Interview with Photographer Dayna Weststeyn

“Listen to what other people have to say and use it as a form of improving.”

2016 #15 VOL III Dayna W PRINTcutDayna, can you give us a little intro as to who you are and how you got started? I am a 20 year old photographer based in Vancouver, Canada. I have never considered myself to be an overly creative person so I think that aspect really drew me towards photography. My dad has been a photographer for quite some time so I was able to learn and pick up on things from him. I have also spent many hours on YouTube learning Photoshop and experimenting with trial and error. I began doing nature photography and have slowly been moving more towards fashion/creative sets over the past six months. Like this shoot, most of my shoots are collaborative and photography is done by my boyfriend Tor Erickson and I.

What’s the best part of being a photographer? What do you love the most about your job? For me, the best part is getting to be creative and experiment with new ideas. I also enjoy getting to meet a lot of interesting people.

How would you describe your photographic vision? What kind of look do you try and create in your photos? This is a tough question for me because I find it changes for each shoot I do. Every fashion or creative set I do is unique and distinct from the others. I often change up my editing style and photography style depending on the vision of that particular photoshoot.

What is your favorite thing to shoot for yourself? Why? I love fashion/creative, but I also really enjoy nature photography. I love traveling and doing things outdoors (hiking, kayaking, etc.) and nature photography gives the opportunity to capture all the amazing places we go.

How do you choose your locations? Is there anything specific that you’re looking for? I shoot in natural light so the locations I select are always outdoor or in really well-lit indoor locations. The location is also strongly dependent of the idea of the shoot.

Are you the sort of photographer who plans for every minuscule detail or are you more spontaneous with your creations? Where do you find the majority of your inspiration? I generally plan the date of the shoot and come up with a suitable team (mua, models, etc.) a week to a few weeks in advance. Details on the clothes are normally figured out prior, but the rest is fairly spontaneous. Most of my inspiration comes from seeing the work of other photographers. I will often see something that I love and change it up a bit to come up with a creative idea of my own, along with the help of the other team members involved.

2016 #15 VOL III Dayna W WEB2Most of your projects are a collaborative process. Tell us what is like to always be working with new stylists, models, and designers. It’s a very exciting process constantly meeting new creative professionals in the industry. I know very little about makeup, hair styling, designing, etc. so it’s great getting to collaborate with people who are more experienced and able to come up with ideas of their own.

What from your point of view makes the shoot successful? Having an open minded and organized team is crucial to the success of the shoot. Not necessarily planning everything out perfectly, but rather making sure there is enough time to accomplish the shoot in a reasonably relaxed setting and pace.

Can you name a collection or single work that you have created that has resonated with you the most emotionally? Why? I recently did a creative shoot with a French bulldog that I have been fostering. It had lots of meaning because it gave me the opportunity to promote rescue dog fostering and adoption, which is something I feel quite strongly about.

2016 #15 VOL III Dayna W PRINTcuttHow do you feel about digital manipulation and post processing in today’s photography and how important is Photoshop in your final images? The term “digital manipulation” encompasses a variety of editing techniques. In today’s photography, I feel like people abuse it in certain aspects of photography. For example, making models thinner or straightening someone’s nose. This is something I do not support. I would never change a model’s body image because that makes them unique and is a part of who they are. However there are many art forms of digital manipulation that I am completely okay with. Photoshop is definitely important in my final images. I aim to create really dramatic final images, while still maintaining all of the models natural features and body image. I also try to maintain textures as much as possible.

Is there one piece of equipment or prop that you cannot live without? Not really – I don’t shoot with any lighting equipment so it’s just Tor and I, along with our cameras during the shoot.

What are you currently working on, and what do you have planned next? Tor and I are currently working on doing more high fashion. The next shoot we have planned is an eight look editorial for spring. Tor and I also plan on shooting more male models over the next few months.

Where can readers see more of your work and get connected with you? I have many photos up on my website: Tor and I also have Instagram accounts: @daynamariah and @torerickson

How do you use social media in conjunction with your business? What role does it play in your job? I use my website quite a bit when I refer people to my photography. I have a contact page for people to email me if they want to work together. I also use Facebook quite frequently to find members interested in collaborating for editorials or creative ideas.

2016 #15 VOL III Dayna W WEB3In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges for an independent photographer? In my opinion, the biggest challenge would be getting paid adequately for your work.

What advice would you give young women looking at a career in photography? What is the most important thing you have learned that you want to share with the world? The most important thing I’ve learned is that if you want the experience and you want to improve, you need to put yourself out there and try new things. I would advise someone looking at a career in photography to actively seek out new opportunities rather than waiting for them to come to you.

If you could tell yourself anything when you first started out, what would you say? Don’t let criticism bring you down. Listen to what other people have to say and use it as a form of improving.

Tell one surprising fact about yourself please. I am currently in my third year at Simon Fraser University studying biomedical physiology.

Thank you, Dayna.

Published March 2016 VOL III: BUY NOW