Quote of the Month
“Knowing that I can help others by doing something I truly enjoy is wonderful.”
-Stephanie Engle, 16 year old Amazing Photographer
Stephanie Engle, Amazing Kid of the Month!
Stephanie Engle, 16, is a great example of how we can take a rough patch in our life and turn it into a way to give back to others. After Stephanie’s horse died and she found that she had no photos to remember him by, she learned photography so that the same thing wouldn’t happen to others. Now, five years later Stephanie has taken all the profits of her photography and is donating them to a Guatemalan orphanage!
Stephanie shows us that we can take any tragedy in our life and grow from it. Not only has she helped other girls remember their horses by her photographs, but also Stephanie has also cultivated a new passion and is now giving back! We couldn’t be any prouder to showcase Stephanie Engle as our Amazing Kid of the Month!
Stephanie’s Love for Horseback Riding
Before Stephanie ever became a photographer, she was an active horseback rider, starting just after she turned six years old. “My favorite thing about riding is definitely the thrill of competition and how the sport pushes me past my comfort zone,” Stephanie says.
Even though Stephanie notes that she is shy, horseback riding has shown her that “in order to ride well, I cannot limit myself by worrying—I have to be bold and take risks. They don’t always pay off, but accepting that defeat gracefully is another valuable lesson riding has taught me.”
The Birth of Stephanie’s Photography
When Stephanie was eleven years old, her pony Winnie had to be put down. To remember her pony, Stephanie looked for old photos of him only to realize that she didn’t have any. “Upon realizing I had no photos of him, I decided to ensure the same thing wouldn’t happen to other little girls like me by taking photos at local horse competitions.” A fast learner, Stephanie became a brilliant photographer in no time. “Everyone thought it was a fleeting hobby of mine, but from the beginning I foresaw how much photography could potentially change my life as it has,” Stephanie says.
When she was only twelve years old, professional adult photographers were so threatened by her talent that she had to stop photographing horses at competitions. Even with her horse photo business shut down, she still took the time to e-mail people their horse photos for free. Quickly, magazines, horseback riding companies, and national media outlets saw her work and began hiring her.
Cultivating Her New Talent
Now, Stephanie’s favorite thing to photograph is people. What she finds most exciting about people is that they have so many unusual features that she gets to capture—from their eyes to their freckles. “I enjoy showcasing those qualities and demonstrating the beauty of them, especially for people who feel self-conscious about these particular traits,” says Stephanie.
Stephanie loves photography so much that when asked she had a hard time coming up with her favorite thing about the art. However if she had to choose, Stephanie loves the fulfillment she gets out of photographing. “Taking the photos excites me, as I love seeing the finished products—good or bad—and just studying them, knowing I am gradually improving,” says Stephanie. “Moreover, I love seeing people’s expressions when they receive them.”
Raising Hope in Guatemala
Stephanie decided to start donating the profits from her photographs after she saw how well her photographs did and how much she could use her talent to make a positive change in the lives of others. “Specifically, I decided to aid Guatemalan orphanage run by a friend of my family after hearing her many tragic stories about the orphans and civilians of Guatemala,” explains Stephanie.
Stephanie, her sister, and her mother now run RAISE, a nonprofit organization dedicating to helping a Guatemalan orphanage. RAISE is run by the organization For the Love of Patricia. So far, RAISE has made around $10,000 to donate to the orphanage by selling photographs and through donations!
In April, Stephanie was even able to visit the orphanage.
“I documented my stay through photography and videography, which has lead to the production of a photo book and a documentary to be featured on the upcoming RAISE website I will design,” she says. The photos show all that the people have suffered and how strong they are to overcome the challenges they face. “By selling this coffee table photo book, which we aspire to distribute nationwide, we hope to raise enough money to aid the orphans and to reform the legal system in Guatemala that renders the adoption process almost impossible.”
A Bright Future for Stephanie!
Through RAISE, Stephanie has been able to grow upon her passion of video editing and website building. It is no surprise that she also loves anything creative, whether that be drawing, painting, or creative writing.
Already, Stephanie has many future goals that will help her build up her passions and enable her to keep giving back to the world. Her photography goals include her becoming what she calls a “chameleon” photographer, where she is good at shooting everything! Stephanie would also like to keep growing in her horseback riding competitions and attend college.
She also has a very inspiring dream for RAISE. “I hope to raise $100,000 for RAISE in the process so that I can tackle the legal system in Guatemala and amend the corrupt adoption and education process,” Stephanie says.
Not only is Stephanie doing her part to change the world, but you can too! Stephanie advises us to start with smaller goals. “By starting small and targeting one area or demographic, however, you can still make a huge difference and lay a strong foundation for you to pursue bigger projects,” she says.
And one of the big keys to success in making a positive change is to make sure we are also passionate about what we are doing. “Try utilizing your passions to help people, like I have done with my photography—it’ll make your endeavor more enjoyable and fulfilling.”
Connect with Stephanie Online
Stephanie’s website: http://www.stephanieengle.org/
Visit RAISE’s website: http://www.raiseguatemala.org/
Awards and Honors Stephanie has Received
Scholastic Arts and Writing –Silver Key Award, Photography
Palo Alto Weekly Photo Contest – 2nd Prize
United States Equestrian Federation – Top 30 Nationally multiple years
United States Equestrian Federation – Top 10 Regionally multiple years
- Teen Ink
- Amazing Kids Magazine
- Chronicle of the Horse
- Showbiz Magazine
- Sidelines Magazine
- Equestrian Magazine
- Equestrian Life
- Phelps Media Group
- National Honor Society
- National Young Leaders Conference
- National Society of High School Scholars
- Stanford EPGY Program
- CTY Johns Hopkins Program