1) Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a Fashion/Lifestyle/Still-life photographer from Russia/Finland. I discovered photography by chance. Back in 2008, for personal reasons, I moved to Finland, where at the end of the year I found a professional photography studies program. And because I’ve always had talents in painting and art, I decided to try it and I’m glad that I did. At first it was very hard, as I was the only one who had no idea what photography as a job really is, while all the other people in the group had background in the business and 5-20 years experience. So I had to learn everything in a very short time and prove that I was good at it. When I started to shoot, I soon realized that this is my way to express my vision and unlike any other job, this keeps me interested and inspired. And I fell in love with it. I invested all my money and time, shooting day and night, sometimes even in the freezing cold or alone in the city at night, carrying my gear, retouching 24 hours, just to learn some more. I also styled all my shoots, did make-up on my models, doing basically four people’s jobs.
It took me four months to get my first decent photo, which I then sent to an international photography competition that same year. The photo received the Bronze Award. Later, I got more recognition and of course, more experience, but I never settled for these achievements, because in photography you can never learn enough. This is why when I finished my four years of study in Finland, I studied more in Russia and am actually now studying again.
I started with fashion, because I followed it since the age of 16 and in my opinion it is the best form of self-expression, if we’re discussing photography, not art. It simply has all the aspects that I love–a chance to combine beauty with photography without the need to portray reality as it is and without the restrictions of advertising or regular portrait photography. But for certain reasons, I will now focus more on advertising and still-life as I think there are too many fashion photographers nowadays.
2) There is a strong femininity in your work. Does that come naturally as a female photographer, or is that something you work for?
I think it comes naturally, because of my origins. In my world, a woman is feminine, sexy, beautiful and a man is strong, masculine (I guess I’m old-fashioned). However, I always portray women based on what I know about femininity and, of course, it shows in my work. Photographers have sexualized women throughout the decades in their photos, but that is not my mission. Raw sexuality is not always beautiful, so I prefer not to shoot too obvious things, like nudes. I concentrate on the mood of the photo and the story behind it. But with some shoots, like male portraits or still-life they do not require this, they are simply technical and post-production must be neutral, so in this case there is no difference whether I am a woman or not. It depends on the type of the shoot. But still I prefer to style my shoots, so I guess in a way there is part of me living in every photo, regardless of the subject.
3) Color and texture are two important elements in each of your photographs. Is each image carefully constructed to achieve a balance between the two?
I love shooting color. While black & white helps to reduce the chaos of too many elements within the same photo and helps to drive the attention on the main thing or subject, it still cannot replicate all the beautiful shades of colors. And I also like to play with colors to create the mood. Usually, when I do a shoot, I know way before post-production what kind of photos I want to achieve in the end and so I organize my work based on the mood I have in mind. Sometimes colors convey a certain feeling or they are there just to give a slight overview without getting to black & white. When it comes to texture, I think it also comes naturally. When I retouch, I trust my instincts and rely on my taste, so that the end “public” result is, of course, carefully considered. The photos must please me in many ways not only technically, but also emotionally. And I am very hard to please.
4) You live in St. Petersburg. How does the energy of that city effect your work?
Not exactly correct. I live in Finland, but I travel a lot back to Saint-Petersburg to relax and meet with my friends. While there I also visit a lot of exhibitions, go to the ballet and enjoy the cultural and architectural beauty of my home city. It effects me in many ways. For example, some years back, I visited the Hermitage (the world’s largest and oldest museums of art), a day before my shoot, and all my photos from that shoot looked like paintings. I didn’t plan this with my model (they usually trust me completely to decide the style and type of the shoot), but it was clear to me that it was the influence of museum, and the city, of course. I think even when I am not living there now, I retain the city’s influence. As part of my origins, it taught me to understand beauty and influenced my aesthetics, for which I will always be indebted. I’ve also heard that those people who are from Saint-Petersburg, are more likely to become something in life. This city has amazing energy! Shame, I don’t work there much, but I did some good shoots there.
5) What’s next for you?
