On this episode of What Makes You Click, Kelvin welcomes editorial and commercial photographer and director, Stephanie Diani. Stephanie has overcome so much in her career and in her life as a female artist and she’s here to talk about it all.
Stephanie speaks on how her creativity has evolved since her childhood, when her love of photography was sparked by an interest in her brother’s camera. Having been raised by strict and sheltering parents, yet always desiring to travel and explore, Stephanie tells the tumultuous story of why she ended up getting a college degree in classical archaeology and her experience with anxiety and panic attacks.
She details how she stubbornly chased success in the photography industry, despite being shot down several times, and speaks on how she’s able to stay determined while battling self-doubt, validation, and criticism. Through it all, she’s truly developed more faith in herself, her unique viewpoint, and her craftsmanship.
“If I can make a photo that has that ability to make somebody stop and take a look… that’s a huge success to me.” - Stephanie Diani
Tune in to learn Stephanie’s candid thoughts on keeping up with rapidly changing trends and fads, especially on social media, how she launched and grew a freelance photography career after moving to NYC, and the projects that keep her creative fire burning. Plus, find out what she’s working on creating this year!
About the Guest:
Stephanie Diani is a New York-based photographer who makes portraits of A-list celebrities and others for a cool group of discerning editors, art buyers and creative directors. She uses cinematic light and shadow to capture the subtle nuances of her subjects in moments of contemplation, humor or playfulness.
Connect with Stephanie Diani:
Visit Her website: www.stephaniediani.com
Follow her on Instagram: www.instagram.com/stephaniedianiphoto
Connect with What Makes You Click:
Visit our website: www.whatmakesyouclick.com
Follow us on Instagram: www.instagram.com/whatmakesyouclickpodcast
Connect with us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/whatmakesyouclick
People + Resources Mentioned:
Riders Share: www.riders-share.com/welcome/kelvinb+pzk5x
Twisted Road: https://www.twistedroad.com/ref/X7ZPV
Note: I do receive referral credits when the links above are used to reserve a bike.
Listen to the episode with Kareem Black: www.buzzsprout.com/1533748/7530406
An Inner Silence: The Portraits of Henri Cartier-Bresson: www.goodreads.com/book/show/72333.An_Inner_Silence
Richard Avedon: www.avedonfoundation.org/the-work
Irving Penn: www.irvingpenn.org
Backstage Magazine: www.backstage.com/magazine
David Roper: www.stephaniediani.com/Galleries/Motion/1/thumbs
[00:00:00-00:00:56] - Episode Introduction
[00:00:56-00:01:47] - Guest Introduction
[00:01:47-00:06:23] - The Faces Project
[00:06:23 -00:11:10] - Stephanie Diani Origins
[00:11:10-00:13:07] - Getting into Photography
[00:13:07-00:16:51] - Education: Santa Barbara University
[00:16:51-00:17:58] - Mental Health Interlude
[00:17:58-00:25:10] - From Psychology to Photography | Parents Response
[00:25:10-00:30:40] - Success Despite Negativity
[00:30:40-00:40:31] - Viewpoint in Photography | What to Put Out
[00:40:31-00:47:35] - New York
[00:47:35-00:50:50] - Building A Client List
[00:50:50-00:57:31] - Keeping the Fire Going During Covid
[00:57:31-01:08:16] - Dave Roper | Motorcycles | Plans After Covid
[01:08:16-01:09:17] - Show Outro
What Makes You Click with Stephanie Diani
Kelvin Bulluck: Hello, and welcome to another episode of What Makes You Click I am your host Kelvin Bulluck. On today's episode, I am featuring a guest who is an editorial and commercial photographer with some amazing clients, but more than just a photographer and a director, I consider this individual to be an overcomer and a survivor.
As you listened to her story, you will understand why I say that. Without further ado, let us take a listen to hear what makes Stephanie Diani click!
[Intro Music Playing]
Kelvin Bulluck: All right, Stephanie! Hey, I appreciate you for hopping on this call and taking the time to chat with me. I am overly excited to get into what makes you click!
Stephanie Diani: Thanks for having me. I am honored that you asked.
Kelvin Bulluck: Of course, of course! I became aware of your work probably about a month or so ago. I think you might have popped up in my explore page or maybe another page that I follow, shared some of your work, and the image that they shared was of some celebrity. I do not remember who it was, but I just remember looking at the color and the light and the energy of the image and it made me stop for a moment from scrolling and pay attention. Anytime an image does that for me, I think, let me see who took this photo.
The Faces Project
Then, I went down the rabbit hole of clicking on your work and going to your website. It is clear to me that you have a point of view and you know how to communicate that point of view. As I said, the color, the lighting, just the way that you capture the subject that is in front of your camera, and you work with quite a few celebrities, but I think the work that stood out the most to me was something that you did, which was highly creative.
I am jumping ahead but I want to go ahead and mention it now, it was a series of faces where you had listed in the description that you went on Craig's list and you put out a casting call, for people who wanted to have their image taken or felt that they had like an interesting face. Am I saying, that right?
Stephanie Diani: yeah, no, that is, exactly right? Yep. Yeah.
Kelvin Bulluck: Those images, I love the way that you broke it down, and I think it resonated with me because I too am a fan of faces, if you will. I have done quite a few personal projects and they are portrait related and they really are about faces. I like how you decided to go about it by saying, I am not going to have some intricate backstory, I just want to capture some faces and then see what happens.
As you saw, after you did the series and went back and started putting it together, that it all just flow together in a way that was really all your own.
I think it kind of shows how as creatives, as photographers, we can take people there in front of our camera, and the things that stand out to us are the things that resonate with us are the things that we tend to capture. It is a portrait of the people that are in front of your camera, but it is also a portrait of you. That really came through in that project that you did, so that just made me excited. I wanted to throw that out there.
Stephanie Diani: Well, thank you. All that makes me so happy. You have no idea, the whole thing, you saw a picture, it made you stop, it made you look at more. That has been, my driving force for years is if I can take a photo that has that ability to make somebody stop and look.
At first it was more like photojournalism stuff, and now it is more portraits. That is a huge success to me. That is if it makes me feel a little bit, like I flew just a little bit, then it feels like a success and the faces thing. There is so many different things that you said just make me so happy. I wish you were a creative director or a photo editor who would hire me all the time. If you change careers, remember this conversation.
To the faces project, I lived in LA for a long time from 1998 to 2014, and it did not make sense to me. I did not make sense in LA, even though I am from California, I was born a couple hours North of there, so a huge part of 2014 to I shot the faces thing in 2019, was getting to New York and then finding an apartment, which we could afford. That we wanted to live in here is ridiculous because have no money, so only normal people. That was like two years of my life and then finding a studio to share, figuring out how to pay for the studio share, and five years went by.
I would always up to that point, done personal work to, supplements, feed my soul, whatever, try to advance, try to learn more, so the faces were the first thing I had kind of done is like a project since we moved here and I talked to a photo editor about it, who I really wanted to work with the publication.
