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Interview: Photographer Stella Kalaitzis (Sweden) Winner of the Month

Can you tell us a little about you?

My name is Stella Kalaitzis. I am 27 years old and live in Stockholm/Sweden. I started with photography about twelve years ago in school and continued working in the industry right after I graduated. It's very importan to me that I stay well educated in my work and learn new styles and techniques. I have high hopes for my models, even if it is their first shoot. Our session should always feel professional and interesting. As you can see in my work, there are some different styles and levels on how the shoot is done. I chose to submit some new, but also some old work, just to show that progress is key to becoming good at anything. I love looking back and to be able to think that I’ve made som great progress along the way. A sidetone about me, is that I have done the makeup too in a lot of pictures you’ll see in this issue.

How and when did you get into photography?

I always loved photography, but when I went to media-school I got introduced to it even more, and I was stuck! I loved it and wanted to learn more about this art form. And so it began!

What does photography mean to you?

It’s a way to express yourself, and that means a lot to me. And when you’ve got a great team to work with, it’s like working with magic. I love creative people, and it’s a great way to show your creativity in photography. And let’s not forget the after work. I’d like to say that 50% of my creative work is the photo taken, and 50% is the retouching afterwards. The after work is really important to me, and my pictures are not finished before I get to do my thing in Photoshop.

Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.

I would say that I’d like to go quite simple while the picture is taken for example in the studio. I put a lot of time in retouching, and that has become kind of my signature. The picture itself can be a simple one, maybe nothing special at the time. But it’s in photoshop it all happens. So, what is my style? I guess its up to the person looking at my work to decide.

Where do you get inspiration from?

That’s a tough question, because I can’t really tell you where it comes from. Most of the time I see a picture I like, and I start to analyze how it’s done. I look at the lightning, figure out what kind of equipment that has been used, I look at the model, the makeup and the styling. And so something happens in my mind where I put together my own twist of what I’ve seen in that picture. It’s quite amazing how the mind works!

Do you think in advance what you want in the picture?

I do! But some of the times I have to think differently. Maybe I didn’t get the lightning right, maybe the makeup turned out in a different way. And so I have to act quickly, deciding what I could do instead. And of course, sharing ideas with the team! That’s a great way to get inspiration. It may look easy. Just put the model in the center, and snap a picture. But in fact, there’s a lot of hours behind a teams work.

Studio, on location or both?

Both! Sometimes you get tired of shooting in the studio. On location I believe there’s a lot of other possibilities to get great pictures that you can’t get in a studio environment.

Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?

I would say both. I am somewhere in between. I get paid for my work, but also love doing tfp, which means time for print. The models times, for my prints. I have met some of my favorite models this way!

What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work?

My biggest source is my creativity and that I see creative patterns everywhere I go. I could pass a place while driving, and having to stop just to see if I could use the location for a shoot later on. You could say that my brain never rests from searching after new places, new lightning to try out, new models to work with and so on. And I believe that is what drives me to continue striving after getting better at what I do.

Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?

Canon for sure! I often use my Canon EF 50mm F1,8 lens. It has a nice bokeh. That’s when the background is blurred out. Beautiful!

What has been your most memorable session and why?

It has to be that time we did a shoot in an old castle here in Stockholm. The castle has been there since 1760 and the interior is very antique. It was so cool shooting there, and kind of spooky. I truly believe in the spirit world, so I was sure that someone was watching us throughout or shoot. The people who work there told us stories about how they could here someone walk cross the hallways and that they never felt alone at work. Who knows!

What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?

Don’t stare blindly on what other photographer do. I can still look at another photographers work and think that I am a bit of jealous. That happened a lot when I first started, but over time I started to look at it differently. You will always be a beginner at first. You can’t avoid that. And over time when you get better and more confident you will take that feeling of jealousness of others work, and learn from it. You will start to collect inspiration from different styles, and start to incorporate that into your own work. And that is the key of becoming humble, and great at what you do at the same time!

What do you think of our new magazine?

I think it’s great! I really enjoy seeing other teams do their magic! I get really inspired. Thank you for having me in this issue! I hope I could be an inspiration for someone out there too!

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