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Meet Stephen Bay of Stephen Bay Photography

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephen Bay.

Stephen, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I didn’t start out as a photographer and it took me a long time to get here. I’m originally from Canada where I studied to become an engineer. After I finished my undergraduate degree I applied for graduate school in computer science and decided to come to UC Irvine in part because I wanted to see and experience the wonderful state that is California. During that time I met my wife and decided to permanently settle here.

While my career as a computer scientist was very intense and rewarding, I have now left that profession and I am entirely focused on my photography. I started photographing while I was in graduate school as a hobby. My first camera was a Nikon N80 and I shot mainly on slide film taking pictures of scenic locations as I traveled. I realized early on that I was both pretty good at it and I could make money at it. I shot a lot of stock photography (photos shot on speculation with the intention of licensing them later to clients) and I also worked with a publisher to produce a Los Angeles coffee table book.

Fast forward a number of years and my wife and I moved to San Diego at the end of 2015.

I’ve never lived in a city before with so much to offer photographically. We have beautiful coastlines, amazing skylines, and the mountains and desert just a short drive away. At this point, I decided to shift my focus from stock and travel photography to local landscapes.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I started out my photography business part-time and it was very difficult finding time to photograph and handle the business aspects of marketing and interacting with clients while also maintaining another very demanding career.

I’m not naturally extroverted so marketing and sales has always been something that I’ve found difficult. However, over the years of making a consistent effort to change, I’m slowly growing out of my shell.

From the creative side, photography is like any endeavor and artists will always go through some major highs and lows. Sometimes I’ve struggled for many weeks trying to get out of the photographer’s equivalent of writer’s block.

Other times everything just clicks, you plan out a shot, go out and get an amazing image on the first try at a location.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Stephen Bay Photography – what should we know?
I am a landscape photographer specializing in scenic photographs of San Diego and surrounding area. I sell fine art prints of my work as well as license images for commercial use.

I strive to produce unique photos of San Diego. As you can imagine, this is quite a challenge as San Diego is a very popular tourist attraction and if you go online there are thousands of images if not more of every single landmark. I spend a lot of time scouting out locations, thinking about my composition, and planning to photograph when the weather and tide conditions are optimal.

I have purposely not photographed some subjects for over a year while I thought about how best to achieve my own unique point of view. I’ve also returned to the same subject over and over again until I get the perfect sky with the clouds and sun just the way I want them.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Without a doubt, this would be patience. In landscape photography, you are often waiting around for the right weather conditions, which may or may not materialize.

So you have to be willing to spend quite a few hours at your subject location, whether that’s the beach or up in the mountains where it’s freezing cold, hoping for that break in the clouds where the sun just shines through and lights everything up. If you miss your shot, it might be months or even a whole year before everything aligns again.


  • Fine art prints starting at $145

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