BEHIND THE CAMERA

Cami Mendes

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“Always seeing something, never seeing nothing, being a photographer."

- Walter de Multe

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Cami in a nutshell:

  • Brazilian roots with Canadian heart
  • Obsessively photographing people, moments & things since age 15
  • Graduated from York University with an Honours BA in Communication Studies & Professional Writing
  • Into all kinds of hippie, mystical stuff such as tarot, astrology, entheogens, shamanism & Burning Man
  • Certified Kundalini Yoga teacher
  • Nerdy enough to name her photography company after a star she learned about in astronomy class
  • Has lived in 8 countries and backpacked through 30
  • Borderline fanatic Game of Throner
  • Walked for 1000km across Spain in 2017, on the Camino de Santiago, to celebrate her 30th birthday
  • Is currently working on another portfolio for her travel photography & personal projects (camimendes.com)
  • Is very, very, VERY grateful for making a living by photographing happy humans in pretty places all around the world
  • Seems to enjoy writing about herself in 3rd person

Now Cami, in first person, in a bag of nutshells:

(Probably way too much, but if you care and have the time...)

I can't remember exactly but I think I fell in love with photography the moment I took my first picture.

The ability to capture and freeze a moment forever has always fascinated me, since the good old film days.

Whenever we took photos at family trips, I remember hating having to wait so long to get the prints. When they finally came, I savoured the ability to relive each one of the moments that was magically eternalized by our simple camera.

I bought my first digital point-and-shoot camera in 2003, months after I had moved to Canada from Brazil. From that day on, I never left my house without it.

My obsession with registering moments was not always welcome - I remember often hearing my friends say, "Oh no, here comes Camila with her camera!"

I didn't mind because somehow I intuitively felt they'd be thankful in 30 years time, when they looked at those photos and were able to recollect with fondness all those moments that at the time might have seemed like boring and mundane.

The dream of becoming a professional photographer started when I developed my first photo in the tiny darkroom of my high school, St. Mary's C.S.S., on Bloor St. West in Toronto. That moment of pure magic, when the photo slowly reveals itself on a white sheet of paper covered in chemicals, simply blew me away.

The idea that I could make a living just by taking beautiful photos of people and places was so amazing to me that it didn't seem real. Which is why, instead of going to school for photography, I decided to focus on something "more concrete" and began to pursue a double major in Communication Studies & Professional Writing at York University in Toronto.



Not ready to give up the dream however, I took several extra photography courses at York while pursuing my communications degree. I mainly studied film photography so I could learn more about the magic that happens in the darkroom.

In 2006, my mom gave me my first entry-level Digital SLR, a Canon Rebel XT, as a gift. As my passion for traveling grew, my love for travel photography grew with it and the Rebel became my best friend. 

Then, in 2011, after graduating and acquiring my honours BA, I suddenly found myself facing the the infamous "quarter life crisis."

Throughout my years of study, I had worked in a variety of jobs that I disliked like in order to make ends meet, as many students do.

My emotional crisis came along with the realization that, now that I had finished school, I no longer wanted to spend my days doing any kind of work that did not fulfill me and inspire me - that did not make me feel alive.

Out of the breakdown came the breakthrough - I decided to get my act together and pursue what I had by that time accepted as my true passion: photography.

With a lot of courage and even more hard work, my very own boutique photography company became a reality and Bellatrix Photography was born.

I came across the name Bellatrix during an astronomy class I took in university. It's the name of a star in the constellation Orion, also known as the Amazon Star, and it literally means female warrior in Latin. I thought it sounded super cool when I first heard it, but as soon as I learned its meaning, the nerd in me knew that was it! (Yes, yes, it also is the name of a witch in Harry Potter, but she's one of the bad ones so no, I didn't name my company after her). :P

With Bellatrix, I focus on portraiture & weddings but on the side I also pursue personal projects related to travel, nature, and conceptual photography. You can see some of this work here instagram.com/gypsy.photographer and here camimendes.com (portfolio still under construction).


“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”

- Ansel Adams


...still curious? Okay! :)

I was born in São Paulo, Brazil’s biggest metropolis and one of the biggest cities in the world.

But when I was seven, my mother, luckily, decided to leave the concrete jungle behind and move to a paradisiacal island named Ilhabela (Portuguese for “Beautiful Island”). That’s when I was exposed to a whole new world and was able to develop a strong connection with and appreciation for nature.

Years later, due to a lack of opportunity in the local economy, my brave mother set off again for a new adventure. And so at 15 years of age, I left my paradise behind and moved to Toronto. 

The cultural shock definitely had an impact on me. I was far from home and it was challenging to assimilate to this new way of life. As any immigrant can tell you, finding your way in a new country is not an easy journey.

But I was motivated to make the best out of my new Canadian life and I worked hard to excel in High School and receive an entrance scholarship to university. While I pursued my bachelor's degree only three years after having arrived in Canada, I ended up discovering my real passions: traveling & photography.

My first backpacking experience was in Italy and Spain in 2009,  during a summer language exchange program. Upon returning, I realized I had caught the infamous "travel bug." So I worked hard, saved money, applied for a scholarship and was accepted for a 6-month student exchange in Bangkok, Thailand, where I traveled alone throughout South East Asia and even made a quick trip to Egypt.

In 2011, after graduating from university, I was selected amongst thousands to participate in an educational reality travel show back in Brazil, where I spent a month camping in the Amazon Rainforest and a week living with natives of the Kamayurá tribe.

I've also road-tripped across the USA twice and spent 2 months backpacking across 12 European countries during winter!

My latest adventures have been: living & traveling in Bali, Indonesia, for 6 months in 2016, living & traveling in Mexico for 5 months in 2017, and celebrating my 30th bday by walking for 1000km across Spain to complete the ancient Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, also in 2017. So far, in total, I've lived in 7 countries and backpacked through 30!

Aside from traveling, photography, and writing, I like to occupy my time by practicing yoga, especially kundalini yoga, and learning more about ancient cultures, shamanism, astrology (anything mystical really), astronomy, personal growth, entrepreneurship, and social& environmental activism.

I guess you can call me a nomad nerdy hippie photographer if you want to! ;)

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To conclude, Bellatrix Photography is a dream come true.

That's why I always strive to exceed expectations, with both the quality of my work and my customer service.

My goal is to become your lifelong photographer, and I know I can only do so if your experience with me is exceptional.

If you give me the opportunity to photograph you and your loved ones, I'll honour it. That's a promise.

Love & light, Cami


"A good photographer must love life more than he does photography."

- Anonymous


www.camimendes.com

travel & nature photography

original fine-art prints 



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