I'm Danielle Giguère, a photographer from Donnacona, a small city near Québec, Canada. I consider myself a full artist since I work on visual arts projects on a regular basis but I primarily earn a living as a portrait photographer. I was attracted to the art of photography at a young age and received my first camera only in my early twenties.
My parents gave me their previous 35 mm film camera, which they had replaced with a newer model after it took an inadvertent plunge into a lake during a canoe outing. Since they no longer had confidence in its functionality, they asked if I could find a purpose for it. I’ve had many cameras since then, but that little Nikon FG20 was absolutely my favorite film camera of all. I just loved its size and weight! It never even failed on me. I got lucky!
I was introduced to photography in college when I was studying fine art in my early twenties but I'm mostly a self-taught photographer. My entire studies in college and university have been in visual arts except for some brief studies in anthropology at Concordia University. I obtained a grant for the excellence of my path during my bachelor's degree and moved on to do a master’s degree.
My final project had nothing to do with traditional fine art. Instead, it was a sound installation with an anthropology theme, focusing on the evolution of oral traditions among new generations. After completing my master’s degree in new media at Université Laval, I returned to photography to make a living and pay off my student loans. Surprisingly, I rediscovered my passion for portrait art!
Of course, like many perfectionist and passionate artists, I love seeing my work evolving and becoming stronger technically and artistically. I aim to reach new levels and am constantly inspired by other great photographers to improve my work. My motivation mostly comes from comments that are not necessarily that technically specific, and in many cases, a little vague.
The words sound often like, “I can't tell you exactly what it is, but the expression in this portrait really gets my attention” or “there's something a little extra about your portraits, and there's something so deep about the expression in their eyes”.
I also love it when people say that they never thought they could look like what we produced together. No money can motivate me as much as that!
I’ve always been attracted to various types of artwork that represent eras from my grandparents and older times, such as cinema, images and storybooks. It’s as though I wish I were born in another period. Although, I know it wouldn’t have been an easy life - I’m way too independent and ‘liberated’ of a woman.
Perhaps I’m more attracted to the way things are represented aesthetically in that genre than the actual reality described in the scenarios. I’m always more interested in the mood and poetic vocabulary used to say something than the actual content. I noticed that with music too.
For a long time, I felt that this way of thinking may be shallow but now I know it’s not. I listen to the sounds and textures first, then make my own story as I experience the piece, instead of trying to understand exactly what the storyteller is trying to say. I like to connect to what’s happening in my own life and find my personal meaning as I experience a piece of music or any art piece.
When I compose an image, I usually have a tendency to keep it very minimalistic as far as props and environment go. I prefer suggesting things through the expression of the face or body language of the people I photograph.
The series Privat Recall won a Platinum Medal! This project is about exploring the extra feminine vibe featuring with two beautiful vintage gowns. They were actually wedding dresses that I modified and dyed with coffee and tea bags. I was inspired by the specific mood created in the Old Dutch masters paintings. It also reminded me of my childhood picture books, birthday and Valentine's Day cards.
Stécie April, the makeup and hair artist is the one who found the lovely model Sabrina Duquet. She has a very interesting and lovely face that inspired the both of us! I usually guide my subject by giving her a fictive character and help personifying it as if it were for a movie. She was absolutely committed to the project and loved the results as well. The project and the other portraits (Douceur and Wish) that won a gold prize are the ones that I feel represent my vision of fine art portraiture best.
Peter Lindberg, for his beautiful black and white fashion photography.
Ewa Cwikla, for her bewitching color grading.
Sue Bryce, for her poetic natural lighting, color grading and her determination as a businesswoman.
Don’t be intimidated by what equipment other’s own. Some of the most beautiful work is actually very low tech or even shot in natural light. Find your own way to get the shot you want and shoot away!
One should always know their value. Stop apologizing for asking to be paid according to the quality of what one delivers. They called YOU, so they already like what you do. Just be confident.
Danielle Giguère, a photographer hailing from Donnacona, a small town near Québec, Canada, identifies as a complete artist. The allure of photography captured her at a tender age, and it wasn't until her early twenties that she received her first camera.
Read more about this interview with Mariko Okubo from Japan, the Gold Winner of the 2023 MUSE Photography Awards.