Lensbaby Makers: Stephanie DeFranco
Lensbaby Makers is a series that looks into the world of influential Lensbaby shooters. Press play to see these photographers in action as they work through their creative process.
Meet Stephanie DeFranco
My earliest memory with a camera was a 35mm film camera my mom always carried in her purse. It was normal to always have a camera with us, so when I started focusing on photography my senior year of high school it seemed natural to be walking around with a camera in hand.
I always wanted to be an artist but, due to issues with scheduling, I wasn’t able to take any art classes. My guidance counselor suggested I find a photography mentor and follow them around for credit because I always loved taking pictures.
Whether it was my brother, my dogs, or the street I lived on, I wanted to photograph everything. Portraits were becoming my primary focus. Even though I loved working with people one-on-one, I booked my first wedding in 2009. It was an eye-opener. I learned how much work goes into being a wedding photographer. I thought at the time: this is what I need to do in order to make it in the photography business. However, it was more stress than I wanted, so I decided to make a change. My passion has always been portraits, travel, and finding the stories hidden within each person and place.
My style, when I first started, was very plain. I was still discovering how to work with different light sources, how to pose subjects, and what my editing style was. I was diligently working on finding my own voice and learning how to separate my art from everyone else’s. I used mostly flat, outside lighting because it’s what I knew. However, this did not serve my original goal of telling stories and telling them in a unique and beautiful way.
It wasn’t until I saw Lindsay Adler speak at WPPI that I knew I could do more with my photos. I sat in awe of what she could do with manipulating light and how she used different objects in front of her camera to create unique effects. She also had this unusual lens called Lensbaby. I had no clue what she was talking about, but being at one of the largest photography conferences I figured they would have a booth set up. I wandered over to the Lensbaby booth, tried out the Composer Pro with Double Glass Optic, and fell in love. This became one the first tools in my toolbox that gave me the freedom to create and expand the artistic side of my photography.
Just like with my portraits, I wanted to push the limits of my travel photography. As Lensbaby says, I wanted to: “See in a new way.” With the Edge 50, my most traveled and favorite lens, I’m able to selectively focus on what I want to emphasize in the image. It sheds a new light on a location and allows me to highlight environments that are normally overlooked or missed.
I consider Photoshop an extension of my creativity. However, looking down at the back of my camera to see that little photo exactly how I want the world to be captured creates a feeling that normal lenses don’t provide. I use my eye as a photographer and the technology of the lens to help my audience see the world in a new way.
These optics have allowed me to reevaluate every rule I have learned in photography. I’ve realized that it’s okay to do my own thing and break the rules. My idea of perfection isn’t correct lighting or perfect focus. To me, it’s all about capturing the story and the emotion within the scene. The moment I stopped meeting others’ expectations of perfection was the moment I knew I found my voice.
Watch Stephanie fine-tune her work in Lightroom & Photoshop
Cameras and the rest
Alienbees B800 & B400
Doug Gordon Torchlight Reflector
Lowepro Transit Sling Bag 250
Miscellaneous crystals and prisms
Tags: Bokeh, Composer Pro II, creative photography, edge 50 optic, Edge 80 Optic, macro converters, New Mexico, Portrait, seeinanewway, Selective Focus Photography, Stephanie DeFranco, Travel Photography, twist 60, velvet 56