I forget the exact words, but the message was that is a terrible idea because there is no point to it. It did not make sense in her world to do something like that. Where there, I did not have a plan starting out, and I was kind of like, it is a risk, and I will get interesting people, sort of my choice of them will be what shapes the project. She was like, no, what you need to be doing is going and photographing like people who run abortion clinics, and I thought, that is quite different from what I am talking about and you are never going to hire me. Great. I have a highly creative friend who said to me, and I used to have it on my bulletin board, which is right here, and I realized I took it down. If you know where you are going to end up, why would you even start something? Those words kind of four to five may through that project, which any number of times, cause Craigslist, I got great people ultimately, but it was a lot of shuffling through people who flaked and nut balls.
Kelvin Bulluck: Of course, it is Craigslist.
Stephanie Diani: Right, and that was sort of part of it too, anyway, so, all of that, that you said makes me incredibly happy. I am glad you liked it.
Stephanie Diani Origins
Kelvin Bulluck: Know you talked about growing up in California, so let us take it back. Let us go to the origins of Stephanie and that was in Goleta, California. Correct.?
Tell me a bit about how your family even ended up there. What did your parents do?
Stephanie Diani: My parents are first-generation. My mom is Croatian. My dad is Italian, and both of their parents immigrated. My mom's folks came over in like 1920 ish, and my dad's probably a little bit before then.
My dad grew up in Hudson, Massachusetts, which is not too far from Boston and my mom grew up in Oakland, so, I am, like peasant stock, it is the American dream. They were the previous generation, people used to make fun of Italians the way other races now are being picked on.
My dad, I think he was the ninth child of nine children and Italian, and my mom was the second of two, which is maybe the difference between Croatians and Italians, I am not sure. My mom's dad worked as a boarder on trains, and my mom's mom worked at canning factories around the Bay area.
My mom went to high school, not college. My dad went through college and then, and the air force, he was going to be a priest for a while and this will give you an idea of, and they will never hear those. So that is all I can say this he was too scrupulous to become a priest.
They thought he was too; I do not know what you call it anal inventive, maybe to be a priest because he would be too hard, so that is what I was raised with. He was an engineer. He joined the air force, went to college…., when you get out of college and they pay for you to go to college or supposed to, I cannot think of the name of it anyway. He got his Engineering degree, met my mom at a dance hall in Oakland. It was like they are very 1950s.
They were married in 1937. They are an older generation child of the depression, super conservative Catholic. My dad studied engineering, got a job at Raytheon, which was defense contractor, and I think it was his first job. They flew him down….I am sorry, General Motors, and they flew him down to Galito and then he moved over to Raytheon and, that is where the job was. That is where they moved, and it was genius because at that point Galito was just a little beach town, and, and for most of my childhood and growing up, Santa Barbara was not Santa Barbara, it was just a beach town. It was a great place to grow up. It was beautiful.
Kelvin Bulluck: What did young Stephanie find herself doing? Like how did you keep yourself busy and were there creative pursuits at an early age that engaged you?
Stephanie Diani: Iloved to read, and my mom encouraged me. We would go to the library together, so she was a housewife. Dad worked. In 1950s, she wrote the checks here, brought home the bacon. She and I would go to the library and I would love the smell of books, and I am incredibly grateful to her for encouraging me in that. I liked to do creative writing, just little stories.
I do not even know if I ever finished any of them, but that was incredibly fun. I love to draw. I would make stuff all the time, so there were these toys that I wanted that you would see in the Sears catalog, which totally dates me. I wanted them, and my parents were like, no, you can make something like that. I made a paper aquarium, which is like, you can do paper grant, but it was all colored, and I put saran wrap across the front and that was the window into the aquarium. I did a lot of stuff like that.
I desperately wanted a horse and there is no way we could have afforded one, but I kept thinking I subscribed to horse and rider magazine, and every year they did a horse giveaway, and I would clip out the thing and put it in an envelope and stick it in the mail.
I am not sure that my mom did not come out after me and take it out of the mail and rip it up and throw it away, but I never did win the horse.
Kelvin Bulluck: Did you say that you were into creative writing? Honestly, anytime I came across, your posts or if you had done an interview on another platform and it was in written form, you write in such a way. Even in our, in our email correspondence, you write in such a way that, I get a sense of who you are right off the bat. Like the way that we are talking right now, and when you first got on, I thought this is exactly what I was expecting. You have a particularly good way of pushing your personality through your writing.
I wanted to say that, but no, it is great. It is especially useful, you mentioned that you loved horses and on one hand, I am thinking how does that even work? If some person won this contest, logistically speaking, where is the horse going to be kept? And then how do you….. that just seems kind of wild.
Getting into Photography
Kelvin Bulluck: I came across an article that said that you started photography by your brother, letting you borrow his camera to take a picture of a horse. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Stephanie Diani I always wondered too, where the horses would live if I won one and I thought backyard, but it was a tract home, it was a small little backyard, so it would have not worked. I used to want one of those.
My brother is six and a half years older than me, and I idolized him when I was a kid. I really, I would follow him around everywhere. I had loved hanging out with him and his friends and he had a camera, and he was quiet studios, and that was kind of one of his outlets.
I think there was a time he wanted to be a photographer as well. We were with my parents on a Sunday, we would go for drives in our ginormous station wagon with no air conditioning and not a hide seat. We stopped and there were horses like in Santa Ana as Valley in the distance.
I remember, I may be making it more interesting than it was, but he handed me the camera, I took a picture of the horse and it was like this big and frame. It was like tiny little picture of a horse, but you got the pictures developed and I saw it and I held it and I thought, oh my God, this is amazing.
That was the first picture that I remember taking my dad had cameras, but it was not a huge deal. I also remember the other thing and I do not, I think I have mentioned this once or twice before, but when I was in like fourth grade, you had to do the state reports, so I did Kentucky one year and Tennessee, the next, which is porous horse.
I used a national geographic for my information and picture source, and I remember like laying on the carpet in the kitchen area and saying to my mom, I want a job like this, where you are outside all the time, because it seems so boring to go to another room and work for your lifetime. My mom said, those are not jobs, that is not a job you can have, you cannot do that.
It was sort of, early on, I was thinking outside pictures versus camera, but it did not all gel for a while, took a while to get together.
Education: Santa Barbara University
Kelvin Bulluck: How did you go from, I am interested in being outside and doing these interesting things, but you eventually went to UC Santa Barbara and got your BA in Classical Archeology.
That archeology side of the house, it was kind of like outside and exploring, and that kind of makes sense. How did that even come about and were there other things that you considered before you decided to major in that?
Stephanie Diani: Well, I went to a super small high school, same one that my brother went to Catholic. If that tells you anything again, and here is something else, we were both valedictorian of our classes. Granted, they were exceedingly small classes.
I wanted to go to an Ivy league college that was. In my heart of hearts, I wanted to live somewhere with seasons and had history like old history, California history in Santa Barbara. It is like a couple hundred years old. I know it goes back before that, but in terms of, education, I wanted to go to an institution that had been around for a while, but my folks were not a fan of that plan. It is weird because I have always wanted to see the world travel and do anything pretty much anything that I could. I was not really raised with that in mind. I was raised to stay close to home and its a, it was a very sort of fearful the world. Is not safe kind of upbringing, so, I had panic attacks starting in college for, a decade or more still every now and again, and about leaving home and, and being far away.
