Biography by Artrails Woodworker and Journalist Deborah Kermode

Stella Monday’s first camera was a Brownie which she took to Costa Rica as a high school exchange student. She photographed beautiful landscapes but her mother said they weren’t any good because there were no people in them! Her mother wanted snapshots, she realized, with people waving. That's not what Stella wanted, she wanted photographs.

She got her first Pentax in college, and a few years later a trusty Nikkormat that lasted 20 years. Her first professional work involved candid close-ups of chess players for “Chess Life” magazine, featured on many covers, and bringing her several awards.


About 20 years ago she described clicking a switch in her inner vision and moving into color photography. But the good pictures were still few and far between. Fourteen years ago, blissful and pregnant with her first child, and in the Caribbean, her work started to come together -- she made her first 16 x 20 enlargements and had her first show.


And come together it does. Stella is mostly self-taught, though she has benefited greatly from workshops and from asking questions. People often think the photos are color enhanced or hand worked during developing, but she achieves the painterly quality of her photographs in the taking of them and has developed it as her signature style.


Stella “paints” with her camera.

Her passion in photography is finding that perfect moment that allows her to show a scene in a new light. The texture and shape in her photos has a palpable quality. Much of her work is landscape; one collection was taken on a fourteen month trip around the world.


All of Stella’s pictures have an abstract quality, whether in a recognizable scene or an intentional abstract. Working with natural light and finding unusual viewpoints, she captures a moment that we are usually moving too fast to see, and in that moment is a feeling.


Because she realizes that the fast lane (raising a son, marketing her photography, volunteering with Art at the Source, etc.) is not where photos happen she chooses to do most of her photography while traveling, but resists being called a “travel photographer.” When she is away from the daily have to’s she can slow down and capture these special moments. She prefers her work be seen as telling a story: “They tell their own stories, wherever I happen to be. My hope is that when people see them, they’ll see and feel what I saw and felt when I took the picture.” But she does not usually “work” for a picture. She lets her “inspiration and intuition lead me on an adventure to where the picture is. The picture and I are brought together in the moment.” And she brings that moment home to share with others, that we may enter her adventure.


As we looked at and discussed her more abstract photos, I came to know more of Stella’s spirit. Be they doors and windows “suggesting a beckoning in or emanating out,” a splattered drop cloth or painted over graffiti on a wall in Poland, the stories in her abstracts are not always evident but more an archetypal resonation of something unconscious. Her pictures worked me in a way I like to be worked, not always aware what they are calling up but reflecting a timelessness that I know.


Stella describes the act of taking a picture: “When the picture and I come together I’m transported, in a kind of trance; totally in the moment.” Her audience’s emotional responses reveal their recognition of that sense of timelessness.

Background Image from the Portfolio: Icon Series