Darina Stoda was born in Estonia - a place of forests and rivers straight out of folklore, and has since lived for many years in Norfolk surrounded by large wild spaces and ocean. Darina’s dreamy work reflects these environments - and her love of being outdoors with her camera. We are really excited to hear her current plans to leave her 9-5 job and explore her art further. Even though I’ve never been to Norfolk or most parts of the UK, when I see Darina’s work, I can almost smell and feel the crisp air - her dreamy approach to incorporating nature in her story telling is inviting.
What do making images mean to you?
Creating stories and memories, not just for someone else, but for myself too. Photography gives me an incredible opportunity to meet new people, explore new places, travel, feel.
What is life to you? What it should be?
It’s a journey. Though it’s not always smooth, but it wouldn’t be as exciting if we didn’t have to encounter many challenges, right? Life should be a learning curve, always.
How does where you live influence your creativity?
I have lived in Norfolk, UK since I was twelve years old. The outdoors, beautiful countryside and the British coast have been my biggest inspiration. I love the large spaces, fresh seaside air and the smell of pine trees. I was born in Estonia, which is known for its primeval forests and winding rivers. It’s a dreamland for nature lovers. I spent my childhood climbing trees and skipping stones. I guess you can say I’m a wild child at heart. I create most of my work outdoors; I love using nature as my backdrop.
There are a lot of professions out there - why be a photographer?
I never intended for photography to be my profession. I then suddenly had the urge to constantly create and while doing so I realised just how happy I was being out and about with my camera.
I have been doing marketing for a local business for almost three years now. And I find myself sitting in the office, feeling a little empty, with my mind floating somewhere in the woods. Making images makes me feel alive.
So I have two weeks left at my current job. I have finally decided to leave and throw myself into this stream of happiness, excitement and adventures. I can’t wait!
Are you creatively satisfied at the moment?
I am content at the moment. My mind is always bursting with new ideas, I just need more hours in the day to actually get out and photograph more! I constantly want to try out new things and learn. There’s always room for improvement too.
What do you like to eat?
SEAFOOD! Always. Oh and cheese!
Describe your path to what you’re doing now.
A complete rollercoaster. I went from wanting to be a vet to wanting to work in an advertising agency. I then ended up being an assistant manager in a nightclub, and then moved onto marketing. For a very long time I felt scared about the future, but staying focused and motivated helped me a lot. I’m finally at a point where I know what I want to do and what I want to achieve. I feel very lucky to finally be able to do photography full time.
Have you had any mentors along the way?
Every single person I have ever worked or collaborated with has taught me something and gave me great advice. I am very lucky to have met some incredible and talented people along the way. However my mother was the one who discovered the creative side in me. When I was little I wanted to work with animals, but mother saw something in me I didn’t and she got me a camera for my birthday. I haven’t put it down since!
Do you shoot with your left or right eye?
Right. Though sometimes my left eye is also open, just so I don’t miss a thing. Life is so unpredictable sometimes! :)
Where do you see yourself in 10 year’s time?
Hmmm…walking along the coast, smiling, breathing in the fresh air, with an arm around on my shoulder and a very happy dog (tongue on the side, and having no control over his waggling tail kind of happy!)…creating new memories and planning adventures. Oh and hopefully still with a camera in my hand of course!
Do you think the gear you use affects the way you photograph? Why?
Sure. The gear is just one of the things that contribute towards creating that final image. It helped with developing my own style. I’m a Canon girl, and it’s important to know your gear like the back of your hand. If you know what you want to achieve and you can achieve it with the gear you use, then it’s a dream team!
- Canon 5D Mark II
- Speedlite 430EX II
I work mainly with digital. Though when I was at college I was happy to spend hours in the darkroom developing prints, but when you have to work within certain time frame (especially during the wedding season) working with digital is much more efficient.
I also have a Kodak Colorsnap 35 camera, which comes out to play every now and then, however my goal this summer is to experiment with it more! I have a lot of love for Tri-X and would love to work on some b&w projects.