In an industry dominated by men Michigan raised photographer Stephanie Trapp leaves her mark on the industry through the visual art of photography. Not many get to be in the presence of stars like Floyd Mayweather, Karim Mayfield, Danny Garcia and more. Opulent has been given assess granted in to the world of this talented photographer to see what she sees and the story behind the photos.
Do you remember the first thought and where you were in life when you knew that you wanted to be apart of this industry?
I got my first camera as a gift from my parents when I was nine. It was a purple plastic 35mm that I took everywhere with me. From then on, I was in love with taking pictures – of everything, all the time. I didn’t realize until high school that I could really make this my profession. Once I had that vision, I never thought that I couldn’t make it happen. I didn’t think about how it might be really hard, or a lot of work, and it has certainly turned out to be both. Above all, it is awesome to get to do what I love as my job.
Was this career your first choice in the industry or did you desire another career within the industry?
Photography has always been my number 1 choice. I think in life, you have to choose something, and then try really hard for it.
How long have you been in the entertainment industry?
I have been doing freelance photography for about 10 years, but I have been shooting professional boxing for about 4 years.
Describe your hustle to where you are now to where you have come from?
Photography has always been a hustle, and it still is, everyday. I remember in college everyone asking me, “What are you going to do with a degree in Photography?” and I would just reply, “I’ll figure it out,” and I am so far. What I love about it is that it doesn’t come easy. I’m from the Midwest (So-Cal born, Michigan raised) so I appreciate hard work. I think anything worth doing should be hard, and rising to the challenge is something that is now instilled in me.
Where would you like to be before it’s over?
There are so many things I want to conquer. Right now my concentration is on making a name for myself in the boxing world. I literally started from the bottom. I went to shoot boxing, on a whim, at Longshoreman’s Hall in San Francisco. I was freelancing at that time, and looking to build my portfolio. I thought boxing sounded interesting, and I love sports, so I was persistent until they said I could have a credential to come shoot. (S/O to John Chavez for that). I had no idea what to expect, but I fell in love with boxing that night. I got blood splattered, ringside, at my first card, and as weird as it sounds, it felt like initiation. From there, it was a whole lot of networking, which wasn’t easy. I consider myself a photographer first, and a girl second, and that is sometimes difficult to establish in a world dominated by men.
I recently did some freelance work for Showtime, and I got the opportunity to shoot Floyd Mayweather, which is something I never anticipated. I went to college for photography in Grand Rapids, Floyd’s home town, and it kind of felt like things came full circle, which was really cool. I just feel like somehow I was meant to find boxing. I am excited to see where things go from here, and I am always ready for anything, so right now I feel like the possibilities are endless.
What are some key notes that you have taken from your experience as an aspiring entertainment industry professional?
I expect and prepare myself to be on the hustle all the time. I think the biggest thing in a field like this, especially when you are freelancing, is to remind yourself everyday that you have to try really hard for what you want. Like I said before, it doesn’t come easy, and if you are expecting easy, you probably won’t make it.
Was there ever a time when you said “This isn’t for me?”
No. There were a lot of times I got discouraged though. Especially over the past 4 years I’ve been shooting boxing – I wasn’t really making a lot of money. People were confused why I loved it so much, and why it was the only thing I wanted to do. So many people would try to tell me that boxing was a dead-end, and that if I wanted to be successful, I should find something else. That is when my stubbornness paid off. When people doubt me, I take it as a personal challenge.
What motivated you to stay focused and determine on your goals/aspirations in this industry?
Like I said before, when people doubt that I can do something, it fuels my fire. I think by now I’m just so sick of being stereotyped, or put in a box because of my exterior – and I mean because I’m a young white girl – that I feel like I have to constantly prove myself as a photographer, especially ringside. Afterwards, I like to let my work speak for itself.
Any words of advice that you would like to share with your fans and other inspiring individuals about the industry?
Don’t think you have to fit a certain mold to pursue your chosen path. Decide what you want, and then go get it. I tell myself everyday, “I can do anything,” and by now I have really come to believe that.
Who were your inspirations coming up?
