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Through the Lens with Photographer and Creative Director Cheyenne Boya

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

Featured in ISSUE 15 Cheyenne Boya is a skilled professional photographer and creative director from Paris with a Congolese-French background. With a deep-rooted passion for the creative arts, Cheyenne has gained expertise in various artistic disciplines through their studies in Design and Art applied. Eight years ago, they transformed their photography hobby into a professional career, committing themselves to capturing breathtaking portraits. Cheyenne's work masterfully showcases their individual perspective and intricately tells captivating stories.

How would you describe your artistic style?

I would describe my aesthetics as colorful, warm, nostalgic and soulful. I use to say my work is like poetry, I’m trying to tell stories by capturing timeless moments with powerful energy and emotion which resonate with me and people. – I try to create unique and intense images by bringing a kind of retro/nostalgia and contemporary atmosphere.

What inspires you to create art?

Everything around me - I feel inspired by art in general, music, music video, art exhibition, fashion photography and also archives of family or people photographed in the ‘70s to ‘90s.

What is your creative process like?

Depending on the project, I always do a moodboard to organize and communicate the best way my ideas to the team – by considering different elements for the set-up and the D-Day we try to do our best. I’m not very strict about respecting the moodboard, I think it is a base but while we’re on set, I just let the freedom to expand our creativity, mostly we can get something way better than I expected.

Which cinematic period do you find most inspiring?

I think that different periods have all inspired audiences in different ways. Each period has contributed unique styles, techniques, and storytelling approaches. If you're looking for inspiration, exploring films from various periods can offer valuable insights and creativity. If I speak visually, I would say the ‘80s to 2000s, the visuals, aesthetic and atmosphere from this era inspire me a lot on my work – that’s so captivating and I can easily use this as reference for my inspirations.

What film or television show has influenced your artistry?

I have a lot; I can’t name only one. When I watch a movie/television show, I’m very sensitive to the cinematography, it’s like my eyes capture the images in detail, light, colors, texture etc. Even in my phone, I have some online boards with stills from movies. That help to develop my creativity, also reconsiderate the way I create images – in example I’ll be more attentive to the composition, location, intention and emotion.

If I need to name a few of film or TV show which has visually influenced my artistry, I would say : Queen & Slim, Waves, Guava island, the Get down, Snowfall and If Beales street could talk.

Tell us about your last binge-watch...Have you recently watched something that's a must-see?

I would say Insecure, that’s a show that I can watch again.

Which character from the world of cinema or television do you relate to the most? And, importantly, what is it about this character that truly speaks to you?

I would say Issa from insecure, her journey and evolution in the show is interesting, I can relate – that speaks to me about finding your balance as an adult, choosing between stay in your “boring” comfort zone/routine or taking the risk to do a job that you love even if the beginning seems uncertain or difficult – I felt this personally, I remember that I was in the same position, I was questioning myself about working as a photographer full-time or not, because for many people it seems like a dream, not possible but I don’t blame them, we all know that life is not a movie, this is hard to get what we want. At the end, I don’t want to regret, I just decided to listen to myself and here I am right now- I know this is a long journey but I’m working to get what I want. I’m very happy to do something that I really love and motivates me – also discover the different aspects about this job and the industry.

In your opinion, how do you think the film industry influences society?

Films are a powerful medium that can shape cultural norms, values, and perceptions. They can impact public opinion, influence social issues, and open discussions on various topics - such as inequality, discrimination, human rights, human relationships, environmental concerns, and more. They reflect societal trends and cultural shifts, it's like a mirror to society's values and concerns. I also think it raises awareness about important social issues and inspires people to take action or advocate for change.

Are you a bit of an overthinker or do you like to let the art take the reins?

I would say before yes, I was a bit an overthinker but now I’m trying to let art take the reins. I noticed it’s just slow down and sometime block the process. I was wasting time, now I’m more “just do it, and let’s see”.

What's the body of work you're most proud of?

From the seed, I love this picture that just make me remember to the BTS, we were outside, the wind was against us and my material wasn’t working as I wanted because of the weather. I wasn’t sure to make it as I imagined in my mind. We had to think quickly about the composition of the flowers on the model – when I said previously “Just do it, let’s see” this is what happened. I just let the art/ creativity took the reins – I’m more proud of how this picture reached a lot of people, resonated to and inspire them.

Embracing criticism and negative feedback is an essential part of growth and improvement. How do you handle criticism or negative feedback on your work?

I can embrace them, that help me to improve my work and get out of my comfort zone, sometime it’s interesting to have an objective opinion and be open to adapting your approach based on this. I also accept that my work can’t be appreciated by everyone so I don’t want to be always focus of what people think. I stay gentle and true with myself, focusing on what it’s most important to me and why I do it. I follow what I feel. I don't want to wait for someone else's appreciation, to love my work.

How do you feel the Internet and social media have impacted cinema?

I feel the internet and social media have impacted cinema by altering how movies are distributed, promoted, and watched. They enable direct interaction between the audience and the industry – also the possibility to share content instantly with the global audience makes the marketing “easier” and allow to create buzz, engagement and anticipation for upcoming releases. Also, social media created a new generation of film critics, I mean anyone with an online presence can share their opinions and analysis of films, contributing to diversify viewpoints on cinema but it influences the way we choose a movie.

There is more accessibility for example: online platforms allow films to reach global audiences and change the way we consume movies too – I also think about independent films and niche genres that may not have had a wide release in traditional theaters can find audiences worldwide through theses platforms.

The most unforgettable line from a movie. What's that one quote that lives in your mind rent-free?

“If you got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you, you can’t do it. If you want something. Go get it period.” From Pursuit of happiness.

How do you handle rejection or not getting chosen for a project or opportunity?

I say to myself: if it is not this, that will be something else or even better. It’s alright, stay focused and be ready for the next project/opportunity. We all face those pesky creative blocks and moments of self-doubt from time to time.

How do you effectively navigate creative blocks and moments of self-doubt? -

Sometimes I just need to take a break, I do something different like hanging out alone or with friends, reading – taking time for myself. Also when i need to feel inspired: I listen to music, watch music video and different works from others creatives – We are surrounding by a lot of inspiring things, inspiration is everywhere. About moment of self-doubt, I believe in God so I pray - I think about my work and my choices since the beginning of the journey: why I chose, do and love this. I’m the only person on this boat, if I need to move forward, I have to act, I’m responsible of my decisions and my success. I keep saying to myself: one day things that you work for, will come naturally. Also I stay surrounded by encouraging and sincere people. Managing the entrepreneurial aspects of being an artist is crucial for success.

How do you handle the business side of the industry?

True. You do a lot of jobs at the same time. I try to find the balance and stay organized and well informed. I handle the business side of the industry by creating a business plan, having a nice portfolio, using social media or online platform to showcase my work and reach a wider audience, networking with peers, staying aware of financial aspects and legal considerations I know there are others aspects to considerate but I’m continuously learning.

Connect with Cheyenne Boya


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