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Stella Kalinina ( is a Russian-Ukrainian American photographer based in Los Angeles working on contemplative stories about our connections to each other, our personal and communal histories, and the places we inhabit. She brings empathy, curiosity, and a collaborative approach to portrait-based stories that are firmly rooted in the sense of place. Kalinina is a graduate of ArtCenter College of Design and the University of Pennsylvania and a member of Women Photograph. She crafts visual stories for publications, institutions, and commercial clients and works on long-term personal documentary projects.


LACP Interviews Stella Kalinina

LACP asks Stella Kalinina ten questions about their background, career in and beliefs about photography.

LACP: What kind of photographer are you?

Stella Kalinina: I love working in the space where documentary, editorial, and fine art photography meet.

LACP: How long have you been shooting?

SK: About 15 years.

LACP: Where did you get your training?

SK: ArtCenter College of Design and various workshops, most recently with Alejandro Cartagena, Michael Famighetti, and Lucy Conticello.

LACP: When did you know you wanted to devote your life to photography?

SK: I already had a degree in economics and was working in that field when I got a new camera. Reading the manual, I figured I should take an evening class in photography. That was about 15 years ago. As I kept taking evening classes, workshops, and going to photo festivals, I was pulled deeper into the world of photography. I hadn’t ever felt such an insatiable desire to learn about any other field. I decided that the way forward was to go back to school for photography full time and change my career.

LACP: Did you ever come close to giving up?

SK: No. I was very committed when I went back to school for photography. There was and is no turning back.

LACP: Have you sacrificed anything by being a photographer?

SK: Yes, a lot, but I have also been rewarded in immeasurable ways.

LACP: What have you gained by being a photographer?

SK: Purpose in life, a wonderful community, countless relationships and experiences, an expanded worldview, and a lifetime of growth.

LACP: What classes do you teach at LACP?

SK: The Poetic Documentary Landscape

LACP: What do you love most about teaching?

SK: I love sharing what I’ve learned and what has helped me in my journey. I enjoy providing feedback to help move personal projects forward. I cherish the energy within a group that’s brought together by similar interests and a desire to grow. Each class is a completely unique experience that will never be repeated. Meeting and working with students from all walks of life is incredibly rewarding.

LACP: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about making a career in photography?

SK: The process is much slower than it might appear at first.