Brunch. The only thing that makes mimosas and Eggs Benny better is sharing it with a talented photographer like Olivia Van Dyke.

For a recent interview with Olivia, we partnered with Local – dining at their newest spot, located in the heart of Gastown. The brick-clad building embodies the best of Vancouver restaurants, with a friendly staff who know their way around a menu, delicious AF food, and equally strong drinks.

Plus, they were more than happy to oblige us conducting an interview over brunch, only asking that we mention that their limited brunch menu (which is amazing) will be available every day from December 25th to January 1st.

Originally hailing from Ontario, Olivia is a Vancouver transplant who is fascinated with nature and light. Walking around with her, you can’t help but see our city through a different lens; she’s constantly amazed at the beauty of the West Coast, making for a refreshing take on an old view.

Olivia, how did you get started in photography?

OVD: “I’ve been taking photos for as long as I can remember… I used to go out and capture anything and everything that I could.”

Olivia laughs, “Not to say they were any good. But, I loved taking pictures. My parents used to buy me disposable cameras and film rolls for gifts.”

Are your parents creative, too?

OVD: “My mom is an artist, a painter, and my dad dabbled in photography. So, I was always surrounded by photography and the arts. My mom is also into ceramics, she has a pottery wheel and taught a class in the basement of our house every week as I was growing up. She still makes me coffee mugs and bowls.”

You started at AntiSocial in March 2018, how do you find working with a media team instead of as a solo photographer?

OVD: “Starting at AntiSocial really helped me grow into myself as a photographer. Being a part of a media team, I had access to everyone else’s knowledge about lighting and their own process behind photography – I learned so much. It’s amazing to have such a supportive team, helping each other and giving out tips. Working alongside them really accelerated my own photography into what it is today. I can’t say enough about Alaina Hase – she’s my photo mama. Always helping me learn and grow. But everyone on AntiSocial’s media team was incredibly welcoming.”

As we’re talking, Olivia’s taking photos of Local’s limited brunch menu. The head chef, Paul Angelopoulos, comes out to explain the dishes to us. He moved here from Edmonton to help open the Gastown Local and loves the Vancouver winter. Laughing, he tells us how he walked his two rescue dogs in shorts last week. So, if you see a very tall man walking around Gastown in a seasonally-inappropriate outfit, say hi to Paul.

Paul Angelopoulos talking brunch, dogs, and Vancouver’s scenery.

What are some of the key things you learned early on with AntiSocial?

OVD: “Being thrown into the mix of it all, doing food, interior, portraiture, made me learn so much about photography as a whole. Shooting with intent and not just shooting to shoot was huge. Curating and styling a shoot… The support is incredible.”

Local Brunch
AntiSocial’s copy and content writer, Colleen Christison, interviewing Olivia Van Dyke

What clients or projects do you enjoy working with?

OVD: “There’s so many. Oakwyn is great because it’s a huge company so there’s always something new to shoot, something going on, different people and different faces. Plus, they’re always really friendly. The diversity is huge with Oakwyn shoots. We do interior, lifestyle, headshots, etc. and that’s a lot of fun. I also got to know them really well, which helps a lot when working with a clients brand.”

OVD: “Oh, and White Spot. I’m so new with food photography so I’ve learned a lot working with them. White Spot and Triple O’s give us a lot of creative freedom – they trust that we’re going to provide them with great content. I love that. Alaina and I worked together on the Triple O’s core menu photo shoot alongside Nicole Wei (AntiSocial’s Social Manager) and it turned out really, really great. We were both shooting at the same time, and the level of preparedness before the shoot made execution very smooth. A lot of thought went into it – we had mood boards and props. I think the images speak for themselves.”

Stephanie O’Neill, the Local’s social media coordinator, comes over to introduce Kodye Anderson, the Local’s Test Chef. Kodye is the creative genius behind new dishes for the company. Hailing from Calgary, Kodye moved his wife and himself down to the West Coast because he “wanted to see the ocean.” In a total coincidence, Stephanie also moved from Alberta to BC; coming for the acting industry and the copious hiking trails.

Local Brunch
Kodye Anderson stepping out from the kitchen to speak with us on the Local’s brunch menu

Your personal photography aesthetic is very close to nature. A lot of your projects take place outdoors, using natural light. Who or what motivates you here?

OVD: “Growing up my dad was extremely adventurous so my brothers and I grew up outside. We were always connected to the outdoors, that was always important to my family. When I came to Vancouver I was completely mesmerized by the ocean. It was mysterious and deep and powerful. When I came out here I was so inspired to connect to that.”

How does this translate to your personal work?

OVD: “Through bringing people back to that innate connection to the environment. When I take photos of people I love to let them open up. I think nature brings out that vulnerability, that connection to the environment, it’s a very intrinsic place – the outdoors.

It’s kind of like an awakening. When people become really vulnerable and in that safe space they really open up and show their true nature, in nature. Often, I do exercises with people before I take their photographs – breathing exercises and meditation. Closing your eyes and connecting to the sounds around you like the ocean and the wind. I like people to move with that noise. When their eyes are closed they’re not worried about the camera in front of their face.”

Local Brunch
AntiSocial’s photographer Olivia Van Dyke, rarely seen on this side of the camera

Do you have any advice for new photographers entering the industry?

OVD: “Keep shooting. Reach out to other photographers, someone that can be a mentor to you. The more you shoot, the more comfortable you get with your eye and understanding light… Don’t be afraid. Just go for it.

Without being cheesy, follow your dreams. Limitation is an allusion, change the way you think and see things. Anything is attainable if you’re willing to pursue it.”