In conversation

Max Journal Brijana Cato

In conversation

Meet Brijana, a 28 year old self taught photographer hailing from the small coastal town of Snells Beach.

Growing up surrounded by some of New Zealand’s most loved beaches and being a young creative in such a big industry, we caught up with Brijana to find out more about how she got her start as well as some of her favourite hotspots around her local area.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, how did you get into photography?

Photography was never on the cards growing up but I was always creative and loved drawing, sewing, and doing all the crafty things. I studied photography at school and loved it but didn’t see it as a career option at the time, my teacher even told me I probably wouldn’t pass! Despite this, I loved doing fun photoshoots and used to dress my cousin up and shoot whenever an idea came to mind (kind of hilarious looking back at them now). I practiced a lot during this time, watched a lot of Youtube videos, and started to teach myself more photography techniques for shooting, lighting, and editing. After doing this as a hobby for a while my sister pushed me to make me a Facebook page, and from this, I began booking a solid amount of little family shoots which eventually turned to weddings and fashion jobs - the rest is kind of history!

Being a creative in business, how do you deal with working for yourself? I assume it comes with both good days to bad.

I’m inspired by a lot of different things. Architecture and nature are big ones for me, I love capturing people in beautiful places or just any beaches/landscapes that remind people of a vacation or happy memory. I often get people saying they love one of my images because it reminds them of home or something from their childhood which is pretty cool! I definitely find a lot of inspiration through my travels and went to Europe last year which was amazing. The architecture there is so different to NZ, there’s so much history plus the beaches are incredible!

Where do you draw inspiration for your work?

Working in a creative industry isn’t always pretty and I think it definitely has that illusion sometimes. I’ve been freelancing for around 6 years now shooting mostly weddings, fashion, and lifestyle, and can say that it has its challenges. There is a lot of admin when you work for yourself so there have been some huge learning curves along the way. In saying this, I’m pretty lucky that I’m in a position where I get to be creative for a living. I’ve taken jobs that didn’t necessarily “spark joy” but I’ve always been open minded and I’m keen to keep learning, bills need to be paid and every job has helped me get to where I am today which I’m super grateful for.

Your local area is idyllic, what are some of the top spots in your area that you think are worth checking out?

Living on the east coast means I’m pretty lucky to have loads of dreamy beaches nearby so that’s where I’d recommend heading to first. Tawharanui is probably up there as one of my top spots, it’s a regional park so there are some great walks along the peninsula with views out to Kawau Island and Little Barrier. I have to say, Leigh and Goat Island have some beautiful walks to try out also. Lots of nature and great food up here! Some of my fave foodie spots are Pete and Mary’s, Ravish, JinJin, The Farmers Daughter, and the Leigh Sawmill Brewery. There’s always the Matakana village farmers market on a Saturday with loads of fresh produce and treats to check out - it’s also always nice to support the small local businesses!!

Summer is finally upon us, what are your warm weather wardrobe must haves?

I love anything easy and comfy! I’m always changing up between earthy tones and fun colourful pieces. In saying this, you can’t go wrong with a simple black or white singlet and a linen midi skirt to team with some sneakers, that’s a classic go to for me.

Photography by

Brijana Cato

Words by

Courtenay Lewis

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