Stephanie, please tell us a little bit about your background and what led to you to being an Artist?
I was born in Massachusetts, but I had a strong desire to go to California during my childhood/teen years. So off I went right after high school. I traveled around the U.S. for a while and found myself doing things like trying to save the Redwoods in northern California, and working in a casino in Reno. I loved seeing the desert and forests out here. But photography was calling me, so I went back east to photo school in Maine, which was where I started to find my vision. Then I moved to Oregon for a few years and finally landed in Los Angeles where I have been ever since. LA was not easy for me in the beginning, and I fell into another career for a long time editing magazines. My heart was broken that I wasn't shooting all the time. But in 2009 when the recession hit, everything changed, the magazine career ended, and I dove back into photography full force. It took a long time to get to do what I wanted. I am so glad I am doing it now!
Talking about the career as an artist, what do you find the most rewarding? And what is the most challenging about being a photographer?
The most rewarding is when I have made pictures that thrill me. When an image comes out that is unexpected and is beyond what I envisioned is the greatest. It is like riding on a happy magical cloud. And when people respond that they like my work and connect with it, it means that I have succeeded, and done something good. It is the ultimate feeling of joy. I owe a great deal to my team Stephen, Courtenay and Curt, because of their incredible support. And, we have our own fun way of working together.
The most challenging is the stress: the stress of preproduction and making all the elements come together and happen on one day--the people, the location, the atmosphere, the wardrobe, hair, makeup, and the models, who need to feel really good that day. It all has to magically come together on shoot day. There is also the stress of making money, and of promoting yourself - even when you don't feel comfortable doing that. But it is all worth it!
Regarding your process, where do you find inspiration?
The location is the most inspiring thing to me, show me the environment we are shooting in and that is where the whole story will develop from. Houses and hotels are the best, based on the decor, I can make up stories to put my subjects in. Interior design truly sets the idea for the photos. And, of course the models. And the concept or story. These 3 elements are everything! And the rest follows.
What message do you hope is conveyed through your work?
I don't have a specific message, I just try to convey moments of a person's life (either true or made-up) that people relate to or connect with on a deeper level. It could just be a feeling, but I always aim for it to be a very strong feeling. Something that grabs a hold of you and you feel connected.
How do relationships in everyday- and personal life work themselves into your art?
When I hear a story of a person's life, or a topic someone is dealing with, I can translate that into the pictures. I am addicted to stories of personal transformation, when a person realizes something deep about her/his life and is changed. The moment of it happening is what I love to show. When people tell me stories of their life, I can use that -- stuff like relationship issues, awkwardness, revelations they have, or funny things too.
If for the next year, the only thing you could put up on your wall to look at was a single photographic portrait--of anyone, by anyone--what would you pick and why?
My gut instinct is to say my boyfriend Tom because I love him and I love to look at him. But I am guessing you would like a more interesting answer, haha, so--I would love to have a Slim Aarons, or a beach picture by Massimo Vitali!! Or-a portrait of Brigitte Bardot, or the photo of Sharon Tate shirtless holding Roman Polanski, or almost any Mick Jagger pic from the 70's, I could go on and on...it just has to be iconic, and make you enter a world you love to live in.
Which one of your "portraits" comes closest to the real Stephanie Vovas?
What a cool question. Well, my photos are pretty much fantasies or made up stories. But-the one I think has the most of me in the picture is the one of Diora and Cameron in bed. There is an uncertainty of what is going on between them, but you can tell it is a deep moment that is going to have long lasting effects on them. That kind of depth or heaviness feels like me. I'd rather it was the more fun sexy stuff, but I do what I can, haha.
What keeps you going?
The excitement of the next project, talking with friends and family, wine, escaping into movies or marathons of shows like Mad Men, that give me a mental break and another world to spend time in.
Which artists/photographers have inspired you the most & why?
Larry Sultan, for his photos of his parents.
Helmut Newton, for his exhilarating glamour and sexiness.
Andy Warhol, for his polaroids of famous people, like Dolly Parton, Sylvester Stallone, Mick Jagger, etc.
What is your single favorite furniture or decor in your home?
My custom designed and built office by 100xbetter.com It is made of wood and has plexi doors and a built in lightbox. It is so cool, and totally unique. It has a mid century modern vibe, and it is very geometric. It wraps around 3 walls.
What question would you like to ask yourself?
I would rather be asking you the questions :) Thank you so much! I love House of Honey.