Our Photography Dept. Director, Jeanne Donegan, took a moment to interview one of our flourishing Lillstreet Photography students, Stephanie Gasparich. Stephanie took her first Portrait Photography class at Lillstreet in Summer 2015 and has since established her own portrait business.
Check out the interview below and be sure to keep an eye out for our upcoming Portrait Photography courses at Lillstreet in the upcoming Fall 2017 Session!
Can you start by telling us how you first became interested in photography?
I wish I could say that I picked up a camera as a child and fell in love, but my passion started only recently. After talking to my husband about upgrading our camera for our travels, he bought me a DSLR for Christmas almost three years ago, as well as a lesson with our wedding photographer, Christy Tyler. I didn’t take it out of the box for almost a month because I was terrified of using such an expensive piece of equipment. I started studying photography online, and then I had my lesson with Christy. That’s when I became hooked. I spent most of my free time reading about photography, watching tutorials, and practicing. A few months later I took my first course at Lillstreet and that’s when it crossed the threshold of obsession.
What was your experience like at Lillstreet?
I remember both my class and my classmates very fondly, and I learned a ton. I didn’t know what to expect when I signed up for the course, but I was really happy with the content and the assignments. I had very little experience at the time, so it was a little intimidating to show my work at first and be critiqued. However, everyone in the class, including the instructor, was encouraging and supportive. Oddly enough, my favorite homework assignment was self-portraiture. It’s something I NEVER would have done on my own, and really enjoyed! I’ll be taking another course as soon as I find one that fits my schedule.
You’ve since built up your own photographic portrait business, which seems to be doing really well! What is it for you about portraiture that you find so compelling?
I just find people so compelling! We’re inundated with photos of people on a daily basis, and yet we never grow tired of looking at them–at least I don’t. Creating a shot that captures someone’s personality or connection with others is really special.
Would you say you have a particular style to your work? What’s your approach to a shoot generally like?
I’m still developing my style, but I try to always use natural light to create an image that feels fresh. I like to start my sessions by giving my client(s) a few hints about what tends to be the most flattering for women and men. I don’t like giving a ton of instruction because I think that can limit people. I’ve found that most people are really great at posing! I also like to show my clients some images in camera during the shoot. Most of the time it gives them a major boost in confidence, and then the session gets really fun! And lastly, I always try to get people laughing because there’s nothing like a genuine smile in a photo.
What advice would you give to a Lillstreet student who might be considering taking their first photography class?
Go for it! I loved the two courses I took at Lillstreet because they pushed me out of my comfort zone. I think that’s equally important for both seasoned and new photographers. The assignments force you to think about your craft differently, and have had a positive effect on my work and how I think about my subjects. I learned a great deal from my classmates as well. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the portrait course I took.
To see more of Stephanie’s work visit her website
Or follow her on Instagram @stephaniegphotography