Interview with Michael Lidski

Before reading this interview I suggest reading my Introduction to Interviews with Photographers.

Michael Lidski is a professional photographer currently living in New Zealand. He has lived in several places around the world and traveled in many more. Michael kindly agreed to give me this interview, in which he reveals parts of his life story and also shares his professional opinions on photographic equipment that he uses, all this together with many examples of his beautiful photographs.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am proud to present you – Michael Lidski !

Self portrait by Michael Lidski. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Tell a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I am from USSR (remember, once upon a time there used to be a USSR?) – and left it when it was still called a USSR, albeit falling to pieces.

Photo by Michael Lidski. Click on the photo to enlarge.

I was born and grew up in the city of Kiev – the Mother of Russian cities, today it is the capital of Ukraine, which is trying to be an independent country.

Photo by Michael Lidski. Click on the photo to enlarge.

I am Russian by language and culture. It always was a bit of a love-hate relationship, because on one hand Russian culture, especially Russian literature is great and I’m proud of it, but on the other hand, while living in USSR, I always wanted to leave it, because I considered it a totalitarian police state inhabited by a rather barbarian people.

Photo by Michael Lidski. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Doctor Zhivago’s self-sacrifice always seemed wrong to me, because the people whom it was supposed to be for were unworthy of it. One of my favorite jokes about Soviet Union is about a young guy who appears in court for killing an old woman in the street at night to rob her.

The judge says:
– Young man, how possibly could you have killed a poor old lady – and for what?! For just one rouble you found in her purse?!
The defendant replies:
– Well, your honour, look at it from my perspective: 5 old ladies buys a bottle of vodka, ey!

Unfortunately, it seems that the only thing that changed over there since then is the price of vodka.

Photo by Michael Lidski. Click on the photo to enlarge.

This is the miners wives’ strike – their husbands didn’t get paid for several years. Translation of their banner: “Independent Ukraine has everything but God, Truth and Honor”.
Having been forcibly stripped off my Soviet citizenship (and having had to pay for that, too) – no great loss, by the way – I immigrated to Israel when I was 29 and spent the next 15 years there…

Photos by Michael Lidski. Click on the photo to enlarge.

…unsuccessfully trying to become part of the great Zionist idea for the first 10 years and then for the next 5 years trying to figure out where to go to have a normal life. I traveled quite a bit in the meantime…

Photos by Michael Lidski. Click on the photo to enlarge.

…gaining some ideas about how different can life be in different societies. Maybe, like Bulgakov’s Master, I haven’t earned the Light, but have earned my Rest – New Zealand became my Eternal Refuge, and here I am today…

Photos by Michael Lidski. Click on the photo to enlarge.

…living in a place probably as close to paradise as one can find on Earth, in the city of Christchurch:

Photo by Michael Lidski. Click on the photo to enlarge.

The following image has nothing to do with me, it is a humorous portrayal of New Zealand by an artist whom I would like to thank for using his work:

Click on the photo to enlarge.

How did you get involved in photography and how long have you been into photography?

I became interested in photography quite early, my first works were published 25 years ago, when I was studying to become a biologist. By 1990 I became a pro photographer instead, working at the ‘Radyans’ka Ukrayina’ state publishing house (department of artistic postcards, calendars and photo albums).

By now I have more than 3.000 images & 500 articles published in various books, magazines, newspapers, calendars, postcards, etc. Artworks in private collections in Christchurch, London, San-Francisco, Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem and Kiev.

What was your first camera?

I got my first camera as a birthday present when I was 7 years old, it was an ‘Etude’:

Click on the photo to enlarge.

and it was the worst camera ever made as far as I can tell, no way it could take photos!

What projects are you involved in nowadays?

I am currently doing several different things in terms of photography:

1) Private customer orders, like portraits, events, technical photography, etc. Those are mostly rewarding in terms of $$$.

Photo by Michael Lidski. Click on the photo to enlarge.

here you can see more examples

2) Digital art based on photography:

Photo by Michael Lidski. Click on the photo to enlarge.

My canvases exhibited (and occasionally even sold) in art galleries;  here you can see more examples of my digital art.

3) Nature photography: Critters, Landscapes, Nature, and I love doing it. I also love shooting Cities

4) Last but not least – studio photography (it’s a fairly recent thing for me and I’m enjoying it!):

Photos by Michael Lidski. Click on the photo to enlarge.

What gives you inspiration in photography and how do you keep creative and improve?

