Featured Photographer: Stephanie Zettl

How did you get started in photography?
My senior year of high school I got stuck in a journalism class. When they asked me what I wanted to write about I said, “I don’t want to write. I just really want to take photos.” They asked if I knew how. My response, “Nah, but I’ll learn.”[break]
In nine weeks, I went from not knowing what an f-stop was to winning second place in a national high school competition.[break]
I still went to university to be a chemist, but after Calculus 3 kicked my butt, I decided I should pursue a career I really loved. I live in both sides of my brain — the artistic and the scientific. Photography combined the art, math, science and the excitement of creating something into one.[break]
I spent a few years as a photojournalist and have since transitioned over to being a wedding and portrait photographer. I’ve owned my own business for 8 years and it has been very rewarding.[break]
While I hope to always have a career in photography, I do know that I will be a photographer until the day I die.[break]

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Who have been your influences in photography?
David Williams has by far had the most personal influence on me as a photographer. He has taught me to see, to feel and to believe in my work. I am very fortunate to call him my mentor. He has not only taught me to be a better photographer, but also to be a better person.[break]

Other great photographers in the wedding and portrait industry that have influenced my work are: Storey Wilkins, Chuck Arlund, Neil van Niekerk, John Michael Cooper, Cliff Mautner and the very talented Greg Gibson.[break]

I also spend a lot of time roaming art galleries, listening to music and flipping through issues of Vogue and Vanity Fair.[break]

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How would you define your style of photography?
Eh, style, um… how do I define my style? If I have to put a name to it, I like to think my work is documentary in style. But really, I just like to take great photographs of people and the relationships they have to the people, places and objects in their lives. Sometimes that means I find a photo. Sometimes it means I ask for a photo.[break]

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What is one thing that has helped you grow your business?
Best thing I ever did for my business was enroll in sales training and business coaching classes. I’m not a business person by nature, but I know that to succeed I have to know how to sell. Having a healthy business means I can be a productive artist, which is the most important thing to me.[break]

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What is one thing that has helped you grow as an artist?
Realizing that the influences in my life come from many different things. From paintings to music to architecture to movies to literature — all these things have an influence on my work. Becoming conscious of how they influence me and how I can incorporate them into my photography has been very important to my growth as an artist.[break]

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What is one failure that helped you grow as a business person/artist?
To me, a failure is only really a failure if you don’t learn from it. I’ve missed shots. I’ve tried new things. I spent money on things I shouldn’t have. But in every case you have to learn from your mistakes and make adjustments so they don’t happen again.[break]
Being successful means taking risks. Taking risks means knowing that there is a probability you will fail and embracing it.[break]

What is one piece of advice that you would give to a person that is in the first few years of their photography business?
Invest in your education.[break]

Action sets will come and go, but the craft of photography will stay forever.[break]

You can view more of Stephanie’s great work online at www.ZettlPhoto.com