Danika | Spotlight
Spotlights are a 12 part series documenting emerging creatives in London. Our next spotlight is on Danika Lawrence. Danika Lawrence is the name behind the alias Sirius Film, a photographer from London who specialises in portrait photography. The subject of her photos focus on youth culture and diversity within London. She also writes poetry, which featured in her projects ‘Girls Don’t Cry’.
How did you get into photography?
I’ve always been into taking photos but I didn’t really start taking photography seriously until 3 years ago when I started my degree. We always had a lot of photos in the family, my mum was really good at keeping the family archive strong. Everything was taken on film an I’ve always loved the look and quality of that. I’d say I really got into film because of Places + Faces. He was one of the first people in London that was making film popular. Because I found out about it so early; where to get my photos done and developed, I fell in love with it and stuck to that. I never really liked shooting digital, so I never taught myself how to use a camera properly. I wanted to capture what I saw behind the lens, there was no technique behind it, just me and what’s in front of my eyes.
What makes a good photo to you?
It depends on the theme of what’s being taken. I try to capture the vibe, the candid moment of what’s going on, not trying to force it or pose, just be yourself and let me capture that. I like to talk to people while I’m shooting them so I can catch them off guard and as they are naturally. For a good photo, everything has to come together, the person, the background, the mood. That’s what I try to do with my photos, get everything looking as it should.
What inspires your work?
People inspire my work. I like to shoot people for a reason, especially when it comes to my own personal stuff. I get inspired by life in general; what’s going on with the people around me, what they’re up to, what they’re doing and shooting with them based on that. This is why ‘Girls Don’t Cry’ is really important to me because it’s my way of making it about them [the subject] as well as what I’m trying to get from the shoot.
Do you think girls are underrepresented in the creative industries?
I feel like we are moving forward with the representation of women in the industry. I think a lot of people like to say “there’s not enough girls”, but there are a lot of girls and there are opportunities for us; it’s about how hard you work as an individual. There’s no particular reason why I shoot more girls or people of colour, I’m just shooting my friends, people around me, people that inspire me, people that I meet a drunk night out in the toilet or someone that I found on instagram that I really like. There’s no particular reason for anything.
How did you make the jump to client based work?
That’s something I’ve been struggling with recently. Before [I started doing client-based work], I had a lot more time to work on personal projects and I was stressing out because I wasn’t getting any paid jobs. Now I’m getting jobs and making money, but I don’t having any time to work on the things that I love. I tell myself that there’s time for everything and I just need to make more of an effort to make time for what I love, because this is where I wanted to be. I can only be grateful that I’m getting work and just need to prioritise. I haven’t forgotten about the things I want to do. I write everything down, I make lots of lists. I have a list of all the things I want to do when I have time to do them. But right now, the focus is income; I want to be able to support myself financially so I can invest in my projects and travel.
How do you express yourself using a creative outlet?
I think that until you’ve had your heart broken, you don’t really understand how it feels. When I was with my ex-boyfriend, I wasn’t a photographer at the time, so everything came after him. I didn’t know how to express myself and deal with my emotions, but as I started to push myself and create my own name, I took it back to this experience of heartbreak. It made me feel like I want to work harder and put my emotions elsewhere, into art instead of a bad experience. When I began writing it was just venting, it wasn’t meant to be made into a book, but it paid off and I’m now happy that I am an emotional person because if I wasn’t, I may not have been able to make something like this.
I want to show girls that it doesn’t matter how you express yourself with your work. Being a cry-baby was something I was really insecure about, but now I look at everything I’ve achieved just by being who I am, not trying to be anyone else and just staying true to myself. I now it’s cliche but my advice to people is just be yourself, but really, who else can you be? You can only be yourself.