There are a lot of fine art photographers I looked up to through my schooling, but when I graduated college, I think I took the approach like, “Okay, I’m on my own now – it’s just me,” and that has worked for me. I think sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the cool things that other people are doing, rather than focusing on carving out your own way. From a personal standpoint, my little brother has always been an inspiration for me. He is my favorite person in the world, and always will be. He was born a few years after I got my hands on my first camera (big age gap between us), and I have stacks of photos of him from his childhood, because he would sit endlessly for his portrait to be taken – even when he was little. It was more of a bonding experience, and I think that is something I carry with me today when I do portraits, because it really is very personal thing when you have someone in front of your camera.
Who would you like to work with in your field before your career is over?
Chris Brown. (Laughs), but seriously. There are a lot of people I would like to get in front of my camera lens. At this point, I am open to anything, but I will definitely continue with boxing. I would like to also branch out and do more sports. It is so exciting, and so challenging, and fast paced, but when you get that one shot – in boxing it’s the sweat flying and the contact and (as I like to call it) the jello face – its so satisfying. I also love doing portraits. If I dare to say crazy things, I would love to assist famous portrait photograpehr Annie Leibovitz. She is simply amazing. Even if I could sit in a room and observe her creating someone’s portrait. She has shot everyone who matters to the public. I am both curious about and fascinated with her and her work.
Are there any people you would like to S/O that have been there for you through your journey?
Yes. First of all I would like to S/O my parents. They never questioned my choice to follow photography. I think they knew I could make it, and that means a lot to me. I would also like to S/O my sisters and brother for constantly putting up with my weirdness, haha. I would also like to say thanks to the people in boxing who have helped me. After my first fight, Mario Ortega, writer for 15rounds.com, helped me stay relevant in boxing, taking me to shoot fights to accompany his stories. I definitely would not be here without his assistance early on. The Garcia family in Salinas, California of Garcia Boxing, namely Sam, Kathy and Max Garcia have also been so supportive of me and my work , especially in the beginning. I would also like to say thanks to Chris DeBlasio from Showtime for taking a chance on me and my work, because I have gotten a lot of opportunities through them that have been amazing. Also S/O to everyone I have ever photographed because it is impossible to make a picture without a subject J
What do you think are the most important aspects to consider before embarking on a career in the industry?
If you are not ready for hard work and hustling, and a little bit of struggle, everyday, then go get a secure 9 to 5.
What was your most embarrassing moment in your career?
There is not really one moment that stands out, but I remember, especially when I was first starting off, I would go into things not really knowing what I was doing, and I would be really nervous about it. Ultimately, though, that just taught me how to be thrown into situations, and then make them work. I still think a little bit of nerves is what helps me get the job done as well as I can do it.
What was the highlight of your career?
The highlight of my career was definitely the night I discovered boxing, and furthermore, when I got a call from Showtime. I wanted to jump out of my skin I was so excited. It meant so much to me, because I was on my own, trying to make this boxing thing work, for so long before that. It was just a really cool feeling to feel like maybe I made it, or at least that people know who I am.
What do you consider the “must-haves” in moving a career to a higher level?
I think above having the skills to advance, you have to have the personality. If people don’t like you, they aren’t going to hire you, no matter how good you are. I think this is especially important in photography. Who you are, and how you carry yourself, and how you interact with people will all impact your work and what kind of shots you are able to get. You have to be able to put yourself in situations, and know that whatever has to be done to get the photo – you can do. You have to be likeable, but you have to get the job done, and you have to figure out how to balance that.
How would you categorize your art?
I think photography is so important because after everything is over, the photograph is what you have. That is what I love about it – capturing and freezing the moment not everyone sees, but one that everyone needs to see. I would categorize most of my work as documentary, because I think this can cover so many different things, but overall, it is showing people what happened – whether it is a portrait photoshoot, or a boxing match. I am obsessed with Instagram because it’s a quick easy way to document anything and everything. It is the perfect mix of art and social media, and an effective way to exercise my visual intelligence and communicate it to the (online) world, raw and in real time.
Who are your biggest influences?
I am influenced by anyone who has had to work hard to get where they are – not just in photography, but in any profession. I respect the struggle, and I love hearing underdog stories, because they are so motivating.
Links to where more of Stephanie’s work can be found.
Be sure to follow Stephanie on Social Media.
Facebook: Stephanie Regs Trapp