I desperately wanted to go far away, so all of this is a long way of saying I did not go away to college. I stayed in Santa Barbara because that is what the folks supported, and I did not have the independence at the time to do anything else.
UC Santa Barbara, and I lived at home for the first couple of years and I did not declare a major until they were like, Dude, you got to declare a major.
I kind of wanted to be a creative writer. I really wanted to be a Creative Writing major, but I was afraid I loved writing and I in high school, I had this teacher substitute teacher, Mr. Linton, he was so cute. She was like MacGyver, but because that was the era also like back when MacGyver was kind of cute and Oh, like a huge crush on him.
I would write stories about horses, shocker, and so I wanted to go to UCSB, and I be a writer, and I was scared because what I was successful at in school was. The logical things like you tell me what you want. You tell me how to solve a problem, I will do it, but if I am off on my own, it is a little more terrifying. I did not declare a major until I had to.
Then I did classical archeology because I wanted to know the origin of things, and at that time in my history and in social history Greek and Roman was like the origin of civilization. That is where I thought I would start now I realize that is not correct, but yeah, that is what I knew at the time. I had done languages in college. I did Italian and so Latin was remarkably similar and Harrison Ford and, Indiana Jones. I want to be Indiana Jones and then I saw a behind the scenes of Indiana Jones and the camera guy riding on the thing.
Well, Indiana Jones was riding along on his horse and I thought, I want to be that guy.
Kelvin Bulluck: First, thank you for sharing all of that. You said a few things that I want to circle back to but starting off with the last thing that you said, because I know that behind-the-scenes video that you are talking about as a kid, I had loved those behind the scenes. Matter of fact, there was a show on Discovery Channel called Movie Magic, and they would like, you show all that interesting stuff. I was totally a fan of that.
Mental Health Interlude
Kelvin Bulluck: Going back just a little bit further to what you said, my parents are strict and there is a bit of fear mentality that made you feel the urge or the pressure to stay home and, be close to them. That is important because as we now know, like right now, you are in New York, so I had to overcome quite a bit of different mindsets to really make it to where you are now. Even that piece that you said about the panic attacks. I do not want to talk about it just yet, because we will go once, we get a little bit further into the career, we can kind of delve into that.
I think it is important to touch on that because I know there is a lot of people that are dealing with that. Even now with the uncertainty of the world and all this craziness going on, I think that that we should be having these types of conversations about mental wellbeing.
I heard this influencer call it something they are trying to rebrand mental health by saying Mind Hill or something like that. Just trying to release some of the stigma around it and I think that is something that I want to talk about.
From Psychology to Photography | Parents Response
Kelvin Bulluck: For your parents too, I have that mentality and for you to eventually step outside of that had to have been a huge jump.
For instance, you went ahead and got the BA in Classical Archeology, you get that degree and you realize, and I do not know, at what point that you realized that you did not want to pursue it any further, but I believe I came across an article or something where you were like, you did not really want to go to grad school and pursue it any further, which I can completely relate to, because second semester of my senior year of college, I was a psychology major, and I am like, I have made it this far, but I have decided based off everything that I am learning now about what this job really entails, that I am such an empath that I cannot sit and listen to people tell me like this traumatic stuff all day and then me be okay.
I was like I am not going to pursue this any further, but I have come this far so I am going to go ahead and get this degree and then I will figure out, what I am going to do after the fact. It looks like you came to that point where you are like, I am not going to take this any further, and you decided to start experimenting with psychology……I am thinking about myself… photography, a Freudian slip!
Stephanie Diani: Yeah.
Kelvin Bulluck: You decide, I am going to do photography, or I am at least going to start experimenting or pursuing it a little bit more. How did your parents receive that? Because I know that had to have been a tough conversation.
Stephanie Diani: Yeah. Well, there were several tough conversations, so it was not like an immediate thing. In college, good grades were not like…. I did not have to study, and I used the test. I studied a lot, I worked hard, and in college I was once again, valedictorian, although they did not call it that.
I had like a ridiculous number and I feel like such a dude, no offense when I say this, but I had like twenty A pluses on my report by the end of it. Yeah, transcript it, ridiculous. I should have partied more; I regret that to this day. I was not ever really drunk until I was like thirty-five and I am not advocating that, alcohol use, but Lord knows I should have done more when I was younger. It would not have hurt me as much as it did anyway.
School was hard and a lot of work and a lot of anxiety. I think I was a sophomore when I started having panic attacks and I would have them around. Feeling like I had not prepared enough for things, cause you to put together the conservative Catholic OCD upbringing and a high stress thing like finals, and you are just going to be a mess eventually, but I was good at school. I thought, well, I will just go to grad school and become a teacher professor, because that is the other way to get to an Ivy league college I thought was, well I will just be a professor at the Ivy league college.
I will ride to school with my sweater, with the leather elbow patches and a little bicycle, and I will have books in the front. That seemed like the alternate option, and then I took a couple of jobs, so I officially took a year off, but applied to grad school, got in, art history at UCFB again, and still did not apply anywhere else.
At that point I was also seeing somebody, and I had been for a few years and he was not going to leave Santa Barbara and I codependent no more. I stayed there also for that reason, so I took a year off and got a job at a brokerage firm. I was working in a photo lab, a one-hour lab doing printing, stuff like that, which was good experience for color and learning from other people's mistakes, and trying to figure it out, what did I want to be? It was such a stressful period, and my studio manager, Monica is she is going to be twenty-nine this year. but we met when she was, it was five years ago, and she was kind of going through the same, like the twenties are hard, you know, I was stressed the f*** out about how the rest of my life was going to go.
I did not want to mess it up because I felt like my parents, we are never happy and always a little disappointed. I did not want to be that person again, super glad they won over here. It was a lot, and during the year off, I thought, do not want to go back to that school thing again, because it was so miserable. I still have stress dreams about missing finals for getting to study all the time, and they are awful. I did not actually, so one of my stress dreams is, I did not graduate, and three months after I graduated, I got a letter from the college saying you did not actually graduate because you missed a class.
I went in tears to the people, and I say, I do not know like that, so that is the dream that I continue to have. It was fine, they made a mistake, but that was the thing I went to. It was like PTSD. Then that happened in real life was so unfair.
I went to a counselor and we just talked about things and she is like, what do you like to do? I said, well, I like to take pictures, and she is like do that for a living. I was like, I cannot do that for a living, that is not a job. That is what everybody says, so the conversation with the parents did not really happen immediately.
I did say I was not going to go back to college or to grad school, and I do not know if I had fully elucidated to them that I wanted to be a photographer or not. I think they sort of took a, well we will see what happens kind of stance where it was like. They wanted me to make the job at the brokerage firm full-time because then I would have benefits and everything else.
I was working like thirty hours a week or something there, and then like twenty hours a week at the photo lab, instead of that, I started taking…..so I had a camera and in high school I saved up, bought a 35 millimeter, started shooting some stuff for the yearbook, which was so not popular then, it was none of that. We did not have arts, there were no arts in high school at all, so I was on my own doing that.