After almost five years of studying and shooting, and working with photography, I think I’m finally ready for my first exhibition. Earlier, it was not possible due to my demanding nature. I thought I still didn’t have enough great photos to do it and to actually show them to the wider audience and so I wanted to shoot some more. I know every artist must go through this sometimes. But I think about it a lot lately and I am very interested. I do not know yet where and when, but certainly in the near future. If it’s not going to be exhibition of my photographs only, it will be something in where I will take part as one of the photographers showcasing their work. I was already asked by a few places in different countries, so I’m very excited. For example, some of my advertising shots were recently shown in Seoul, Korea at the Kobaco Gallery for the International Advertising Photography Exhibition. I have also been invited to show in Russia next year, which is very exciting.
My other plans for this and upcoming years is to shoot more still-lifes, which are absolutely un-retouched. I got interested in this after my Russia visit in Jan of 2013 and was inspired by the workflow of my friend and a great man, Igor Sakharov, who doesn’t use Photoshop in his works at all. Shooting products, especially made of glass and shiny metals, is the most challenging thing you can deal with in studio photography. I’ve always enjoyed taking on a challenge, especially if those challenges teach me to become better in what I do. I did lower my post-production to the best possible minimum in my fashion shots as well. I ‘d also like to shoot more lifestyle rather than fashion, so I can create a story and document beautiful life moments and emotions, because I think this is what is missing nowadays from most fashion photographs–they have become too surreal. In other words, I want to shoot things that I enjoy or things that are important to me personally, whether it be fashion or advertising, and to constantly improve my skills. That is why I go back to the basics: plan, organize, light and capture–and do it all within the shooting process, not after it, because that’s what real photography is about. For example, I was glad to see that the photos I took in Spain this summer turned out so great, because I didn’t want to invest all my time in retouching them afterwards. So the best benefit from this practice, is that it’s saving me a lot of time.
I also plan to publish a book of self-portraits together with my friends, so I can have them all in the same place at least once, haha. Meanwhile, you can find my work in the upcoming “200 Best Ad Photographers 2014/15 Worldwide” by Lürzer’s Archive to be published early next year.
Eco-Fashion Is The Real Deal
While everyone is still hyped up from the NY Spring 2014 Fashion Week, there are still a lot of things to look forward to when it comes to the latest styles and trends in the industry. As several sectors today are beginning to shift towards sustainable development and eco-friendly practices, the clothing industry is also starting to gear up towards green fashion. Eco-Fashion, according to Post Consumers, means “generally, they come only from organic or natural sources that are responsibly farmed or they are made from upcycled or recycled materials.”
Because of eco-fashion’s sustainability and practicability, influential entertainment figures such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Natalie Portman are supporting the aforementioned fashion fad. Apart from the growing involvement of popular names in promoting sustainable lifestyles, a lot of clothing manufacturers are starting to switch their business models to eco fashion. But with the sudden surge of interest in green fashion, a lot of people are having doubts that this whole “green revolution” is just a fad that will soon go out of style. Fortunately, a lot of companies embracing the sustainable fashion practice believe that it is a practice that will last for decades to come.
Here are a few tips and tricks on how you can get involved in the eco fashion movement:
According to Eric Himel, Kristin Cavallari’s stylist, “many people think the ONLY way to be eco-friendly when it comes to your clothing is to buy items that are made out of earth friendly materials. While this is a great way to remain eco conscious when dressing, it is not the only way.” Always remember that whenever we create style, make sure to utilize organic materials with vintage Marks & Spencer clothes, for example. Reusing them is a great help to the environment as “it means many people can get use out of just one item, saving the Earth from all of the harsh steps that go into making new clothing (i.e.: travel, energy, and more),” Himel added.
Former Instyle Magazine stylist Matt Paroz explained that ‘swishing’ is a “fancy word for swapping, really. i SWISH works on a similar credit system as Thread Swap but the really nifty feature is “Mirror Match.” Aside from helping you save money, you can also get new clothes without spending a single penny.
Don’t go with the flow
British Designer Dame Viviene Westwood advised that “people need to stop pursuing trends. Consumerism, will be the death of us. I’m so upset and worried. Our beautiful planet…what’s going to happen to us?” she said.
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a young Russian photographer. At age 24, I have worked with Rolling Stone magazine, fronted several advertising campaigns, collaborated with Rick Owens on his designer corner in Le Printemps department store (Paris), shot Tricky for a new album cover, and was booked for some fashion jobs in Europe. Art is the thing that drives me.
