Dealing with Epilepsy as a Photographer (NSFW)


All images by Anastasiya Egonyan. Used with permission.

Photographer Anastasiya Egonyan is an incredible portrait photographer; and these days she tends to use natural light fo the most part for her work. But that isn’t necessarily only because of creative decisions, but more because she needs to. In our previous interview with Anastasiya, she revealed sometimes having fits of epilepsy that prevented her from working. She’s learned how to lessen the outbreaks, but they’ve in some ways come to shape her work as a photographer.

Phoblographer: Lots of photographers, when they don’t have natural light, learn how to use flash to create the images that they want. But you’re different in that your epilepsy prevents you from doing this. How have you struggled with that problem as a photographer?


Anastasiya: I have used flash light quite a lot. Yet it made me sick in the end of the day, but that was something I had to try of course as it is one of the essential things almost every photographer uses every day. Once I have practiced some photos in motion with long exposure using the permanent light source and flash at once. The flash makes a sharp contour of the main object, while moving the camera created a nice blurry effect afterwards. I have tried many other uses of flash, but I must say that I never felt like that was a big deal for me. I might use it again, but I don’t feel like I’m actually in a huge need of it now. Photography today has gone to a new level of technological evolution, where there must be enough light to lighten every pore on the model’s face, with the latest cameras revealing those pores with astonishing details as the result. That is just too much for me, I am more for the “less detail, more emotion” thing right now.

Phoblographer: So how do you go about bending light and making it work for you? You use all natural lighting, no?

Anastasiya: Now I came to a conclusion that the less light you have, the better it can work out for you. It may sound strange as photography is all about light, but when you have less of it, you can control it better. Also now I am thinking on going back to light painting technique with a hand flashlight on long exposure. I feel it will open a new horizon and possibilities in my work. And of course there is not only natural light involved, you can use whatever for the desired result. I can even use the simple bedside light if I want to, the light from the vitrines late in the evening, neon lights, candle lights… whatever! Light is the tool, just find the ways to make it work for you!


Phoblographer: What kind of careful measures do you need to take to ensure that it doesn’t act up and prevent you from working?

Anastasiya: I am not really sure what to say here. I usually just make sure my exposition is in the right place, but sometimes I like to underexpose too, sometimes over, depending on the subject. Experiment is a big part of photography. Sometimes you have to try to find out. There is no formula, it is bare art, and I will fight with the person who doubts that!


Phoblographer: In our emails back and forth, you cited that you see all this as a creative challenge. So what are some of the biggest boundaries you feel you’ve overcome so far?

Anastasiya: You see, there is a thing, I don’t want this whole conversation to sound like photography is a huge pain in the ass for me and all I do is struggle through the endless setup of boundaries and restrictions. Photography is the love of my life and being such a strong emotion it can end up with an unpleasant experience too. Like in life, sometimes we go to the movie, another day we fight, sometimes we cry, yet mostly we have good fun and great sex. Photography is my partner in life and like with every serious relationship, you have to work hard and overcome the difficulties together to make it last till the end.

Phoblographer: What do you really wish that you could do as a photographer that the condition prevents you from doing?

Anastasiya: I wish I could work harder with a bit of sleep and less spare time. But unfortunately lack of sleep makes me crash down, that is why I have to take a good rest. Though I am a workaholic and I rarely have weekends and free evenings, I still feel I can never work enough. I always feel like I’m wasting my time every day, that I could do much more and succeed even better.


Phoblographer: Where do you want your photography to be in one year? That is, how do you see yourself and your work evolving in the next year?

Anastasiya: I think that last two years were the years of constant research and trials. I have tried a lot of different styles and looked up for a lot of different inspirations. And now I feel I have finally found something I want to stick with and improve. That is a mix of my old style and a new attitude. It is simply useless to explain now, but if you follow my work throughout the year, I think you will not regret. I have big plans on publishing and showing my works to the public offline, but now I would prefer to just keep quiet, work hard and see how it turns out after all.



Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.