In this series, I put together portraits which I was either asked to take by my acquaintances and not-so-familiar people for various purposes or I myself initiated their creation. Although, generally speaking, these are the same portraits as editorial headshots, but they were made with greater creative freedom.
Tata is a young and talented filmmaker. She is also my very old friend, with whom we love to discuss movies and photos. Now she lives in Germany, but every time we meet I make a new portrait of her.
Paulina, a young artist, has dreamt of having her portrait taken by me – and her wish came true after I’ve seen her face which reminded me of Middle Age ladies.
We agreed on an outdoor portrait session in both color and B&W and – luckily for us – managed to spend an hour, making good use of the soft afternoon light which highlighted her skin tone so beautifully.
Maria is the daughter of a talented Russian architect who is famous for his projects of large and stunning country houses. He wanted to have a portrait of Masha at the age when children grow up and change very quickly. This young lady is an adorable child, who enjoys having her pictures taken.
These portraits were made as part of a photo series about architects and their children, commissioned by a famous Russian architecture magazine.
I made this portrait of Mark for a Russian charity organization which launched a major fundraising project featuring photographs of terminally ill people.
I spent a day with this young man who looked more like a frail teenager than an adult (he was 21 at that time) and documented his daily life, sharing the foreboding of impending death with his parents.
He passed away just a month after this photo was taken. Rest in peace, dear Mark!
Yuri Amigo is a Russian actor with a foreign-sounding surname and a very impressive and unusual appearance. I made this studio portrait of him prior to the 50th anniversary of his artistic carrier for a theatre magazine article about him.
We met in the theatre and looked for a while for a suitable shooting site. During the search, we were struck by an idea to simply go to a small stage where no performances were scheduled for that day. I set up flashlights straight at the stage and used the curtain as a background, which I requested to be put down for a while.
As we all are always short of time, Yuri first prepared for a performance he was playing in – Mikhail Bulgakov’s “Zoya’s apartment” – and put on stage clothes.
Alexey Firsov is a very fascinating artist who pioneered his own hyper-impressionist technique called “Lavism”. The paint on his canvases spreads like volcanic lava and congeals on the surface in 3D shapes. It fully dries only in three years. The technique is destinguished by passionate brush strokes, explosive colors, and bold thick texture.
Once, a friend of mine asked me to accompany her on a visit to a gallery owner and help photograph the paintings of her father, artist Leonid Borisov. I will write a separate blog post about him out of a fascination with his art. The gallery owner we were visiting exhibited Borisov’s works which were supposed to be photographed for a catalog.
And so, we came to her house, set out the paintings and started shooting. Suddenly a strange man approached me from behind and asked:
Are you a photographer?
I also used to enjoy shooting, but then give up on it. I took pictures of landscapes to memorize the workrooms I liked. And can you snap me as I have no good pictures of me at all?
Alexey works only outdoors. He tries to remove himself from civilization as far as possible and derives intense inspiration and energy from the wilds of the natural world. He seeks natural objects with a powerful mature and expressive character due to his belief that wild and unspoiled nature possesses greater harmony than the man-made world.
Alexey has almost never exhibited his works in Russia, assuming that they won’t fit in any gallery, but he is rather well-known abroad. HIs paintings are owned by such famous people as Prince Michael of Kent, Swedish Count Oaks-Shernn, and Madonna, not to mention dozens of private collectors all over the world.
German Vinogradov is a Russian artist famous for his ritual-like performances.
He still occasionally stages them in his apartment in central Moscow, using various objects made of metal, such as pipes and debris of machine parts, and those embodying key elements – fire, water, earth, and air – to produce an engulfing experience.
Boris Romanov is a very famous and, most importantly, talented Russian actor with a distinctive character. He no longer stars in movies but does a lot of theatre work.
It was my good friends from the Moscow-based Hermitage theatre who commissioned me to take a portrait of Boris for his 65th birthday.
There is such a tradition in Russian theatres: in a lobby of any theatre, you can find photos of actors who have ever been associated with it and trace its entire history.
It was hard for Boris to find the time for a photoshoot because at that time he was engaged in a number of plays. So we finally decided to do it at the rehearsal room in the interval between his appearances on the stage, which lasted about 15 minutes. I prepared the light in advance, and when Boris came in he was obviously in his stage costume. As a background, I used a metal-plated wall, which added this glowing effect.
This is Ira, a producer. She is currently working on a very important documentary film. About the forest. Very few people make films about “the green lungs” of our planet because many tend to think that it is something lifeless, not suitable for shooting.
But Ira does film it. Because the forest is a major living organism, integral and large, where everything is interconnected. Ira works selflessly, collecting the money needed via crowdfunding platforms, gathering a team of like-minded people, – and eventually makes the movie.
Until the moment when Ira asked me to make her portrait, I had known her for several years. We communicated quite often, but our acquaintance was merely virtual. She repeatedly commissioned me to do a photoshoot of different personalities for the magazine she worked for at that time. But we had never met in reality.
Finally, this moment has come! Once Ira returned from another film shoot and invited me out, this time to make her portrait. We met in central Moscow and just went for a walk which turned into a two-hour outdoor photo session.
At one point we found an arch between two houses. The indirect light that passed through it was an ideal source of soft light covering a certain area. We also used a light-colored wall as a background.
Thus, on the one side, we had a source of light whose light pattern resembled that of a very big softbox, while on the other side, a reflector to compensate shadows. It all resulted in a series of outdoor portraits identical to ones shot in a studio with a big source of soft light.