Britney Gill is one wildly talented human. She’s the photographer behind many of our photo shoots (along with our cofounder Sara’sdebut book,Essential Well Being), and we often joke at vitruvi that she has magical powers—because her work is so incredible that there has to be some witchcraft involved. But no, she’s just that good.
Because she does so much photography for us, it was a definite role reversal when we asked her to become the subject. We can confirm that she is just as hilarious and engaging in front of the camera as she is behind it. We chose her as the muse for Still because she has quite a deep connection to ritual. Her life is fast-paced—she has busy days on set and a travel schedule that’s non-stop. Despite this, she has found a way to carve out moments of stillness for herself, even when life is moving a million miles a minute. We sent her some questions so that everyone else can love her as much as we do (if they don’t already).
What was it like being on the other side of the camera?
Very nerve-wracking. I am not a natural at being candid. If you ever need a big cheesy smile, facing the camera, I am your girl. I like to capture people, but find it hard to be captured myself. I always feel I look better in the mirror than in photos for some reason... but I’m also really into self-love at the moment, so ignore all previous comments.
Your days are often packed with multiple photo shoots. How do you find moments of stillness throughout your busy days and travels?
Coffee and essential oils are my go-tos when it comes to energy revival and daily rituals. I am often sprinkling all sorts of essential potions on everyone on set when we all lose a bit of steam, and I swear it works wonders. Peppermint oil on the back of the neck is a serious game-changer. It revitalizes me in no time.
You have a fascinating background in food security and systems—when did you know you wanted to do photography full time? How do you see those worlds coming together?
When I was a teenager, I had lofty goals to be someone who changes or saves the world. I helped with multiple fundraisers and went to school to be a dietitian way back when. Once that career told me I would have to work in hospitals more than I wanted to, I took a shift and studied global nutrition at the University of British Columbia. That degree was all about global perspective and looking at the systematic problems as to why humans around the globe don’t eat well or have access to healthy, affordable foods. This academic specialization took me all over the world, and it was actually on a trip to Africa for my degree that I really picked up the camera in a serious way to document what I was seeing. I felt that a lot of the charity projects I was working on could benefit highly from photography and photojournalistic imagery of their projects for marketing purposes, and that is when my whole passion shifted to look at branding and how art and imagery could literally save the world. And that created the snowball effect that is my career today.
What’s the best part about doing what you do?
Humans! I love people and enjoy being around them (most of the time). Being social is the best part of my job. I also love that when I am shooting I don’t have to be sitting behind a desk, and I get to engage my creative brain all day—the job is super dynamic, which I can totally relate to. Also travel, that is definitely up there.
What does travel mean to you? When do you feel most alive—on the road or at home in the quiet moments?
Freedom. I like to be untethered and free to go with the flow. Travel gives me that 100%. I like the spontaneity of it, and I love interacting with and observing people from diverse cultures. Although I feel unconstrained and free on the road, I also adore being home. My zodiac sign is Cancer (the crab) and I love to retreat into my shell just as much as I love to pop outside. Setting up my home to be a beautiful nest of objects (most of which I’ve collected while on the road) is almost of equal importance to me as travel. I think this is becoming even more important into my thirties; by 40 I may be a hermit crab.
Where is a place you’d love to shoot and why?
Iceland. I am obsessed with shooting nature. I always say that she was my very first muse; I used to walk around my block in Kits [in Vancouver] and shoot plants and flowers before I worked up the confidence to shoot humans. My passion to capture nature’spalettes and the emotions of the planet has not dwindled; I don’t think there is any better place than Iceland to portray the energy of our epic planet through a lens.
You have some really interesting wellness and mindfulness practices. What has been the most beneficial or impactful ritual you have implemented for yourself?
I would say diffusing essential oils and burning palo santo and sage are my most grounding practices on the road and at home. Mentally I am a very strong promoter in mindset training. I use mantras all day, every day to take me out of negative thought patterns. I try to train my mind, not have it train me—this practice has shifted my life 180 degrees over the past 10 years.
This interview has been edited and condensed.