Through The Lens


May 18, 2010, by Chelsea Coyle

In such a technical craft, it's easy to get caught up in settings and in doing so forget about the viewer's experience. Photographer Donat works with ethereal natural light and casts models with beauty and personality. Since I met him his name has been emblazoned in my mind.


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    Montage's Isabelle Giguère, by Donat

    I understand that it was your Mother that introduced you to photography. Can you tell us a bit about that experience?

    My mother was head of the art department at a high school in Ottawa. When I was in second grade she invited my whole class to come and experience the dark room. We all made shoe box cameras and spent the afternoon making 30-second exposures in the schoolyard. Then we would run inside to watch our images magically appear in the dark room. There was something really special about the experience and I guess it made a lasting impression on me.

    Do you remember the first photograph you ever took?

    Not really, but I'm sure it wasn't all that great. [laughs]

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    Sutherland's Amanda Tataryn, by Donat

    How would you describe your shooting style?

    Spray and pray. Ha ha, but seriously I am a firm believer in the saying "Less is more”. I like clean lines and minimalist designs. I tend to take the same approach with my work when I can. If I had to pick three words to describe my work, I would say simple, modern and sexy.

    How do you feel about digitally enhanced photography?

    Nowadays, I feel it is unavoidable. Every image that we see has been enhanced in some way. Some adjustments are minor and very similar to what you can do to film stock in the dark room. Others are very involved and complicated. I think it's just part of the game, especially in fashion. The trick is how much enhancement you do and how much it shows. The best enhancements will always be the ones you can't see.

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    Specs' Korey Robyn, by Donat

    What do you love most about this career?

    The fact that I can do what I'm passionate about day in and day out. I get an incredible buzz when a shoot is going well. I'm always chasing that feeling, like a drug addict. (laugh) The other thing that is really great is that I get to hang out with my friends all day and work on things that we want to do.

    Who are some of your heroes? (not necessarily in the fashion industry)

    I wouldn't say that I have heroes simply because they never live up to the image we create of them. Tiger Woods anyone?!? (Laugh). But there are quite a few people whose work and attitude I admire. My biggest influence right now would have to be Inez & Vinoodh. I love everything they do. They really have their fingers on the pulse of the moment.

    Outside of fashion, and I know this might sound corny but, my parents are a real source of inspiration. They are both retired but I think someone forgot to tell them. They have more drive then a lot of young people I've met and they taught me to never give up what I love, no matter what.

    I hear you have a passion for German cars. What is your favourite make?

    I've owned five Volkswagens since I was 16 and I have two of them at home right now. I guess that would make me a VW fanatic. But I'd be happy to drive anything German, especially a Porsche.

    You also have a love for travel and have been to Dubai and the Czech. What is your favourite destination?

    Last year was a little crazy. I got to see a lot of nice places and really fuel my creative side. Dubai was really something and so was Istanbul. But I think nothing can beat my road trip from Munich (Germany) to Dubrovnik (Croatia) with five of my friends. It was a little bit like the movie "The Hangover," but without the tiger. I'm actually going to Istanbul again in a few weeks and maybe Egypt after wards.

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    Elmer Olsen's Rob Rae, by Donat

    Can you tell us about your favourite image that you shot while travelling?

    Funny enough, my travel photography is very tourist like. I have a snapshot approach and I don't really put much thought into it. I see something I want to remember and I take a quick picture of it. But I guess one of my favorite shots is of the sun setting over the old part of Istanbul. It was at the beginning of my trip and it is at that moment that I realized I was somewhere completely different.

    Can you tell us some of the Canadian models that you have worked with?

    I've been lucky in the past few years to work with some truly great models. Everyone brings something different and unique to the table. But I guess the most notable names I've worked with would be Judith Bédard, Charlotte Lebon, Jessica Lewis, Renée Lacombe and Ruby Brown.

    Do you have a funny photo story?

    Well, it isn't so funny to me, but probably hilarious to others. I tend to have a bad habit of singing and dancing on set. And like most people, I think I'm better at it than I really am.

    What would you be if you couldn't be a photographer?

    This might mean that I never grew up, but I would love to be a race car driver. I dabble a little bit into motor sports now as a hobby, but doing it as a job would be loads of fun.

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    Folio's Gabi, by Donat

    Jay Z or Metallica?

    When I was in high school, I was all about Metallica. Now, unfortunately, their new music isn't making me vibe as much as the old stuff and I find myself listening to Jay-Z all the time in the studio.

    Where can we see some of your work?

    You can see my work in [Dress to] Kill magazine, Mariage Québec, Z!NK Canada and Naked Eye.

    It has been a joy to interview you and to let us all see who you are behind the lens. What can I say? I love your work!


    Blogs We Follow

    Cailin Hill (The Model Burnbook)

    Models x Models (Models x Models)

    Liis Windischmann's (14+ LouLou blog)

    Laura Kell (A Model Life)

    Madison Schill (Chic Greek Geek)

    Kathleen Burbridge (Kathleen in Wonderland)

    Ania Boniecka (A n i a . B)

    Shawn Dezan (motivated//ambition)