Unconventional Girl: Interviewing Danielle Suzanne


Danielle Suzanne is not a normal girl. Her photographs capture pure, natural beauty, and tend to showcase the inner radiance of everything she sees. Her magazine, Zeum, a guild mostly for creative girls out there, helps me find a home between its pages.
   Not only is she the Editor in Chief of Zeum, she also is interning at Elle Magazine in Toronto, where she lives. I, for one, know that Elle is so lucky to have such a person as Danielle intern with them. Toronto, a major hub in Canada, is one busy and bright, urban, sprawling, interesting place that is perfect for Danielle: a great night scene, good living areas, riveting people, and of course, it's not too far away from nature, so she can always sneak away and have a quiet weekend, and produce her stunning photography and aesthetics as well.
   Danielle is one of the most lovely people I've ever gotten the chance to talk to, a true inspiration to me, and someone who should be a true role model for everyone looking for their works to be published with true quality, style, and utter class. Danielle Suzanne is amazingly unconventional, and I was able to interview her.

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WRITTEN CITIZEN: Hey there! Thank you so much for sitting down with us. How are you doing?

DANIELLE SUZANNE:
I’m good, thank you! Just finished a quiet evening in with my best friends working on our magazine and eating apple crisp and coconut sorbet.

WC: You run a publication, Zeum Magazine, that has gained a ton of views and devoted fans. Can you tell me more about that?

DS:
I do! It’s a magazine by young creatives for young creatives. It’s incredibly girly, a bit eccentric, and really fun. I think it tests the boundaries of what is considered a 'fashion magazine'; the girls within the pages are not overly airbrushed and they’re definitely not afraid to be silly or loud.


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WC: When did you decide that you wanted to create this, or any, magazine?

DS:
It was the start of summer 2011, and I really wanted to channel my creativity in a new way. I’ve always had an interest in both design and image-making, so a magazine seemed more than appropriate to delve into. As someone who was deeply immersed in the world of Flickr, it was really easy for me to approach other young photographers whose work I had been following, and take it out of an online realm and push it into print.

WC: What is your favorite part of the process: writing, photographing, or editing? Which are you best at?

DS:
I really enjoy all of it. Out of the three, writing is my weakness, and it takes me longer to come up with something intelligent and articulate. The editing and design come naturally, and I 100% love doing it. I find it easier to tell stories through the sequencing of images rather than through written word.

WC: Your photography is stunning. Can you elaborate on what you like to take pictures of, and how you like to take your photos? I know you’re especially keen on portraits.

DS:
Thank you! Yes, I’m especially keen on portraits, but there is definitely still a fashion aspect to them. I’ve never wanted my pictures to be just about the clothes, but rather the girl in the clothes. In my work, the model is just as important as what I choose for her to wear. I tend to photograph girls who are a bit unconventional in their appearance and have distinctive, unique quirks. Often, they’re sitting by a window; to me, it represents daydreaming and has a sense of nostalgia to it. I’m most content when I’m gazing out a window of a car or train and watching everything pass by: beautiful landscapes, ever changing clouds or little families of deer in a field. The window becomes an element in my work that is representational of the photographer, like a signature I suppose.

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WC: What are your fashion must-haves?

DS:
Half my closet consists of cardigans or anything that’s mustard yellow! I gravitate toward that colour in a store; it’s an awful habit, really. Right now, I’m into midi-skirts, pullover sweaters and turtlenecks.

WC: To follow up that question, what are your biggest turn offs in fashion?

DS:
I won’t lie, I find the whole 'soft grunge' thing hilarious. It’s such a contradicting term, unless that’s the point. If it is, I just don’t get it.


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WC: Do you personally have any specific icons or inspirations? Are you inspired by a certain point in history?

DS:
I was looking at old polaroid pictures from my grandparents wedding a couple summers ago and since then I think they started to influence how I dress my models in certain photographs. My grandmother made her dress, it was short with long sleeves and she looked so sophisticated and timeless.

WC: What’s been your favorite experience you’ve gained while doing the magazine?

DS:
Coming across photos on Instagram that readers have posted of their print copies of Zeum has been one of the most rewarding things. It’s amazing to get a glimpse into the lives of our readers, and because I’m living in Toronto and Zeum is printed in the UK, I don’t get the luxury of walking into a store and always seeing my product on shelves. Until the magazine has worldwide distribution, I live and breathe that experience through what other people post on social media.

WC: Who would you say was your favorite interview?

DS:
I just interviewed Olivia Bee, Eleanor Hardwick, and Francesca Allen for the upcoming issue of Zeum. They’re three of the first young female photographers I was exposed to online through Flickr, and their work really helped to shape my interest in photography. Because of that, it was really special to be able to talk with them about their work and include it within our pages.


WC: I feel like I must ask this, because I live in America, and you live in Canada. Do you like living in Canada? Also, do you like hockey? I personally adore hockey, even though I live in the States.

DS:
I love Canada; it will always be my home. I lived in a house full of British boys in London last summer, and they’d refer to me as the 'little Canadian'. It was easy to point out my natural habit of saying please and thank you probably more often than necessary, and I always wanted to make them pancakes and maple syrup for breakfast.
   My family is literally that stereotypical Canadian family anyone imagines. Our neighbours across the road had a giant pond that we’d skate on in the winter and I learned how to skate with boy hockey skates. My brother started organized hockey at the age of four, so I grew up going to his games, drinking hot chocolate and listening to loud hockey moms – mine included – in the arena. Going to the rink after school or traveling for hockey tournaments on the weekend became a routine part of my life. I enjoy hockey for the fact that it’s something that’s unified my family, but it isn’t necessarily something I’m as passionate about as they are. 

WC: Anything that you enjoy that’s culturally specific to Canada?

DS:
Poutine. Forever and ever.

WC: If you could create a playlist for the upcoming fall/winter season, who would be on it?

DS:
Youth Lagoon, First Aid Kit, Soley, Daughter, Ben Howard & The Paper Kites.


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WC: Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring editors, writers, photographers, magazine workers out there?

DS:
Stick to deadlines. It’s rewarding for you, but also fair for everyone who’s contributed and is waiting to release their work.

WC: What's next for you?

DS:
I just moved back into the city, and I’d like to think there will be continued success with work. Before the winter comes, I’d like to shoot outdoors as much as possible. One thing I can definitely say is next for me is a big pile of snow!
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Visit Danielle's website here, to see her astonishing visuals and other pieces
Visit her magazine, Zeumhere
Follow Danielle on Instagram here