At the convergence behind and in front of the camera, with Daniella Midenge

Daniella Midenge, the Swedish photographer and creative director who splits her time between Los Angeles, Paris, and New York, brings her distinctive vision to the world of portraiture in fashion and beauty. Drawing from her rich background in fine art restoration, makeup artistry, hair, and styling, Midenge’s holistic approach to image-making sets her apart. Her talent extends beyond the camera as she seamlessly steps into the roles of photographer and model, directing and producing her own self-portraits with a sole assistant on set. As a longtime friend of CDLP, Midenge’s self-portraits from her daylight studio in the Hollywood Hills encapsulate the essence of the brand, offering a glimpse into her meticulous and profound artistic journey.

Your career trajectory is quite diverse, starting from fine art restoration to photography. How have your early experiences influenced your approach to photography and creative direction?

“Restoration has significantly influenced my coloring and retouching processes, similar to how drawing impacts painting. My experience has given me a 360-degree understanding of creating an image. I’m very hands-on, directing both the team and subjects. My photography is highly staged and intertwined with creative direction, as opposed to reportage, which I’m terrible at.”

Can you elaborate on the themes of intimacy and empowerment in your photography, and how they intersect with self-expression for women in the fashion and beauty industry?

“To me, a face expressing emotion and highlighting what is unique about a person is the most interesting, which is why I focus on portraiture and beauty more than fashion—it’s more intimate. I love faces and people. In LA, I photograph individuals with stories or achievements, adding a narrative compared to shooting young models whose lives and careers remain private.”

Your self-portraiture work has garnered significant attention. What drives your exploration of self-representation, and how does it inform your broader body of work? 

“It began as a way to minimize team size during the pandemic, starting with a project for V Magazine and Versace, and it quickly escalated from there. In Sweden, we say there’s a ‘theater monkey’ in me—I’ve enjoyed exploring that side after years behind the camera. I love dancing and expressing emotions, and self-portraiture allows me to do that. This experience helps me understand what it’s like in front of the camera, influencing how I interact with and highlight the strongest traits of the people I shoot.”

What does your process of self-portraiture look like?

I make a rough plan, put up a mirror, and use Capture One in order to see what I am shooting. It is a way slower process than a regular shoot and requires a lot of patience and tons of trial and error.”

How does your work capture the essence of the CDLP essentials, and what does this collaboration reveal about your artistic philosophy?

”My core aesthetics were shaped by the romantic and deep visual expressions of the 90s, especially in films and music videos. These influences always suggested a story, humor, mystery, and passion. For this shoot, I wanted to incorporate a sporty essence, showing that lingerie and skin can feel sexy in a more masculine way, which I enjoy—the contrasts between feminine and masculine.”

Photos by Daniella Midenge

Explore more styles