How did you arrive at photography?
My mother gave me her old DSLR when I was thirteen. Since then DSLRs, polaroids, medium formats, 35mm's, home made cameras, cheap plastic Walmart cameras and metal Soviet beauties haven't left my hands. But it wasn't until the day I that I started taking myself seriously with photography that I truly became part of the photography world.
What is it about photography that drives your obsession to produce images?
People. Nothing brings me more joy than seeing the person you have photographed glow when they look at their photographs. It doesn't make me feel good because I have shot it, but because I've contributed to boosting someone else's self esteem, or made someone feel better, prettier, smarter, taller, that I was able to capture their nature and their emotions.
Fashion seems to occupy a significant portion of your work output. What allowances and opportunities does fashion photography provide you as an image-maker?
It provides a very high standard that I constantly look up to, as there are hundreds of thousands of talented people in the industry, each with their own unique vision. With the increased availability of technology, more and more young adults are entering the industry, which makes it more challenging and competitive day to day. Fashion is such fast paced environment that you have to constantly keep yourself in the loop, produce images and keep yourself informed.
Do you operate around a tightly-honed methodology, or does every project necessitate a different approach?
There is really no methodology. A lot of my work is driven by my emotions and the emotions of the person in front of the lens. About 80% of the time I don't know what my images will look like, it's almost like a mystery, just like the magic of black and white photography and life: you never know what you're going to get.
The thing that stays consistent in my work is the use of overexposed lighting, and an often shallow depth of field. Every shoot is a new experiment for me and my style, as I seem to be in a constant search. I do have my favourite lenses and quirky little objects around me that I like to experiment with.
Beyond intent, do you consider your personal work operating on different levels than your project-based work? Do you make distinctions between your personal work from that produced for clients?
I have a lot more freedom with my personal projects. It allows me to be more playful and experiment with my style, my lighting, cope with unpredictable weather, scout places throughout the shoot, get to know the person I am shooting better, and establish a connection with them. I gain full control of the situation and I am capable of changing it at any moment. Personal work comes through me, it is a projection of my mood. Sometimes blurry pictures for when I feel confused and lost, overexposed when happy, etc. It is almost like human handwriting: when you're pissed; you write big and bold, when upset; tiny and in black and so on.
Shooting for a client comes with a lot more restraint unless they're giving you full control over the creative process. There is a lot more planning involved in commercial work and therefore it is less flexible to make changes.
What equipment do you use consistently? Are there any new additions to your gear that you have been experimenting with lately?
I shoot with a 7D and mostly a 50mm lens, along with its buddies : 85mm, 28mm, 28-70, etc. My equipment gemstone is my Canon FD 28mm lens that I bought a while ago and had to purchase a lens mount converter for. Since it is a film camera lens, it often gives photographs unpredictable outcomes: it catches rainbows in the frames, gets some of the most beautiful light flares, and has plenty of focus issues. I absolutely adore it.
What are some of the challenges inherent to making images that you enjoy solving most?
The content of the work is a constant struggle. Anybody can take a photograph of another person; we do it every day on our iPhones, Photobooths, iPads and iPods, but how does one take a portrait further than the two dimensional representation of another human being? How do you evoke emotions in people and not leave them indifferent? That's the struggle.
Have you experienced any memorable life lessons through photography that has changed the way you see the world around you?
One time I deleted 40GB of photographs and… just moved on. Because about two years before that I experienced a zen moment with a film camera. I shot 8 rolls of black and white film for a final project, only to find out that my shutter was defected. So I went out and got another 10 rolls of film and shot again. And you know what? Those photographs were the best thing I've shot up to that point, and it was life's way of telling me that sometimes you have to fail to learn new things.
Where do you see photography moving in the future? How do you see your own practice evolving?
I hate seeing the art of film and black and white photography fade. The pace that the world is moving in doesn't always add to the quality of the images produced, but rather to the quantity which satisfies our immediate needs. I hope the quality and the content of my work will continue to resonate with people and bring more joy and light into their lives than anything else.
Is there any advice that you would like to leave for others?
"A professional [photographer] is an amateur who didn't quit "- Richard Bach.