Photography is emotional storytelling through images. It’s the light and the casting of the shadows that enable us right to see right through to someone’s soul.” – Stephan Dekemper.

As Unconditionally Her celebrates the UNTOLD stories of people within our midst, we also celebrate those artists who capture these unique stories through film and photography.  One such outstanding artist is Stephan Dekemper, a noted cinematographer and still photographer.  His film credits include The Hate U Give (2018), Meet The Blacks 2, and Godzilla (to be released in 2019).  His professional skills contributed to a 2013 Oscar win for the short film, “The Lady in Number 6: How Music Saved My Life”, the story of Aliza Sommer-Herz who, at age 109, is the world’s oldest Holocaust survivor.

Born Stephan Michael Barnes on October 11, 1989, in Indiana, young Stephan was the fifth of six brothers.   He showed an early love for film and followed his passion to Columbia College-Hollywood in Los Angeles, California, where a cinematography major was a natural fit. Professional success followed soon after graduation.  While living the California dream, Stephan continued to hone his talents, developing a unique, poetic signature that was distinctive among his peers. A year ago, he left the comforts of California to pursue his passions in Atlanta, a developing hotbed for the film industry.

While there, he soon realized that the power of film to capture humanity was equaled and sometimes exceeded by the force of still photography. Stephan knows in his heart that one’s story is often revealed most clearly in candid portraits of everyday life. Oftentimes, the pattern of light and shadows, captured on his subject’s faces revealed the depths of one’s humanity.   Each portrait introduced a person’s story, which became more intriguing with every subsequent snapshot.  Each new day with my camera became more empowering.”   After a recent trip to Japan, Stephan’s love of capturing the essence of humanity grew deeply as he snapped photos of ordinary citizens on walking the streets, riding on trains, and merely exchanging glances.  “I realized that, in every photo, you could see their story.”

Today, Stephan is proud of an extensive body of work, accomplished through a decade of observation, artistry, and practice.   But it seems this Atlanta resident’s photos of everyday life, captured in the mosaic of highlights and shadows upon his subject’s faces, are most fulfilling to this professional artist.  The essence of his work is that still shot, providing a window into the humanity that surrounds and astounds him. The stories of his subjects are easily read; just look through the window and follow the lines and shadows to reach the soul.

For more information on this brilliant photographer’s body of work, visit