Fashion Photography Series: Interview with Elena Iv-Skaya
- 12th September 2018
Fashion Photography has long been an esteemed art form. Showcasing both the model as well as the apparel and accessories, it is safe to say there are always two subjects in such photographs. We love fashion as an expression of identity, beauty and creativity and with Fashion Week all around the world, we wanted to highlight the fashion photographers who are truly redefining the genre of this ever evolving industry. High fashion is fast becoming a much more open and diverse playing field with different cultures and messages being front and centre, and we’re thrilled to be speaking to the champions of this new generation.
Can you talk a little bit about your background and how you got into fashion photography?
I was born and grew up in the beautiful town of Khabarovsk, in the Far East of Russia. I graduated from the Far Eastern State University of Humanities and worked as an English teacher while also modelling in Russia and Asia. I moved to the French Réunion island a few years ago where I discovered my passion for photography. I have always been passionate about art and painting but had never thought that I would become a professional photographer one day. Now it is my full time job which makes me feel happy and accomplished.
What camera do you use? If you had to choose one lens which would it be?
For the past 2 years I have used my Hasselblad H5D 50c wi-fi with the 100mm f2,2 and this is my only lense for this camera at the moment. I am happy with it and can do both full length and portrait shots. I also have a Nikon D810 with a couple of lenses (50mm and 85mm) which is also a great camera with which I shot one of my iconic series Laguna.
Would you say your style has emerged or was it always very distinct, how has your work changed over the years?
I think that my style was quite distinct from the very beginning but it has also evolved a lot during the years. I try to work in different styles and change from shoot to shoot (more true of my personal work), after a very colourful pop-art inspired series I usually feel like doing something soft, natural and simple. And it’s so funny that people think that I only do colourful and graphic work which is not true at all. Maybe because this is so distinctive.
Can you tell us the story of a photograph of yours that stands out?
Here is a photo from the series “Delicate” shot with my friend’s cat who was new to the environment and therefore unable to remain still for one hundredth of a second. This photo is a super lucky accident because he was frantically trying to escape from the model’s loving arms onto the ground. I didn’t even notice that I clicked the shutter at that moment. I love how the model has managed to keep her face still with all this fuss!
What is your creative process like, do you have any notable routines?
First I ask myself what kind of series I would like to create: pop-art, fashion, beauty, and if I want it to be colourful or soft. Then I go through the models that inspire me for this or that style. Sometimes it’s visa versa - here is a girl that I would like to shoot and I start thinking what would work best for her. Then I start thinking about the styling (I do the styling myself for most of my personal work done in Réunion island where I live) I don’t really do a mood board, it’s more in my head and it’s always quite vague. I count on getting inspired at the very moment of shooting.
Where do you draw inspiration from? What do you think your message is?
There are many photographers whose work I admire for example the duo Marcus and Mert but I am not sure if my inspiration comes from exactly that direction. I think I am also influenced by the work and colour palette of great painters that I admire, like Paul Gaugin, André Matisse, Van Gogh and David Hockney… My message is simply beauty. My photography work must be very superficial because I am not looking to cover any social or moral or physical issues, I just want my work to aesthetically rejoice the eye of the beholder and not necessarily make him think of what I wanted to say.
In what ways is this particular field different to other areas of photography? How do you feel about the fashion industry as a whole?
For me fashion photography is the field where you can be most creative and expressive, there are no boundaries. I love being inspired by the outfits that I shoot - show me the styling and I will start having ideas about the backgrounds and lighting. In what other area can you have this luxurious freedom for creativity. The designer outfits are works of art in themselves and what a pleasure it is to interpret them in creating your own artworks - pictures.
What did you want to do as a child? I wanted to be a model and travel the world!
What would you say to an aspiring fashion photographer? What are the most important lessons you’ve learnt? What would tell your younger self?
I would say practice a lot with inspiring models, learn to guide your models to be able to get what you want from them, learn to do your own styling and see every little detail, develop your taste for outfits and accessories, hair and make-up - because even when you work with a professional team - it’s the photographer who puts everything together and makes it work. This is also the most important lesson that I’ve learnt.
Can you tell us how people can find out more about your work? Anything particularly exciting coming up this year or next?
I prefer not to talk about future projects until they have happened!
All images © Elena Iv-Skaya