Sara Coffin Photo Associate Photographer: Introducing Shelby Zeuli

Four years ago, I hired a social media manager to overhaul my Instagram account and launch my content into the 21st century (Instagram reels had just come on the scene and it was inevitable that my static photography page would soon become obsolete). What I didn’t realize at the time was that I truly hit the jackpot with Shelby Zeuli, my new social media manager and soon-to-be associate photographer!

After two years of watching her interact with my clients while capturing BTS content at various photoshoots, I approached Shelby to help me photograph a full day of family mini-sessions. Not only had she proved herself invaluable after transforming my social media presence, but she also had obvious potential behind the camera. 

Watching her develop her photography style and claim her stake in this industry over the past couple of years has been a joy to witness. I’m so excited to introduce Shelby’s work and share more about how Sara Coffin Photo clients can work with her!

Introducing Shelby Zeuli: Sara Coffin Photo Associate Photographer

The first thing I should mention is that Shelby has an amazing creative eye. It goes without saying, that is the hardest part of this job to teach. Her collections are full of beautiful moments, in addition to the essential cornerstone shots she captures during every project. She’s also excellent at posing clients and offering suggestions and directions in the moment.

I asked Shelby a few questions to help you get to know her better—keep reading to see what it’s like to work with her!

Get To Know Your Photographer: Shelby Zeuli

Close up portrait of woman sitting on a marble staircase at Oxbow Estate in Clayton, NC | Sara Coffin Photo Portrait and Headshot Photography

Q: Can you share a few facts about you? Where did you grow up? Any fun facts you want to share?

I just turned 27 and I’m a true Aries through and through! I attended middle and high school in Fuquay Varina and stayed close by for college at North Carolina State University, where I majored in Public Relations and minored in Arts Entrepreneurship and Marketing. My favorite place in the world is Charleston, SC. I’ve never traveled outside of the U.S., so I always love talking to clients about their adventures and travel recommendations! I have a 9-year-old rescue mutt named Sarge that I’m always showing off in photos. Two years ago, I bought a fixer-upper townhome in Raleigh, and with the help of my brother, dad, and generous friends, I’ve renovated it all by myself so far! My most fun/geeky fact would have to be that I’ve seen every Marvel movie!

After outsourcing my social media management to Shelby several years ago, my online presence has never looked better! Check out her recent hot take on how to use your personal branding photos on social media here.

Close up portrait of woman holding up an iPhone in an empty photography studio in Sanford, NC | Sara Coffin Photo

Q: How did you first get into photography?

Eight years ago, at the height of travel vlogs on YouTube, I would watch Indy Blue’s travel videos and be in awe of the moments she was capturing of her friends on video. She was traveling to exotic places, but the moments of her friends laughing, smiling, and adventuring somehow made it look attainable even for me. My mom bought me a Canon Rebel DSLR from Kohl’s so that I could try it for myself, but I was disappointed that whatever I shot didn’t compare to the creators I was watching on YouTube.

Indy Blue YouTube Channel page

One day, the boutique I was working at in college created a new position for me to create content for their social media and take over all their product photography. Clearly, they were desperate for someone to fill that role (and most likely were not willing to pay a professional at that moment in time), but I was determined to use it as an opportunity to teach myself all that I could about camera functions, shooting in manual mode, editing, and posing for images rather than videos.

Film camera sits on marble top cafe table next to a burnt orange velvet chair at Oxbow Estate in Clayton, NC | Sara Coffin Photo

I had no comparable experience, but I picked it up fast with the help of models who were patient with me and YouTube camera tutorials! By the time I met Sara just two years later, I had a good understanding of camera functions and the technical aspect of shooting, but a world to learn about client relationships, portraiture, lighting, and directing. I have Sara to thank for every bit of skill I’m grateful to have now!

Q: How would you describe your working style?

In a word: Relaxed! A session with me is generally go-with-the-flow. I follow my client’s lead on what they’re comfortable with, then sprinkle in suggestions, new ideas, or posing tips. I like to read the energy of my clients and get on the same level as them! It makes everyone much more comfortable and excited to be on camera.

Q: How would you describe your photography style?

I aim to capture the way someone would see my subject if they were standing there with them one-on-one. Most people have a natural way of carrying themselves away from cameras, and I try to incorporate that and their personalities into photos so they truly see themselves when they look at the images for the first time.  

Group of four women stand together in a field while smiling and laughing | Sara Coffin Photo

Q: What is your favorite aspect of this industry?

I love connecting with people on a one-on-one basis. There’s a sort of trust that naturally forms in a subject-photographer relationship, and I’ve enjoyed developing that relationship with clients the most!

How To Work With SCP Associate Photographer Shelby

The most rewarding aspect of my decade-long tenure as a photographer is having the opportunity to mentor the next generation of creatives. 

Shelby’s talent, tenacity, and creativity speak for themselves. I am always raving about her hard work and diligent approach, while clients consistently tell me she’s attentive to their every need during a photoshoot. As her boss and mentor, I appreciate her dependability and communication and feel so at ease when she’s working 1:1 with a client. 

Two women hug while standing in a marble hallway at Oxbow Estate in Clayton, NC | Sara Coffin Photo

If you’re interested in working with Shelby for your next photoshoot or want to schedule a mini session date with her, submit an inquiry here! Make sure to indicate that you’d like to work with Associate Photographer Shelby in the ‘Other Details’ section of my contact form.

More Work From Shelby’s Photography Portfolio

Sara Coffin Photo Associate Photographer: Introducing Shelby Zeuli

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