2) The coloring in your work is very subtle, is that something that happens during the shoot, or part of post-production?
It’s all in the post-production process, I suppose. It’s a very important thing that I can save even a bad photo shoot.
3) There is a softness and edginess in your work, which gives your images a kind of energy. How do you achieve this juxtaposition?
It may sound weird, but people said my first works were too static. With every new project, I have tried to improve that. I often achieve that by jumping and running with models.
4) How does living and working in Russia effect your work?
I was asked this question few times this year. Life in Russia effects my work the same as all artists are influenced by their surroundings. The field of commercial photography is still developing here, but it’s still really difficult for a young photographer to make a career of it in Russia. Also, it’s not the best place at all to become a photographer. There are a lot of things to complain about, but to improve as well. I am not discouraged. Despite being exhausted, I really enjoy all of the days I spend on a shoot.
5) What’s next for you?
To accomplish my new goals. I think it’s only in 2013 that my photography is really starting to make sense. My new editorial is starting to come together and is more cinematic.
From its beginnings, Valentina De’ Mathà’s research has investigated the dynamic and unstable relationships between man and nature, through the perspective of mutation, inquiring into the laws of cause and effect which govern the fluctuations between these two poles and their metamorphosis. In this installation presented at the Limonaia di Villa Saroli, the artist once again focuses her attention on nature, borrowing its materials: earth, fruit, wine, water, and bread, are neatly arranged onto plates in a meticulously thought-out composition which delivers highly effective relationships of form, light and colour, capable of transporting the observer into a state of secluded contemplation and, at the same time, generating a synesthesia involving the various perceptive areas, relating senses of smell, touch and vision. It is a table of the senses, therefore, where the notions of caducity and transience suggested by the decay of the fruit are blended with the concept of rebirth offered by the fragile shoots which inhabit the plates. Built on binary associations, between life and death, the beginning and the end, but principally on the metamorphosis of the elements and the eternal dance of entropic disorder, this work suggests an awareness of the processes which are fundamental to us all.
Almost a counterpart to the “still life” genre, De’ Mathà’s nature is alive, expressing the sense of life, respect for nature’s cycles and its temporality, the total acceptance of the eternal wheel of life and death. The dichotomy between “food” and “nourishment”, alimentation and nutrition, body and soul, is investigated here with an attentive and disturbing look, and a reference to Lucretius who, in his De rerum natura exorcised the fear of death through a reference to a culinary image: “Those about to die”, Lucretius explains, “must think like a guest who is sated when the banquet ends: if life has been full of joy, then you can retreat from it like a guest who is full and happy after a rich banquet; while if life was marked by pain and sadness, there can be no sense in hoping for it to continue, dragging oneself through new sufferings”. This is an invitation to a lavish banquet of nourishment, more than simply food: we nourish ourselves with symbols and meanings, passions and emotions, transforming them into the joy of living, which is then donated once again to mother earth who feeds us with her fruits.
As Ludwig Feuerbach said:“We are what we eat”, but more importantly, we are what we nourish ourselves with, and what we nourish the world with. (Maria Savarese, independent curator)
Feral Childe is a bi-coastal design collaboration that consists of Moriah Carlson, based in Brooklyn, New York, and Alice Wu based in Oakland, California. The designers both hail from a fine arts background and produce a smart, wearable women’s wear collection, from sustainable materials, proudly manufactured in New York’s garment district. (Sass Brown)
This week we bring you Brooklyn design lab Paper No. 9, and their re-contextualization of paper as a fashion material. And who doesn’t love their little, but super chic “2am Clutch Bag.” (Sass Brown)
New eco-label Antithesis is just on their third collection and still in fundraising mode, while producing a modular, multi-functioning collection for the modern multi-tasking woman. (Sass Brown)
Artist & Photographer Roger Weiss shares his latest project, Human Dilatations.
The image of women of our times has been reduced to a pattern, a combination of codes and models that lead to the woman/individual instead of the other way around.
Human Dilatations does not fear the marks of frailness of the body and its imperfections, but rather encourages the female image to appear as a whole: a shape by itself, in a game of distortions that allows one to differently relate to the image, entirely detached from the stereotypical and hypocritical notion of beauty.