Sunday, 3 February 2013

A Conversation with Justyna Baraniecki

For Justyna Baraniecki, fashion is not a priority. "It's not a very romantic answer," she says. "But at the end of the day, I just try and create really good images.", photo by: Joel Bedford 

The stylist, photographer and blogger has been maintaining a successful creative career in a city that sometimes seems intimidated by creativity.

A self-professed 'visual communicator', Baraniecki and her partner Joel Bedford run a successful photography company ranging from weddings to fashion editorials to food and landscapes.

In the future, Baraniecki says they would like to do more architecture photography. "If you're working as a photographer in Ottawa, it's really hard to be a specialist and only do one thing," she says. "You have to be able to do more than one type of photography."

She is also adamant about having a strong business sense in the creative industry. "Most people think that if you have a creative job, you're doing your hobby," she says. "They don't realize that if you work in the creative industry, only about 10 per cent of your work is actually being creative, the other 90 per cent is business."

It's that business sense that has allowed Baraniecki to be successful in the past. Three years ago when starting her fashion blog, she made the conscious decision to never work for free. She believes the creative industry is full of people trying to take advantage of artists.

"If you're doing creative anything, the expectation is to do it for free," she says. "If you work for free, you're never going to get credit, and no one is going to respect the work you do."

"Mine and Joel's motto is that quality costs. If you want your product to look good, or your article to sound good, it's going to cost. I would recommend never doing anything for free."

The work that Baraniecki and Bedford produce definitely falls under the "good images" tag that Baraniecki described. She says they gather inspiration from movies, and right now are in a phase where they want all of their photos to have a cinematic feel. Although it is sometimes hard to reproduce the image in her head in a city with limited resources.

Baraniecki wearing a dress by local designer, Amy Scarlett Donovan, styling by: Justyna Baraniecki, photo by: Joel Bedford

"When styling a fashion shoot one of the first things I'll usually do is go on Pinterest," she says. "I'm not a very good communicator, so I usually end up looking for elements in other people's work."

"It's like, imagine the lighting in this shot, but with hair like this girl, and then she's wearing something more like this," Baraniecki says. "We kind of just go from there."

Baraniecki has also cultivated a list of designer contacts that she uses in her work for Ottawa Citizen Style . On developing the contacts, Baraniecki's method is just as effortless as everything else about her; she just emails them up and asks for what she wants.

"When it comes to online communication, I justimagine the internet as a giant room and if I want something from someone Iwould just go up to them and introduce myself."

Baraniecki says she always seems to do whatever feels right for her regarding style and fashion.  Even though fashion blogging in itself has lost its lustre, she still enjoys reading some style blogs.

"I read Style by Kling religiously," she says. "There's nothing in this world I love more than sleep, so each morning I give myself 10 minutes to brush my teeth, do my hair and get out the door, and 30 seconds of that 10 minutes goes to looking at her blog."

According to Baraniecki, fashion blogging is something that started off fresh and new, but has progressed into something stale and uninteresting. At first, style blogging was an amazing alternative to looking at photos of celebrities and models, but Baraniecki feels that the bloggers of today are not people we should look up to sartorially.

"You realize that a lot of these bloggers are 16 or 17 years old and have limitless budgets," she says. "You have to ask yourself, why am I looking up to these girls?"

Baraniecki chooses to find inspiration elsewhere. "Why on Earth would I care what some fashion blogger -- I don't care if she has a million followers -- is wearing? Quite frankly, I'm more interested in what Kate Moss is wearing."

When it comes to leaving the norm behind and chasing the creative career you want, Baraniecki offers some advice:

"Recognize that when you are doing what you want,it’s still the same, it's still a job," she says. "Get really good with your taxes, know how to charge peopleproperly, networking, sourcing clients, marketing, take a look at how to run asuccessful small business an apply to whatever avenue you want to take, it’s alot of work," she says.  "But always schedule fun time."

"[Trying to stay on top of fashion] will drive you crazy, I always just try and do what feels right in the moment." Photo from


  1. LOVE the article - great interview!

  2. What a fantastic piece!
    I adore Justyna! Her blog is one of the first that I found when I moved to Ottawa and was such an inspiration when I started my own blog. I was (and still am) completely blown away by her style and the quality of her images. She really is the epitome of style.

    Kate xo

  3. You have a wonderful writing style! And that all white ensemble look wonderful Justyna :)

  4. The Ottawa creative (especially fashion) scene is teeming with predators looking to exploit creative individuals. Good for her for refusing to work for free.


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