Stephanie Stein


Here’s the post everyone has been waiting for! Images from my series RISE, a photographic exploration in self healing. 


The subject of healing is a hard issue to speak about, some might say socially taboo.  Current events have made mental health a prominent discussion, but offering very few answers. Everyone has such a different path to recovery, whether it be physical, mental, or spiritually. Within the past year, I have personally gone through major changes in my life. I knew I wanted to express this journey through my art and realized I could not have been the only one who dealt with such obstacles.  

In my quest for personal understanding, I began to search for people who could provide insight to my own as well as their personal growth. Through the laborious process of shooting and gathering written submissions, I could peer into each person’s unique struggle and story; I was amazed at the diversity and strength in all of the topics presented. 

Within each photograph, I tried to portray each model’s story and personality. To add cohesion to the series I used unidentifiable locations and incorporated vivid gel lighting. My methodology was aimed at creating a unique feeling for each photo; many of these emotions were uncomfortable, but nonetheless important to present and understand. As I found parallels in my own life and experiences with this project I realized my subjects had struggled with their own distinctive pain: healing is not enjoyable or fully ever done.  Sometimes through the pain and healing of others, we can learn more about ourselves.

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I have added descriptions with all my images below. I also have books available for purchase with the anonymous writing from the muses. Please e-mail me to purchase. 

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“Self Suffocation”
Muse / Self
Usually I post really fun, colorful, happy, beautiful self portraits of myself here….this is a raw feeling. I didn’t even realize this beginning my journey into this project, I was sabotaging myself. I was gasping from lack of air from my own faults. This journey of healing self is in the very thick of it. I feel as if I’m stagnate at times, but looking back at myself I see I’m slowly moving forward. I’m holding space and people are doing the same for me. I’m so grateful for every single person that modeled, wrote, mentored and shared with me during this process. I see you. Thank you

“Lingering Words” 
muse / @death_by_dildo / Sav
This image came so easily to me. Sav and I spent a long time in Hampton Park and I knew I wanted to capture her inside this tree. I like to think of this image as a deer in head lights….freezing and seeing what you need. The flowers symbolize the hope and beauty. / Sav you are strongly moving forward. I hope you are proud of yourself, because you deserve it. Your story was so raw and made me cry. I can’t wait to see where you go 💕

“the unseen line of hope”

Muse / @thevelvetgoth / Amanda 
I’ve always admired Amanda. Her story has always been such a powerful and she holds herself in such a light. I knew when I began she would be someone I wanted to be apart of this story. I made this image the day I found out my friend had taken her own life. I was really shaken up and scared. Amanda was so caring, understanding and patient with me. I was forgetting things and shaking during this session. I really channeled this emotion into my work. 

“Slipping Off”
Muse / @onickisu / Nicki
This was one of the first images I made for this series. I wanted “RISE” to be based all around self healing….I pulled all the images together with the harsh flash and uncomfortable positioning. In my concept I wanted to show how you can be hardly holding on and not able to see the way forward. / Huge thanks to you Nicki. You’ve been an amazing listener and support. I’m impressed with your strength, thank you for always creating such moving pieces with me

muse / @kristingerald / Kristin
Sometimes we are pulling ourself away from what we need most. The tenson can be so tight….we keep pulling. / I’m so glad I met this wonderful women. She was so patient and kept me giggling the whole time. We actually had to reshoot this image, the first time just wasn’t “enough” for me. I added in the prop and I’m so happy I gave everyone something for their image. TEHE we even got escorted out of the park for the second shoot, and I’m truly glad we did because the final photo was everything I hoped and dreamed about.

“break through error”
muse + cover girl / @cecilejennifer / CeCe
In this image, I wanted to express that sometimes you are doing everything in your power to heal yourself, but you can’t break the cycle. You’re reaching for help, you have hope, but can’t get through. / This was my series in it’s early stages and it came with extreme ease. This image in on the cover of my book RISE which features all the images from the series AND anonymous stories from the muses. I sold out of these at the opening, but MONDAY I have 30 more books coming! They are $35 each, message me if you’d like your own. / ALSO Cece has been one of my inspirations for a very long time and a dear friend. Thank you for always coming to my aid when I am in need of inspiration and art. Because that’s just what you are.

“crawling in tears”
muse / @healingjuju / Julia
The misery and pain can be intense. We have to feel through our pain to move forward….sometimes we feel trapped, but we can move with this if we can release. / Julia came to me saying she wanted to cry on camera. Of course, I was all about this. We got under her house, sat in the sand and created. We both held space and moved through. I see you, and truly, thank you. 

muse / @omnikigai / Laurlena 

Through our forced silence, beauty will grow. / I didn’t know Laurlena before we created together for the first time. We instantly connected on set. She poured out her experiences and energy into this photoshoot, and for this I am forever grateful. The beauty in vulnerability is underrated. Do not close up.

“flaws held in disassociation” 
muse / @orchidorchis / Kylie
things can turn so bad and we turn the other cheek. We can’t see through our rose colored glasses…..we aren’t here anymore. / I have been wanting to shoot Kylie with her rats for YEARS and I finally had an excuse to do this shoot. If anyone saw the behind the scenes of this shoot it basically involved me laughing and trying to make sure the rats didn’t run away. I defiantly want to work with her babies again, probably with a rat wrangler next time! Kylie is one of my OG models and I’m blessed that she is always willing to help me create my vision, no matter how weird.

“suppression will burn” 
muse / @yogaisalex / Alex
The things we hold onto will hurt us the most. We have to let go, we need some type of release. SCREAM. If we don’t let our emotion out, it will kill us from the inside out. It’s time to grow. / This is another of the images that I had to reshoot. I was in denial about having to do this over….mainly because my ego was getting in the way. Alex was very patient with me and my scattered artistic mind, which I am extremely grateful for. Alex and I wanted to create an image expressing anger and what better way to create with feeling then with FIRE? Thank you Alex for being vulnerable with me. You are one of the strongest women I know, thank you for allowing me to make art with you. 

“dead halt” 
muse / @laurenn_mc / Lauren
Sometimes we can’t see that we are making our own destructive habits into a fuel that is smothering us. There comes a point when something stops us and we are forced to change. / This wasn’t the original location intended for this shoot. It started to POUR down rain during this shoot so we snuck into a parking garage. The water droplets added to the ascetic of this image. I loved shooting with Lauren the first time we worked together and we’ve been collaborating ever since. SHE SLAYS!

“time capsule”
muse / @alexwhte / Alex
What do you feel? Do you have that lump in your throat…..or that sharp pain in your chest right over your heart? Do you spend all your sleepless nights replaying the same mix tape of your trauma trying to pick apart where it all went wrong….? /What do I even say about Alex? She honestly blew me out of the water with her modeling skills. I did an amazing yoga studio photoshoot with her and then we worked together on this image…. I was so impressed and extremely happy with the outcome of both shoots. She is bold and true to herself. I’m excited to be able to pull so much different emotion out of one human and I am humbled that she has been so open with me. Dream team activated! 

“self reflection”
muse / @lovely_kieren / Kieren
Being forced to look at yourself in the mirror doesn’t work, but opening your eyes and slowly seeing your true colors is truth. / What do I even say about Kieren? One of the biggest hearts and kindest souls….her story makes her strong and bold. I can’t wait to work with her again! / This is the end of my series. I hope you enjoyed seeing the images. If you’d like to read the anonymous writing that fits with the photographs, you can message me about the RISE book. It’s $35 and includes all the images (and some extras) along with the writings. I will be announcing a giveaway for a book and a print, so be on the lookout!

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