In college I took pictures when I traveled a little bit and for fun, and that was about it. I thought then, I am going to be a photographer, but I had no idea how to do that. I did what I did in school. I went to the library and I looked at books and I saw Xerox copied because that is what you could do then pictures from. Like the Henri Cartier-Bresson portrait book, or I got a subscription to national geographic, and I would take notes. I had little tiny notebooks and I would write notes about every story.
When they shot during the day, what time of day they shot, what lens I thought they used, what types of pictures they were doing, all of that, I was, I was just trying to figure it out. Because I did not go to that school, and it was sort of during that process that I became more serious about it and was talking to my folks and I think they did not approve, but they did not say no. I guess they could not have at that point, but they could have and I am grateful for that, but it was not until I got a job as a staff photographer that. They really got behind the whole idea.
Success Despite Negativity
Kelvin Bulluck: How did that come about? That was with the, like a satellite office of LA times or something.
Stephanie Diani: I was listening to one of your other interviews with someone who had gone to an Arts High School and then SBA or something Korean.
Kelvin Bulluck: Yeah, yeah, Kareem Black.
Stephanie Diani: I was listening to that like, f***, that is so not my experience of this life. I have busted my a** for so many years in so many weird directions to try to get. I was working at Fromex, I was working at Dean Winter and I was calling, I was shooting stuff like it would be work at 7:00 AM. I would get up at sunrise and go in the mountains behind Santa Barbara and takes on rise pictures.
At the time I was like, this is amazing, and I put together a little portfolio of Santa Barbara pictures with anything I could think of, and I went through the yellow pages and called publishers and Santa Barbara, which, I cannot even imagine the people on the other end of the line.
This week in Santa Barbara, which was a little tourist magazine, it was small format, said sure, come in and bring some pictures. I brought some pictures, and they were like, okay, well, here is one of these on the cover.
Kelvin Bulluck: Wait, wait, wait, wait, time out. Let us not gloss over the fact that you even took the initiative to do that.
I think it is those small things that really do separate the people who are good and the people who were great. What gave you the inspiration to say, I am going to go and cold call these publications. Where does that come from?
Stephanie Diani: I have no idea. I am stubborn and determined and it was like, I am going to do it.
That was true of I guess you could say, it is my passion, and so that is, what has made me do it. Somehow, despite everything I have this, I see photos, I see option opportunity clients that I would like to have still all the time and I am like, I could kill it for you.
Just give me the shot, and I get knocked down all the time. People say stuff to me when I, review. It is like the woman who said, this is a terrible idea. You should not shoot faces. I have had, I do not know if other people just will not talk about it or if it happens to me more than other people, but I get, so people have said the s******* things to me and where I will just be like, d***, is that true?
Kelvin Bulluck: I want to hover on this for a moment because you make a good point. There are not enough people talking about the times where they get shot down. Currently of social media, it is all about the highlight reels, and I am guilty of it too. I am guilty of throwing the highlights out there, but that is what sales it.
Stephanie Diani: Before we started talking, I was like, so do I talk about this stuff? I am not sure if I should or not, because that is not what you are supposed to say. You are supposed to say it was super easy and my life is amazing and no, I have blood and tea, like skin falling off trying to get opportunities.
Kelvin Bulluck: You have talked about some of the things that people have said to you, but what is it in you that allows you to press forward through that? Because a lot of people can hear that and be like, I guess I am just going to go be a barista then why did you keep going?
Stephanie Diani: I think about it all the time, when I first thought I am going to be a photographer, what I thought was, I am going to try this until someone says no, and someone whose opinion I trust says no, which happened almost immediately. At the time I was like, why do not I believe you? It is still, that is what I think. I turned fifty in December and I wish I were ten years younger.
I wish I were at the point in my career, where I am ten years younger where I am at now, because then I will feel like I have a little bit more wiggle room, but I still think all the time if I give this up what could I do? We could move to Indiana.
The reason I get knocked down and I think that is it, I cannot do anymore I have been to reviews here in New York before, I moved here where I am walking down the street crying in the Bowery and have no idea where I am and it takes a day or two, and then I suck it up and I think they are wrong.
I do not know where that comes from, and I do not know how long it lasts. Because it is harder now than it was ten years ago to get back up again. 80 years at the same time, I have been doing it longer, so I am a little bit more used to it, but it does not get any easier. It is still just crushing with things do not go the way I want them to.
When I do a great job for a client, they love what I have done. The first shoot I had when I came to New York was when we moved, the cover of American Way magazine. Carson Daly in I, we rented a studio flashlight, and it was awesome. It felt great and the pictures were great, and he and I clicked, and the art director loved it.
They even showed it on, was he on The Daily Show? I forget what show not The Daily Show with the guy he is like this is a great photo of you. I thought I did that I did that, and then the art director left, and I have not worked for them since.
Stuff like that happens to me, often, and I do not know why, but I still am like, okay. All right, cool. I will try again.
Kelvin Bulluck: You are a glutton for punishment, huh?
Stephanie Diani: Well, Catholic, there you go.
Viewpoint in Photography | What to Put Out?
Kelvin Bulluck: There was something that you had said, and I forget where I pulled this from, but I want to read it to you because I think there is some people out here who need to hear this. I want to get a little bit more from you on this quote. You say as a woman and as an artist, I have struggled for years with self-doubt validation and criticism, but since moving here, and I am assuming that is to New York, I have developed more faith in myself and know that I bring a viewpoint to a shoot.
We were just talking about this regarding how you deal with some of the self-doubt and the criticism. I do like the fact that you can still through all of that know, without a shadow of a doubt that you do have a viewpoint, and that does show through in your work time and time again.
How did you develop that view?
Stephanie Diani: It has taken a while, hmm, that is a tough one. One of the things you said when we first started was that it was clear that I had a point of view and that delights me because I feel like it is something, I lacked for a long time.
To address as a woman part of the question first, because that is something I still struggle with. I always think age honestly, has something to do with this, as I have been doing things for a while and met more people and just had more experience in the world, met more variety, a greater variety of people, I have started to realize for a long time, I thought if you were older than me, then you were the adult in the room. Everybody does that, I suppose. I think, I trust you because you are older than me, and then moving here to New York, I have thought that about people, but that I think you are wrong about what you are saying right now.
Then I found out that in fact they were wrong and is that it happened more times and I have caught it. Before, I did not catch it, or I was just not paying attention. I am more able to be like, no, You're wrong. That is not going to work. It happened when I moved here with assistance a lot, because I was trying to find good assistance. I thought, if you are assisting in New York, you must be good. Right? Because you are here, and they were dudes often and dudes again, no offense, to explain things.
I went to an eye doctor for five years here and he would explain photography to me, and I would think, I am a photographer, right? He would say, no, no, but, with street photography, you really must….I am just going to listen to this because it does not make sense to, and I have had that experience over the years.
Many times I used to go not anymore, but I used to go to events with my boyfriend and then my husband and guys would go up to the guy and say, Hey, so what do you shoot? I would think yeah that is because there were not a lot of me out there doing photography back in the day. It was hard, women are socialized or were not in, not anymore, I hope. We are socialized differently to be like collaborative and not as assertive and especially in my family, which was very traditional 1950’s upbringing.
