I am Stephen Wenzel, a well-rounded, young photographer from Clyde, North Carolina. I started out doing nature photography when I was 15, and my biggest goal was to document every animal species in my small town. Eventually, my knowledge of mountain wildlife grew to the point where I could identify more than 30 different birds across Western North Carolina just by their song. Since then, I have traveled as far west as the Grand Canyon, as far north as Montreal, and as far south as the Florida Everglades to capture photographs of amazing wildlife and beautiful scenery across North America. By visiting all of these different locations, I have really come to appreciate environments all across our continent. Since then, I've updated my goal. My new goal is to inspire others to explore their own natural areas in search for amazing and wonderful wildlife and scenery, and to protect it.
After about a year of nature photography, I became curious about the other areas of photography. After reading a few books and lots of practice, I was able to fully understand the manual controls of my camera, and I was ready to embark on my new journey into portrait and event photography.
The first opportunity that I had to put my skills to the test was through volunteering for the Folkmoot International Dance Festival. This festival embraces global diversity and aspires to promote peace throughout the world. I have volunteered there for 2 years so far, and I had the amazing chance to befriend performers from more than 12 different countries.
Two years after starting nature photography, I entered my first year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Biology Major and Chemistry Minor. I was still involved with photography outside of my studies, doing nature photography around campus as well as taking pictures at swim meets for my club team and intramural teams.
In the fall of my sophomore year, I enrolled in a photography class through the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, one of the best journalism schools in the country, where I learned the foundations for how to be a great portrait photographer and photojournalist. This class changed my perspective of photography, and challenged my previous self-taught knowledge in many ways. Through this class, I was able to secure my first paid job opportunity as a photographer at a bar in Chapel Hill.
Now, after more than 5 years of experience with photography, I started my own individual business. I can do business card headshots, senior portraits, creative studio portraits, and much more. My goal with portrait photography is to help others embrace their personalities and to create memorable photos that will last a lifetime.
Looking back, I’m grateful for all of the experiences that I’ve had. My early days as a nature photographer have taught me to be curious, adventurous, and bold. Volunteering for the international dance festival taught me more about diversity, tradition, and culture. Taking the photography class allowed me to build on my previous skills to benefit others. I will continue to grow both as a photographer and as a person.
I hope that you enjoy my photography as you explore the tabs at the top of your screen. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me anytime. I usually respond within a few minutes!