Stephanie Spence on Seeking Single-Frame Narratives in Nashville

26 April, 2018

Written by: Harley Anderson

Stephanie Spence's interest in photography began innocently enough when she was a child growing up in Arizona. Whenever her family went on vacation they often gave Stephanie a disposable camera to document their adventures. Her interest in picture taking continued over the years but became of particular interest to her while working on her business degree at another college. 
 
 
Number crunching and business strategies simply didn't crack it for her. Seeking a salve for her soul she enrolled in a black and white darkroom class and began emerging herself further into the art and craft of photography. She especially enjoyed the process of establishing correct exposures including the entire developing and printing process. At age 24 she finally came to terms with the fact a life writing business contracts and 'making deals' was not a life she wanted to lead. That's when she decided to get serious about a career in photography, an idea she had been toying with since she began taking 'serious' pictures back in 2011. After questioning others who share her interest in photography and researching the curriculums of other photography schools, she decided to check out the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula, Montana.
 
 
Having grown up in the warm desert climate of Arizona the thought of moving north to Montana wasn't terribly appealing to her, but having already invested 4 years chasing a liberal arts and business degree, the thought of investing yet another 4 years of her life chasing another piece of paper wasn't appealing. 
 
 
What separated the Rocky Mountain School of Photography from the rest of the pack was a program they offered consisting of an intensive 8 months of day-in-day-out photographic training. 
 
 Stephanie will be completing her 8 months of photographic combat training in May 2018 and looking back she's astonished at how much she's managed to not only absorb, but channel into her personal work. 
 
When she first entered RMSP Stephanie admits to knowing zip about lighting but that's no longer the case. She's taken full advantage of all of the lighting and camera gear the school has on hand and has become quite adept at using this gear to her advantage.
 
 
Her go-to location flash is the Profoto B1X and when shooting in the studio she's big on Profoto D2 monolights. 
 
Stephanie has tried just about every Profoto light-shaping tool in the school's equipment locker. Her favorite light-shapers are - in no particular order - the Profoto RFi Softbox Strip1x4' and the Profoto RFi Softbox Octa 5’. She also makes good use of Profoto RFi Softbox2x3', Profoto Zoom Reflectors, and of course the Profoto Softlight Reflector White beauty dish, which seems to make everybody's favorite list.
 
 
One of the challenges of taking pictures Stephanie particularly enjoys is the process of creating a full narrative - a story with a beginning, middle, and end, all in a single image. To this end she is a big fan of movies despite the fact filmmakers have the advantage of telling a story at 24-frames-per-second rather than a single frame.
 
For inspiration Stephanie eats up movies directed by visual storytellers such as Wes Anderson. Photographers she greatly respects include Annie Leibovitz, Mark Seliger, Danny Clinch, and Jeremy Cowart, who inspires her not just for his photographic skills but also for his dedication to giving back to (causes that make an impact on people in need.)
 
 
Stephanie Spence's style of shooting has the kind of visual fluidity that can be easily adapted to both editorial and advertising applications. As for her next move Stephanie plans on relocating to Nashville - a town that lives and breathes music, which is her other great love. She plans on assisting other photographers while continuing to explore new avenues, learning new tricks, and improving her own photographic skills. Ultimately she would like to open her own portrait studio for commercial assignments while continuing to shoot personal projects.  
 
 
Stephanie Spence has a long list of professional milestones on a list she will no doubt complete.  At the top of that list is the phone call asking if she's available to shoot a cover of Rolling Stone. "When that happens I'll die a happy person". As somebody once said; "Live long and die happy, preferably with a camera in your hand".
 
To see more of Stephanie's work please visit her website or Instagram pages.
 

Written by: Harley Anderson

Products used in this story

Air Remote TTL

Wirelessly connects your AirTTL light with your camera

RFi Softbox Strip

Ideal for edge or rim lighting

Zoom Reflector

A classic among our light shaping tools