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Meet Jackie Sterna

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jackie Sterna.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Ever since I was a small child, I’ve always held a passion for photography. My first “models” were my beanie babies, and I would spend hours staging photoshoots with them around the house before begging my parents to develop rolls and rolls of film.

My photoshoots look a lot different than they did back then, but I still haven’t lost that passion. I’m completely self-taught; I never liked the structure of classes and I was afraid of losing my creativity. Instead, I’ve spent two decades honing my craft, pushing my own creative limits, and expanding my skill set.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has definitely not been a smooth road. I have “quit” photography multiple times throughout the years due to burnout. I have struggled tirelessly with the question, “Should I just stay at a stable 9-5?” I have barely any camera equipment, just the basics – used, hand me-downs. When I’ve shown up on shoots clients have gotten concerned and asked, “Where’s the rest of it?” I’ve learned to do what I can with what I have to the maximum. I’m thrilled to say, I did just acquire lighting equipment for a home studio and my life is forever changed! I am still a “starving artist”, but am working 12+ hours everyday to reach my goals and design the life that I want. I have never been so excited about my future as I am now.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a Commercial Lifestyle, Editorial Fashion, and Female Entrepreneur Personal Branding Photographer. I’m also about to launch an online shop (May 9th) where you’ll be able to shop my shoots and get a taste of Tucson!

At the end of the day, my goal is to challenge the beauty and fashion industry to be more inclusive. I think it’s time that we started embracing our true selves, instead of the airbrushed versions that we’ve been taught to idealize. That’s why my work celebrates the female form and all of its “imperfections.” I love creating raw and provocative imagery and capturing my subject’s soft nuances.

Badass. Retro. Defiant. Edgy. Sexy. These are all words that have been used to describe my photography style. I pride myself on the ability to bring my edge to a brand shoot, pushing the project to new and unexpected places.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Oh my gosh, this is the hardest question of them all; there are just way too many people to pick from! I am so lucky for all the amazing people that have come into my life throughout this entire journey.

Clients turned friends/teachers who taught/mentored/encouraged me through the years:
Paula Taylor –
Christina Mercy – Owner of Sia Botanics
Renae Moomjian – Owner of NipLips
Anne Skubis – Aveda North America Artistic Director for Makeup & Aveda Institute Tucson Campus Director
Jessica Baylon – Owner of @salonsalonaz
Christina Henneke – Owner of @shopswindlers
Melissa Jump – Co-Owner of Arizona Model Management

I work with SO many talented people on all my shoots, the bigger the team on set the better (within reason, haha)! I love the collaboration and creative environment that having so many artistic minds in one place brings. Danie Blew (stylist: @blewyew) and Grace Meyer (makeup artist: @gemsteezy) have both been there from the beginning of my career and been on countless shoots with me.

And of course my family, having been there from the beginning of my life, have shaped my core values and characteristics. My dear wonderful Dziadzio (Grandpa in Polish) stands out with his raw artistic creativity and altruism. As a teenager, he fought for his country in WW2 and saw his city destroyed. Warsaw lost 85-90% of its buildings. After the war he decided the best way to help was to go to university to study architecture and help rebuild his city. That he did, but he also loved photography, drawing, and music. In a little apartment in Warsaw, my grandparents’ one small bathroom was always double-tasked as a dark room. We are so fortunate to have so many family photographs and videos. I grew up seeing Dziadzio with a 35mm camera and/or video camera always hung around his neck at a time before cell phones and digital cameras. My mother also pointed out, “Like Dziadzio, you loved art, getting much recognition at school for your drawings. And like Dziadzio, you first learned to play the piano by ear rather than notes.

Remember the Titanic song when you were five? We thought someone taught you to play it at Montessori, and your teacher thought you were taking lessons at home. And then there is Dad — I have never met a more determined, self-disciplined, selfless, and hardworking man. He came to America as a 21y/o with no English, no money, and just an associate degree in electronics. Yet in just several years, he opened up his own business and became very successful! Even Babcia and I, as dentists, probably figure into your make-up too. You must have inherited or picked up on our perfectionism and detail orientation in everyday life. How else are you able to spend hours planning everything to the last perfect detail and then stay focused for more hours editing to get your work just right?”

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photo collage made by Sabrinna Nicole (@sabrinnanicoleee)

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