There has hardly been a period of Stephanie Dee’s life not spent behind the lens of a camera. Starting out with disposable cameras in elementary school, photography developed into more than just a creative outlet for her, it became a passion. She also discovered a passion for travel. And a love for weddings. So it’s only natural she ended up starting a wedding photography business. And, with 136 weddings under her belt so far, a very busy wedding photography business at that.
She stays busy not only because of her phenomenal photography skills, but also because she works tirelessly at all of the other facets of her business to be successful. And, take it from us, she’s a pleasure to work with.
There’s so much more to know about Stephanie, see the Q&A below!
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How would you describe your job?
Best in the world!
When did you start your business?
Why do you love your job?
Because it’s the best job in the world. I get to work with the sweetest, most wonderful couples around, documenting memories that will become their family history! Whenever I get caught up in the thought that I “just take pictures” for a living, or think that what I do isn’t important, I remind myself that in 50 years, grandchildren will be looking at the images I capture to get a sense of what how in love their grandparents were when their story first started. I also love to travel, and so I love that my job has taken me all over the country and around the world. (Literally! I photographed a wedding in New Delhi, India in 2016!)
How did you originally get into photography?
I was that elementary school kid with a disposable camera at every single sleep over just because I didn’t want to forget the memories. When I got my first point-and-shoot in middle school, I’d wander around our backyard and through my mom’s garden trying to take artsy photos that I’d enter in the county fair. I took a photography class in high school where I got to experiment in the dark room and borrow my dad’s original Nikon F film camera from the 1960’s. So, I feel pretty sure in saying that I’ve been into photography from the start. But wedding photography specifically? It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I realized it was what I wanted to do. I was studying graphic design, taking and loving my prerequisite photography classes, and spending a weird amount of time looking at photos on wedding blogs for a 19 year-old who wasn’t getting married any time soon. I finally put two and two together and realized that I could merge my passion for the stories of weddings, love of photography, and interest in business into one dream job!
Describe a typical workday.
Is there such a thing? My days are rarely typical, but a Monday-Friday work week usually includes some combination of emailing with current clients to plan their engagement sessions and wedding days, meeting potential clients, traveling to and shooting engagements, editing images and uploading galleries, designing wedding albums, writing for the blog, putting together social media posts, not to mention all of the behind-the-scenes housekeeping that keeps my business afloat! The one staple is Friday afternoons when I prep my gear and pack up everything I’ll need for my weekend weddings. Of course, on Saturdays I’m spending my time with the best couples you’ll ever know! I always chuckle when wedding guests imply that wedding photography is a great job because you don’t have do any work during the week—it couldn’t be further from the truth!
How many weddings/special events do you have under your belt?
136 weddings and counting!
What is the biggest challenge for you and your business?
Being your own boss is no easy task. I wouldn’t ever trade being self-employed, but keeping your motivation and momentum 100% is a constant challenge for me. To really stay engaged I am always having to brainstorm fresh ideas and challenge myself creatively.
What is your favorite thing about Airlie?
Where do I start?? Airlie feels like home to me because, fun fact, I used to work there! Before I took my wedding photography full time, I worked part time on Airlie’s communications team. So working at Airlie always feels like coming back to a familiar place. But it comes down to three main things, really. One, Airlie is full of an endless array of gorgeous backdrops—a photographer’s dream! I could shoot at Airlie every weekend and never run out of great locations. Two, the people. Shiloh and Brooks and the entire planning department are really just the A-Team. I see them consistently go above and beyond for their clients and nothing makes me admire a vendor more than that. And three, of course, the food!
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
At different times I wanted to be a teacher and a nurse. I really didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do until high school when my parents started encouraging me to explore different careers where I could flex my creative muscles.
How would your friends describe you?
Easy-going and always ready to laugh.
Do you have any hobbies?
Sure do! I love to garden and there’s nothing better than eating a summer meal that you grew entirely yourself! I actually love going to the gym and have really gotten into weightlifting the past few years (have to stay strong to carry all my gear on wedding days!). I’m a novice calligrapher for fun, and I’m constantly scheming up different DIY projects around my house.
One thing that most people wouldn’t know about you?
I’m an introvert! Most people wouldn’t know it because they see me in “on” mode when I’m working, but I cherish my alone time and after a wedding day or any big event I need plenty of quiet time to myself to recharge.
Are you a sports fan?
Yes! I enjoy watching and playing most any sport (with the exception of golf), but I LOVE college football and I bleed blue and white! We are Penn State!
To which product or service are you most loyal?
I don’t know if there’s necessarily one brand or product, but I do believe in spending my money on a few high-quality things that will last rather than a lot of cheaply-made items that you have to constantly replace. This usually means I’m searching for small businesses who are making goods with their own two hands and will stand by their products! Also, Wegman’s is the best grocery store and I’m not sure that we can be friends if you disagree.
What’s your favorite movie or TV show?
I don’t spend too much time watching TV these days, but I am admittedly hooked on This Is Us. I’ve always got my tissues at the ready!
If you were a character in a movie or TV show, which actor/actress would play you?
My fingers are crossed for Emma Stone.
What is your favorite song at the moment?
This changes DAILY! I’m always hunting for new music to listen to throughout the workday on Spotify, and the tunes I find are usually pretty eclectic. But today’s favorite is Father John Misty’s “Real Love Baby.” You can’t listen and not feel happy!
Do you have any pet peeves?
My pet peeve is that I can never think of any pet peeves for these questions.
Speaking of pets, are you a dog person or cat person?
I love them both but pups get the slight edge.
What was your most memorable vacation?
Three and a half years ago I took a solo-trip to Ireland and spent two weeks driving all around the country. Ireland was more beautiful than I ever imagined, the people were the kindest I’d ever met, and my love for traveling solo was cemented forever.
If money were not a consideration, where would you go on vacation?
South Africa is at the top of my bucket list. But I’m always happy to go anywhere new.
What is your favorite food?
Tacos. Hands down.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Stop comparing yourself to strangers on the internet.
What would you do if you won $1 million in the lottery?
Step one: a cross-country road trip with no end date.
If you had a super power, what would it be?
Definitely teleportation. Imagine the time you’d save not sitting in traffic!
Photos courtesy Stephanie Dee Photography