Stephanie Gonot Fresh

Stephanie Gonot

This Los Angeles–based photographer imbues her still life photography with vivid colors and an irreverent sense of humor. 

Stephanie Gonot

stephaniegonot.com

Duration: Two years of freelancing, with three years of working as a photo agent prior to that.

Location: Los Angeles, California. 

Education: BA in political science and studio art from the University of California, Davis. 

Career path: I didn’t study photography in college, but I was pretty sure I wanted to pursue a creative career. After a brief stint as a legislative aide for the California State Senate—trying to put my political science degree to use—I moved to Los Angeles for an internship at a commercial and music video production company based in Santa Monica. My overarching goal was to become a film director, but I quickly saw that you don’t just work your way up the ladder from interning at a production company to becoming a director. The route I was in was leading me into a career as a producer, and I knew that I would get stuck in this role if I didn’t redirect my efforts. The production company I was working at had an extensive photo book library that I would peruse to help directors find photo references for their treatments. At this time, I started looking closely at photography and thought that, perhaps if I could focus on making still pictures, it could potentially lead me to directing films. I moved to Spain to try something totally new. 

While in Madrid, I taught English to business people and worked on my photography. Then the recession happened. I moved back to Los Angeles, getting a job with a gourmet, architecturally themed ice cream sandwich truck; it was at this time that I started taking food photos and simultaneously looking at a lot of photography on the Internet. I started putting together little photo shows, which helped me get a job as an assistant at Redeye Reps and quickly become a full-fledged rep. While there, I started getting little editorial photo requests and taking still life shots of accessories on a regular basis for Nasty Gal. This all snowballed into the career and portfolio I have today. 

Work begets work! I feel happiest and most open to new ideas when I’m making things.”

Work environment: I have a studio in Chinatown in Los Angeles. It’s a little storefront in a beautiful plaza where most of the other spaces are also filled by creatives. I can shoot small- to medium-sized projects in my studio, and I also use it as an office.

Approach: Clients come to me for my art direction skills as well as my lighting and photography aesthetic. There are plenty of still life photographers out there, and I’m certainly not the most technical, but I can still offer something unique in my approach to a project.

Aspirations: I’ve proven to myself that I can make a living as a commercial photographer, so I think my next step is to scratch my itch for personal work. This might be more of a one-to-three year aspiration, but I have a number of ideas for personal projects that I can turn into small books or art installations. In general I hope to be making creative work—photo or otherwise—for the rest of my life. 

Lately, I’ve been asked to make more and more stop motion animation GIFs. With each new opportunity, I’ve been able to make these more complicated. It’s been thrilling to add animation to my work; I joke that I’m actually becoming a director like I first set out to do—just very slowly, one frame at a time.

Philosophy: This changes, frequently—but for now, it’s work begets work! I feel happiest and most open to new ideas when I’m creating things. I’ve been making some smaller personal projects with friends lately, and it seems like one project always leads to ideas for another. 

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