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Interview with Stella Santini, a Teen Photographer and the Cure Campaign & Our Era Mag Team Member!

Stella Santini is a 16 year old freelance photographer and high school student. Stella has a youtube channel where she captures her high school memories, and shares advice and her travels as well. She is on the social media and creative team for The Cure Campaign as well as the photo editor for the new and upcoming magazine, Our Era. Stella has a huge love for travel and has traveled independently and grew up traveling with her family as well. Stella spends most of her time with her friends and family, and spending time outdoors at her home in the suburbs.

Interview by Daania Sharifi

Could you start off by introducing yourself to the readers? Name, age, interests, and what of stuff you spend time doing, passions etc

Hi! I'm Stella Santini, a 16 year old rising senior in CT. I am a freelance photographer, and works with clients in Connecticut and New York City. I also a have a youtube channel (which I wish I spent more time on! haha), as well as being on the creative team at The Cure Campaign and being the photo editor at Our Era Magazine. I spend a lot of time outside and nature; walking, biking etc. I love to collage/journal - brings so much peace into my life. And I spend majority of my time with my friends, who I capture through 35mm film or video!

How did you first start photography? What is your favorite part about taking photos?

My mom is a photographer and mainly shoots film which is why she doesn't do a lot of work in it anymore but I grew up watching her capture her friends, our family, and my entire childhood basically through a lens and I immediately knew that I wanted to follow in her footsteps and do the same thing through my adolescence and further on. I find photographing to be the most rewarding thing. The feeling of capturing people, or places and then keeping those images to cherish for the rest of your life is something that puts a smile on my face everyday. I love being able to take photos of people and then seeing how excited they are when they are finished (film or digital), again, it's so rewarding.

How do you find clients as a teen photographer still in high school?

Yeah! It's obviously not the easiest being that age unfortunately plays a number in this, however, it takes a lot of networking, reaching out and being open to lots of jobs that are maybe out of your comfort zone. First, you need to get your name out there wether you put it on local magazines, flyers, linkedln, nextdoor etc. Then I think make business cards, and really make it a point to give them to people who will cherish your work and give your name out to people. Then establish a website where people can see your style and portfolio. For me, it was truly word of mouth. I did one job that really created spearheaded so many other clients for me - having people recommend you and send your name out is key!

Did you have to go through any legal licensing to start your photography business? In the beginning, no because I wasn't sure of the logistics and now I don't have a contract made up, which gets super tricky and in the future, I will definitely be making one to ensure that all specific rights are granted etc.

Talk to us about your position on the cure campaign & our era mag. What roles do you have, what do you do, what’s the mission of those organizations? So for The Cure - I work on social media and other creativity components of the organization. The overall mission is to pass federal legislation to increase the cancer research budget. There's a great team of people working together to do so. I work on brainstorming and creating graphics, how we can improve our engagement on social media, social media and design logistics etc. Our Era is a youth led digital and print magazine to really bring creatives together and highlight important topics/interests for youth creatives. As photo editor, it's really tricky in this time when photo shoots and photography with others is put on hold but when there are any articles that require photos, I will look through those and make any needed edits. I also write articles for both digital and our upcoming print issue.

What sort of videos do you make on your youtube channel? I kinda "pride" myself in montage and vlog footage of my friends, and my high school experience. I've done a little bit with advice, and travel as well. I really hope to expand my channel and spend more time on it! I definitely focus on vlogs though. Love that! Who is your biggest inspiration? (Could be relate or not related to mentioned hobbies) That's always such a tough question because truthfully, it's my mom. My mom has fantastic and such a unique style and aesthetic that has truly kick-offed my way of styling myself, and overall my way of living. But on a less cheesier note - for just "aesthetic"; Ella Mcfadin, Margot Lee, Aimee Song. And then for more professional women inspiration - Danielle Bernstein, Michelle Obama (obviously), Cynthia Rowley. Lastly, for photography: Terrence Connors, Eric Davidson, and Mario Sorrenti. If you could ask any of them 1 question, what would that question be? Omg. Mhmmm - how do you get to a place where your work portrays your emotions, passions and desires all in one? Wether it's creative or more business related.

Who is your biggest supporter? 1000% my best friends & family. Cheesy answer, but true. How have you been coping with quarantine? What do you do to past time? Surprisingly, I've really been enjoying, or just using my time productively and for my advantage. It's really hard but I think just continuously saying how grateful you are and think about the positives out of this has really helped me. I've started new projects, lots of school, work out a lot, spent a ton of time outdoors, reading, baking, and spend time with my family. Do you have any advice for teens that want to follow your footsteps? In the field of photography or working with organizations? If you want to start in anything regarding creativity (photography, youtube, art etc.), it takes time and I'm sure everyone as heard this a million times but the more you practice your art, the better you will get so try to practice and curate a strong portfolio right off the bat. Regarding working with organizations, I think networking and meeting people is key and just being as kind and open-minded as possible in order to work your way up to higher positions or just to have an enjoyable time so the work seems more fun rather than a chore. Last question: any advice for teens in general? Yes!! I did a whole video on high school advice and I think the most important thing for teens to know going through high school is that everything happens for a reason. Complaining, drama and dwelling on stupid things is such a waste of time. Spend your days enjoying yourself and the people around you. Don't be afraid of adventure!!!!! Anything else you would like to add before we conclude this interview? Ahhh!!! Thank you. This was so much fun. Just for people to stay safe, stay healthy and stay inside. This won't last forever!

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