Teferri Stewart & Dionna Ballard – Creative Minds in ATL

A winter weather advisory didn’t stop Teferri and Dionna from bringing their creative visions to life. Check out their stories and what they created below.

Say hello to Teferri and Dionna:



Where are you from?  Where have you been?

T.S. – Originally a Florida native, I currently call Atlanta, Georgia my home. I relocated after completing my BFA in Illustration from Ringling College of Art. Atlanta was intended as a pit stop, but I fell in love with the city and the people.  

D.B. – I’m from East Orange, New Jersey, but I moved to Atlanta when I was about four or five years old. I’ve been in the city ever since. I’m not one to really get too comfortable in one place, so even though I’m 18, I try to travel to new places. I’ve never been outside of the country, but I’ve traveled to Tennessee, North Carolina, New York, and Alabama.

How do you find your inspiration?

T.S. – Atlanta has a very tight and connected creative community. It’s very easy to be inspired and stay encouraged when there are so many talented and approachable creatives in your city with a broad range of disciplines.

Dionna, what sparked your interest in modeling? How did you get started?

D.B. – I have so many things that made me go “oooo, I think I want to do this,” but never really stuck with it. America’s Next Top Model actually sparked my interest in modeling. I would sit and watch it with my mom and be in awe over basically everything the models did. I knew I wanted to do the same.

Photo by Teferri Stewart

Teferri, what drew you to photography? How did you get started?

T.S. – My mom, who has always loved fashion had a ton of Vogue, Glamour and GQ (for my dad) laying around the house – it was like an archive of fashion from the 70s through the late 80s. As a child, I grew an appreciation for the photographer’s work in these magazines, but at that young age, I never connected these editorials with the art of photography – I saw them simply as cool pictures. In my high school years, I attended a school for visual and performing arts, where I was able to take my first photography class where I learned how to process film and work in a dark room. I keep shooting until after college, but stopped for more than a decade to pursue my career in Broadcast design. It’s within the last four years that I decided to get back into the art of photography, and those editorials I remember from my childhood, are what push me in the back of my head.

Teferri, you’re also a Graphic Designer – tell us about that aspect of your career and how it has shaped your photography and vice versa.

T.S. – I work for CNN as a design supervisor. Designing for live television is exciting because it’s extremely fast-paced, and you have a new challenge of never knowing what you will face, day to day. This has helped me to think fast on my toes, as well as creatively, so when I’m shooting street portraits or with a model, I’m able to make due in a pinch if any unexpected challenges arise.

Dionna, with how competitive modeling is, how do you stand out?

D.B. – There are so many beautiful girls from different ethnic backgrounds, but modeling is more than just a pretty face to me. To me, my personality stands out the most. I’m more of a free-spirited and kind-hearted person, yet I can be fierce and edgy. I’m a go-getter, and it’s hard for my determination to go unnoticed.

Photo by Teferri Stewart

What’s been the most challenging part of modeling, and how did you overcome those challenges?

D.B. – The most challenging part of modeling is actually booking jobs. Being a freelance model, I have to work, work, work really hard just to find something. It gets hard sometimes, but I never give up. I just take it day by day and know that everything will come as it should, as long as I keep pushing towards my dream.

What qualities do you look for in your models?

T.S. – Most importantly, I look for creators and collaborators. I want to be able to shoot with models that not only think in front of the camera, but can also work with me with the total vision behind it. I like to send vision boards to sell an idea and ask for any input on styling, mood, etc. It’s important to me that what I shoot with the model also portrays who they are and contains some parts of their vision as well. If we’re happy and excited with the results of a shoot, I’m pleased.

Photo by Teferri Stewart

Dionna, what is the best thing a photographer can do to bring out your personality?

D.B. – I love when a photographer is really silly, laid back, and open-minded, because I like to be comfortable. When a photographer is like that, it makes me more relaxed, bringing my personality out more. I feel like that’s when I take the best photos as well.

You recently collaborated together in less than ideal weather conditions. Tell us about the premise of the shoot and how it was affected by the weather. 

T.S. – Our shoot location changed in scale from its original idea. We started with plans to shoot golden hour on the summit of Stone Mountain, Georgia, but as the week of the shoot approached, a weather advisory was put into place the day of our shoot at 4pm – one hour before our call time. I sought to stay as close to the original idea as possible. I really wanted the colors of the shoot to encompass the cold backdrop of granite contrasting off the warm tones of Dionna’s hair and skin to stay the same, but figured being at 1,000 ft elevation during a winter weather advisory wouldn’t be the best idea. So my solution was to move the shoot up four hours to a skate park pool, trading granite for concrete – keeping somewhat in theme of color and texture. We managed to get about a good hour of shooting in before freezing rain cut our shoot short.

D.B. – Teferri is an amazing photographer, definitely a visionary. I loved how he was so professional, yet fun. During the shoot, we had very good conversations and got to know each other a little more, and he made sure that I was comfortable (and not freezing my butt off). He was also willing to step outside of his comfort zone for the perfect shots.

Photo by Teferri Stewart

Photo by Teferri Stewart

Dionna, what do you want people to remember about you after a shoot?

D.B. – I want people to remember my determination while also remembering my spirit, you know? That’s why I express my personality so much, because I know that if someone forgets my name, they’ll never forget the energy I put out.

Photo by Teferri Stewart

What’s one of your biggest fears?

D.B. – I don’t really have any fears unless it pertains to bugs. I don’t like bugs at all, really. I used to have a fear of rejection, but after I realized that I’m not perfect and if I don’t get chosen for something, or liked by someone, there is always going to someone that does choose me and likes me. 🙂

What will you be doing five years from now?

T.S. – The first time I was asked this question, I had a laundry list of answers. Every time since I’ve been asked this question, I think back to the previous five years and realize the impossibility of it. What I wish for in the next five years is that with whatever changes that may occur, I’m able to face it using the knowledge gained from the previous five years, and that I’m lucky enough to document it with my camera along the way.

D.B. – Hopefully, I’m out of college, still modeling, and in warm climate, because the cold is not for me.

For anyone who wants to get in touch with Teferri, here’s some contact information:

FStop: Profile

Website: www.teferri.com

Facebook: Profile

Instagram: @teferri

500px: Profile

For anyone who wants to get in touch with Dionna, here’s some contact information:

FStop: Profile

Facebook: Profile

Instagram: @six.suns

Tumblr: Page

MM: Profile

Teferri and Dionna, thank you for sharing your stories and the results from your collaboration with us! 🙂

If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Also, remember to download the FStop app for iPhone here!

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