All images by Anastasiya Egonyan. Used with permission.
After looking through the Behance profile of Anastasiya Egonyan, one sees not only intimate and very good portraiture, but a sense of respect for the models and their beauty. The images show a sense of admiration for the human body as well as interesting ideas and use of lighting. Combine this with Ms. Egonyan’s use of grain, and you’ve got a winning combo.
Ms. Egonyan was born in Kharkov, Ukraine, grew up in Budapest, Hungary, and is currently in Germany, Karlsruhe. “I started photography in my teenage years and loved it for life. I have finished High School only, having hard times my family could not afford a College nor University for me.” she says. So to make money, she shoots, studies photography, and recently published a Book.
She’s been around the industry having worked with Korbely Attila, a Hungarian photographer for National Geographic for a travel project around Hungary, “I have been accepted to the Vogue Italy online photography gallery…have been teaching retouching and photography in Kharkiv then as well.
But what’s even more interesting about her is her struggle with epilepsy. “Once I had to make a choice – either I want to live with no seizures at all and take medications, but never work in the desired field or have no treatment at all and learn to cope with the illness by myself, but instead have a possibility to do what I love and work hard on my dreams.” She chose the last option.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.
Anastasia: I am really not sure if I have got there sometime or I have already been there for my whole life. Photography was always a great passion for me. I remember being five when my parents got their first Polaroid camera, it was simply magic, I loved it. Then at about age of 14 I had bought a first digital camera in my life, it had a 1 megapixel sensor, I was really happy with the purchase, taking mostly abstract architecture shots.
Phoblographer: What made you want to get into portraiture?
Anastasia: I think it was a simple curiosity. And right after I made my first portrait session with a stranger I felt like it was my new dope. Before that I was working really hard with composition, making mostly still life photography, using a light-painting technique. But in the terms of interaction it was a still one-way ticket for me. Portraiture is the work of at least two people, it becomes harder this way, yet gives a different level of emotional response. Making a picture of a person is much more complicated than doing the same with an apple. You never know where it will end up and you never have the full control of the situation.
Phoblographer: Lots of your work is done on film. Why do you choose film and how do you feel it helps you get your creative vision across?
Anastasia: I was thinking about this lately and I came to a conclusion that film is actually a game for me. I like to play from the very beginning up to receiving the scans from the lab. It’s a drug, simple as that. Once you try it, you will never forget the feeling of excitement while waiting for the pictures a long time and finally seeing them. Otherwise you must know that doing film photography really makes you a perfectionist freak. I value every single shot on my roll and I hate to waste any, that is why it makes me take my time and do only one good shot per pose. And the grain. I love grain, I need grain, I pray for grain as that is one of the best things that we have in photography.
Phoblographer: When you go about creating these portraits, what kind of conversation do you have with your models to tell them about what you’re going for?
Anastasia: I just tell them they need to be natural and that is all. It really makes no difference between the nude and the portrait sessions, it’s only a matter of point, where people feel confident, whether it is with or without clothes. I am a director of every single shoot, yet I try to take a different level of control over the posing and the expression for every person. There is a personal limit of expression in every single character I deal with, so I always choose whether to help or not to interfere a lot.
Phoblographer: Where do you find your inspiration and how do you go about trying to make that inspiration into a photo that is really an original idea from you?
Anastasia: Well, you know, anyone would answer this question the same way I think. Inspiration is everywhere! I look for other photographers a lot, I learn from them, I do my own with the feeling of “I want to do it like him, I want to do better”. That is really motivating. Just make sure that in any case of inspiration, it must stay inspiration till the end, you must never make a copy or blindly follow your idols. Making your own style is the hardest, but then once you have it, it will be only harder to step aside from it and make something different, as you already think and view one certain way. There is no recipe of producing your own idea, but it is reachable with a lot of work and consistency.
Phoblographer: What film photography gear and films do you use?
Anastasia: That is the hardest questions of all! It’s 35mm film Canon, but I really have no idea which one, but I will check it out now!
It’s an EOS 3000 and I have a Sigma 50mm f1.4 Lens to satisfy my film and digital photography needs. That is my favorite of all gear. Not perfect, but very simple and I got used to it a lot. Sometimes I play with manual old lenses and cameras, but I really don’t mind the gear, I’ve had a lot of different ones, I just use what comes in handy. It quite the same with film. I’ve never used any professional film for my shootings ever, and I never yet felt any need for them. I love Kodak for contrast and yellow/red tones and Fuji for Green/Magenta tones. But that is basic. Try expired films too, they give really cool effects on color and grain.
Phoblographer: As you get the film scans back, what makes you specifically choose one image or another for your portfolio?
Anastasia: I don’t have many to choose from! Once before I used a whole film to make one session. Then I came to a half. And later I could do only 12 photos at a time and have a result of 8 or 10 that would look great in my portfolio. I choose the best, that is my only secret. And the less you have to choose from, the easier your choices will be.