • Engage with your subject

Contact Info:
Facebook – Business

Fun Facts:

  • I don’t have any caps on my lenses
  • Love to shoot in a studio environment
  • Not afraid of getting dirty, building stuff and do things I have never done before
  • Food snob

Majority of Business:

  • Stylized portraits, weddings


  • Speedotrons (love the 80′es)
  • Chinatown Special beauty dish (google it)
  • Shop lights and combinations of them