Lori Sortino founded Essence Captured in October, 2006. 

Lori is an accomplished photographer, artist, and designer with experience in print media, landscape fine art photography, portrait photography, wedding photography, sports photography, and event photography. She joined a photography club in high school and has been developing her skills ever since. She studied art and photography at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and has a degree in Applied Art and Graphic Design.

Lori has been the official photographer for the annual Long Dance ceremony held in SLO County every September since 2007.  Lori was the Image Editor for Conejo365, a quarterly event magazine published in Westlake Village, California from 2014 - 2019.  Lori provided extensive photography services for Naam Yoga L.A. and Rootlight, Inc. for web and publication projects.

In addition to her work for clients and her freelance work, Lori photographs wild mustangs and creates fine art image prints.  Her work is often on exhibit locally.  

Lori reminds us that we see with our heart.

woman in long coat and hat standing on hillside at sunset, holding camera
Lori Sortino, on location in San Luis Obispo.                 Photo by Pat Price.

The Essence Captured Equine Photography Group

Essence Captured is the official photographer for several Hunter/Jumper Shows at the Paso Robles Horse Park.  Essence Captured is also covering some of the Arena Polo events in Los Osos at the Central Coast Polo Club.  In 2021 we were invited to cover the Combined Test and Horse Trials at the Fresno County Horse Park and the West Coast Connemara Show in Watsonville. 

Partner Photographers

Deb Hofstetter, working at the Paso Robles Horse Park.           Photo by Hunter Kilpatrick
Deb Hofstetter

Deb Hofstetter

Deb Hofstetter joined Lori as an equine photography partner in 2019. Deb and Lori found so many similar interests in their photography pursuits, that the partnership made perfect sense.  Together, they stewarded the Essence Captured Equine Photography Group into being.  Deb is a skilled technical photographer, has created a home studio and has been an artist in residence at Studios on the Park in Paso Robles.  She grew up here on the Central Coast and is extremely familiar with the area.

Equipped with the tools of the trade, life's experiences, years of practice, desire, education and training, Deb has embarked on a mission to fulfill her passion and capture the highest quality images for her clients.  "Every day is filled with new possibilities in photography and I want to be part of that discovery.  I want people to feel and be in the moment with every picture I capture."  "I'm excited to be living my dream - Photography."

Deb reminds us that we all have something to contribute and together we are greater than any one of us alone.

Cathy Wallace

Cathy showed up at the Paso Robles Horse Park at one of the events we were covering, taking photos.  Lori said hello and they struck up a friendly conversation.  "Would you like to work for us?" was part of that and "send me the photos you're taking today to look at!" which Cathy did, and her photos were good and they keep getting better.  Cathy is a long time horse person.  She has ridden and competed for much of her life and knows what she's looking for with her camera, and since she no longer owns a horse, this gets her out with horses, which just makes her day.  It makes our day to have her on the team!

Cathy feels that when she's horseback, all is right with the world. Growing up in Ventura County, her focus was dressage and hunter/jumper events. In her younger days, she worked as a riding instructor, trail guide and pack horse wrangler before moving into a career in sales and logistics. Cathy had been intrigued by photography since she was a teenager. After retiring from her corporate career, she acquired a DSLR camera and took some classes. Photographing equine events was an obvious choice for her. When following a horse's movement with her camera, she will often times talk to the horse as though she was the rider!  Check out her web site!

Cathy reminds us that we bring our love of the horse's spirit to our photography work.

Cathy Wallace, on location in Los Osos at the Central Coast Polo club.                 Photo by Lori Sortino.
female photographer

Hunter Kilpatrick

Lori met Hunter during the break-down of Whale Rock Music Festival.  Lori was taking down her art and Hunter was part of the stage set-up and take-down crew.  He made a comment about her horse photos and being a photographer himself and they exchanged cards and continued the job at hand.  Hunter had set an intention to photograph horses.  Lori had set an intention to bring new photographers on to create the ECEPG.  They were meant to meet.  

Hunter is super hard working and passionate about photography.  In 2021 Hunter also began fulfilling video services for Essence Captured, with the first assignment to record polo games for game reviews.  From his web site, you can see that he's up for an adventure and willing to experiment and explore new things.  At the same time he's eager to please his clients and does his best to produce images that will bring the joy of the moment back to the subject when they view the image he's taken. The more time we spend with Hunter, the more we like and admire him.  We are so happy to have him on our team.

Hunter reminds us to pay attention to the details.

Hunter Kilpatrick, on location in rural Paso Robles.                 Photo by Lori Sortino
male photographer

Contract Photographers

Photo of Kyoshi in 2016 at a Motocross event.
Kyoshi Becker

Kyoshi Becker

We met Kyoshi through working sports photography together and invited him to join us in the equestrian arena.  We enjoy his laid back spirit and can do attitude.  He's got years of photography experience and excels at action photography, with motocross as one of his genres.  He lives in Southern California.  Check out his web site!

Kyoshi reminds us that it's never too far to drive for a photography adventure among friends.

Hannah with Valiente                     Photo by Deb Hofstetter
woman and horse

Hannah Finder

Hannah came to us through a referral and we love her.  

Hannah grew up in the Santa Cruz mountains and moved to the central coast in 2001, graduating from Cal Poly Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. degree in Graphic Communications in 2004. While at Cal Poly she was a member of the IHSA and IDA equestrian teams. "I have had a camera in my hand since I was a kid, and have had a passion for horses my whole life," she says.  Equestrian accolades include earning her USDF Bronze and Silver medals, as well as numerous year end AQHA and USDF titles with her AQHA gelding who sadly passed away 7/2020.  She spent a year working full time in the horse industry on the east coast, managing barns and grooming for some well known upper level 3-day eventing riders.  Photography interests have been primarily equestrian related and landscape photography.  For the past 10 years Hannah has worked full time in software development as a Software Quality Engineering Lead.  She owns a horse property in Paso Robles where she's currently rehabbing her beautiful Andalusian horse Valiente.  He had a tendon injury and through intense physical therapy, he is improving and she looks forward to his full recovery.  She is hoping to have him healed and ready to compete in dressage in 2022.  Her other hobbies include hiking, playing guitar and just enjoying being out in nature. When not competing, she can be found volunteering or working with the show photographers. 

Hannah reminds us that hard work, perseverance, and dedication produce solid results.

Joel Schonbrunn

Joel has been working with sports and event photography and videography since the 1980’s.  Best known for his work documenting the emerging “Live Steel” medieval armored combat community in the United States and abroad at the Battle of Nations, as well as his extensive participation within the Society for Creative Anachronism, for the last 15 years. 

When he is not shooting photos or videos of all things medieval, Joel is also an active Astrophotographer, with a regular series “Lunacy” that he has been shooting for the last 5 years.  A newcomer to the Central coast, Joel has been developing his 2-acre “Lunacy Ranch” micro-greens farm in Paso Robles.

Joel reminds us to dress the part, show up and have fun.

Joel at a Renaissance Festival
man in costume with camera

Angela Di Pietro

Angie Di Pietro is an award-winning Creative Director with over 25 years in interactive, branding and tv experience. In 2018, her Safari to Kenya reignited her passion for wildlife photography and inspired her full time move from San Francisco to the Central Coast of California where she lives on a 35 acre ranch and retreat center with many furry friends.


When she’s not trimming goat hooves or pitching ideas to Silicon Valley, Angie enjoys wine tasting in Edna Valley, trips to Burning Man and teaching yoga.


Angie reminds us to make a practice of gratitude and notice the beauty of nature everyday.

Angie with one of the mustangs at Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary        Photo by Lori Sortino
horse and photographer
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