We had the good fortune of connecting with Danieka Erasmus and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Danieka, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I’m originally from South Africa. Growing up in Apartheid South Africa, I remember the photographs that made the world see what was really happening in the country. The photo by Sam Nzima of Hector Pieterson, a schoolboy, shot and killed by police during the Soweto uprising, changed my life. It showed just what powerful tool photography could be.

After spending a year in the Netherlands touring excellent Museums and hidden Art Galleries in Amsterdam and meeting the love of my life and now husband, I decided to study Fine Arts. This, in turn, led me back to photography.

For a while there, I wanted to become a photojournalist. But after meeting and listening to an actual photojournalist speak in Cape Town about his adventures up in Northern Africa, I realized that this was no longer for me; then married with a sweet baby boy.

On the other hand, I still loved art in all its many forms. In particular, I loved the Art Nouveau movement. Works like Gustav Klimt’s the kiss are timelessly beautiful and joyous. I wanted to create work like that! “To give people pleasure in the things they must use, [and] to give people pleasure in the things they must make” This is how William Morris, one of the founders of Art Nouveau, described the movement’s goal.

Wedding photography is where I found this. It is the perfect blend of photojournalism & Fine Art! I interned and learned from Travis McNeil of welovepictures in Cape Town before starting my own wedding photography business. My business was doing great, and I loved my job. But several incidents, the growing crime rate in South Africa, and constant power outages had us at our wit’s end. We wanted a better, safer life for our two children and decided to move to the United States. It was not an easy choice. It meant giving up a thriving business and leaving family and friends behind for the unknown.

We were very fortunate that our American dream came true. We were able to move to California in 2015 and begin a wonderful new life here. It has not always been easy, and there have been setbacks like changes in immigration policy which meant that I would need to wait until the fall of 2018 before getting a work permit. As soon as I got that work permit, I started second shooting and assisting some fantastic photographers in the Bay Area. It didn’t take long before I got my first solo gig, and things moved forward fast after that.

I have been Capturing genuine, raw emotions while making creative, unique works of art since 2018 here in California and could not imagine doing anything else!

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I love making beautiful pictures that have meaning to my clients. Some of my best and favorite pictures are not the typical bride and groom looking at the camera portraits. They are real moments that will never be forgotten. That is what I strive to do. It’s not always easy, but when you press that button and know you have captured something special, it’s like no other feeling. I always tell younger photographers to keep shooting! The more you shoot, the better your work will become, and stay away from trends. I don’t do trendy edits and colors; I’ll leave that to Instagram. 😂 I strive for a classic film look.

Another reason I believe my work stands out is that I often shoot on film. When I go on vacation or take photos of my kids, it’s with my Nikon F2. It’s a lot more challenging than digital, and you have to know what you are doing. I love that there is no editing involved! There is a limited number of exposures, so you think about your shot more. And I try to translate this into my work as a wedding photographer in both digital and film.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I have not seen my mom since immigrating to the US in 2015, and I have been planning all the things we will do when she finally one day comes to visit. There are so many things I could go on forever, but I will consider a few highlights. I would take my mom for a hike in the forest of Nisine Marks state park. The redwoods are magical, and I cannot wait to share the beauty, the sounds, the fresh air, everything! Afterward, I would eat a delicious lunch at the Hide Out restaurant in Aptos.

I would also love to take my mom to Carmel by the sea. She would love it! There are cute shops, galleries, and many great restaurants to choose from! Plus the beach. I could spend every day sitting on the beach reading a good book. But mostly, I want to show her my home, the route I walk, and the kids to school and back every day. The ordinary things, you know.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
While there have been many great photographers that have taught me, the one person that stands out is Travis McNeil. He is my mentor and shaped my career and style more than anyone else. He took the time to teach and mentor me and I could never thank him enough. His work at welovepictures, I still believe is some of the best out there!

Website: https://www.picturist.photography/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/monterey_wedding_photographer/

Image Credits
Picturist Photography

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