Brijana Cato is a self-taught photographer born and raised in the small town of Warkworth, NZ. Passionate about photography since she was a child, she quickly built a creative career and has been working for herself ever since. We visited her light-filled coastal loft to discuss her career journey, pre-shoot rituals and how she keeps herself inspired.
Brijana wears the Myla Knit in Sepia.
Hi Brijana! Can you tell us about yourself and what it is you do?
I’m a 28-year-old self-taught photographer born and raised in the small town of Warkworth. I’ve been freelancing for around 5 years now shooting mostly weddings, fashion, and lifestyle - I love it! As well as doing ‘shoots’, I also sell prints on my site and to a handful of homeware and design stores in NZ and Australia. I also work with small businesses in my local area and I’m often travelling around the country and abroad for work.
What motivated you to pursue a creative career in photography?
I’ve always been creative. As a kid, I was always drawing and used to make my cousins dress up and we would have little photoshoots with our family’s film camera which is quite hilarious to look back on now. I’ve been passionate about photography since I was a teen then I started playing around with doing some family portraits and practicing on my niece and nephew. At 23 I got my first wedding job, a friend of my sister’s (who obviously had a large amount of faith in my work) and I kept getting asked to do more. Over time my workload grew so I decided to take the leap and try out freelancing and I’ve been working for myself ever since.
How would you describe your work?
Coastal, nostalgic and carefree. I hope that my work teleports people to a moment, time or memory - whether it’s a past childhood memory or future holiday that they are dreaming about.
How do you inspire creativity in your life, any pre-shoot rituals you practice?
I’m pretty happy with alone time and chilling at home, making sure I’m moving or exercising throughout the week is important because more than half of the work for me is at my desk. You can often find me sitting at the beach, most times with a camera - I have to take it with me! I love how the ocean makes me feel so at peace. If it's been a hectic week the ocean always makes me feel relaxed, refreshed and resets me to get back into it. I love a good coffee and a good candle too, so I guess having a nice brew before a big shoot could be considered a ritual for me.
Brijana wears the Linen Tee in Sepia.
What are some of your favourite aspects of your work, are there any challenges?
Travel and working with awesome people are huge perks of my job. When it comes to weddings; I feel honoured to be a part of such a special day and love capturing moments that will be treasured. Challenges would be staying inspired and not comparing my work to other Photographers - it can be easy to do these days with social media being such a part of everyday life, there’s a constant flow of images that pop up on our feeds and I think it’s good for us all to remember “comparison is the thief of joy.''
Tell us about your home, how do you go about curating it?
I’m a huge fan of beautiful interiors and I’m always changing up my little loft. I’ve collected a few things over the years and past trips to Bali and other countries, but I find simplicity is best. I’m a lover of beautiful linen and earthy tones, I make sure my space is light and relaxing. Because it's a bit of a temporary space It’s a little hard to do much with, but I love the high ceiling and big windows that I can see a glimpse of the ocean and get an occasional whiff of the salty air.
Brijana wears the Linen Tee in Sepia.
What is it about living in a coastal town that you love, and how has this influenced your creative practice?
Being raised 300 meters from the ocean, the beach vibe is definitely ingrained into my life. We have a lot of farmland and bush around too so it’s definitely a small-town lifestyle around here which I love. Everything is chill, quiet and runs at a slower pace (until summer). There’s a community feel which is really cool, and there are people I went to school with and people who have known me most of my life all around me which makes you feel more connected.
Can you tell us more about your neighbourhood, where are your favourite places to eat, shop, visit?
Pete & Mary’s, Ravish, Farmers Daughter for coffee, treats or breakie. Charlies Gelato is amazing. Jin Jin, The Viet Q, and The Matakana and Smiths Bar for dinner. Shopping is limited around my area but top spots include Bach Matakana and Green with envy. I love Matakana movies - it’s the cutest boutique cinemas for a rainy day. There’s also a heap of coastal walks in the area so I definitely recommend checking those out. I recommend the Tawharanui walks and the Mangawhai Cliff walk.
Outside of photography, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I play volleyball socially which is fun and I’m always keen to set up on the beach for a day. Exploring the coast and mini trips away with friends, drinking great coffee and wine, coastal walks and exploring my hometown, I feel like there’s so much I still need to find and see around here. Hanging with family and my little Niece and Nephews.
Tell us about your wardrobe staples, what are your everyday essentials?
I’m usually drawn to easy to wear simple items but I’m pretty particular on the fabrics and quality, I love clothing that’s simple and flattering. My everyday go-to would be a tee, denim, sneakers and I love a nice cosy knit this time of year.
Photography by Alice Veysey