I have no idea why I thought I could ever get away with any of this because I was not raised to be that person. They never said, you cannot be this. They in fact said, you can do whatever you want if you can pay the rent, so I still struggle with that. I still struggle with feeling fully valid and confident, but I am getting better and better at it.
I feel like in the last couple of years, especially, and along with that, I think joining that studio share in 2016 gave me the space to have people come in and I really could nail down lighting. Lighting is important to me and it is a big part of how I shoot.
Every time I go in, I would pull references from the European masters or Avedon or Penn, those are my heroes, the classics, and it is now these days is kind of like dated and perhaps outdated. I still think that the craftsmanship in those pictures is incredible, and that is what I want. I want to bring some craftsmanship to it.
With the studio, I was able to practice and as I practiced more than my, what I liked and what I did not like became clearer. Then I have maybe gotten better at like throwing out pictures that just were not that I felt were ticking boxes for a potential client and not ticking the box for me, I do that still all the time. Like my website is probably, I just winnowed it. It probably still has way too many pictures on it because I am like, but I can do this, you should hire me. Let us see, I did that, you should hire me.
Kelvin Bulluck: I want to touch on that very briefly because I think that was something that I learned a lot later that was like of the utmost importance, which is editing your work down to real, and maybe that is also why. You say, you think you still have too many photos, but I think the photos that you have selected to go on your site are also informing everybody else on your point of view.
For those who are listening, who do not really understand the importance of, do not just throw everything on there, look through it, choose the images that you feel represent, whatever story you were trying to tell or whatever.
Point that you were trying to get across and toss the rest of a man, even if it is only one or two photos, stick to those and like I said, let them let the rest slide because….
Stephanie Diani: Not to interrupt, but don't you feel it is hard because I do not have another option as far as income. I did not marry for money, and I have said it in front of him before he knows. He is a creative person too, so there is no like there is no wiggle room here. I need to pay the bills, so it has always been that way.
Some I have found this to be true, creative directors or art directors, unless they see the exact thing that they are looking for on your website, there are a few, or at least I have met some that are amazing, and they are like, if you can do this, I know you can knock it out of the park, but how do you? I still struggle with; how do I narrow it to Instagram? I do not know how to curate that very well, that is a whole thing. Like if that is my portfolio now, I do not know whether I should put stuff that is run in a magazine or the stuff that I wish had run in the magazine because who it is hard to know.
It changes, the target is moving all the time and tastes are changing and fads, and it is hard.
Kelvin Bulluck: All of that, everything that you said, honestly, I think that is on everybody's mind in our industry all the time, and that is the question. What do we put out there?
What is going to be the most relevant and what is going to get us the most work? Ultimately that should be that is I think a lot of people also get caught up on, what did, what will everybody else like? And we also must do that balance of what will they like and what will they pay me to shoot?
I am totally there with you, and of course, all this stuff is easier said than done. You know, like even when I say edit it down, I struggle with that, but I have gotten better. I will say that, in progress is always a good thing, and when I am looking at your feed on Instagram, I think it works, I do not know what you decided, to do regarding the question that you are asking yourself of.
Do I run the images that were printed or the ones that I wish were printed? Honestly, when you said that the ones that I wish were printed, something in the way that you said it. It was, it is almost like you already knew the answer to that question. You know, the answer to that question and I believe what we put out, we will get more of the same.
Maybe you experiment a little bit more with just putting out the stuff that you wish would have gotten printed, but honestly as I look at your Instagram feed, I think it is perfect. I think with the color in energy it means that is why we are honestly having this conversation.
Had not enjoyed it I would have not even thought to reach out, that is awesome.
Stephanie Diani: I totally have what it is, display compares and despair an promo and all that stuff, I look at other people and they have got tens of thousands of followers.
Kelvin Bulluck: That is a whole other job too. Like, just even like, you must be intentional about building the, the, the following and then sustaining. And it is just, there is so much that we got to do, man. It is, it is so much, and it is, it is, you know, it is just getting worse and
Stephanie Diani: It is changed a lot. I remember going from film to digital and that was a huge thing. The responsibility now we must do, it is interesting and challenging. I wish I did not have to be challenged.
Kelvin Bulluck: Well, you know, the pressure makes diamonds, and you continue to make diamonds and as you said, you made that transition from, from film to digital. I know that there were the naysayers at that time and the people were like, Oh, this is not art, or this is, this is ridiculous. This is, deadening the, or listening the importance of photography, but clearly that was not the case. If anything, it just got more people, interested in it, which is now kind of the issue, but at the same time, it is still creating opportunities for us.
It is like, have to kind of be like water and flow is as Bruce Lee would say, but I feel like you are doing that. Again, this is just me on the outside looking in, at the end of the day, we all have our own thoughts to battle with. When I look at the work, I am like, man, Stephanie has got it going on.
I am not just saying that to gas you up, take it, and keep it, put it under the pillow. I do not know, it is solid, man. I want to acknowledge you for that.
Kelvin Bulluck: I have got a couple of more questions. It is already an hour in, but I just want to ask you a few more questions and then I will let you get with the rest of your day.
How did you end up in New York?
Stephanie Diani: My older brother, who I adored, and I came to New York in 1989, I graduated from high school and we came here for a long weekend and stayed at the hotel Wellington near times square and the smell. New York city was August, and it was the city, and it was gross, and it was a different New York city, but I had always wanted to go because New York is like where it is at.
It was the Ghostbusters for Christ's sake. That was one of my favorite movies ever. It still is because in New York city, I wanted to see that stuff. We went past Tavern on the Green, and I thought, that is where the dude got chased in the monster. It was sort of the center of the world to me and so different from where I was from.
That was at the graduated high school and then moved to LA. This week in Santa Barbara, I started contributing to them for photo credit, it was the Little Bitty magazine and built a little portfolio. Then that little portfolio I took to The Weekly, which was sort of like the LA Weekly or the Village Voice.
In Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Independent, which is still around to their credit and got an internship there still no money and did that while I was working at Dean Witter and the Photo Lab, and someplace else. That built up a little portfolio, and then I went in to meet with the photo editor at the Santa Barbara news press, which is the daily there.
That guy, Bob whose last name, I will not say, he is anonymous is probably not around anymore. He said, you are not going to be a photographer, I said Oh, wow. Yeah. Oh God. So many people have said that to me, Pat, at Dean Witter when I quit to pursue more photography, freelance stuff. He was like, what are you doing? I told him, he said, yeah, that is good. When turned down the fellowship at UCFB for, I got a little stipend, they offered me for the art history graduate degree. Dr. Del carro called me up, I used to wear these crazy Missoni sweaters, and he, there was a mistake, it should have been two-thousand dollars total instead of a thousand dollars for your thing. I was like, wow, thanks, but I have decided I want to be a photographer, he said, What? I decided I wanted to be a photographer and hung up on click phone.
Eventually, I left the Santa Barbara news press and was replaced by Lynn Wood, God bless him. And he would give me photo assignments doing like high school sports and social stuff, and some other stuff that I did, enterprise stories.
