Dustin Steller – Kansas City, Missouri

5 09 2007

Dustin Steller was referred to us by another photographer that we’d recently featured and, wow, what a referral! Dustin’s photography is of such a high standard both creatively and technically. Just a quick glimpse at Dustin’s images and you’ll be convinced of his professional all-round skills in photography – he is definitely another one of those photographers to add to your bookmarks! Amongst many other things, Dustin describes himself as a student of life, a goofball, friendly, rarely serious … sounds like our kind of guy!

Dustin Stellar

Dustin specializes in creative wedding photography and artistic senior photos but has a background as a successful stock photographer and is the creative director and owner of a local design studio – Five Loaves Creative. For more of Dustin’s inspiring work visit his website and for recent updates, stay in touch with Dustin on his blog.

How do you keep yourself motivated & your photography fresh?
As the owner and creative director of a small design firm, I have always had the need for inducing creativity…specifically as it applies to graphic design. Two major factors contribute to design, problem-solving and creative thinking. I have always been inspired by the world around me, by the work of great artists, small things that seem normal and mundane but have potential for new uses, and things in life in general. Design is essentially problem solving, using color, texture, space, light, contrast, and specific elements (such as type, logo, photos, etc) to transform a blank canvas (a website, brochure, billboard, t-shirt, etc) into something that communicates. The goal is to create something that is not only beautiful and creative (hopefully!) and falls within the project guidelines, but something that effectively communicates the message that a client wants to the audience that the client needs to target.

…mini design lecture complete…

All that mumbo-jumbo is the foundation to simply say this… that photography is much the same to me as design is. Photography fulfills a purpose for me. Every frame is the renewed and fresh opportunity to create something that communicates. I find joy in that.

My motivation actually comes when I try to “solve the problem” and communicate. It’s self-motivating, because my motivation is in the challenge itself…Every shutter click is the opportunity to creatively communicate and do it better than I did the previous time I tried. My photographic problem-solving is unique to me (as it should be for every person) because it involves personal moments, interaction, style, environment and knowledge (even ignorance, as I can’t tell you how many mistakes actually come out looking really cool or I learned from!). All this is combined into something really, hopefully, wonderful. Imagery that communicates. Visual eye-candy for the masses or for you, it really doesn’t matter who.

To stay fresh…I think it is important to develop an encompassing, consistent style for yourself as a general guideline…once you begin to discover yourself, you discover more potential. The freshness comes when you go to break your own mold and continually rediscover yourself. Each time is the potential to be bigger, badder, better. Step outside that stylistic comfort zone and shoot what feels awesome to push yourself to the next level.

What (or who) has inspired, & continues to inspire, your work?
Ideas are everywhere. I am inspired by the ideas rattling around in my head that spawn from everything around me…the work of thousands and of one. Is that obscure enough for you? 🙂

I believe our natural world is an amazing place of fascinating, abundant creativity…the natural world (creation is awesome) and the man-made world, cities, places, cultures, faces, every noun, eras of time, ideologies, people, places, things, mostly every verb…anything and everything can and should inspire. Each person (photographer) can extract a teensy bit from one tiny little thing and utilize light, color, texture, shape, feeling, contrast, perspective and expression (any or all of these things) to create one amazing frame.

So many amazing photographers have their work on the internet. The galleries and imagery is aching to be viewed and to inspire. Flickr is one resource that has an endless supply of fresh, fun work and awesome talent.

I think we all can agree that seeing others’ fantastic works of photographic mastery is a great start, albeit the most obvious, for inspiration. I could list a hundred websites I visit for inspiration…I also have stuff I have run across over the years that I pull into a morgue file (an archive collection of ideas). I try to pull a small idea from that collection to inspire and figure out a way to make it my own. Genius has already happened, so reinventing the wheel does not need to happen every shoot. Figuring out a new use for that wheel can always happen.

When shooting people (gosh that sounds bad…shooting people!) — When shooting people, I find that the greatest inspiration comes from the human element. I love people and portraits, thus I love my clients. Their feelings, personalities, hopes, quirks, passions, humor (humor is huge), energy and even their look determine the final potential for inspiration. The human element is undefined and always changing, therefore it is always inspiring.

What do you say or do to put your clients at ease in front of the camera?
Okay…I have written two NOVELS as answers to my 2 first questions. I am so sorry. I like to talk, I suppose. I will try make these a bit easier to read, ok? Sorry!

