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Interview: Photographer Andrey Stanko (Ukraine)

Can you tell us a little about you?

I was born and raised in Odessa, Ukraine. In childhood, one of my hobbies was photography, but I did not become a photographer, because the collapse of the Soviet Union began, and I had to make a living by more earthly things. Again I got carried away with photography, when I was already over 40, and I had more free time. I started with a photo in the style of Newart, but after winning a number of international competitions decided to change the style and specialization, recently I'm shooting ballet and dancing, in which I see much more plasticity, body culture and hidden sexuality. Four years ago I finally became a professional, and now I work with ballet dancers from all Ukrainian theaters, as well as with ballet companies in the US and Europe.

How and when did you get into photography?

The initial experience of photography I received as a child. My first camera was TTL Practice, which I took from my father. As a child, I shot a lot, but because of the large number of moves from place to place, I almost do not have early photos. At 40 + years I bought my first digital SLR camera Nikon D40 to take pictures of my son, and again got carried away so that photography became my new profession.

What does photography mean to you?

Photography for me rather a lifestyle. The photographer notices such moments, which the ordinary viewer will never notice. This does not mean that I always walk with the camera and clap the shutter to the right and left. On the contrary, the more I shoot, the less I get the camera. For personal needs now and enough smartphone. The quality of the camera of mobile devices has grown very much in recent years. Therefore, the requirements for professional photography also increased. I try to match them.

Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.

In my picture I try to combine the plasticity of the body with dynamics, light and the environment. Therefore often enough I remove dancers on the overcrowded streets of cities, underlining dynamism and beauty of movements of actors. At the same time, I really like working in a studio with studio lighting. Studio photography gives you the opportunity to focus on pure form and plastic, emphasizing their beauty.

Where do you get inspiration from?

Usually there is inspiration during shooting. Watching the movement of the body in space, you become a part of this space in which the dance is a separate Galaxy with dancers in the center. Watching the light, you look at the most spectacular racours, corner of the camera, so you can use it better. Each shooting is a challenge, each dancer has his own strengths that need to be revealed. I often attend performances, especially to look at interesting movements, and then use them in my shootings. Shooting in the theater is probably the simplest kind of shooting, because choreographers and lighters have already worked for you. Therefore, in theaters, I shoot only when there is a duty or professional order.

Think you in advance what you want in the picture?

Yes, in order to work with professional dancers, you need to understand the basic ballet rules and terms well, otherwise they will not want to work with you for the second time. Therefore, it is necessary to imagine in advance what movements and poses we would like to make. Using them, in the process of shooting, new ideas arise, and the initial preparation contributes to this.

Studio, on location or both?

In the summer I prefer to work outdoors. In the winter, studio and premises. Light works the same both here and there, if you know how to use it. Each shooting has its own advantages.

Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?

I prefer to work with professionals. Lovers are enough for me when I shoot children from ballet schools, on a commercial basis. There are a lot of rules in the dance photography. And the main rule is that professional dancers will evaluate your work. This is an additional complication. You should not only work with form, light and location, but also make the right movements at the right time. Shooting the dynamics in which sometimes a microsecond decides whether this photograph is good or not.

What has been your most memorable session and why?

It is difficult for me to answer this question. Every shot is memorable. Every shooting is a challenge.

Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?

No important. Rather depends on the lens. My favorite lenses are Nikon 70-200 / 2.8 and universal Canon 24-70 / 2.8. So now I'm shooting for Nikon and Sony A7III.

What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?

The main advice is that the photographer should specialize in the fact that he manages to shoot the best. A professional photographer can not shoot at once in all genres. Without specialization, you simply waste your time in vain.

What do you think of our new magazine?

Nowadays, more and more the fashion world turns its attention to dancers as models. This is a worldwide trend. I would be happy to contribute to this. Thanks for the invitation. I wish your magazine success.

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