Daryna Barykina is a Jacksonville, FL-based beauty and fashion photographer who is known for her colorful and vibrant hair colors as well as her amazing work behind the lens. Her colorful and vibrant self portraits are what originally attracted my eye on Instagram and I instantly became a fan of her work with hair color and fashion. Daryna’s clients seek her out for her creative concepts, use of color, and her high-end retouching skills. With over 40,000 Instagram fans enthralled with the beauty of her work, Daryna is one of my top favorite creatives in the beauty and fashion industry and she’s here to share her knowledge about the industry, favorite pieces of equipment, and a little inspiration!
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was Born and raised in Kyiv, Ukraine in the early 1990s. Graduated from the Kyiv School of Photography in 2010. While preparing myself academically for my career in photography, I concurrently successfully completed my Masters Degree in Business Administration at Ukrainian- American Liberal Arts Institute Wisconsin International University (USA). In 2011 my family and I relocated to Florida where I started my career as a beauty and fashion photographer.
How did you come to be in the beauty and fashion photography industry? What was your photography journey like?
I always say that I never looked for beauty industry; it found me on its own. I was a portraiture photographer until my first commercial beauty assignment 4 years ago. It was a campaign for a hair extensions line that turned out to be a success. Client discovered me through a makeup artist and I remember that specific image he pulled from my website at our meeting and said it made him want to meet me in person. It was a portrait of a local model, beautiful Hispanic girl with huge voluminous waves of hair, which I turned purple in postproduction. Turns out that portrait work started my career in the beauty industry.
Where do you derive your inspiration from?
Whether it is a commercial assignment or a personal project, before I shoot I need to understand whom am I shooting. Who is my character? Understanding of a character I am trying to portray dictates all other elements (as hair, makeup, wardrobe, set design) and inspires a story. It is like magic; once you figure out the character you automatically know the necessary context to place your character in. I am always looking for a “spark” something to start with. It can be color, texture shape… anything that would give me a hint of who my character is. Undeniably I look up to certain photographers getting inspired by their lighting and visual techniques. My favorites are Mert and Marcus, Steven Klein and Steven Meisel. I am absolutely amazed by their work with color, lighting and ability to narrate a story.
How do you prepare for a photoshoot? Can you describe your workflow?
Communication and planning are the core elements to my preparation, but another incredibly important factor is flexibility. Preparing for a photo shoot my team and I use a lot of visuals to better translate our ideas and stay on a same page. There is always a shot list or guidelines from the client that we comply with, though I am never afraid to express and implement new ideas that come up in the process. Very often born-on-set ideas turn into images client selects. I absolutely love to have client on set. I encourage them to be engaged in the process as much as they willing, so they feel more in control but also get to have fun and entertainment through new experiences. When client contributes to the shoot, they always leave set with a sense of fulfillment, it helps us get to know each other better and strengthen our relationship. On the other hand you can never have perfect conditions at a photo shoot, it is never a vacuum, so many variables take place and want it or not, in case something deviates from the plan, you have to make situation work in your favor. This is when flexibility is crucial. Making fast and most optimal decisions, adjust to the situation can be a career saving skill.
What do you look for in a creative team? What key skills are you looking for to ensure you’re picking the best artists to work with?
I only demand two qualities – passion and discipline. In other words I am looking for potential. If I can see depth and potential in person, other variables do not matter as much. Skills and resources are attainable, but you can never make someone passionate about their job. Also I like avant-garde artists (in the original meaning of the word), ones who are innovative and ahead of time.
I love your self portraits as they are so vibrant in color and sharp in capture! What goes into planning and executing self portraits like yours?
I have an interesting story about how I thought self-portraiture was my “one step back,” but turned out to be “few steps forward.” Many factors inspired me to photograph self-portraits, and one of them was my desire to practice hair photography. I really wanted to come up with more patterns of hair in motion. I did not know many models that would agree to wear fashion colors in their hair, so I volunteered and practiced shooting hair in motion in privacy of my in-house studio. Immediately I got discovered by industry magazines and had publications almost every month for over 2 years. Job offers did not keep me waiting and before I knew it, I was gracing advertising campaigns -which is completely surreal!
