Interview: Photographer Olga Volodina (Bulgaria)
Can you tell us a little about you?
I was born in Uzbekistan. Mom is a pianist, dad is an engineer. I have a younger sister who lives in Moscow now. My daughter is 12 years old and she is a young artist - she loves drawing and digital painting. When I was a child our family moved to Russia. I studied journalism in Moscow and worked as a model at the same time. My daughter was born in 2008, and I moved to Thailand, where I lived for almost ten years, and started working on my photo art projects Now I live and work in Bulgaria. Last year was very difficult for me, as it was for many other people, especially from a creative background. My new project "Ultraviolent." is in the making. It is dedicated to women's rights and the problem of domestic violence in families. Because of COVID and quarantine, I have to postpone the photo shootings but hope we can start soon. Everyone who takes the problem of domestic violence seriously can participate in the project. More details can be found here https://gogetfunding.com/ultraviolent/
How and when did you get into photography?
As a child, I never dreamed of becoming a photographer. I was a curious kid interested in many things. I think it was that curiosity and adventurousness that made me an artist in the future. Although when I was a little girl, my father gave me his old film camera, so I took photos of literally everything I saw. I remember that I just really liked the shutter and the film rewind sounds. I still like it. It puts me in a somewhat meditative mood. It was by working with professional photographers that I became seriously interested in photography. I started with portraits of friends on a very basic amateur camera, then several years later, in 2006, I got my own studio and professional equipment while continuing with fashion shoots and nude photography. After I moved to Thailand I started to do more personal and conceptual art projects, that eventually culminated in a series of exhibitions in different Bangkok Galleries.
What does photography mean to you?
Photography, for me, has become a kind of dialogue with society. By doing it, I found an opportunity to express my love for symbols and metaphors, struggle with endless self-reflection, excessive emotionality, complexes, and my personal flaws. This is not only a profession but also a kind of therapy. I am always inspired by society and the relationship between people, mostly in its negative aspect. My photo works are means of translating my feelings and sending my message to people.
Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.
I would call it a conceptual mixed media art with a pinch of surrealism.
Where do you get inspiration from?
Life itself motivates and inspires me. The main focus of my work is always on a human. Images that I create are often my responses to the world's events or personal life events. It is spontaneous, but I record the flow of thoughts and associations that occurs in my head to transform them into artworks afterward.
Do you think in advance what you want in the picture?
Yes, I do. I always have to see a clear image in my head before I start to work on it, so there is not much left for improvisation during the shooting. You have to be organized and fast especially when you work in a rented studio with an hourly fee.
Studio, on location, or both?
I'm a "control freak" so In most cases I prefer a studio where I can manage the light.
Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?
I make my living doing photography, my works were exhibited in the established art galleries and sold to private collections, so, I believe, I'm a professional
What has been your most memorable session and why?
I think one of the most memorable experiences was working with transgender people for my project M2F (Male To Female). None of them had a professional modeling background and the idea was to make a classical black and white nude shooting that will expose their beauty and make the viewers see it. It had to overcome the initial embarrassment and learn to trust.
Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?
I still use my good old Canon Mark II camera since the year 2007. My favorite lens is Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM. It has a perfect-for-portrait-photography combination of focal length, ultra-wide aperture, and image stabilization.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?
I'm not that good at business, but I can give a piece of advice to photographers who will follow the path of art. I believe the most important thing is to be sincere, to express your thoughts and feelings. Use your personal experiences for inspiration: complexes, traumas, suffering, sad and happy moments of life. Talk about what worries you personally. Also, be versatile in your interests and communicate with people. This will make it possible to look at problems from different angles, and implement your ideas more accurately and creatively. The best ideas come from spheres of life adjacent to visual art: music, literature, science, etc.
What do you think of our new magazine?
I think this is a pretty interesting magazine about fashion, modeling, photography and make-up art. In addition, it is a free platform for creative people who can find their audience there.
I am happy that my work attracted your attention and I wish you success.