We had the good fortune of connecting with Cece Ray and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Cece, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
We transferred to Arizona in 2008 for my husband’s job. Our grown children were behind us all the way on our new adventure. As hard as it was leaving them and one granddaughter behind, it has been one of the best moves we have ever made.

Arriving in Scottsdale and not knowing a soul I looked for a hobby to keep me occupied. Being from the plains of Texas I had never realized the Beauty of Arizona and the amazing wildlife.

The topography of Arizona is as diverse as it’s wildlife. It is amazing going from the heat of the valley and then driving north 2 hours to Flagstaff, you can be in the snow or at least much cooler. One of the seven wonders of the world is the Grand Canyon here in our state. The mighty saguaros have their own forest near Tucson. Another site is along the Mogollon Rim, known as the Rim Country. Here you have mighty mountains, low valleys and pine trees.
There are also the flat desert areas which can lead to amazing storm chasing adventures.

Besides the scenery in AZ I am pulled out daily to snap a photo of something living here in our Desert, from bobcats, coyotes and javelina. One of my passions is to photograph the wild horses along the Lower Salt River and the Verde River. I love the Heber Horses in the Apache Sitgreaves Forest in the rim country as well. The family dynamics of these magnificent animals is beyond words. Along with horses my other passion are the raptors. Be it a Great Horned Owl, a Coopers or Red Tail Hawk or Eagle, I love observing their natural protective instincts towards their families, much like the Wild Horses.
I wanted to share all this beauty with others and this led me to start my photography business thru Smug Mug.


Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Selling photography is hard because there are so many photographers. I am not a portrait photographer. Some people have asked me to take their photo and I have to say, “I don’t shoot people”. Let me watch a horse or a hawk, they never complain if they look bad in a photo.

I sit and watch for the perfect moment with wildlife. From watching a young foal nuzzle it’s Mom’s neck, to watching the sadness of a young bachelor stallion being emancipated from his family, to watching this same stallion months later practice his sparring with other young bachelor stallions, to years later seeing that same stallion proudly winning his first mare.

Most of my work has spread by word of mouth. I have taken photos of friend’s pets, and in turn this has led to another friend wanting their pets photographed.

I would hope that the world finds as much beauty in my photography as I try and capture.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
So many choices here. People that visit have no idea how beautiful the desert is. Living In far north Scottsdale, almost to Carefree, is a plus for us.

We have a RZR and one of our favorite things to do is to take a group down a trail near Bartlett Lake. Starting off down a dusty trail, going down a sandy wash, and ending up at the Verde River is amazing to them.

We love to take visitors hiking to Spur Cross, Jewel of the Creek, and Toms Thumb.

Carefree and Cave Creek areas have many fun places to eat. We really like Tonto’s Bar and Grill. It has beautiful views and delicious food. It sits on Rancho Mañana which used to be a working dude ranch. Carefree/Cave Creek is very laid back and has a western feel.

Scottsdale has amazing restaurants and shopping. Some of our all-time favorite restaurants include Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn, El Chorro and the Mission.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
One day while at the Verde River photographing horses, I met a new friend that shared my enthusiasm for photography. This person became a dear friend and a great mentor. She taught me things about photography I did not know. I was new to the field, and she led me thru the maze of settings, compositions…even what the best tripods were. She helped me with learning night photography as well.

We have since spent many nights in the back of our cars or literally sleeping on the Red Rocks of Sedona shooting the Milkyway or Meteor Showers. We have left on day long adventures chasing storms during the monsoon season carefully watching for the perfect lightning bolt. Many mornings we leave out in the dark to catch the perfect sunrise. These shoots are after a day of “recon” as we call it, so we don’t stumble around in the dark. Many early mornings are spent along the rivers at dawn waiting for the Wild Horses to walk into the morning light.
I will always to grateful for my experiences and friendship with Laurel Strohmeyer.

I must also give a big thank you to my husband, Andy. He has been on plenty of excursions with me and is a great help at spotting something wonderful to photograph. His support means the world to me. He handles my OCD (obsessive camera disorder) very well.

Website: https://www.cecerayphotography.com

Instagram: @ceceraysnature

Facebook: Cecilia Beumeler Ray

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.