When Tarrytown resident Oleksandra Stelmah arrived from Ukraine as a teenager, she chose a typical path of someone trying to improve their life in the United States. After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in finance from the University of Illinois and Pace University respectively, she spent 13 years in corporate finance.
Despite her career success, Oleksandra always felt that her true calling was in the arts. “My true passion was always the arts,” she said. “I’ve been ballroom dancing since I was six. I also make crocheted toys. When I started making toys, I needed to photograph them so I bought a camera and fell in love with photography.”
But it was when Oleksandra had her first child and hired a photographer to take maternity and new-born pictures that she understood the creative side of helping families capture their most cherished memories. After attending various photography workshops in the US and Europe, Oleksandra opened Stelmah Photography studio in Dobbs Ferry.
Oleksandra knew she wanted to focus exclusively in the new-born and maternity areas. “New-born photography requires very specific skills and I feel you must master that craft rather than try to be a maternity photographer, wedding photographer, dog photographer and everything else,” she emphasized. “So I completed my new-born first-aid certification, I created a germ-free environment, and took safety courses in posing new-borns. All to insure comfort and safety.”
Oleksandras strives to make sure she understands her client’s desires. Each client interaction starts with an in-person consultation where she shares her past work and shows the hyper-allergenic outfits and props she features in her studio. From that initial consultation to the final portraits is a four-to-six-week process. “I don’t ask clients to decide up-front how many images they want to purchase or how many portraits they want to create,” she noted. “I don’t think it’s fair to ask someone to commit to a certain number of images before they’ve seen them.”
It’s that personal touch and attention to detail that lead many of Oleksandra’s clients to come to her again and again. “Clients start with maternity photos, then return for new-born photo, when the baby first sits and for their first birthday,” she says. “I help you to capture those most precious moments of your life. And I focus on creating print portraits because your memories deserve more than just being stored in your computer or on your phone. I want you to display them on your walls and cherish them every day you walk by.”
Tips from Oleksandra:
- Plan and book your session a few months in advance.
- For maternity photos, the best time is 28-33 weeks.
- The best time to shoot new-borns is within the first 5-17 days.