Then they published that little essay has led to a different portfolio, and I was still working part-time all over the place. Then eventually that portfolio got me an interview for the satellite paper of the. LA times and I moved to LA. So, I did that for three years and was not super happy and was still thinking national geographic, it is kind of wishful thinking and journalism and photojournalism. And then I just sort of, I do not know, shifted a little bit, and decided I want to try freelance went freelance in 2000.
It was 2000 and it did not matter, whatever you needed a photographer. I would do whatever, and I sent out CD’s port from member CD to newspapers around the country and started getting worked for like the Dallas Morning news and the New York times. She was one of my first freelance clients back before it was super cool to shoot for the New York times.
I would go to portfolio reviews in New York, so and then tobacco once a year or so at that point, I would come here to New York with a portfolio for a week, panic attack up the ying yang, but make phone calls. People at Time, Newsweek Us News, People Magazine, all those places, and the New York times, I would go in every time and see five or ten editors because they were good about, we should see so-and-so over.
Yada yada, so I had come to New York a lot, and that is where the work was coming from or what I wanted to be. But I did not, I was still seeing the same dude in Santa Barbara and I did not have the kahunas to move across the country on my own because of, I was struggling for years. Until we moved here, and I started traveling more with panic attacks around traveling and which made pursuing photojournalism pretty much impossible is like a real thing, which may be why I ended up doing more portraiture.
New York was the dream, and I did not know if I would ever have the mental and emotional strength to do it. I will tell you why I did because I used to color my hair with nature tent or whatever from whole foods. I had always did not want to be one of the ladies who is like eighty and has jet black hair. It is true, at a certain point, I stopped coloring it and there was a lot of gray, and I said to my husband, in the meantime, I had stopped seeing one guy, met my husband, he started going to film school. That was in 2001. He graduated in 2004 and I was like, great. Now we can move.
Then he got cancer and he is fine, but he got cancer and that became a thing, and so, then we just, ten years went by and I stopped coloring my hair. It was gray and I was like, f***, we got to do this. If we are going to do this, I do not want to die not having tried. We and luckily Tim was game and incredibly, luckily his job at the time had an office in New York and they let him move.
He went into work one day, he is like, I am going to tell him today and I was like, great. The whole day I was like….., and then he texted me. He is like, they are going to let me move off, so, I was like, oh s***, thank God. Because I would be basically starting over again, and so, we did it and it was ridiculous, but great.
It was totally the right move; I wish I had done it sooner. It was hard, pardon my French, but we had saved, I did a bunch of TV production, stills work for some shows and that allowed me to kind of save up for the move.
Kelvin Bulluck: Yeah. I saw that on your IMDB.
Stephanie Diani: Yeah, I have worked for a bunch of, I have done a lot of that stuff and we drove across the country with two cats and a dog in the car and lived in a basement studio apartment for a year together in one room looked at a lot of really s***** apartments that we still could not afford because we were so naive coming from LA to here. LA was sort of cheap still, and I thought, we can find something for two grand that we can…..
Kelvin Bulluck: Now that is funny to hear you say the LA was cheap.
Stephanie Diani: Here is how much I love change. I always in the same apartment for sixteen years and in LA, in the same building. I did move from a studio next door to a one bedroom, which was a huge upgrade because I had a hallway then that was exciting. But I was in that apartment for the whole time because at a certain point, it gets to the point where it is cheap compared to new apartments.
Then you are like screwed a little bit, because you cannot move unless you shell out a bunch of money, which also allowed us to save money., so LA was cheap. We had our one bedroom barely reached a thousand in 2014. It was, cheap, and it was in the miracle mile now, I think as soon as we moved out, it went up to like $1800 a month.
Building A Client List
Kelvin Bulluck: They were excited when you guys said yeah, we are done. Then you moved to New York, you and your husband and your dogs and your cat or dog and cat or dogs and cats and a dog and a dog, you are in a basement apartment for a year, and then you end up finding a space. You said that it was hard to start finding and getting work, I guess, what were some of the gigs that kind of got your foot in the door to where you could start working consistently and even work with some of the, the clients that you have now?
It looks like you have a pretty, cool client list, so how does that, how did you even build to that after moving to New York?
Stephanie Diani: I kind of fortunate. I was extremely fortunate, so, for a long time, I was a contributor to Getty, and they were because I heard your thing with Marin talking about reps. They were not really ripping me. I was kind of like in the end I felt more like a Starbucks chain where they expected me to serve the same coffee as everybody else. That is what their clients were coming to them for, and I was happy to be selling something and earning some money off the coffee, but it was not really my brand of coffee.
I am more of a single origin kind of yeah, and I am a total snob about coffee by the way. So, I did not want to be Starbucks anymore. I left that relationship, but at the time I moved here, I was still doing work for them. I had good relationships with them. I had great relationships and still do with Scripts and Discovery Networks.
There were some TV shows the property brothers were doing here in this area in Westchester and Connecticut. I was hired to do production stills for those, and I think that was 2015 and that really helped bridge the gap a little bit, and then I was doing things for, I am always trying, and I am not as good at this as are wannabe, but I try to reach out to new.
[00:48:53] I see something, and I am like, that is cool. Who shot it or not? Who shot it, but where who is the photo editor, if they did that, maybe they would be interested in me. I am the constant like fishing mentality. I reached out to P I mean, I just tried emailing a s**** on of people and…..
Kelvin Bulluck: Similar to what you used to do when you were cold calling those publications as a child.
Stephanie Diani: I have gotten, so I hate making phone calls. I hate making phone calls, right? Everybody else
Kelvin Bulluck: In this 21st century,
Stephanie Diani: It is awful. I was, for a long time, I made fun of my assistants. If they would text me, why did not you just call me, be so much easier now I will not pick up the phone unless it is to call my parents.
Yeah. So, I email, and I did stuff for Travelzoo. I shot a restaurant deals for Travelzoo and the money was not great, but it was something. There is just a lot of scrambling and doing whatever and trying to build on backstage magazine. I had shot for in LA and they hired me here as well.
In fact, right around the time I moved to, they got rid of most of their office in LA and made it a New York based sort of, which worked well for me. I still shoot for them. They are fantastic. They are super fun. That is where a lot of the celebrities come from. Then I started doing some work with young talent from different PR firms.
Because I have a studio, I like to use it. I would rather be shooting the knots, so if I can help someone out who is young and starting out and I can shoot them on spec and maybe it will be good for all of us I am I still do that kind of stuff, and it is fun. It is exciting. In fact, the grading and it helps keep the fire burning.
Keeping the Fire Going During COVID
Kelvin Bulluck: No, and we all need that fire to stay burning, especially in those times where we, like even during COVID. I remember when, at first hit back in March when they shut everything down, cannot believe that was a year ago, but it feels like ten years ago at the same time they shut everything down and yeah.
I lost all my clients, and I am sitting at the house and I think, what is life right now? What are we, what are we doing? I think for the first two months, I think I was just like everybody else where it was just like depression. If depression is on a scale from one to ten, I was probably at five, five and a half, but after that second month, I was like, I got to do something to keep these creative juices flowing.
