art.

interview with portrait and concert photographer Dani Cyr.

The Empathetic Badass: Women in Photography

Rena Siddall / 20 March 2019

Portrait - Dani Cyr

We interviewed Dani Cyr for our piece on the empathetic badass: women in photography in honour of International Women’s Day. This is what she had to say:

How long have you been taking photos?

Probably about 4/5 years? I did some schooling 2 years ago which makes me feel more professional. (Cyr laughs).

You mention band and concert photography is your favourite. Is there a local band or artist that you would love to shoot?

Florence and the Machine or Taylor Swift HANDS DOWN. I have seen Taylor Swift live and her performances are so theatrical. It would be such a thrill to shoot them.

Allen Stone - Photo by Dani Cyr

What do you find the most challenging thing about being a business owner?

Keeping people interested in my work enough to want to hire me. I find it tough because photography is a perfect example of a very competitive field. So many photographers are here in Victoria, and surrounding areas, so I definitely have to show I have something special in order for them to want to spend their money on me.

In a notoriously “man’s-world,” do you find the glass ceiling exists for female photographers as well?

I don’t know if it is necessarily a man vs. woman kind of situation but more person vs person. There are just SO many people in this field of work and art. There are definitely different genres of photography that are more dominated by men I have come to find, like concert photography. But I wouldn’t even consider that to be that a “glass ceiling” kind of thing though. In my experience they have always been very supportive. There are some distinct times where I had some very condescending comments thrown at me, but I just laugh. I mean, someone told me to I needed to “hustle harder” because I didn’t wanna’ do studio photography and rent out of his home studio monthly. I think we know who needs to hustle harder here though, if he’s begging people to rent out of his studio. (Cyr laughs).

On your website you talk about the future being female and women empowering each other. How do you see your work playing into that vision?

I think just focusing on women as much as I can. So continuing to do what I am doing and always trying to make it a celebratory stance. I love the idea of “shining light” or “celebrating” women because then it is the most positive. Through art, music, social media, etc. I love doing projects, like my Women for Women project, it got a lot of recognition in Victoria, but I would love to do another similar style of project or showcase like we did last June. I just want to be a part of all of it.

You were part of the charity event, the Women for Women Showcase, last year in Victoria. How did that come to fruition? And is that an ongoing project?

I came up with and co-hosted the Women FOR Women project with an amazing friend of mine Lo Waight who is a musician from Victoria. Once it had started up and I had interviewed a bunch of local ladies, we got in touch with some friends at The Zone @ 91.3 (who co-hosted) and donated all the funds to a local group Period Posse. It was an amazing way to bring the project to life in a live setting.

Arkells - By Dani Cyr

YES it definitely is an ongoing project. I have been interviewing bands with female leads or members as they come to Victoria. After I go through a few changes it’ll be up on my website soon.

Do you have new plans for the interviews and that content? Will there be a way for people to read those again?

Yes, I am re-doing everything website wise and making a few changes so it it will also be all on its OWN page. I didn’t want it to be on my website anymore, because I didn’t want it to take away from my separate work, and vice versa. I wanted it to be easy to find and easy to read. I think it also deserves its own platform!

What have you learned about yourself through this project?

I have been inspired daily by so many women. Literally daily. I think this project and collaboration has also taught me to be more patient and well… patient. There are some people throughout the project and its debut that have made nasty comments- how it is not supporting men. As many times as I make it clear the project isn’t a stab at men, but a shine towards women, in an industry that is highly dominated by men, it doesn’t necessarily matter. People will always have their opinions but as long as I continue to try and bring light to the collaboration, and women in music, then I am happy.

You’ve been pretty open about your breast reduction and being comfortable with your own body image and self-worth. What inspired that?

Ahhh yes. Growing up my chest came in quite quickly and there were times that harassment was prevalent. This was before I even realized that it was harassment. I think a lot of girls just kind of ignore or laugh off things that are super uncomfortable especially at high-school age because they don’t want to seem like a “bitch” or “outspoken” (that got out of my system really quickly). I did it because being 5’2 and having a chest my size, made it hard to do day-to-day things. Working out, hiking, wearing any clothes or bathing suits. I stopped sailing- I raced sail boats quite competitively- because wearing all my gear on top of such a large chest was very hard for me physically. I now see an RMT three times a month because I am still dealing with the pain of fixing my posture. I wish I did it at 18 because it is the best thing I ever did.

Beforehand I was terrified. I was scared about the scars, going under during surgery, all of it. Now, the scars are barely noticeable. It took about 2 years from the thought of, “ok let’s go to the doctor and see what they have to say or get a referral” to the point of actually having the surgery completed. I struggle with body positivity all the time, but the people around me are so supportive. My boyfriend is super loving but very real with me. I know he genuinely means it when I am having a down day about my image and body, and he says all the right things.

I think for me, being open about it was important because I wanted to let other women know that there shouldn’t be a stigma towards changing something like that about yourself. If YOU are unhappy, or uncomfortable you are the only person that can change it. There were a few people whom I work with that lectured me against it because of breastfeeding but honestly, I am 23, and I have so much life to live before I even think about having kids- [there are] things I want to do in my life and I want to be comfortable doing so. I am not going to live my life with pain and more anxiety about my image, because of a possible chance I wont be able to breastfeed. Long story short, best decision I have ever made, and I would recommend it to anybody interested.

Who are your inspirations? Photographers or otherwise?

Annie Leibovitz. Her work is outstanding, and she is also such a badass woman. I am reading her book and even that is inspiring. She talks about photography in such unique ways. She is someone I would die to meet one day. I bought her Masterclass online just so I can learn as much as I can. If I would pick someone who isn’t a photographer, my mum. Definitely. I honestly am inspired by day-to-day people. But those two are super important influences.

Do you ever meet anyone and think “I have to shoot them?”

YES! All the damn time. Even people I don’t meet. I see people through social media and I am like, “ahhhh I would love to do a super cool shoot with them!” Yeah, it happens all the time. “Photography crushes”.

What do you most want your work to convey?

Honest emotion. I have a spot in my website where I say one of my favourite parts about shooting live shows is when the house lights go down, and the crowd starts to get really loud. You can’t see anything but little twinkles of light until the big moment where the band starts. I want my work to convey the emotion and excitement people have when that is happening. A way to show off why people love live music. But also, it is a way to share musician’s passions, through my own.

Like I said above, outside of concerts and bands, honest emotion. In portraiture especially. Annie Leibovitz makes a comment in her masterclass where she says “There is this idea that in portraiture it is the photographers job to set the subject at ease, I don’t believe that”. I love that. SOO MUCH. Except for maternity sessions, pregnant mamas totally deserve to feel at ease. (Cyr laughs).

It is my goal in 2019 to try and start more projects and make more statements. Do things that are unusual. Why not?

What is one thing you would change about your business if you were to go back and do it all over?

I honestly don’t think I would change anything. If I did, I wouldn’t have learned all that I have so far. Everything I have learned is so important and has been a huge part of the journey so far!

See Dani’s contemplative portraiture in her gallery on www.danicyrcreative.com or follow her on Instagram @danycyrcreative.

Rena Siddall / ohsnapcreative@gmail.com

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