Today we’d like to introduce you to Gigi Canaan.
Hi Gigi, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
As a child growing up in the city of Santo Domingo, I would get pretty creative, I would make jewelry and purses out of old denim and sell them at school, I would make houses for my barbies out of anything I could find and use everyday items as toys. I was surrounded by creativity, my mother would always DIY everything so I take after her in that way. My grandmother plays instruments and still loves to grace her with her singing and will take over any stage. My other grandmother made oil paintings. My sister was always painting and sketching designs. So creating came naturally, it was a bonding tool in my house and still is to this day.
I moved to Orlando in high school and after that I went to college for Graphic Design, while I enjoyed it, I went on to pursue other things. It wasn’t until 10 years later on Black Friday of 2020 that I decided to buy a professional camera. Photography has always been something I wanted to explore, I enjoy interesting compositions and taking photos on my phone but the camera seemed so complicated at first, it took me months to figure out how to take a picture but with research and practice, working the camera started to feel more natural. I tried different types of photography and fell in love with portraiture pretty quickly, something about capturing a person’s essence is really interesting to me. I asked friends to model for me, did some free work for local brands until I felt comfortable sharing the results. I started posting the photos I was taking on instagram and it just kind of happened, people started asking about booking family, maternity, couple, and brand sessions. I still very much consider myself a beginner and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I think challenges are part of the process, they are unavoidable, necessary even. Success, to me, means choosing to embrace challenges and getting through them gracefully. I have had many challenges not only in photography but in my personal life. Something I personally struggled with was sharing my work to be seen and criticized. As artists we tend to be our toughest critics, it’s important to learn to trust yourself, your skills, creativity and god-given talent.
The business aspect of it is also one of the biggest challenges. I struggle with creating for the love of creating vs the need to monetize my art, which is required in order to continue this journey. Photography is currently a hobby, though doing it full-time is the goal, I want to give myself the time and space to do it organically.
I am grateful for everyone that has supported and believed in me thus far, it truly means the world, I feel extremely blessed to have found something that I truly love doing.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a portrait photographer. My passion is capturing people in moments. Currently, I offer portraits, family, maternity, couples and brand sessions. My goal is to work with brands. What makes my style unique is that I can give any session an editorial look by posing my subjects in interesting ways, capturing their essence and creating a consistent collection of timeless photos.
There is so much beauty in everyday life and our communities. I incorporate those elements into my photography. I’m always looking for an interesting subject, a different location, a cool wall, door or staircase to shoot at. My photos are sharp and vibrant, my style is always evolving and I am not afraid to try new things.
Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
I have never had a mentor, I would like to explore that in the future though. I do listen to a few photography podcast, watch a lot of YouTube videos, visit museums frequently and follow many talented creatives on social media, I can always get some useful information from other fellow photographers. As far as networking I like to attend events and just telling everyone I meet who I am and what I do. My goal this year is to be a part of an art show, get some of my work published and work with more brands.
It is super important for me to work on projects and not just when I book a session. A project that helped me get out of my comfort zone is “Portraits of Strangers” where I would walk up to people and ask if I can take their picture – surprisingly 99% of them said yes and we would chat and exchange Instagram’s, it is a great way to network. You can check out this project on my website www.gigicanaan.com/projects. My dream is to someday publish this project as a collection of coffee table books.
Anna Sofia De La Mota