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Chester County Press

Get in the Spotlight

05/16/2017 11:05AM ● By J. Chambless

Fine art photographer Alessandra Manzotti and interior space designer Mary Williams-Veale have combined their skills to form Spotlight, a staging company that adds zest, spark and inspiration to the products and services being offered by their clients.

By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

The story of how business partnerships begin is often as fascinating as the partners themselves.

The story of what drew home organizer Mary Williams-Veale and fine art photographer Alessandra Manzotti together to form Spotlight, a local staging company, was one that began in friendship.

“Alex and I were aware of each other professionally – Alex through her fine art photography and me with my fledgling personal business of home organizing, staging and small landscape design,” said Williams-Veale. “As friends, we decided that peanut butter and jelly is pretty awesome, and that we needed to be together. We came up with Spotlight, to serve as a vendor service of each others' parent company.”

For the past year, Spotlight has been combining the best of what Williams-Veale and Manzotti do to help beautify, promote and spark the visual branding for businesses, artists and services throughout Chester County. From consultation to completion, their collaboration – seen in beautiful, high-resolution images, expertly staged – improves the look of websites, stimulates on-line attention and sales, and turns a flat marketing plan into one of texture and color.

“We meet the potential clients at a free consultation, in order to get to know each other, hear what their needs are and understand what they're looking for,” Manzotti said. “If it is a jewelry designer, for instance, we discern what he or she is hoping to portray through his or her work, and what feeling he or she wants to establish.

“In this world of internet sales, people don't touch things anymore,” Manzotti added. “They buy now based on the first impression that the photographs make. To have a great website and brilliant images is hugely important, but to have them staged properly makes one's product even better.”

Before a client of Williams-Veale and Manzotti is, in their words, “spotlit,” a lot of coffee is consumed and a lot of listening is done. Getting to the final images that find their way to a website or social media page of a client involves many more steps than just arranging a product and taking a picture.

“I need to hear the artistry behind the image,” Williams-Veale said. “We need to capture the essence of what it is that they want to put forward. Getting a read on a client's fashion sense is very important, because many of the items we portray through Spotlight are small, and the services that we use and the props that we use have to be chosen carefully.”

“We're trying to portray the product, but also portray the product as it applies to a lifestyle,” Manzotti said. “When you see linen and dyed fabrics, for instance, that portrays an image of country living. We hone in on a detail of that textile. Staging is important, because that linen runner taken alone does not mean anything, but with staging, you create an imaginary life in that image, one that conveys to the viewer, 'The linen on this table could be the linen on your table.'”

Logic would suggest that business partners – particularly those whose company mission is to arrive at a finished product through creative ideas – would sip from the same creative well. At Spotlight, the images that Williams-Veale and Manzotti create for their clients arrive from two distinctly different places. While Williams-Veale arranges shoots in order to illuminate the small details – the perfect placement of a product beside a prop, for instance – Manzotti takes a more organic approach.

“The camera sees things very differently than the naked eye,” she said. “I have a vision of how the product should be seen, because I see it though my lens of my camera, while Mary sees that same product through staging. There's a lot of trial and error, but I love it, because it's a departure from my fine art photography, and it involves a lot of problem solving.”

“The images that we deliver at the end of a session are very personal to our clients,” Williams-Veale said. “It's a reflection not only of their work and the definitions they want to portray of themselves, but of the time we've spent manipulating each object to capture it perfectly. We're small. We're affordable, and we get it right.”

To learn more about Spotlight and see sample images of their work, visit To schedule a free initial consultation, call 610-850-3068.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail

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