``The most exciting thing for me is the moment when a collection of inanimate objects elicit an emotional response. Every time. Because at that moment I know that I've done something right. Its like learning a new language, and suddenly you're able to communicate.``
When traveling around the world Stephanie Somebody keeps her practice alive by working with local materials and findings. She portrays what in her eyes a place feels like.
From a Parisian traditional setup to a colourful corner in Singapore Stephanie’s still lives perfectly capture the soul of a season.
Numeroventi: Your work feels personal and recognisable. It really feels like you achieve to express yourself in a populated world where everyone tends to be “inspired” by each other’s work. After how long did you feel that your personal style was emerging through the work you were doing?
Stephanie: We live in the age of visual bombardment. This makes it is very tempting to take ideas from all manner of available sources. I was lucky enough to start my practice before the birth of Instagram, so learned a more analogue approach to gathering inspiration. I would tear pages from magazine, photocopy art books, keep every pretty piece of paper and ribbon and fabric to call on it at a later date. These things felt like a part of me. I’ve always worked hard on having my own visual vocabulary that I can draw on. Early on, I only knew what I loved, so I used that as the basis of my work and was strict with my messaging. I wanted everything I made to look like it was of my hand. The more confident I become in my own work the more of myself I am able to insert.
So my images become a collage of diverse references, culture and personal experience. My training as an interior designer gave me the tools to communicate ideas clearly, my work as a stylist and photographer has made it me focus more on my personal voice.
Also, I’ve always been happier creating work that is divisive. That way, at least I know I have a voice. Only now am I starting to feel like I am beginning to gain control of it all.
N: What is the thing that excites you the most about composing still lives?
S: The most exciting thing for me is the moment when a collection of inanimate objects elicit an emotional response. Every time. Because at that moment I know that I’ve done something right. Its like learning a new language, and suddenly you’re able to communicate.
N: Traveling often means having to readjust to many different cultures, styles and flavors. Is there a prominent/particular set/place you like to often get back to?
S: My favourite thing when travelling is to stay somewhere long enough to begin a routine. The same coffee shop, the same small place for lunch, the same walk home, something that gives me a fleeting sense of belonging. From there I can identify what makes a place feel the way it does, like the smell in the air or the influence in the architecture.
Somewhere I feel so lucky to visit often is Japan. I feel connected to it and an outsider all at once. The food culture is like nothing else and the people are so beautiful. Its inspired me greatly.
N: Your work has an analogue feel. From the sketching of scenes, to the actual process of finding objects and styling them. During your stay at Numeroventi, you worked with photographer Daniel Civetta photographing on film. How does this affect your process? Is there a contradiction in working digital or do you feel the two worlds can perfectly coexist?
S: Photographers have always used the equipment available, now we just have more options. We still frame and compose. We still bend light. Editing software mimics the darkroom. The two co-exist beautifully when the intention is to create work with integrity.
I relish any opportunity I get to collaborate with a photographer! Whether we are shooting digital or on film, if there is a mutual respect between the collaborators my involvement is equal. What does change is how much control I have over the process. Once the frame has been shot a leap of faith is required on my part. I need to cross my fingers and hope I’ve been able to make our ideas translate. The safety net that shooting digital allows is comforting. But seeing an image that has been captured on film feels entirely more special. Like they’ve always existed and have just been unearthed. I think the two styles have their place. I loved working with Daniel! We have a similar working style, it was just a pleasure.
N: What is your advise for those who intend to start a career in your field today?
S: Shoot as much as possible – there is a lot to be said for practice makes perfect.
Do your homework – its far more valuable to look to the masters for inspiration rather than your peers.
Show your work – there is a release of ideas that happens once your work is out in the world and the only thing left to do is create something new.