18-year-old Dennis Stevens just graduated from his Georgia high school and has moved to Orlando, FL to study at University of Central Florida, but unlike most his age, he’s been playing with cameras since the 5th grade. With the help of his grandfather, he’s been honing his craft and getting better and better equipment over the years. In July of 2014, Dennis met Winter Park, FL Fire Chief James White and was given the chance to hang out around Station 61. The days flew by and upon seeing the resulting images, the Fire Chief gave Dennis an open invitation to capture his dedicated team in action whenever he wished to. Working with those first responders has changed Dennis’ life and has started him on the path to acquiring professional clients like Honeywell as well as other clients.
Enjoy a sampling of Dennis’ images of Winter Park Fire Rescue and stay tuned for an interview with the aspiring photographer. Also be sure to visit his sites below to see more of his work.
Our interview with the talented and driven Dennis Stevens:
How did you get your start with a camera? Anyone influential in putting one in your hand?
Dennis Stevens: I first picked up a camera in the fifth grade after what was essentially a battle with my art teacher who said I wasn’t ready to start photography like the higher grades. The years following that, I slowly progressed. I was comfortable with photographing my friends, and family. It was freshman year that I realized I needed to start forming my own style because my work was going somewhere. Now I am working with giant corporations, so its been a good path so far! My grandfather Craig was really the spark to making all of this happened. He knew from the start that I would be something with my photography, and he hasn’t given up yet. He bought me every camera that I work with, and is always someone to go to when I am in need of advice.
How long have you been working with the first responders?
DM: I first began working with first responders in July 2014 after my father introduced me to the local fire chief, James White. After meeting with him and showcasing my portfolio, he granted me the opportunity to stay around the firehouse for a few days to photograph his firefighters. The results of those few days were remarkable by his criteria, and he essentially extended to me a permanent invitation to work with the fire department whenever I wished to.
What kind of impact did seeing them at work have on you?
DM: Working with these firefighters had an unbelievable impact on my life. First and foremost, I started to have a much greater appreciation for the jobs that these men and women have. They dedicate their lives so that others may live. They are forced to make many personal sacrifices such as being away from their family for 1/3 of the year. I have responded with these heroes to fires, auto accidents, life-threatening medical calls, and even scenes where victims passed away. Not many people could work in such an environment. All men are created equal, but then a few become firefighters.
What are some of your short term and long term goals for your photography?
DM: My dream is to work with amazing agencies and clients and be able to deliver on a national stage. My immediate goals are to network with marketing directors at corporations in hopes of acquiring work. This past December, I was commissioned by Honeywell International for a campaign with first responders. I am moving into the mentality of only creating lifestyle and advertising photography. My ideal clients are companies that I recognize, respect, and use in my everyday life. For example, I would love to shoot a campaign for San Diego based phone case company, LifeProof.
Any favorite cameras?
DM: I photograph with a Canon 5D mark III exclusively, and have fallen in love with the Canon EOS System. I plan to acquire the Canon 5Ds R after it is released as it will allow me to shoot in a more medium format style with my work. I also like walking around with an old Polaroid camera and letting my raw creativity run free.
Our interview continued:
What’s your most favorite subject to shoot now?
Dennis Stevens: After spending months together, the men and women of the Winter Park Fire Department have become my favorite subjects.
Anything else we should know?
DM: I am eighteen years old. I am completely self-taught. I love what I do, and I dream big and dare to fail.
Dennis on Behance
Dennis on Instagram
Contact Dennis for your next shoot. He’s dreaming big.
All images ©2015 Dennis Stevens Photography