The natural beauty of the female characters in Alexander Vinogradov's portraits

by Elena Raceala in interview - 2 years ago

The natural beauty of the female characters in Alexander Vinogradov's portraits

by Elena Raceala in interview - 2 years ago
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Alexander Vinogradov is a Russian photographer specializing in portrait photography. His portrait style is unique and captures as a whole the natural beauty of the female characters who stand out for their attitude and expressiveness, exuding simplicity and elegance. Alexander Vinogradov won Open Photographer of the Year at the Sony World Photography Award 2017 with his well-known portrait entitled "Mathilda", inspired by the French film "Léon".

Hello, Alexander,

First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time to tell us about you and your work in this interview.

To begin, where are you from? Please tell us about yourself and your passions.

Hello Elena! I am from a small town 150 km from Moscow. I work as a process engineer in the production of nonwovens. I have a family: a wife and an 8-year-old son. In addition to photography, I am fond of cycling and searching for antiques with a metal detector.

What inspired you to approach photography? How did this journey start? 

I have beautiful nature in my homeland and I bought my first camera in 2009 in the hope of learning how to photograph landscapes and animals, but I got better portrait photos and I decided to work in this direction: I began to photograph people who admire me with their appearance.

At the beginning of the journey, I photographed my relatives and friends, then I began to look for inspiration on social networks. I still admire landscape works and sometimes I try to photograph nature myself.

Of all the genres, why were you drawn to portrait photography?

I like the unusual female beauty. I admire the external beauty of a person, his special color of hair, eyes, or skin. I am fascinated by models with expressive looks. There may be sadness or pain or momentary joy in those eyes. I can drive 2 extra metro stops to get a better look at the person and invite him to shoot.

Where do you find inspiration for your work? What advice would you give to a beginner who wants to experiment with portrait photography?

I found 90 percent of my models on Instagram. It is very convenient to do just sitting with a cup of tea. Sometimes the models themselves write to me or I meet someone on the street.

I advise you to be as friendly and open as possible. Respect and appreciate the girl, and her personal space. At first, try to shoot more and analyze the results. Be as critical of yourself as possible.

Light plays a special role in your artwork. Please tell us what equipment and accessories you use in your portrait photography.

At the beginning of the journey, I shot on the street in the evening in the low sun. I liked the result but wanted softer lighting for more fine art portraits. I began to photograph in inexpensive studios with a window light. Later I mastered pulsed light and it became my main way to get a portrait. It's predictable, I can tweak it however I like and get a predictable good result. But sometimes, I shoot with daylight from a window when the studio has large windows and the sky is overcast.

My main camera is a Sony A7iii and a Sony 85/1.8 lens. I also have 50 and 135 mm for other occasions.

The models in your photos have something in common: expressiveness, naturalness, and elegance. Where do you look for your characters and how do you get them to convey that emotional expressiveness through their eyes?

I look very carefully at my models. I like deep looks, I like the mood in the look. I like femininity and naturalness. I use minimal retouching and ask my model not to use flashy makeup.

There is no secret to getting a deep look, you just need to see it in the eyes of the model and invite her to shoot.

My shooting lasts 2 hours and usually, this is enough to liberate a person, relax him and get the right shots. I just talk, cheer, and smile. Music helps a lot: I like neoclassic music. During the shooting process, I show the model successful shots so that she feels more confident.

Can you tell us how a portrait session goes and how do you manage to capture as a whole the natural beauty of the female characters? Do you have a team you work with... make-up artist, stylist?

I rarely work with a team as I love natural beauty and don't need a make-up artist. Sometimes I invite a hair stylist if the model has long hair that requires special styling. I also work with a seamstress who often gives or made for me vintage clothes. But most of the time I shoot alone.

Your portrait entitled "Mathilda", inspired by the French film "Léon", won the Open Photographer of the Year at Sony World Photography Award 2017. What made you choose this film character as the subject for your photograph?

I saw this girl on Instagram from another photographer and was mesmerized by her look. I decided to invite her and her mother for a test shoot. I was convinced that she had a simply magnetic look and realized that she reminded me of Matilda from the famous film. We decided to play with this image: we found a wig, a choker around the neck, and a bodysuit. And this portrait came out.

As I said, you have a unique style, from the interesting and refined characters to the way you use the light. What is the essence of your work, the message you want to convey to the viewer?

I want to share with the world my admiration and vision of female beauty. I like natural beauty, without make-up, without cosmetic surgeries and injections. I use a minimum of retouching to emphasize this and show the viewers the true beauty.

Please share with us your favorite photographers you admire, why, and how did they influence your photographic journey?

I don't have very favorite authors and favorites. I am against any fanaticism and worship. I follow a lot of authors and each finds something beautiful for me.

Are you working on a new project? How do you imagine the evolution of your artistic work and your figure as an artist in the future?

I have a couple of long projects and I don't want to talk about them yet. Most of my shoots are spontaneous and sudden. I have some free time and I write models. Or I see that the model came to my city for a short time and I rush to contact her and take a photo.

It is difficult to talk about the future in the light of recent terrible political events, but I think that the future belongs to NFT and neural networks. They will greatly change the world of creativity.

It was a pleasure to chat with you, Elena!