Photography is a deceptive art. On one hand, it seems as simple as pointing a phone at any object you want and taking a group of pictures until you find something you like. But on the other hand, it’s a fascinatingly complex process that can create world changing beauty and capture the imaginations, attention, and commercial appeal of millions or even billions of people.
Doing photography at the highest level is no easy task, and it’s something that only a select few around the world can do.
This is what makes Leyla Stefani’s journey so incredible. As a young woman living in Los Angeles in the tech world, Leyla had no experience with photography whatsoever, but learned on her own how to capture effective and powerful photos after being given a few opportunities.
Leyla didn’t start photography until the age of 30, but she’s quickly made a name for herself in the beauty photography world, with a social media following in the tens of thousands, a long line of projects for some of the world’s biggest fashion brands, and a future that seems endlessly bright.
Leyla’s photography work is currently in 1,000 Ulta stores (featuring the INH brand). This year she’ll have a couple photos in Sephora stores as well. She’s worked with LA Girl cosmetics for their Coachella campaign, OneSize beauty product photos (Patrick Starrr), Glamnetic, and many other leading brands.
While most photographers working at the highest level of the industry usually come equipped with years of experience, technical training, and outsourced business, Leyla has the unique distinction of being a truly self-made photographer.
Meaning, she designed her business from scratch, and did her own marketing, invoicing, brand communications, technical training and equipment development, and everything else a photography business requires. She’s genuinely self-made in the ultra-competitive photography space, a rarity on its own, not to mention becoming a primary player in her industry as a woman of color.
One of Leyla’s unique contributions to the photographer world is a commitment to showing beauty in all its forms, and her photography pages reflect a portfolio that spans all ethnicities, skin tones, and appearances, serving as a powerful reflection of the world’s multiculturalism. “Big brands are starting to change,” she explains in reference to the photography and beauty world reflecting a more diverse scope.
She plays an active role in all her photo shoots, and her shoots generally are not very long, a couple of hours at most. But, as she explains, there is a fine art to making sure to get the perfect shot, something that not just anyone can do with ease.
“The purpose of beauty photography is to sell a product; the photographer must have a key knowledge of which angles and poses are going to sell that product. The average person isn’t going to just automatically know how to do it” Stefani explains.
Learn more about Leyla’s work at https://www.leylastefani.com/
Model: Noelle Lampe, Mua: Kathia
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Lewis, MUA: Kathia Checa
MUA: Kathia Checa
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