Thursday, April 9, 2015

Featured Artist | Stephanie Mason Photography

Tell us about yourself and your business.
I have been working as an Early Childhood Educator (ECE) for the past 7 years. My education and experience when working with children has given me the appreciation for the small things in life. Children have such an amazing sense of wonder, curiosity, determination and sincerity about them that it really solidified how much I wanted to be a mom myself

Shortly after becoming an ECE I had my first son, Brody. Just as any new parent does, my husband bought our first DSLR and started taking thousands (literally) of photos because we didn’t want to miss a thing. I used the camera less as I was intimidated by the whole thing. Shortly after Brody’s birth, my husband had go   away on course with the military so it was up to me to keep the pictures coming.  My curiosity got the best of me to try new things with the new DSLR he left behind.
Over the course of 4 years, another son (Jack), military postings, countless trips, and capturing every major milestone and holiday, that camera and I kept busy!. My passion for photography grew exponentially. My appreciation for photographers and their skill became my obsession. I wanted to be just like them. I wanted my children to have beautiful images of their childhood to look back on. I shared my passion with my close friends and family where I felt comfortable and secure.
After 6 years into my journey, my husband suggested that I capture other people’s memories as well. I immediately thought that if I turned my passion into my job that I would lose the love I have for the art. Despite my hesitation, I gave it a go and proved myself wrong – I loved it even more. It was incredibly rewarding to share this experience with others. To have other parents cry over their photos, to proudly tell me my images are now covering their walls and that they wish we had met earlier, is honestly so very rewarding in itself.

Where are you located?

I am located Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Who or what inspires your art?

On a daily basis I watch for genuine and authentic emotional connections. amongst children, friends or family.  You will find connections everywhere.

By being able to capture these spontaneous moments and preserve them, for me, that is the most inspirational scene for my mind.

What do you love most about photography?

I really hope to not sound cliché here but it’s to preserve memories and details about the little things you just never want to forget. I love finding the beauty in our everyday lives, which I find most of the time people over look because their schedules are just so packed full of to-dos.

Describe your style in 2 words.

Honest and real.

Tell us about your specialization or what subjects you prefer to shoot.

I am working towards exclusively shooting documentary/storytelling images. Families coming together though marriage, a new milestone, welcoming a new baby into the family or a simple picnic in a favourite spot. You will never see me bribing children into smiling for the camera or coaxing them but just encouraging play and intimate interactions between those participating in my sessions.
At the end of the sessions, families are walking away with a complete story of what their real life looks like. So far, I am finding that my clients have been wonderfully receptive to this and incredibly supportive.
I want families to look back on their images and feel nothing but nostalgic for that moment in time.

What do you do to jolt your creativity when it’s running low?

I try my best to disconnect and just spend time with my family. They are my muse and the reason why I started on this journey to begin with. Watching my husband play with our kids or my boys work together on a simple task normally generates the drive for me to preserve these moments. 


I also have a running list of activities and locations where I’d love to shoot with not only my family but local families as well. By having an activity ready that I know my kids will enjoy, I know I will be able to just be a fly on the wall (so to speak) and capture them being themselves. 


What’s in your camera bag?

I am grateful (and spoiled) to have a bunch of goodies. I own:
·      Canon 6D
·      Sigma 35mm f1.8
·      Canon 50mm f1.4
·      Canon 85mm f1.8
·      Canon 100mm f2.8L
·      Canon 135mm f2L
·      (3) Cannon Speedlite 600ex-rt flashes
·      Lots of memory cards
I tend to only carry around my 6D with the 35mm lens when out with the family or indoors. When I’m outdoors shooting, my heart gravitates towards the 135mm for the space is allows children to be themselves and the gorgeous compression it provides.

What are your Top 3 must haves when shooting.

Since I shoot mainly documentary style photography there really aren’t any “must haves” when the shooting begins (other than the basic full battery, memory cards and a coffee for the drive over).

Most of my sessions, I spend a great deal of time getting to know my clients beforehand and collaborating what has the most meaning in their life. I want my clients to feel, reflect and be apart of the process as much as possible. So really, it all happens before the shooting takes place:

1. A flexible plan
2. A location
3. A friendly reminder to ignore me and pretend I’m not there

Share a fun fact about yourself with the readers.
If you could photograph anyone in the world, who would he/she be?

It would be my children interacting with other children from a completely different culture/background. I love that children’s hearts are so accepting of one another and I think it would be heartwarming to watch their playful interactions unfold.

Natural light or artificial?

I will always gravitate towards natural light but I am also making it my mission to learn artificial as well. I like to be prepared for any situation.

What impact does photography have on your family life?

This may sound strange but my children expect the camera everywhere we are.
We were recently out at Walmart and I allowed them to buy a Lunchable (total processed meat/cheese combo), which I have never done before. This was huge for them and Brody (my 6 year old) said, “Aren’t you going to take a picture of me picking which one I want?” I actually didn’t have my camera with me during this quick trip but his comment made me aware of his perspective.
My kids will often ask to have their photos taken with the things they love. I will always listen because I want this to be fun for them too. It generally has brought us all closer. Both of my children have their own little cameras and absolutely love to capture the world from their point of view. So my husband doesn’t feel left out, I make sure I share occasionally!
What’s your most important artistic tool besides your camera?

My extensive list of locations and activities! I see connections in my head unfold when I write on this list. I know that it doesn’t always go to plan but often times, I will click that shutter and cannot wait to go home to see all the photos. My children absolutely love when the mailman rings the doorbell. They know that their photos have arrived and get to relive those locations and actives over again.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned since started photography?

This is such a hard question to only narrow it down to one answer since I really have two main lessons I’ve learned thus far.
1.    Never compare yourself to others but compare your images from where they began to where you are now. Only you can know where you want to take your photography and comparing yourself to others will not get you there.
2.    Ask questions! I admire so many women in this industry and at one point or another I have asked other professionals for their opinion, guidance or suggestions. I try my best to pay it forward to other aspiring photographers because we all started somewhere.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting their journey in the photography world?

I would tell them to actually learn how to use their camera first which means put it into full manual mode! Once you master how your camera works, you will be pleasantly surprised with how much freedom it gives you. Also, never stop learning. There are so many resources available to you and you can never truly know everything photography has to offer.

At the end of the day, make sure you are shooting for yourself so you don’t get lost in your journey or burnt out in the creative department.  Remember why you started your journey, remember the fear and overwhelming feeling of when you started and when you become confident, stay humble. There will always be someone wanting to approach you with a question. Be approachable, we all had questions for someone at one point or another, so pay it forward.



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