Please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, where do you live now? Your background with photography, how and when you were drawn to the street genre.
I was born and raised in Russia, and have been living in Cyprus for almost 20 years. My photographic journey began in 2003 when I went to study interior design — I was always fascinated with homes and structures. My love of photography emerged then, but it was only in 2014 that I decided to take it to another level by attending workshops, and submitting my work to competitions. First prize at the 2014 Vienna International Photo Awards was a breakthrough that gave me strength and desire to follow that path. In 2015, I held my first solo exhibit in Limassol, where I live. From there the exhibit traveled to La Quatrieme Image in Paris. 2016 surprised me with two assignments I got from The Wall Street Journal, first was in Cyprus, second in Israel. But my main interest always was, and remains in the street. I love the magic of unposed photography, and my subjects are always genuine. I am fascinated with genuineness — hence the street genre.
How do you define “street photography” for yourself?
Street photography in my point of view is anything photographed in the street, and that is my main field of activity. I wouldn’t call myself a street photographer though. I try not to stick to the common approach of the street photography, i.e. catching funny and ridiculous situations, etc. I am out there to collect magic moments, and try to do it with a fine art approach. I look at each of my shots as if it would be a painting, preferably with a surreal feel, and with the right composition, harmonious lines, shapes and colors.
Does your local situation affect how you are able to shoot? Is there a political climate, social attitudes (or laws) about photographing people in public, or another local factor?
Photographing in Cyprus is not difficult. It is a tourist destination, so I suppose people are used to seeing a camera in action. My problem is that I almost don’t even shoot where I live — my main inspiration being newness, a fresh sight, the unknown — that’s why my photography goes hand in hand with my travelling. I also feel that staying long periods of time without shooting allows me to accumulate energy needed for the next trip, and all my trips therefore become very productive.
In what ways do you think being a woman has affected your work?
I think being a woman probably brings more delicate and respectful approach towards people in the street, but generally I don’t like that division. We are men and women of course, but first of all we are human beings. There are people sensitive and heartless, compassionate and hateful, warm and mean, etc. And it is not ruled by sex.
Color or black and white, digital or film?
When I started photographing seriously back in 2003, I’d been using film for a year only. Then I switched to digital, as photography was both an inspiration and a useful tool during my studies. The digital camera was a source of enormous creative possibilities and ideas for me. Since then, I stick to my Nikon with zoom lens, which allows me to shoot a great variety of pictures.
If you see my “Where stories come from” portfolio on Instagram, the answer to the first part of the question is pretty obvious. Color, color and again color!! I still have a few good black and white shots, but these are by-products, as the first thing that catches my eye in the street is “His Majesty Color.”
What photographers can you name who are the most inspirational to you?
Alex Webb is the one who blew my mind with his color photography. Harry Gruyaert is amazing. Nikos Economopoulos made a huge impact on what I am doing now. I’d chosen him for one of my projects back in 2004, during my studies, and again ten years later, when I went to his workshop in Istanbul that brought me the prize in Vienna.
Is there a special project you are working on? Or recurring themes you are often drawn to?
I would call myself an intuitive traveling photographer, looking for beauty in the streets of the world. I don’t want to limit myself to a certain theme or story. That’s why normally I don’t do projects or pursue any particular goal. I simply observe and react and it perfectly works for me.