I started, off with doing like self-portraits, but then I am like, I am not a good muse, so this is not going to work. I started playing around with other ideas and eventually it came to me. I thought Kelvin, you love podcast, and you have always said you wanted to start one.
Then I started thinking about like, if I were to have a show, what would I talk about? What would it, what would the subject matter be? Clearly here we are talking about photography and I like, talking to photographers and hearing their stories. That kind of just kept me, it kept me going, I did not launch this until February, but I started recording.
I think I started recording in September of last year. Even before that, I was scared to take the leap, and start recording and reaching out because then there is this whole thing of, I got to…there is pressure. Then, you know these people do not know who I am I had to do that whole song and dance.
I think I said all that to say that as creatives, we do need that thing, hat is going to keep us moving, whether it is self-assignments or paid assignments. I feel like when we stopped doing that, we die a little bit inside and that is, what was happening.
For anybody just listening, do not get stagnant, just keep plugging along, find ways to do work. I am telling you it will work wonders for yourself. Your career and your wellbeing, but anyway, good plug.
Stephanie Diani: That is true, if one way does not work, then be like the water and divert a little bit and water wears down the mountain. It is so true, and what I right before last year was set to be a good year.
A high was just starting. I wanted to do a series of portraits and I still do have people who have been doing what they have been doing for like decades, and I am super inspired by that. It gives me a little bit of hope for myself and it is, it is encouraging and like Roper the moment.
Kelvin Bulluck: I am glad you brought him up but go ahead.
Stephanie Diani: I am going to talk about him, he is like, the Bill Cunningham of vintage motorcycle racing. I started working through rubber people because he knows. People in different walks of life and photograph the tugboat guy and a machinist. Then I had other people lined up and then Monica, my studio manager, and I were going to go teach a workshop in Greece, last year was going to be amazing. Then right in the wall COVID and then it suddenly became like, my stress dreams became reality in like overnight and it was crazy and terrifying and depressing, so good for you for coming up with something because I do not feel like I came up with a good, I did not pivot. I do not feel like I was like, I am going to do this instead because I have all this time.
I thought at the beginning, I am going to do so much reading. I have piles of books that I want to read about photography, about life, literature.
Kelvin Bulluck: Let me touch on that for a second, because I remember as all of this was happening, there was like plenty of memes that touched on this whole idea of certain people were like, if you do not come up out of this pandemic with a new side hustle or a new gig, then you were not driven.
Then the other camp was saying, come on people, this is, a pandemic. This is unlike anything that any of us have ever experienced, so let us give ourselves a little grace here. I feel like for me, the only reason why, I was able to pivot, and I am still working through things and I am outworking and taking gigs sparingly now because COVID is still real out here in the streets, but I am getting work and I am being careful about it.
The only reason why I even did this is because, in my spirit, I had to, there was no matter how down I got, I knew that for me to press on, I had to have something. This was kind of like a lifeline, if you will, but there are other people they are going to operate differently.
Some people have been like, I have not done anything, and I am saying, no, you have survived, and that is fine.
Stephanie Diani: Do not you feel like there are a lot of people talking about their pandemic project. I think it was American photo, their contest this last year for 2021 or the one you are supposed to submit to that this year, I thought, I have nothing.
It was very explicit that it had to be about all the stuff that happened last year, and we got COVID my husband and I both got it on March 14th. We know where we got it and right at the beginning. Then there was that that, took, a month and then there was, I am not working anymore.
I need to figure out the unemployment thing, which was such a nightmare as a freelancer, but I am so grateful that we qualified for this period, because it was a huge help. It was a full-time job setting that up, and then it was like PPP loan, I got to apply to that.
Then the Black Lives Matter, movement here and everywhere started blowing up. Because I had COVID, I thought, but I did not have a positive test, I had the antibodies, but so I tried to donate plasma and stuff, but they would not take it. I was like, all right, f***, I am going to volunteer.
I started volunteering at some food pantries and stuff and doing the protests, do things and then dot, dot, dot. I did not shoot anything. I did not feel like my story, or I was the right person to shoot the Black Lives Matter. There have been lots of white photographers running around, shooting that stuff and mostly old white guys, and I am thinking, why are you telling the story?
I did not feel right about being that person either, or maybe that was the wrong call. I do not know, but that was what my gut said. It was like, stand back and let other people who should be heard, do this dot dot the year went by nothing, you know?
No, I am still just trying to pay the rent, amazing project. I think it is great that you were in touch enough with your own creative spirit to do something and do something great.
Dave Roper | Motorcycles | Plans After COVID
Kelvin Bulluck: Thank you. Last question, and I can talk to you for another forty-five minutes to an hour. I am not going to do that, but what is…Oh wait, not the last question.
I want to go back for a second because you have touched on, Dave Roper or David Roper, and I am curious, did you ever ride motorcycles?
Stephanie Diani: No, but so I met Dave in LA, well in California through a friend of the original boyfriend and they all went to college together and I met Dave through Mary and she, and he came over to our house.
For dinner one time, my husband, my apartment, and he just seemed like a cool dude, and once we moved here, I was like, oh s***, we should go see Dave, because a Roper, he is just Roper because he is works in Dumbo and lives in Long Island. Tim and I went out and saw the workshop that he works in and it was incredible. I just kept thinking; I should really shoot this. It was kind of like you and the podcast idea where you did not start doing it for a while. I did not approach him for a long time, and then finally I emailed was like, can I do some video? We did, and I motorcycles, I have known people who have been killed on them and they totally intimidate me, but I drive a stick shift car and I wanted to understand.
After the Roper video that I did, I was just like, I really want to understand how you do the thing with the thing. Then the feet, because it should be like a stick, but I do not understand. Dave and fall a year ago, not in 2019, we went out to like a serious parking lot in Long Island and he showed me how to ride this Japanese motorcycle. I think it was a three fifty, if that number means that is a good.
Kelvin Bulluck: That is a good starter, starter a bike. Yeah.
Stephanie Diani: Turns out I could not hold it up because I went too slow to start and I kind of went through, but I did get it, I got it, and I got up to like fourth gear. I was super proud of myself and I thought this is amazing and fun and I could totally kill myself. I should not, but I would love that.
Kelvin Bulluck: I brought it up because you shot that video in a way that made me think that you were a writer. I felt like the shots that you got, I am like, dang, this is what is up. A little bit of background, I have started riding back in like 2008, but I never got a bike back then money was not right. I ended up getting, the license, but I never got a bike. My skills kind of waned or whatnot, but with this shared economy now, they have these sites that are almost like Airbnb but for motorcycles. One of them is called Rider Share and another one is called Twisted Road. I am going to throw some links up in the, in the show notes because I get some kickbacks if they go on my link.
What it allows you to do is, when I travel, matter of fact, it was that last year in 2015 were worried before they shut down the world, I was in LA working some gigs out there and anytime I go to LA, I like to get a bike and just ride up the Pacific coast highway through Malibu, just because it is so gorgeous out there. To be on two wheels, something that Dave Roper or a Roper as you call them had said was, when you are doing something and you are risking your life, those are the times where you feel most alive.
