NATURE X PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY
It all started with a bird...
Hello, I'm Stephen Wenzel. The beginning of my journey into photography started at the age of 15 when I had an encounter with a large, rare bird staring right at me through my bedroom window. The bird caused me to venture outside of my room, leading me to become an avid explorer of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I guess the mountains were calling and I had to go.
Since then, I have traveled as far west as the Grand Canyon, as far north as Montreal, and as far south as the Florida Everglades to capture photographs of amazing wildlife and beautiful scenery. By visiting all of these different locations, I have come to appreciate the diverse environments found all across our continent.
Impacting the community
After about a year of nature photography, I became curious about the other areas of photography. After reading many books and practicing a lot, I was able to fully understand the manual controls of my camera, and I was ready to embark on my new journey into portrait and event photography.
The first opportunity that I had to put my skills to the test was through volunteering for the Folkmoot International Dance Festival. This festival embraces global diversity and aspires to promote peace throughout the world. I have volunteered there for 2 years so far, and I had the amazing chance to befriend performers from more than 12 different countries.
Two years after starting nature photography, I entered my first year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Biology Major and Chemistry Minor. I was still involved with photography outside of my studies, doing nature photography around campus as well as taking pictures at swim meets for my club team and intramural teams.
My journey continues ->
In the fall of my sophomore year, I enrolled in a photography class through the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, one of the best journalism schools in the country, where I learned the foundations for how to be a great portrait photographer and photojournalist. This class changed my perspective of photography and challenged my previous self-taught knowledge in many ways. Through this class, I was able to secure my first paid job opportunity as a photographer at a bar in Chapel Hill.
Now, after more than 5 years of experience with photography, I started my own individual business. My goal was and continues to be to help others discover themselves through photography.
Looking back, I’m grateful for all of the experiences that I’ve had. My early days as a nature photographer have taught me to be curious, adventurous, and bold. Volunteering for the international dance festival and my communities taught me more about diversity, tradition, and culture. Taking the photography class allowed me to build on my previous skills to benefit others.
I am currently a junior, and I am starting down another road of discovery that leads to my future career of becoming an optometrist. This calls for a lot of studying and a lot of dedication. However, there is always time for photography. If you see me taking pictures in the Quad or around UNC's campus, introduce yourself and I would love to get to know you.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me anytime.
“When people say Stephen is amazing, it’s an understatement. He will work with you on whatever look you’re going for and end up with a product incredibly better than what you imagined. He is one of the most creatively talented, patient, easy-to-get-along with photographers that I’ve ever worked with. His love for nature pours out through his shooting process and left me feeling inspired. He made me feel super comfortable in front of the camera, and can’t wait to shoot more pictures with him in the future!”
- Lucie P.
“Working with Stephen is a learning experience as well as a photoshoot! His creativity flourishes from his work, but is also able to be seen first hand. Stephen understands the equipment that he is using inside and out. He also is willing to experiment with new technologies and techniques. Stephen is very patient as well, this makes working with him very easy. His photography continues to beat my expectations since the first day I saw one of his pictures.”
- Emma C.
“Stephen was a really fantastic photographer to work with! He really valued making the experience collaborative but his own creativity was revealed with some of the unique and inspired takes he had on a classic subject. I would definitely recommend Stephen to anyone looking for not only a skilled and professional photographer, but anyone looking for a unique and quality angle.”
- Alex B.