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Meet Stephanie Contreras

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Contreras.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Stephanie. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was born and raised in East Los Angeles. I became interested in photography in high school through a summer program to earn extra credits to graduate. I took the photography class that taught the basics of black and white film photography and after that, I fell in love with it. At first, it was a hobby and within a few years turned into my career of choice. When I started community college, I thought I wanted to major in psychology and have photography as my minor. After my first year, I knew psychology wasn’t my calling and decided to switch my major to just photography. I graduated from community college with my associate’s degree and went on to get my bachelors degree at ArtCenter College of Design.

While attending ArtCenter College of Design I discovered my love for food photography and how I love to put my own sense of humor and giving a narrative through just food or still life. There, I started a series called Famous Food in Cinema where I photographed food as being a huge part of a film scene or title.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Nothing is ever a smooth road. Definitely, a lot of ups and some downs but everything happens for a reason. The one that sticks out the most are the arguments with my mom about my decision of being a photographer. I love and respect my mother so much and like any child, I just want to make her proud. She’s a single mom who immigrated from Mexico and has sacrificed so much for my brother and I. Regardless, she will always support me and my dreams and ambitions for a career but this definitely wasn’t the initial career she had imagined for me. This taught me to stick to my gut instinct about what I want for myself rather than doing something to make others happy.

While I was at ArtCenter, I faced the challenge of figuring out what kind of photographer I wanted to be. I was so lost, and it’s not until I took the Food Photography class where I realized that I enjoyed photographing food and still life subjects. With food photography, I really enjoy how I can play with food and show a narrative by just using food. It just clicked and I finally felt like I found my niche. Through that one class, I started creating photographs that have a bit of a sense of humor to it and by using food.

Another obstacle I face is my own self-doubt. We are our own worst critics. Thinking I’m not good enough or worthy or skilled enough to be in this field. It’s a constant battle I have with myself. For a while, it was difficult getting a job after graduating, interviewers loved my work but since I was fresh out of school I didn’t have enough experience for someone to give me an opportunity. It’s learning to be patient and resilient and not give up. Now, I work on photo jobs that can pay my bills and student loans, yet I’m constantly learning and gaining experience and feeling good that I’m doing something that I love to do but creatively I need to make time to shoot for myself. Regardless if it’s a photo job I never imagined myself doing, it’s still part of my journey of growth to reach my own version of success for my career.

Please tell us about Stephanie Contreras Photography.
I’m a freelance photographer and I’m currently shooting a lot of fashion e-commerce photography with models and mannequins and photo assisting other photographers as well. What sets me apart is my quirky food and still life photography but right now what keeps me busy is the fashion e-commerce jobs.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Looking out the window in long car rides and pretending to see dinosaurs roaming around. Jurassic Park is one of my favorite movies and as a kid I had a big imagination about seeing dinosaurs around me.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photographer: Stephanie Contreras

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