Hamilton photographer demonstrates the importance of exploration through photos

On Jan. 1, 2020, lifestyle and boudoir photographer Iryna Kostichin posted her first photo of Hamilton to her then-new Instagram page, 365 Days Of Hamont. The photo of the residential street was the first step in a project intended to showcase all that Hamilton has to offer.

Although Kostichin was born and raised in Hamilton, she didn’t truly start exploring the city until after she graduated from McMaster University in 2017 with a degree in social psychology. She moved out for the first time and was figuring out what she wanted to do with her life. It was in the period of self-discovery after graduation that she began exploring the city.


During this time, she also returned to photography, a passion of hers from childhood that she had put aside as a viable career choice.  

“A few years ago, I was in a really rough spot. I was graduated and I had a degree and I was in a job that I really didn’t like . . . and I was like “I really don’t want to do this for the rest of my life. I need to find something where I work for myself and I’m responsible for everything, job-wise”. So I ended up getting a social media coordinator job and then that year I was exploring portrait photography,” said Kostichin.

Kostichin wanted to put her social media skills towards a project that showcases her hometown’s beauty and combats its bad reputation, leading to 365 Days of Hamont. To gather the photos for the page, she goes on a few weekly adventure walks, taking pictures of places and objects she passes. Her goal is to show various representations of Hamilton, from the buildings to nature to food.

Kostichin wanted to put her social media skills towards a project that showcases her hometown’s beauty and combats its bad reputation, leading to 365 Days of Hamont.

The project began as a commitment to posting daily in 2020, but over the year, this plan changed as Kostichin found the daily commitment challenging. Now over a year after the project began, Kostichin is a little over halfway through her original 365 days. 


The pandemic also limited how much she was able to explore the city because she doesn’t have a car. It has also been difficult to explore new destinations when lockdowns have closed many places in Hamilton. However, despite these challenges, Kostichin is looking forward to diving back into the project this year.

“So definitely next steps are continuing on this journey and not putting so much pressure on myself to do it every single day . . . I started out thinking I was going to post every day and get all this engagement and get to the end of 365 days, right? But realistically I haven’t reached that and exploring Hamilton really isn’t only a 365-day project. So I can live a whole lifetime and still not see the whole city, which is exciting I guess. So I’m just excited to continue to carry the torch and help others explore the city,” said Kostichin.

“So I can live a whole lifetime and still not see the whole city, which is exciting I guess. So I’m just excited to continue to carry the torch and help others explore the city.”

For students in Hamilton that are looking to explore, Kostichin suggests taking it one neighbourhood at a time. Especially during COVID, she suggests picking a neighbourhood and just walking around it.

As her exploration of the city is tied to her self-exploration, the latter is also very important to Kostichin. Through her boudoir photography business, she is encouraging individuals to explore new parts of themselves. Her own journey from social psychology major to full-time photographer and business owner is proof of the importance of self-discovery.


“I use psychology in my day-to-day life. Even in a social media job, a lot of it is psychology. Then being in a social media job also using photography and really discovering that aspect of myself and bringing it back and now I’m actually going to be like a full-time photographer this year and start my own business. So just because people tell you [that you] can’t do it really doesn’t mean you can’t do it, because here I am with a university degree and I’m making money from something that I taught myself,” said Kostichin

“So just because people tell you [that you] can’t do it really doesn’t mean you can’t do it, because here I am with a university degree and I’m making money from something that I taught myself.”

Kostichin’s story shows that with hard work and a little exploration, students might be able to turn their time at McMaster into the life of their dreams.

Image courtesy of C/O Iryna Kostichin

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