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Dani Reynolds — Birkenstock Community Series

 

What are some of your recently completed or upcoming projects?

Thanks for asking! I’m currently in the final stages of  a multi-project campaign for a client that consisted of a 3 day photo shoot, a social campaign, and an installation. Assignments like that where I get to wear many hats are my favourite so I was super excited to be invited to participate. 

Up next I have a few photo assignments on the go, but overall I’m feeling very grateful for nonstop projects. Throughout this time of uncertainty work has kept me grounded.  Especially now that I’m living AND working alone, I genuinely appreciate days when I have to jump on calls with creative collaborators - makes me feel like I’m part of a team haha. 

How did you get started in prop styling? What drew you to this field?

I grew up being OBSESSED with fashion magazines (Teen Vogue circa 2007 anyone?!). I loved the style articles but was also always in awe of the off-figure photography (I have a very vivid memory of a Teen Vogue article on the beauty benefits of Omega 3s accompanied by a still life photo of a raw fish styled amongst very glam jewelry. so ~fashun~) 

As I worked my way through my Bachelor of Design in Fashion, Pinterest was on the rise. This was around 2010-2014 when still life photography on solid pastel backdrops was a BIG trend on the internet. Armed with my Teen Vogue fan girl knowledge and a fascination with this new Pinterest based style, I started experimenting and posting my test photos to Instagram. It’s been about 7 years and I'm still experimenting and posting the photos to Instagram, but now I get paid to do it. 

Who or what inspires your work?

First and foremost my work is inspired by colour. That’s usually the design element that I tinker with first when starting a new assignment. Choosing a colour palette helps me set the tone of a project. Beyond this, I look to other art forms a lot. After a year spent mostly indoors, home décor and interior design have been big sources of inspiration for me lately. When researching how to decorate my new apartment I stumbled on a bunch of furniture designers who influenced elements of my set design. 

 

Where do you see your practice in the next 5 years?

 *fingers crossed* I’ll be taking on larger-scale projects in the next five years. Currently I work on a lot of table top product shoots; styling and creating environments for small stuff like cosmetics, skincare, cannabis, and beverages. Since I work solo for about half my projects, compact sets make a lot of sense right now, but I’d love to get into larger set builds, create environments for people, not just hand held products. I’m working my way towards this by practicing my spatial design skills. Whenever I get the opportunity to do that with my current work I take the chance. 

What motivates you and how do you stay inspired?

Living in Toronto surrounded by a thriving creative community is a huge source of inspiration and motivation for me. I’m lucky enough to have an amazing group of friends who are all killing it in their respective creative fields. Seeing them chase their dreams keeps me going too. Even beyond my close circle, I’ve found that acquaintances and creative collaborators in the community are really quick to support each other. At the start of the pandemic I lost my agency job. Feeling very lost and unsure if I could make it as a full time freelancer, I connected with some peers virtually and got so much encouragement and helpful advice from my fellow self-taught entrepreneurs that I decided to take the plunge. I’m forever grateful for their guidance and support.

 

When you're not working what are some of your favourite things to do?

Movement is medicine for me- so I love to spend my free time keeping active. Before the pandemic I was an obsessed regular at a local Pilates studio. I love distance running and would go every day if I could. Hikes are a weekend favourite, and my partner and I have been exploring the greater Toronto area with day-long bike adventures. He’s very talent at cooking so I have the motivation of a *gourmet* picnic at the end of the bike ride.

Where are some of your favourite restaurants or places to visit in Toronto?

For coffee - Happy Coffee and Wine (order the Shrimpy if you’re there for lunch/ dinner)

For dinner - Fat Pasha (order the roasted cauliflower), Parallel (order the hummus), Koh Lipe (beware it’s spicy!) 

For groceries - The Local Market (I’m fruit obsessed and this family-owned Parkdale market always stocks exciting produce to try) 

For home décor - Blackdot Shops, Easy Tiger Goods, 313 Design (my go-tos for awesome prop finds and sweet items for my home)

 

What pair of Birkenstocks are you wearing today and what do you like about this style?

I'm wearing the Arizona vegan narrow in latte cream. Just like in my creative practice, my approach to dressing is often guided by colour. Currently I’m really into shades of buttery yellow, wheat, cream, and peach, so this latte cream pair slid perfectly into my wardrobe. I’m also all about comfortable footwear. I spend a lot of my time on my feet- whether I’m walking around town to prop source or styling on set- so practical shoes are a MUST for me. 

Are there any initiatives, artists or friends you would like to shout out?

Art and Friends - an LA based initiative that hosts virtual and live figure drawing sessions while supporting non-profit organizations. The initiative is run by my pal @rosizzle and her friends @jonnyrabbit and @aaanthonytran

Ecru Club - a Toronto based grassroots initiative supporting emerging creatives, founded by self-taught and self-employed photographers and directors. Their first program (Ideas From I: virtual concept development program for pan-Asian photographers and filmmakers aged 18-29 across the GTA, with no formal training in their discipline) is now accepting applications.

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