All right, putting clients at ease. That’s EASY! I am myself. I am a goofy, friendly idiot, who plays, cajoles and teases. I like to relate with people. I am playful and a ham. I am not afraid to put myself out there and that seems to break down barriers. Anyone that knows me, knows that I am completely silly all the time.

I direct the way I think the person would want to see themselves in the frame. The photos are for them.

Weird side note: I direct with my face….it’s weird, I know, but I can get my face to do funky expressions…I guess I have very elastic facial skin, since there is no hair on the top of my head to hold it down. 🙂

Tell us three things that are important to you in the day to day running of your business…
My family. I work from home and own my own business(es), because I want to be around my family as much as possible. My bride and girls are my world. They inspire very air I the breathe, I think. Being around those you love is important.

My eyes and my right pointer finger are pretty important.

My macs. Need I say more? 🙂

What was it that first drew you to take up photography?
In college, I took one summer class shooting BnW film on an old manual Minolta SRT101. Processed my own film and prints. Loved the smell of the darkroom. I had a knack for it and loved it, but could not afford it.

I didn’t shoot again with an SLR until nearly 8 years later. As a designer I used stock and paid thousands of dollars a year for plain jane photos. Some of the stuff I purchased, I knew I could do better myself, much cheaper, so I bought a digital SLR and started shooting stock. After more than 22,000 sales on iStockphoto, I began to realize that my self-taught studio lighting and digital SLR use was decent enough to shoot for a living. By this point, I loved to shoot people (the interaction is the ultimate), so I shot a bit of fashion and models…later, I started portraits. I only recently decided to start weddings (many thanks to Heather Cole for showing me the ropes). I just love the potential of the camera.

If you were planning on having a photo-shoot, who would you want to photograph your portrait & why?
I love the people I have had the opportunity to shoot. They gave bits of themselves to me for beautiful moments in time — the coolest thing in the world to me, would be if I could get every person that I have ever photographed to grab my camera and shoot me in their own way, then compile them into one of those crazy-cool collages of micro-photos.

Sorry to all of you for my writing a book for 6 simple questions, but if you read all of this, go get a brownie. You deserve it! I hope you all can learn from my responses a wee bit and if you ever have questions about how I do something, just give me a shout. Many smiles to you all and I am humbled at the honor of being interviewed by Don’t Box Us In. Thank you!

Dustin Steller

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13 responses

5 09 2007
Kate G

Superb and stunning work. What an enormous talent!

5 09 2007
Published: Don’t Box Us In at Steller Times

[…] Jason Domingues, a very talented local photographer and new friend, contacted me a few weeks ago on behalf of Sofie Louca about being interviewed for an up and coming website! I was honored to contribute, and am thrilled and humbled to be featured this week in the rapidly growing blog for creative wedding photographers. Read the article here» […]

6 09 2007
Chris Stewart

WOW!!!! Can I say that again……..WOW!!!! Great work.

6 09 2007
Kate Mefford

Yea, Dustin! I am so proud that I can say you are my friend! Maybe some of your talent will rub off on me!

Hugs,
Kate

6 09 2007
Lisa Fitts

awesome work as always!!!!

6 09 2007
markeric

Excellent work Dustin- It’s an honor to feature you.
Thanks for the link on your blog as well.

6 09 2007
Luke Cornwell

Dustin, you are a good friend and an amazing artist! Keep up the amazing work!

Luke

6 09 2007
Jan Garcia

Look out world! Here comes Dustin Steller! Awesome work, great guy. Can’t beat it.

6 09 2007
Dale Hogan

Dustin,

Your work is a significant part of the inspirational content that I deeply value. You’re right that “creation is awesome”. It has a way of profoundly calling out to us. Your work calls out in much the same manner. It’s moods, shades and uniqueness move me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, talents and heart.

6 09 2007
Amy & Lyssa

Kick-ass article…you rock, Dustin!

7 09 2007
Heather Cole

Dustin,

You rock! I love how you answered each and every question…you are yourself and that’s refreshing. Congrats! You are AWESOME and deserve everything that comes your way!

Hugs.

P.S. You can come shoot weddings with me ANYTIME. 🙂

7 09 2007
Mark Gardner

Dustin-

Wow! I really enjoy looking at your work. Really cool stuff.

-Mark Gardner

13 09 2007
Ken Klassy

WOW Dustin, you’ve traveled a long road from that first website. You are truly gifted as you have demonstrated over and over again through the years! remember us little guys…

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