Kim Sikora: As a working photographer in San Francisco, what was your biggest challenge been?

Nicolo Sertorio: I chose to live and work in the San Francisco bay area because I fell in love with the place and people from my very first visit. But it is a bit of a compromise from the point of view of a photographic career: it is a smaller market compared to New York or Los Angeles, there are fewer local clients, etc. Also, my personal style for commercial work (‘refined lifestyle’) tends to resonate more with East Coast clients. But there is no way I am moving, especially now that we invested in a new studio!

KS: Artists in San Francisco face many obstacles, and it can be a struggle to make the time and space to create new work. How do you balance your personal and professional time?

NS: It definitely takes discipline to carve out time for personal work, but at the same time it is where I get inspiration, motivation, and renewed excitement. On the commercial side I try to have a personal (‘test’) shoot every couple of months. On the fine-art side I tend to work on series/ideas that evolve over fairly long periods of time. But it is a balance between all the dimensions of life constantly screaming for attention, one that has to be constantly re-negotiated.

Of course it helps to have a supportive partner. In my case my wife is a scientist, so we share the passion for our work, the sacrifices, the patience and determination required, the ideals.

KS: You took part in APA’s spring portfolio review event. How do you feel that this impacted your work or your photography career?

NS: I have attended several portfolio reviews and found the APA San Francisco one to be small and intimate, which I liked.
Jaqueline Fodor gave me some great advice and encouragement to include one of my personal series on my commercial web site. I had been weary of doing so, but have been getting very good feedback since.

KS: Are there other resources you think photographers in the bay area would benefit from?

NS: I always push myself and my friends to shoot more and collaborate more. ASMP and APA are both great organizations to meet fellow photographers. I also enjoy the ‘Dog & Pony’ shows that Propville organizes. But I do feel that as an imaging community we could do a lot more together.

KS: Do you have any new projects you’d like to tell us about?

NS: The latest projects (and time guzzlers) for me have been:

Got elected as the new president of ASMP Northern California chapter. As a new board we have many great ideas but limited resources, so it has been taking a lot of our time to establish the foundation for many new programs and workshops that will be rolling out in the fall.

I just released my latest personal/fine-art series (check ‘Passages II: Rest Areas’ on my fine-art site: So far it has been received very well: it has been included in multiple group shows and won several awards. I am currently exploring the idea of making it into a book.