Wendy D is a fantastic photographer with an infectious smile that makes all her photoshoots a pleasure.
She grew up in New Brunswick near Davidson Lake, where her closest neighbors lived more than a kilometer away. “They were both photographers, so I learned a lot from them.”
She picked up her first camera at the age of 11. “I’m pretty sure it was a Pentax K-1000. My dad would always take pictures of the Christmas lights. He even had a tripod.”
She loved taking stills of the beautiful scenery around Davidson Lake, now a maple syrup farm.
By grade 10, she was the yearbook photographer at her high school. “I already knew I wanted to be a photographer, even back then. I tried science at the University of New Brunswick for a year, but that only proved I needed to focus on photography as a career.” She then went to Holland College, which is like BCIT but in PEI. “My professor said I already knew more than he could teach me.” She met her ex-husband there – who shot videos – together; they did weddings, covered sports, and she was even a floor director at one point.
“I’ve always done a bit of both still photography and video. Both inspire me in different ways.
Photography is healing in many ways. For the person being photographed, they get to shine or get in touch with their authentic or magical self. Using props or lighting or even being in nature can help capture a moment that will make someone see how amazing they truly are. This experience can be very life affirming.
They can also play characters like in cosplay, and the session can be an escape from the daily grind. Of course, we capture epic or transformative moments in our lives like weddings, graduations, 1st steps, birthdays.
The photographer’s job is to help the person relax so that their true self can shine through. If I can get people to smile, that is my gift to the world.
For the photographer, it is, perhaps, even more healing.”
“Everyone can see and create imagery just by going for walks in their own neighbourhood, or by travelling to unknown places to be inspired by something new. This simple act of finding beauty in one’s life and capturing it can make a big difference to someone’s outlook and energy. Photography is about seeing the beauty around you.
Even years later, when we are feeling down, we can look back at those magical moments we captured and be brought to a place of peace and empowerment.”
After spending time in Hamilton and then Nanaimo, Wendy D moved to Vancouver in 2002.
Around 15 years ago, she created something called the ‘Milkshake Party,’ where people representing all forms of creativity come to share stories and adventures.
“I did it to thank all my clients and the other photographers I knew. I made it a ‘Milkshake Party’ because I couldn’t afford wine and cheese. But somehow, the milkshake aspect has made it even more meaningful because it’s slightly different from all the other industry parties.”
“We get about 80 to100 people a year. Last year we had to do it outside because of covid. My good friend Shawn Major helped me put up a tent because the sun was scorching, and of course, in Vancouver, you never know when the rain will happen. The party used to happen in February, but I’ve now moved it to July. I recently had to buy a new milkshake maker because the old ones that I got from my parents’ ice cream shop didn’t work anymore.”
Another one of her favourite projects was called SCREAM. She came up with the idea when one of her clients said that life was so crazy he just wanted to scream. She took a photo of him screaming and then a photo of his laughter afterwards. She realized she had captured something special. In the end, her exhibition had over 250 people screaming and then laughing afterwards.
She recently won an award for a photo of Doreen Manuel: 2019 WOMAN OF THE YEAR FOR ‘THE VANCOUVER WOMEN IN FILM SPOTLIGHT AWARDS’
“All the elements came together just right: The lighting, the wardrobe, and the artist being photographed. She is so powerful and beautiful in this picture; all my photography does is enhance her natural power and beauty.”
“Photography has gotten me through some of the toughest times in my life. Capturing beauty in nature and people; helps me cope in those times. I can feel as if I was part of those moments of beauty, of strength.”
“I remember when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I planned to take photographs of her during the process, but I just couldn’t. It was just too close to home. A few weeks later, I got a call from a woman named Kim, who was going through the same thing. It was as if the universe was looking after me. I was able to work with her through this challenging time, and it not only helped her, but it helped me understand what my mother was going through in a much deeper way.”
“Because photography is literally like a mirror that you hold up to life to see its wonder. A truly great photographer is just framing the magical nature of the universe to make it easier for other people to see. I just want to take pictures that mean something.”
And so Wendy D continues to make the world more wonderful, more magical, one camera click and one smile at a time.
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