Stephanie is an observer. She tells stories and studies people through her photography. After a tough break-up her senior year of college, Stephanie signed up last-minute for a photography program in Florence, Italy, despite not having the required prerequisites. In the program she was told to keep a camera on her at all times. Since that day, she never leaves the house with out a camera (or two or three).

What do you wake up thinking about?

Any dreams I had, and what I have to do that day.

What's your morning ritual?

Snooze the alarm at least once. Cuddle my husband and at least one cat. Shower and get ready, then head to the studio where I make some coffee and get to work.

How does social media play into your daily life?

Since I’m a photographer and I own my own business, I feel like I have to use social media in order to network and keep up with everyone.  I check it far more than I’d like to, and I try to keep my posting content down to photos I really love, or statuses that either promote my work, promote a friend's work, or share links to things that I find important, informative, inspiring, or funny. I try my best to keep my personal life out of it completely — where I am, what I'm doing, how I'm feeling or what I'm eating. I'm hyper-aware of the false identity social media creates and I want to remain as authentic as possible. I certainly check it quite a bit throughout the day though, and often wish I didn't have a digital footprint at all.  However, since it's such a big part of our society now, I feel like I'd just get left in the dust without it.  Social media distracts me more than I want, but I can’t tell if it helps or hurts me more since I get most of my business through it. It does seem to make me more judgmental and annoyed some days, but it can also be very productive and positive on other days. I would like to find more of a work/life balance with it. It’s a 'frenemy' at the moment.

Are we more connected or disconnected than before?

Both. We are much more connected from a business standpoint. I can get my work out there easier. If I was better at posting, hashtagging, keywording and SEO, I could be even MORE connected.  As far as dinnertime and most social situations, we are clearly far more disconnected. We don’t wait patiently anymore. We don’t really look around. We enjoy distraction and we enjoy screens of any kind. When I was a kid, I could easily just sit somewhere and wait, getting lost in my thoughts/imagination. Now I scroll through photos in hopes of being inspired, staying connected, or catching up on the world around me, rather than catching up with myself-- what I'm feeling or thinking.  I think it’s a blessing and a curse. I love that I can keep in touch with the girl who I went to camp with in 8th grade, but I miss being totally comfortable just patiently waiting for my partner to come back from going to the bathroom at a restaurant.  I’m grateful that it’s made me as connected as I am, but I think unplugging and being good at unplugging is a super important skill. One I have yet to master.

What is most important to you in life?

My family, close friends, and photography. Good conversations, good intentions, making sure I really know HOW the people I love most are doing outside of what I see them post. Knowing the details and providing love and support when I can, and getting it when I need it. 

Follow Stephanie: IG @StephanieBassos