STEFDIES is a photographic performance art series that chronicles a life. Each photo is an “anti-selfie” that strives to get back to the roots of what a photograph was intended to be- a captured moment in time.

The series provokes discussion on mortality, the function of photography, and stirs the imagination. Each photo is just a blip in a day. Nothing less, nothing more. It is the truest sense of what I believe photographs should be- tangible physical proof that “I was here“.

STEFDIES is a celebration of life.

The STEFDIES series reminds us we will one day die, like our face down figure. Hence seeing her in the photograph wakes up not only the image but us. Here is our dead body outside Big Ben… We are given the opportunity to ‘die before we die’ and really take in the moment in the photo as we must in life. It is not about death, it is about life. Here is Big Ben today.

We cannot count on tomorrow. Let us celebrate these moments. How many more times will you actually see Big Ben in life? Your family at Christmas? etc.

STEFDIES is a constant reminder of how precious life is. The breath inside is what we all ultimately seek.

– Airell Anthony Hayles

All STEFDIES images occur spontaneously in my daily life, the images the viewer happens to see are the 25% of images that are useable. This is why a STEFDIES image is the opposite of a selfie. A selfie has controlled conditions, specific lighting, makeup/hair/wardrobe, an agenda, and is focused on the individual personality- it is a contrived and manipulated image distorted to achieve a desired result. STEFDIES is the polar opposite- I get one chance to get the shot, if it doesn’t happen, c’est la vie. We have one life to live, and we don’t get re-do’s and i would like to think i try to capture that feeling, that fleeting sense of life and its impermanence, in my photos.

What’s the point of it?

For me as an artist and individual, I push myself to take these photos (in the most uncomfortable of situations) as it allows me to participate in capturing a moment in time physically as well as mentally and emotionally. I have to totally commit to being ‘in the moment’ to get that one shot. I have to take myself out of my one head and get into the moment. Believe me, it’s really hard not to be present when you are face down eating dirt.

I want to keep producing images that stir the imagination and produce joy for the viewer. I also want to continue to produce photos that are all age appropriate, and inclusive. For example, many school groups follow the STEFDIES series, as they considerate a good tool to teach young adults there are alternatives to the perfectionism of selfies and online culture.