Incoming Altman Rae Stevenson of the 2025 cohort is an experienced photographer with professional credits on her resume.
Rae first started taking pictures when she received a point-and-shoot camera at eight years old. “My interest in photography really accelerated when I got an iPod touch a year or two later,” she says. Rae’s mother saw something special in her photographs and decided to show Rae’s work to a family friend, Elizabeth Galecke, who is a professional portrait photographer. Rae says, “Elizabeth acted as a mentor for me and she taught me a lot about photography. They were never formal lessons, but I got a lot of experience going on photo excursions with her and helping her out during client shoots.”
It didn’t take long for Rae to catch on. By the time she was 11 years old, she had her first solo photography exhibition. Since then, she has been participating in events alongside professional photographers. Her credits include contributing to the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh’s Exposure Time portrait photography event twice, where she was the only child photographer. She has also won awards for her nature photography from the JC Raulston Arboretum.
Though she sometimes does event and portrait photography, Rae primarily takes photos for fun. However, when COVID-19 began affecting her community last year, Rae saw an opportunity to utilize her photography skills in a new way. She started an initiative called Rae’s Porch Portraits. “I wanted to use my skills to help out in a time when there was so much suffering and isolation. I decided to take socially distanced porch portraits in exchange for donations to the North Carolina Restaurant Relief Fund, which gave grants to laid off restaurant workers. I consulted with my mom and Elizabeth to come up with a plan and I created an Instagram account to promote the project. My mom assisted me on my shoots, and I took and edited all of the pictures. I ended up raising $965.”
You can see a selection of Rae’s photographs below. You can also check out her work on Instagram @raetsphotography, or @raesporchportraits to see the work she did with Rae’s Porch Portraits.