Pictures by Masha Demianova
Tell us more about your self. Where you live? And what do you do for a living?
I am 25 years old. I was born and raised in Moscow. Right now I am still living in Moscow but I’m starting to spending more time in New York. When I am in Moscow I usually work on personal projects with my friends – it’s very convenient to work here because I know everybody; I am still looking for the team to work with in NY. I am also shooting for Russian and international magazines and web-sites.
Why did you become interested in photography?
One day, I went to high school with my parent’s old simple film camera and took a few pictures of my class mates. One of the boys called me “paparazzo”, and I liked it a lot, I don’t know why. It sounds silly but I still remember that. After working as a currier I spent my first money on a Canon AE1 50mm lens and from that moment onwards I was taking pictures. I think I was 14 years old.
What inspires you? Which are your favorite photographers / masters and interests?
Lately, I find most of my inspiration in movies. The last story that I shot was inspired by the work of french director Jean Rollin. Sometimes I notice that I am subconsciously recreating screenshots from movies I like. The works of german director Werner Schoeter inspires me a lot too, expecially his lightning and the way he workes with female characters. I like to call Yelena Yemchuk my master. I was, and still am, a huge fan of her work. Once I was lucky to meet her in person. She was incredibly kind to me and let me assist her. After that shoot I think i can call her my friend. I’m a big fan of Vincent van de Wijngaard, whom I wish one day to meet in person. Ryan Mcginley and Tim Barber are masters of modern american photography, I respect them a lot. I remember when me and my friends for the first time saw Mcginley’s serie of naked people. It was 2004 and we were in Moscow. We were shocked because it was something so different from our reality.
How is your relationship with your subjects? How do you work with them?
Most of the time I take pictures of women; I feel it is a self portrait in a way. You don’t need to force someone to do or feel something for the picture. It’s much better if the person on your picture is feeling natural free and open – this way you can truly communicate with the subject.
What cameras do you use and what was your first camera?
I use Canon 5D mark2 and Canon 5D film. I also have a small Ricoh film camera that I always take with me, and I also use Canon powershot G12 sometimes.
Did you learn this studying art / by your self / from your family / friends?
I don’t have any photography education, unfortunately. It’s just practising. Photography is the reflection of yourself: the key to producing decent photography is being a decent person. Nowdays, everybody have an opportunity to self-educate – books, movies and articles are all available online.
How would you describe your works?
It is ultimately a search for the meaning of beauty, driven to its very limit. I would like to achieve a level of proficiency where my visual language has no obstacles.
Do you think your nationality and culture influence your vision and the way you take pictures?
I think Russian people are very passionate. It’s a very strange mix: Russia is messy and chaotic like Asia, but at the same time extremly cold and distant, as people are restrained from the outside, but with an uncontrolled fire in them. I feel the same in me. I don’t think that my pictures are showing my nationality, but this combination that I described is helpful in photograhpy. Because I have to be very concentrated to take a good picture, but at the same time you cannot work only with your head – the picture will be boring and average this way.
What do you miss about your country and what do you find interesting in NY as a photographer?
When I was in NY for 3 months I started to feel homesick very soon so I don’t think that I am a person who will be able to immigrate. But the same time there is so much more for me in New York – I see a whole new interesting world to discover. With people, places and opportunities everywhere. It’s a challenge that attracts me. It’s like being a child again – everything that you see is new, breath-taking. But, at the same time, to me, it’s very important to be connected to your native country, because it’s a very important part of what you are.
What are you working on now and how about your future projects?
Right now I’m working on my first short film, with a friend as the director. Also, I hope to create new project with my grandmother. Recently I realized how few pictures I take of my family that is something I would like to change. At the end of this year will be printing my first book. I’m very excited about that, too. In September I’m planning to go to NY again and work there for a while.