I met my latest guest this summer while we both had the honour of being jurors for the Fieldstone Vintage Market. When I saw her name on the list, I was so ecstatic to meet the photographer extraordinaire!
Janis Nicolay is an amazing photographer whose work has appeared in countless magazines,
She has helped catapult many designers' names to the forefront. As an avid decor magazine reader I love to pay attention to who photographed the space, as each photographer has their own unique way of capturing a space. As a blogger who is attempting to photograph her own space and projects, I am in complete awe of those who make it seem so effortless, like Janis.
Photography is such an art, and I feel Janis has mastered that art.
I have now met Janis on several occasions and not only is an uber talented photographer but is such a genuinely sweet and humble person. Her family owns and runs many amazing restaurants around Vancouver and she runs a very successful photography business, yet when you talk to her, she comes across as so down to earth.
When Janis isn't busy photographing is writes a blog, Pinecone Camp.
Her blog is such a visual treat!
She loves to share snippets of her latest shooting project, bits from her travels, highlight unique shops around town and her baking adventures, the photos leave you wanting to whip up her latest creation.
Tell us a bit about yourself? What is you background? Your education? Did you study photography? Have you always wanted to be a photographer?
Barbara, you’re taking me out of my comfort zone! Not used to this!
I’m one of 7 kids, raised by our mom alone. Needless to say, we didn’t have much except each other and our imaginations. I was given a Polaroid camera when I was twelve, so that was my intro to ph0tography! I pretty much took pictures of my siblings, even if they didn’t want their picture taken, plants, and made little “displays” of things to shoot.
I was a bit of a wanderer, so when I was old enough, I moved to Toronto with a friend, then spent time in Japan. I was a road trip girl too. Always taking off somewhere. I took photography courses at Focal Point, here in Vancouver, but didn’t do much with photography until I moved to Australia with my then boyfriend (now husband). I really got into black and white photography, developing and printing it myself. It also helped that I had a fantastic job on a late night talk show, and would take pics of guests waiting in the green room, or at the after parties in the host’s dressing room. So much fun. When we moved back to Vancouver, I started a wedding photography business with a friend of mine. After 100’s of weddings, we called it quits and I devoted all my time shooting for magazines.
What made you decide to start blogging?
A couple of years back, a few really great Canadian mags shut their doors. It was a strange time, business was definitely down for a bit, so I started blogging. I thought it would be a good way to link everything I do together. It’s definitely done that. I do love being able to work on my own little d.i.y.’s, published work, and baking, and sharing it all with anyone that’s interested. At first I had no idea what to do with it, but it seems to be working out now.
What have you enjoyed about blogging and what has surprised you along the way?
I think what I enjoy most, is meeting all kinds of fantastic bloggers from all over the world. Some of them feel like longtime friends, though we’ve never actually met. This is also what has surprised me the most. Bloggers can be a very supportive and encouraging bunch. Yeah for humans!
As an accomplished photographer, one whose work appears in countless magazines worldwide, when would you say you got your big break?
I suppose it was when I went to Toronto to meet editors, Erin McLaughlin of the now defunct Canadian Home and Country (now at Style At Home) and Hilary Smyth deputy editor at House and Home. I started to work immediately. My first shoot was a house that had been designed by Rosie Daykin. Have to say it was a bit daunting. I felt like I had been shot out of a cannon! Thankfully, it turned out well and I continue to work!
Any tips for aspiring photographers? And aspiring designers who want their work published?
If you’re already a photographer, I think you should call up interior designers and see if they have any projects that need to documented. Nice way to start to build up your portfolio. You should be able to take constructive criticism too. You just might learn something! Once you’re feeling good with your portfolio, meet with editors in person, if you can, or email with a link to your portfolio. Just don’t give up. If you really want to do this, it will happen.
What would be one “must” that each amateur photographer should have or learn?
How about 2 things? I think good lighting and composition is crucial.
What goals or aspirations do you have?
I want to keep doing what I’m doing, as I love working with different people all the time, growing my stock photography, and collaborating on a cookbook!
What do you like to do in your free time?
Well, first thing I do is put the MacBook away, hide my phone, and relax. Hanging out with friends and family, is a great way to unwind and feel fresh when you get back at it.
Where do you go for inspiration for your photography work?
I’m inspired by travel, be it a road trip to the interior of BC, or cities like New York or London. You really can find inspiration anywhere. Walking through Vancouver, a beautiful park, or sitting in a café can trigger some fun ideas.
Is there any one accomplishment that you are proud of?
To be honest, it’s great to see your work in magazines, or on covers, but I love shipping out my own work to buyers all over the world. It’s kind of cool knowing that my prints are hanging in various living rooms, bedrooms, and kitchens.
What are your favourite subjects to photograph?
Lifestyle stories are so much fun. That could be a cranberry bog harvest, or an outdoor entertaining story. I love having humans involved – brings the story to life, especially if it’s a home. Details are right up there too, for me. My number one fave subject has to be food. Love pretty shots of cookies, cake, muffins, even the baking tins they’re baked in!
If you were given the opportunity to meet anyone or do anything, what would it be and why?
I would love to meet Martha Stewart. What she’s done to change the idea of “home keeping”, and making it creative and enjoyable, is pretty incredible to me. Like her or not, she really is one talented and innovative woman!
What are your views on the role Canadian design plays in the world design scene? Do you feel that Canadians have a unique sense of style and design, and if so, what is it that you think sets us apart?
Ah, Canadians. We are a quiet bunch. Quietly confident, though. I think Canadians are getting more notice, slowly but surely, but we have lots of work to do. There is some incredible talent in this country. In B.C. alone, we have amazing work being done by Omer Arbel, Battersby Howat and Evoke. I think we all need to start shaking our own tambourines a bit more! I know, it’s hard sometimes ;)
***All photos are used by permission from Janis Nicolay
***All photos are used by permission from Janis Nicolay
Janis, you are one who needs to start shaking your own tambourine! As a longtime admirer of your work, meeting you and having the chance to interview you has been such an honour!
I am sure I can speak for many bloggers, but I wish I had half the photography talent you have!
Happy Sunday - what are you baking today?