I make time to shoot self-portraits at least once a month. Normally I get my hair colored and draw my inspiration from there. I rarely know what my color is going to be; it’s all up to my colorist Erica Keelen. She creates the color and I turn it into a character. Such collaboration challenges me, makes me think outside of the box and embody the character color dictates. Usually I style my hair, do makeup and dress myself. I keep lighting set up simple – 2 sources. I use tripod and remote shutter release to operate the camera. One session can take up to 8 hours. I don’t look at time; I turn on music and create, as much as I can until I feel like I can’t go on anymore. It consumes me entirely; sometimes I realize that I haven’t had a glass of water in five hours.
When it comes to self-portraiture I let inspiration guide me, without planning anything specific. I may feel the urge to shoot at midnight and I go shoot and usually results are exciting. As shooting hair becomes more and more routine action, I search for challenge elsewhere and my recent obsession is makeup. Not so long ago I have started a project “House of Cards” that focuses on abstract makeup. It is an ongoing series four pieces of which – self- portraits. Idea of a project is to create 4 characters using one model and unlimited tools and materials, offered by the beauty industry.
What’s your top 5 pieces of equipment you can’t live without?
Lens Canon 24-70 f/2.8. Super versatile, allows working in tight spaces, perfect for portraits and full body shots. Having it with me makes me feel prepared for anything.
Camera 5D mkIII. This is the body I use at the moment. I feel no devotion to the model and look to upgrade in the nearest future. But so far it has proven to be a great camera with great photo/video possibilities. It has flown with me around the globe.
Wacom tablet. If you tried a tablet once, you are never going back to mouse. I converted around eight years ago, started with Wacom and still a very devoted fan of the brand.
Beauty dish and a grid. I find it to be a very versatile modifier as you can get soft or hard light by moving it around. I also like to be in control of my lighting and direct it where needed, so grid is an inseparable part of my beauty dish. Butterfly lighting is one of my favorite techniques and I find gridded beauty dish to be perfect for it.
Aluminum foil. I am not sure if it can be called a piece of equipment, but I really like to have it with me at all times. It helps me manage light on the go. You can instantly turn big source of light into a small one by simply blocking off a portion of the modifier, you can use it to direct light, cut off spill, reflect light… Well, the possibilities are endless 😀
What kind of advice can you give other artists when stepping into the arena of beauty and fashion photography? How have you diversified yourself and separated yourself from your competition?
My advice will be universal, regardless of the photography genre. It is extremely complicated to stand out through quality nowadays; quality of an image itself, quality of a subject and all other components of production. Professional cameras, lighting equipment, talent, all these elements are attainable and available for vast majority. In my opinion, you can stand out by becoming a brand, not a quality service provider. Brand implies a message and a purpose. Brand is about relationship, emotional connection with your audience/clientele. Brand demands a charismatic personality. Clients hire me not only because I produce good quality work, but also because of the vision I bring to the table on the concept building stage. They want to hear my ideas, want to see their product through my eyes. Self-portraiture helped me stand out; it made me personable. Anyone who knows my name, most likely knows my face. My clients like to see that I am passionate about beauty – the beauty industry is a part of my every day life.
What is your ultimate dream job or goal? What would make your life complete as a photographer?
I would really like to contribute to the photography world and come up with a technique, solution, or method which would benefit photographers. That would make me really happy.
Any final words of wisdom for our readers?
What really helped concentrate on my work and my own career path, was understanding that you cannot repeat someone’s success story, or re-live same experiences. We are all individual and what works for someone won’t necessarily work for you. It is always nice to get inspired with a success story of your peers or the giants of the industry, but don’t think you will get same results even if you repeat steps they took. Just embrace the fact that you live your exclusive and individual life and your career path is just as unique as your personality. Listen to your gut, ask yourself what YOU want from your career; not what everybody is doing, not what people tell you you should be doing, but what you personally want to do. At the end of the day we all want to be happy and it will be impossible if we continue letting others direct our life. Anything you do, just do it your way, don’t look around – focus.