A Photographer’s Life … Margarita Stamatelopoulos

Q. Trace Your Travels … how did you go from Greece to Baltimore?

A. My father’s cousin was the first family member to move to the United States – she told everyone about the opportunities, how beautiful it is and how life is easier. So, my father and his immediate family decided to make the move to Ohio. My parents met when my father made a trip back to Greece. They got married in Greece and eventually had me. Almost a full year after I was born, my mother and I immigrated, as well. 

I very much disliked growing up in Ohio (Canton to be exact) and knew that I wanted to leave as soon as I could. So, I only applied to out-of-state schools for college. I attended The Art Institute in Pittsburgh, where I studied photography. It was far enough away to experience something new and gain full independence but close enough to where my parents lived, which made the change easier on them. 

I graduated in early 2011 and worked a lot. While living in Pittsburgh, I worked multiple jobs at the same time to make ends meet. I always had at least one job that was photography-related, from a location scout for Rue 21’s photography to photographing vacuum parts for a company’s catalog. Pittsburgh is a wonderful place to get that “city experience” at a miniature level. 

After spending about seven years in Pittsburgh, I felt I was ready to move somewhere new again. I had two choices in mind – either Austin, Texas, or Baltimore, Maryland. I had friends in both. I decided to visit Austin during the hottest month of the year to test it out. Ugh! It was a really cool city with lots to do, but I didn’t think I could live like that. Baltimore’s weather was better, plus it was still within driving distance from my parents. It felt like home pretty quickly. I discovered that once you put roots down in a neighborhood, the people really champion you and want to help and see you succeed. It was a new but welcomed experience. I’ve been in Baltimore for almost seven years now.

Q. What prompted your interest in photography in general and wedding photography specifically?

A. My mother always told me this story about the day I was born. Back then, you were in a room with multiple other patients. My mother took a lot of photographs of me while we were in the hospital. One of the other patients asked why she was taking so many photos of me. And, she replied, “So she can look back at these and see the best day of my life. Who knows, maybe she’ll become a photographer one day herself.” 

My mom was always documenting everything when I was growing up; I have a ton of photos from my childhood and it really is amazing being able to have all these memories at hand to look back on. At some point when I got old enough, my mom started handing off the camera to me and I just became the documenter. But, I don’t really remember making the choice of wanting to be a photographer until well into high school. I was taking an AP art class and my teacher introduced me to a more advanced camera. I ended up excelling in that class and figured since it was something I was good at, I’d try and pursue it.

Wedding photography didn’t come into my radar until after college while I was living in Pittsburgh. My original focus was on photojournalism. One day I got home from a job and saw a notice that a wedding photographer needed help for a wedding that day. I figured since I wasn’t doing anything I’d step in. She really liked me and asked me to work with her again. I quickly went from being just an assistant to a photographer. We photographed almost 50 weddings together over a year’s time. Then, I decided to try it myself. I wanted to grow it slowly because weddings take a lot of back-end work to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Q. Where does your work take you?

A. It hasn’t taken me very far yet, mostly just the DMV (D.C., Maryland and Virginia) and Pennsylvania. Ashley and Matthew’s wedding and reception brought me to Lancaster for the first time. I photographed a wedding in Jamaica a few years ago. I will be heading to Texas for a wedding this year and I’m really excited about that. My goal is to move back to Europe and build my business there.

Q. What prompted you to begin using cityscapes as the background for your wedding photography?

A. I really felt that it was important to include a wedding’s actual setting. It’s another aspect of the day and it’s another memory to keep. Places change all the time – they get built up or even sometimes destroyed. I want couples to be able to look back and remember how everything looked on their wedding day.


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