The first time I met Daniella was recently and at her home hidden away atop of the Hollywood hills in a mid-century masterpiece. It was a cool night in December as she was preparing a lovely butternut squash with a dash of cinnamon. It didn’t take long before we were discussing the Hadron collider, ancient civilizations, the moon, humankind, art and of course, her outstanding body of work...
Tell us about the first time you picked up a camera?
My dad used to take me sailing in the summers and this particular evening we had just docked at a little island in the Swedish Archipelago and on the way there he had showed me how his camera works. I was maybe 7 years old. He was absolutely obsessed with taking pictures. I went to take a wee in the nature and as I'm sitting there this incredible sunset plays out. I ran to the boat to grab his camera and I took my first analog photograph with a system camera. He was very proud.
You’ve created a series of self-portraits. Did this idea come about more by necessity or experimentation being you are self-taught?
Originally I was approached by a magazine who couldn’t decide whether they wanted to book me as a model or photographer and kind of went, fuck it - lets do both and let her figure it out. Since then more companies has approached me and I’m having fun with it but, it is so much more complex than taking pictures of others. It’s a real challenge as you really cannot see what you are doing. Being able to see is key! So it’s a gamble accompanied by a lot of patience.
You have a diverse creative background in oil-painting restoration, art directing, modeling and spent time as a hair and makeup artist. How did this shape your career as a photographer?
I am still all of those things and recently I started exploring filmmaking. I do the hair and make up for most of my shots, which is very connected to drawing and sculpting, so is retouching and colour correction.
With such an impressive portfolio shooting for iconic publications such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, The Edit, L’Officiel among others. What is your process like?
I am always involved from start with the creative process and art direction, choosing team members as well as the post production. It's only on really big advertising jobs when there has been an ad agency behind the concept can be set in stone and even the cast.
Do you have a favorite subject or photograph?
My favorite subject is almost always the current. Have you ever heard the expression that the artist fell in love with the person in front of their camera / canvas for that moment. It is exactly like that for me.
Your photos portray such strength, power and striking vulnerability. Is this intentional in defining your personal aesthetic?
I suppose I portrait women in the way I want to be myself.
It’s fair to say your images tend to provoke. Have you always been drawn to rebellion?
Absolutely. I always wanted to do and say the oposite of what was expected. I'm eager to do more art and less commercial work and fully express myself.
You’ve also delved into filmmaking. Is this something you would like to explore further?
The type of filming that I am into is so moment driven and very much about the feeling and vibe more than the storytelling. I might not remember how the movie ended but I will never forget the look in the eyes... I am very drawn to cinematic photographs and naturally photographic cinema!
Sex & Cigarettes is your first photography book, a beautifully well-put together representation of our body of work thus far. How did this come about?
A friend and supporter showed my work to the book publisher and they immediately scheduled a lunch appointment with me in NYC and the rest is history. I have a plan for a new book, now when I know the process that I am so super-excited about! All images will be produced for that purpose only so there will be a true story.
Who or what are you inspired by?
I am inspired by how something makes me feel, it can be how a person crosses the street while I'm in my car playing a song and it just looks like a cool music video. Little real life moments like that. Characters as seen in dance, theater and movies, along with ones that occur in real life.
What do you hope to portray through your images?
Emotions, humor, sex appeal, vulnerability and strength particularly in females.
Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with in the future?
We would like to thank the wonderfully talented Daniella Midenge for taking the time to chat with us! Check out her incredible collection of work available now.