The work of Stephanie Paxton (@stephpaxton) is the product of when creativity and excellence hum together in perfect harmony. The composition of her photographs, her angles, her tones and her creative takes combine for some of the most extraordinary works of art. We’ve long been fans of her rare style and her outstanding use of Mextures in many of her edits and we were hugely excited to spend some time with Steph discussing these things and more. We hope you enjoy the conversation as much as we did!
I’m Stephanie Paxton from Toledo, Ohio. My full-time gig is as a photographer and designer (really all things marketing) for my parent’s local garden center here in town. I love my husband, family, friends, a good vintage t-shirt find and I thoroughly love music. I’m like a kid on Christmas when I discover new artists that blow my mind, which is almost daily. Not a day goes by that music isn’t playing throughout our house. I’d like to think that I’d be a musician if I wasn’t a photographer or designer. I like escaping to beautiful, mountainous places, motorcycle rides in the hot summer sun, getting lost in nature, a good song or piddling around on the piano
For years I let dreams and aspirations consume me in a pretty unhealthy way. I’ll spare you the long story, but I’ve learned to live and enjoy the present rather than get caught up in the future (or the past). I’m at an age and in a place where I’m ok to just let things be and truly be content with who and where I am. Sure, I have dreams - more like goals actually. Those are reachable for me. I focus on pushing myself to stay creative and always inspired. I aspire to be a good and loving person who can inspire others by being just that.
How did you get started on Instagram?
I had downloaded Instagram to my phone a few years back and, no joke, I thought it was just another photo editing app. I hadn’t the slightest idea it was this whole social media thing where you follow people and comment and like stuff. A friend had to walk me through the ins and outs of how to properly use it.
How did you get into photography?
It was back in high school - 2002 I believe. I had a "quality" digital camera from my journalism class and my husband (boyfriend at the time) was in a band. I would make myself useful at their shows and take tons of not really good photos. I guess that's when I fell in love with it. I bought my first SLR a year later.
How did you develop your current style of photography?
I think my style continually changes and evolves as I change and evolve. Sometimes it’s just based off of how I’m feeling in that moment of shooting. Or when I sit down to do a more creative edit all of my emotions (however good, bad, happy, or sad they may be at the time) are poured into that. But that’s the beauty of the creative world, isn’t it? There are no limitations.
So how do you go about creating that emotive feel during your editing process?
Most of the time it comes naturally. I’ll see a particular photo I love from a shoot and instantly feel this emotion from it. Then there are times when I’m trying to accomplish something really creative simply because I want to be creative and it’s just not happening naturally. I typically scrap it at that point. Now that we’re talking about it, I haven’t done a really intentional, creative edit in awhile. I should probably get on that.
What is it that draws you to portraiture?
Well, I love all sorts of photography. I suppose I would shoot more landscapes if I lived in a more beautiful place. And because I’m constantly taking photos of floriculture for my job it’s less exciting to try and shoot that type of stuff personally & creatively even though I genuinely love it. Portrait photography just reaches a deeper place for me than any other form of photography. The emotion and uniqueness of an individual which creates a story in each photograph is thrilling & inspiring to me.
When you use Mextures for an edit how do you generally implement it into your process?
When I want to do a quick iPhone edit Mextures is without a doubt my go-to photo app. There are so many possibilities - you can do something completely off the wall or keep it simple and subtle - which is more-so how I've been using it lately. I also have a thing for moody, darker photos and I love how you can achieve that look so flawlessly using Mextures. The options are endless with Mextures and how you can manipulate the layers on your photo. I can create something new and unique each time instead of just throwing on an obvious and over-used filter.
Have you created any Mextures formulas that you’d be willing to share with the Mextures community?
Of course! Here are a few:
Formula Name - JANICE - Formula Code - QUJLLQV
Formula Name - FORTRESS - Formula Code- HGRHZAD
Formula Name - • • • - Formula Code - XAGBYPY
Many of your photos have a double exposure effect creating in them a certain sense of motion. How do you achieve that?
Ah yes. The double exposure. I have yet to upgrade to a digital with the in-camera double exposure feature, so I do that style of editing in Photoshop, especially the motion blur stuff. There are some lens effects that I’ll experiment with while shooting though. You know, old school, jerry-rigged style. I actually prefer that because then there is no post-processing needed. You’ll probably be seeing a lot more of that from me.
What has been your greatest motivation in your photography work?
Well, I ran from the wedding industry years back so it's definitely not the money.
I'd say that when I create something that I love, feel passionately about and that connects with someone in any way, that's a huge motivation.
That, and the fact that I just need to shoot creatively for my own sanity.
Who are the people that have inspired your work the most?
When I first saw the works of artist Tomohide Ikeya, particularly his underwater “Breath” & “Moon” series, I was in awe.
I’ve also been hung up on Neil Krug’s work more recently.
Since you are quite the connoisseur when it comes to music, are there any bands that you would recommend to the Mextures crowd?
Yes! There are so many but I'll keep it short. Here are some new (to me) artists that I've been listening to a lot over the last few months:
Until The Ribbon Breaks
Father John Misty
Say Lou Lou
I use Rdio for music while working on the computer, so the extended and ever-growing list of my favorites can be seen by clicking here.
See more of Steph’s lovely work at @stephpaxton!