The Photographer Project: Stacy Pearsall

Portraits by Diana Deaver

What’s your birth date?  January 15, 1980

When did you first pick up a camera? 1996 in a high school art class.

Tell me about that: I shot with a black and white film camera my school provided. We had a darkroom and everything.

When did you know you had a talent for photography?  I considered myself a drawer more than a photographer. I didn’t take to photography right away because I couldn’t get the technical part down. I could see pictures in my head, but I couldn’t capture them the way I saw them. That was due to a lack of proficiency behind the camera. I’d say that took a couple years to master consistency.

Natural talent or learned process?  I believe my artistry is natural, but the technical process was definitely learned. You need both in equal parts to be consistently successful.

What do you love to photograph?  I’m a people person. I enjoy capturing the real essence of an individual.

Who are some of your photographer icons and/or mentors?  I’ve had many mentors (editors and photographers alike) over the years who’ve help shape and mold me: Mary Calvert, Joe McNally, Nick Ut, Eli Reed, Sandy Colton, Jimmy Colton, Brad Smith, Ken Hackman, Andy Dunaway…

You get to have dinner with 3 other people, alive or deceased.  With whom would you dine?  I’d like to sit with the late, great Eddie Adams. I wouldn’t ask him anything. I’d just let him speak his mind. I’d also love the opportunity to sit with Dorthea Lang and Margaret Bourke-White. I’d ask them all about their mission in life.

Do you know when you have a spectacular shot, or does that come about in the editing process?  I can usually feel it when I’ve got something good as I’m composing it. However, that isn’t confirmed until I see it on a big screen.

What makes you feel connected to your subject?  When done right, there’s a connection between you and your subject before the camera even comes to your face. I strive for that level of energy with every subject.

What are your thoughts on editing?  Like it or abhor it?  Do it yourself?  I believe editing depends on the genre of photography. I don’t mind it when you’re a commercial photographer or fine art photographer or portrait photographer. However, I don’t see any latitude for editing in the journalism sphere. I myself will convert my portraits for the Veterans Portrait Project series to black and white, but I don’t go crazy with blemish removal and all that. If I’m doing something more creative that’s meant to be art, I’ll have fun. I do know the difference though, and will stick to my ethics as a PJ.

Is there any genre of photography that you’d like to explore further?  I believe I’m right where I should be, and happy.

What’s on your photographic bucket list?  There are a couple of stories I’d like to finish before I die, but I truly believe I’m fulfilling my bucket list right now through the Veterans Portrait Project!

What inspires you?  My life inspires me. My husband, my step-kids, my animals. Just being alive.

How would you handle a difference of opinion with a client?  I believe everyone is entitled to an opinion and given art is subjective, a difference of opinion is bound to come up. I honor and value their opinion, but I remind them that they came to me for my point of view, vision and art. Sometimes, in the end, we aren’t the right fit. However, that is very rare. I can only recall a couple times that’s happened to me in my career.

What advice would you give an up and coming photographer?  Don’t just be a jack-of-all-trades and a master at none. Find what you’re passionate about and incorporate that into your work.

Are you involved in any kind of continuing education or professional groups?  I continue to learn and will always be open to new ideas and technology. When I teach at Photoshop World, or similar events, I carve out the time to sit in on as many classes and lectures as possible. There’s so much to take away from other artists. So much talent out there!

What makes you feel loved?  My love language is doing things for others. I feel loved when others allow me that honor, or when they reciprocate.

What are your favorite conditions/lighting/circumstances to shoot?  I can make any situation work no matter the time of day or circumstance. My favorite condition is lots of time and unfettered access!

What are your social media handles?

Personal Website:

www.stacypearsall.com

Veterans Portrait Project: www.veteransportraitproject.com

Facebook: facebook.com/SLPearsall

Instagram: slpearsall

Twitter: @StacyPearsall

What makes you feel pretty?  I don’t typically dress up or wear makeup either. I feel most pretty when I’m dressed casually with a clean face and my husband says, “You look nice.” It gets me every time.

Do you have any other thoughts or things to say about your profession?  Women in this industry are growing in numbers – in all genres. I believe this presents an opportunity to collaborate with each other and make positive growth together. Please lift each other up with positive affirmation – stay away from negativity. We can give constructive criticism over destructive mean words. We’ve all got our strengths. Let’s focus on those.

Candids provided by Stacy

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