I haven’t seen you since summer, how was it??
Wonderful! So busy. I spent time at home in Victoria, working in Vancouver, travelling to Southern California to spend time with my boyfriend and flew to Europe for 5 weeks.
You were recently in L.A. what were you doing there?
Networking my butt off, shooting and staying with my boyfriend. A wonderful change of scenery and weather, but I always return home so grateful to be based on Vancouver Island.
What are some things L.A. could learn from Victoria?
The amazing sense of community and delicious food.
On your tumblr you quote Clare Vivier…”Have tunnel vision. what i mean by that is keep your eye on your dream. be inspired by others but don’t compare yourself to them. that, and try to say ‘yes’ to as many opportunities as you can. and, take failures in stride and take successes one day at a time.” Do you ever find yourself comparing your work to others and feeling discouraged?
In some way or another, it’s a constant struggle for everyone. We all have our own stories. “Comparison is the thief of joy”.. It’s OK to look at other work, but I make sure that I’m happy for them and their successes, never involve jealousy and discouragement. If they can do it, there’s no reason you can’t.
“Comparisons are odious” ..Another quote that I love, said quite often by my great-grandfather, Axel Vopnfjord.
What inspires you?
That’s a big question. I’m not so sure I know.. I think a lot of things subconsciously inspire me. Definitely the Vancouver Island beauty that nature provides us. Fresh air, music, my grandma’s crazy large wardrobe that I constantly shop through, traveling, my friends, boyfriend and family.
Admittedly, prior to sitting down with you and talking grit, I had a prejudgment of you. I had the idea that your life must be perfect. Traveling, taking awesome photo’s, being beautiful, cute boyfriend, kick-ass style, I couldn’t imagine what problems you would face. I was very wrong, as I usually am when I prejudge. What I didn’t see on social media was the severe pain you are in due to a back injury and the rippling effect it’s had on your life. Can you share a little bit about that?
I’m a little lucky for that.. The whole “unrealistic representation of life” social media allows you to curate. I don’t like the world seeing what I go through with my disability, while at the same time I wish people understood how much pain I’m in every day without feeling like I’m shoving it down their throats or looking for sympathy.
I fall asleep and wake up every single day in ridiculous amounts of pain, it’s been like this since I was in a car accident with my family at the age of 11. Shortly after I was diagnosed with Scoliosis and Kyposis. I wore a full torso brace 24/7 for two years to slow my curvature down just enough before getting my first 10 hour full spinal fusion. This was followed by 5 years of unexplained “it’s all in your head” chronic pain, doing everything and anything I possibly could that would subside the pain with no positive outcomes and, finally, a second 13 hour spinal surgery that replaced all of my old hardware. Now, I’m in even more pain than ever before and doing everything I possibly can to deal with and treat it. After saying all of that.. I still force myself out of bed and get things done, even if it’s leaving the house for a meeting or doing the dishes. I feel as if the way I present myself is my disguise from what I’m going through internally.
Photography truly saved me. If I’m going to be in this much pain for the rest of my life, I need to enjoy what I’m doing 100%. Working for myself, on a schedule that I create is amazing. I can get through weddings and fashion shoots with assistants and prep the week beforehand. Positivity, a strong support system and taking time to let myself actually feel what’s happening to my body is key. I have really bad days.. I suppose you’ve got to have the bad to really enjoy the good ones.
I have some long-term photography projects planned that’ll be showcased in the future. They’ll raise awareness for Scoliosis, chronic pain and depression.
Thinking back to when you started photography, what were some of the things that worried you then but seem so easy now?
The dreadful pricing discussion. Talking money sucks, especially when it’s about something you feel so passionately for. I quickly learnt that when you’re a professional, to act like one. Discuss money first, people will take you and your work more seriously.
Last laugh out loud moment?
Ah! I can’t remember a specific LOL. I laugh a lot, the last person that made me laugh was my dad. He’s the funniest, most ridiculous human I know.
Who are some of your favourite photographers?
I don’t really have “favourites”, a lot of my friends are extremely talented though. Katrin Braga is from Iceland, now living in Vancouver and her photos take me into some magical alternate universe when I look at them.
I guess if I had to choose right now.. Cass Bird, Hedi Slimane, Moni Haworth, and Ryan McGinley.
I noticed you had a collection of Archie comics in your home. Who should Archie pick…Betty or Veronica?
What have you learned about yourself in the last few years, since taking on photography professionally?
I’ve learnt that you need to be business savvy almost more so than talented and creative. If someone truly wants to fully support themselves as a photographer, you need to hustle your butt off.
My parents. They had me in their early 20s, both artists turned teachers and managed to live an amazing life while raising two kids, teaching hundreds, opening their home to international students and taking my brother and I all over the world. They’re always there for us.. I’m beyond grateful for my family and their support.
Given the opportunity to photograph any living person, who would it be?
Top 3 places to shop in Victoria?
+Still Design – amazing furniture, I’m obsessed with chairs.
+Camera Traders in Market Square.
+I love Footloose, I love shoes.
Favourite thing to photograph?
People! We are all so unique in our own ways. I love getting to know my subject and making new friends. I’m about to start a creative portrait project in my downtown studio this new year. So, message me if you’re reading this and interested!!
Any advice for a person who might be feeling discouraged in their creative pursuits?
Feeling discouraged is necessary at some points. You have to prove that you can get through whatever it is you’re going though. Get out of the house, read a newspaper, put things into perspective. Life would be so boring without ups and downs. There are always ups though, no matter how crappy you feel.
Can you share a secret?
I’m so embarrassed…It took me over 6 months to get this interview typed up. I feel terrible. Sorry Sara! Talking about myself like this scares me.. I suppose I didn’t realize that until you came to me. I’m so glad you did, though!
Thank you for talking grit with me, Berkley!
For more information on Berkley, check out her website linked below!