We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephen Bay and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephen, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I actually didn’t, at least not at first. I spent many years studying Engineering in college and after I got my degree I doubled down and did graduate work in computer science and machine learning. This is what brought me to Southern California — I spent four years at UC Irvine completing my doctorate degree. However, while I was enrolled I picked up a camera and started photographing. Initially it was just things I saw when I was out hiking or traveling for conferences. It was a great diversion and stress reliever. I continued photographing after I graduated and started working in Silicon Valley. After a while I realized I didn’t enjoy the corporate life and ended up switching my career to photography. It wasn’t an easy change or something I did lightly. I spent years doing photography part time before I had the courage to act.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a landscape and cityscape photographer based in San Diego. I focus exclusively on photographing local scenes and the area where I live. I feel fortunate as San Diego has an overwhelming abundance of beautiful areas: the coast, the city, the mountains, and the desert. What I focus on is finding those little scenes that others might not notice and just walk on by or catching a fleeting moment that will never be duplicated again. I pick locations where I live because I want to show people that there’s always something new to be discovered despite our familiarity and that there’s no limit on creativity. I sell my work as limited edition prints and license images for commercial use. I also teach photography through workshops and private 1-on-1 instruction.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
For me, one of the best things I like about San Diego is the coast. We have some wonderful beaches but I also love the cliffs because all of the caves there. I’ve spent considerable time exploring them, especially sunset cliffs so I would share that with my friend. The other part of San Diego that I love is the desert. We have an incredible natural beauty just a short drive away in Anza Borrego state park. We’d probably go to Font’s Point and then explore some of the slot canyons there. Food wise, I love the wide variety of Mexican food you can get here. It’s better than any other place I’ve lived or visited. And since many of my good friends are from Canada (born and raised there), it’s not something they can get there.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
So many people and organizations have helped me, I couldn’t list them all. However, I do want to acknowledge the National Science Foundation which provided grants that made it possible for me to attend graduate school and finish without student loan debt. This was a big factor in my being able to switch careers without having to stress too much about financial security.