One thing that, kind of got me through this pandemic was those memories of me going through the canyons in Malibu and riding up the coast and seeing the beautiful Pacific. I am fanning out on motorbikes.
Stephanie Diani: Let us take another second, if you have the second detour, have you been to Big Sur?
Kelvin Bulluck: Not yet, but I have not been there yet.
Stephanie Diani: It is the only thing I miss about California is Big Sur. It was a place that my family and I would go when I was a kid and I did not love it as much then as I did when I was older and it is just like, it feeds my soul being there.
I really miss it, I have not been back since 2013, I think was the last time. What a great place to be, to ride a motorcycle. I would think totally dangerous huge cliffs life-threatening.
Kelvin Bulluck: Yes! Living means more fun, more fun, man. Getting in there….
Stephanie Diani: Oh yeah! The Roper encourages me and I a little bit. My husband's like, he just wants you to have a motorcycle. I am like, I kind of want to have a motorcycle too, but it would be such a terrible idea for me.
Kelvin Bulluck: Your vibe is such that I could totally see you on a bike. I could totally see you like a triumph though.
Stephanie Diani: I would not want to look for Indian. Not just like that hipster artisanal package that you just want to punch in the face.
Kelvin Bulluck: Those Indian the Scouts, even the Indian Scouts, there is such, it is a nice little, small bike, but it has got a little power to it and I could totally, even the triumphs.
Yes, I could see! The way you shot that amazing, I felt like you were somebody who were right or at least appreciated the art of writing, and there was one shot, it was a static shot, but you were set up on the track in such a way that when the bikes flew past, it was like a flicker and you, did it a couple of times in the video.
I am like, man, that right there, that is what the, I do not know. It was just, it touched me in such a way that I felt like I wanted to bring it up to you. The whole video was dope, but something about that stuck with me so…..
Stephanie Diani: That I must give credit where credit is due. That was an editor decision because we shot yes.
Static with the bikes zipping past, but she, I think she sped it up a little bit. My editor, the editor. Monica Valpak, as my studio manager, her sister, Valerie Valpak you it is Italian did the editing and she is a genius, and she had a great job. I do not edit, I do not want to, I have opinions about sequencing and how things should go. I had a lot of notes, but I do not want to it is like accounting. It is not my thing.
Kelvin Bulluck: That is key. You just touched on something else. That is very I think a lot of people miss, especially being creatives, we get so caught up in the art and feeling like we got to do everything ourselves that we forget to delegate or do not realize that delegating is a thing that is going to help us be even more creative.
Delegate people, delegate or die. That is what they would say. I feel like we have covered quite a bit. We have been around the world. We have talked about the highs and the lows, and at the end of the day, we are still here. We are still kicking along and making this thing work any way that we can.
I have an adult that once, and it seems like we are already starting to do it to get back to some semblance of normalcy. I can totally see you getting back in that saddle and making some major things happen. I hope to see you even do more directing work because just based off that video, like, I would love to see you do a or lift to see what you do with, with more directing as well. Do you have plans for that?
Stephanie Diani: I would love to, I think you need to change careers and then just hire me for stuff. Beyond that, yes, I would love, in fact, in my stack of books that I meant to read this last year, I have got like half a dozen about directing because, I very definitely do not want to be a DP.
I have strong opinions about how things should be shot and when, and how the lighting should be, but I do not want to do the work part of, not that I do not want to do the work. I just, I do not, that is like a whole other language that I do not know. Learning that an alphabet for Greek and I chose Latin instead, so I could stick with my alphabet.
I think that I can direct better than I could DP because I can direct people well. I like to tell stories, it is fun. I would love to learn more about it, I am intimidated by what I do not know, but I am trying to figure that out so that at least I can walk in and be like, dudes, I do not know about this thing, but you do, so you need to tell me what works here. I will tell you if that works for me. That would be fun.
I know a lot of photographers put photographers slash director; I have not really done that yet because this is the female meet. I think saying I do not have the experience, whereas a dude would just be like, I am a director or yeah specifically at Duke in LA, there was just the LA people. I am sorry, LA listeners, but there, I did not make sense there and I did not understand the people there, so, and that is a lot of entertainment world stuff.
Since coming here to New York, I have felt a little more authentic and I can maybe authentically do things like that. Like direct and shoot more commercial stuff. Just moved in tiny little plug, just moved into a new studio, fifth Avenue and 20th West 20th street. It is a thousand square feet. Daylight studio, 10th floor North facing windows. It is Pretty freaking baller, and I am super excited about it.
I am really excited about the work that I can hopefully create in it going forward.
Kelvin Bulluck: That is awesome, and I saw that you were doing, or you are getting into doing more behind the scenes rowing, were you?
Stephanie Diani: Yes. Diagramming. I have been doing a little, a very, what would you call it sort of stop motion, animations of lighting diagrams with kazoo music. Did you hear the artisanal Kazu music that goes with them? You will have to turn the volume on.
Kelvin Bulluck: Do you know, we do not watch volume.
Stephanie Diani: That is when I said I stayed on the thing I am like volume on for maximum entertainment. It is dumb because zoom music, Monica is also a musician and she is at some point going to be like pineapple shakers, maybe.
We are going to do a little video to promote the studio that will also have probably kazoo and pineapple shakers in the music.
Kelvin Bulluck: That is what is up, but no, I think those are great, and I feel that is even another way to get creative and share because you are clearly, I am going to say this, and I am done, I promise. You talked about it before, but you are lighting and the way that you go about building an image, right. It is all intentional, and I think that a lot of people do not realize that we are not just throwing some stuff up this, there has been thought that is going into this, and that is quite evident in your work.
I think it is amazing that you are sharing your techniques behind it, and I think a lot of people would find value in that. You could probably, grow by a few thousand, you get enough of those videos out.
Stephanie Diani: Oh yeah. The plan is every two weeks to release a new one. It was going to be every week, but really who has the time. Then I also have just recently decided, because someone said, Hey, are these going to live anywhere? I thought, I should just put an education page on my website with these. I was going to link to you, and then like maybe a list of books that I have read that have been helpful or anthologies of artists work or websites or whatever to, see, to show where if, if anybody is interested, they could see.
What I look at before I start shooting, or when I am trying to figure out what the hell to do next.
Kelvin Bulluck: I love it. Thank you, Stephanie. I appreciate your time and your knowledge and your experiences and your realness. Because again, it is not all buttercups and roses out here in real life, but we make it though, we make it work one day at a time.
Stephanie Diani: That is all I can do. This last year has been all about one day at a time, so good lesson.
Kelvin Bulluck: That was the show. I hope that you enjoyed my conversation with Stephanie. I feel like she had a lot of remarkably interesting things to share and a perspective that is all her own through the highs and the lows. I am always a fan of hearing those types of stories because man, life is a challenge sometimes.
It is good to know that there are other people who are going through the same things that you are so, keep doing the things that you are out here doing to better yourself and keep being creative. Because again, it is a great way to just fortify your creativity and strengthen your peace of mind.
As always, if you enjoyed the show, share it with a friend like, and subscribe, check us out on Instagram and Facebook. Follow us there at What Makes You Click. I just appreciate you for continuing to listen, we will catch you on the next episode.