My name is Stephen Williams. I'm 26 years old and a native Virginian, though when people meet me they seem to consistently take me for a westerner. I work at a small, classical liberal arts Christian college; during the school year, I serve as a Resident Director, and during the summer, I am the executive director of the school's teen camp program. Both are the best jobs I've ever had, and it's an enormous privilege to be able to watch hundreds of beautiful people grow and mature over an extended period of time. Having the chance to help mentor these kids has been the greatest honor of my life, and they are constant reminders of life's beauty and wonder, even amidst tragedy, sadness, and the pains of growing up in a world that is simultaneously terrifying and awe-inspiring.
My love for photography started about two years ago when I started Instagramming the incredible sunsets that would consistently grace my back porch. By the end of 2013, I had moved away from filters and shooting the occasional sunset to learning basic editing and photography skills and taking entire afternoons to go snap shots. My schedule is incredibly packed, so photography provided the perfect (and much needed) creative outlet that didn't require hours of time, but still demanded increasing levels of excellence to produce a good product. I didn't have to spend hours building up technical skill to pursue it (like with painting or a new instrument), but it forced me to raise my game with regard to observational analysis, and this applied in both shot composition and in editing.
One of the things I love most about photography is that the "perfect shot" could always be right around the corner -- you just have to be willing to look for it. Moreover, the world is so full of wonder and complexity that you'll never run out of subject matter, whether it's a landscape or a portrait. Light captivates me, in both its physical and metaphorical senses, so having a hobby that forces me to study it has been good for my soul on multiple levels.
My favorite photography moment/place to travel is the trip that I took through Colorado last summer. It was the closest to Heaven as I've ever been, both literally and figuratively. At that point, I was still only using an iPhone, but the scenery throughout the state spoke for itself.
As far as inspirations go, probably my biggest is my close friend Bradley (@bradleyroyphoto). He's got quite the knack for both portrait and landscape photography, and he's been extremely patient to teach me as I've learned the ropes. Bradley and I also started and curate the feature account @hopeshare on Instagram, where we highlight the work of the many talented folks who take wonderful shots but are largely uncelebrated for their excellence.
Just some random stuff about me, I bought a Canon 70D at the end of 2014. Still adjusting to it, but I love shooting with it. Named her Estella, in fact. I'm a lifelong Tolkien fanboy whose favorite current book is Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson. Such a beautiful work of literature. I’m currently listening to a lot of Noah Gundersen, The Gaslight Anthem, Joshua Hyslop, and Josh Garrels,
Find more of Stephen's work on his Instagram