Difficult question. First and foremost I would like to say that my beautiful wife is my inspiration – I couldn’t live without her! Second – I would say that the most important thing in photography for me is not to register the reality, but rather to express myself through portraying it. Like an artist expresses himself in his paintings, like a composer expresses himself in his music, like a poet expresses himself in his poems. Only sometimes I think that ‘inspiration’ is more like a transmission of a divine ‘radio’ signal, for which an artist simply serves as a receiver. I am like a camera obscura, a pinhole through which the divine light passes into this world…

Photo by Michael Lidski. Click on the photo to enlarge.

…creating images for people to admire. At least I hope I am…

What do you like to shoot the most?

I am always concentrating on what I’m shooting and processing now. My most recent shoots were a young couple double portrait session done in the studio and outdoors, a shoot of rare birds from a boat in the ocean, and a landscape session in a remote location which was difficult to access.

What equipment do you use?

Canon 5D, Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 1Ds Mark III, Canon 15mm fisheye:

Photo by Michael Lidski. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Canon 17mm TS-E L:

Photo by Michael Lidski. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Canon 85mm F1.2 Mark II L:

Photo by Michael Lidski. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Canon 28-300mm IS L:

Photo by Michael Lidski. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Canon 200mm F1.8 L:

Photo by Michael Lidski. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Canon 2x TC:

Photo by Michael Lidski. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Kenko automatic extension tubes:

Photo by Michael Lidski. Click on the photo to enlarge.

My additional equipment includes:

Canon Speedlite 580EX Mark II flash, UNI-LOC tripod MA2300, 3 ancient Broncolor studio lights, ring flash diffuser for macro, a small and a large (14 inch) beauty dishes, flash remote cable, Manfrotto flash bracket, LowePro SuperTrekker back pack.

Now, that’s rather dry – what should I add? From my perspective, there is no ideal camera as of today. We are talking strictly Canon here, and should probably start with why. Wide format gives better image quality, but is rather limited in it’s use due to available focal lengths of lenses and the absence of higher ISO, not to mention the prices and weight/size.

Nikon D3x is not a bad camera, but I would never switch because of the lenses Nikon doesn’t have (2 of which I own and enjoy). Cropped (castrated) sensor cameras have image quality visibly inferior to full frame. Of course, it would be nice to use different formats, cameras and systems for different purposes, like, wide format only in the studio, etc., but that’s just too expensive. So that limits us to the cameras listed, right? Of those I’m not happy with either one, because 5D is ancient (no highlight tone priority, no usable ISO 6400, slow AF), 5D Mark II has issues (noise and banding at base ISO visible in post-processing, red/inky blotch colour issue, slow AF), and 1Ds Mark III is in respects inferior to 5D Mark II (monitor, higher ISO) – so I’m anxiously waiting for Canon 1Ds Mark IV, which I’ll buy as soon as it comes out.

I hope I won’t have to wait much longer. Well, bodies come and go but lenses stay, as they say, so about the lenses: my fisheye is a very sharp lens, but not an L lens due to inferior build quality (went to warranty repair and back recently), disgusting chromatic aberration and – oh, I wouldn’t mind if it could focus closer, but there is no alternative. Of course, there is a comparable Sigma, but it is not better than Canon…

17mm TS-E is an awesome lens, very sharp, easily usable handheld with liveview in spite of no AF, the one and only wideangle.

28-300 is surprisingly good optically for its zoom range and very versatile.

85/1.2 is bloody awesome, same as the 200/1.8 – unique bokeh, creamy, beautiful – and razor-sharp where the focus is:

In this thread on dpreview forum you can read (and see examples) about my Holy Grail – Canon 200/f1.8 L series lens

And finally, if you had only two tips to give to a beginner photographer what would they be?

A) Choose a different profession which would guarantee you a well-paid, reliable regular job and let photography be your hobby.
B) Have fun while you are young!

Thank you Michael for this wonderful interview. Personally I enjoyed it very much, and I am sure that all my readers will!

Good luck to you in your present and future projects!

Cheers,

Greg.

Interview with fashion photographer Oleg Igorin

Oleg Igorin is a fashion photographer currently working in New York. He has a pretty busy schedule but he was able to make time for this rather short interview. In compensation I get to show here quite a lot of his magnificent work!

Oleg Igorin

Oleg Igorin. Click on the photo to enlarge.

First of all a little about you.

5 years ago, in Moscow, I bough a compact digital camera and started photographing. My first models were my friends. In time I got many clients, and it allowed me to set up my own large studio Moscow that gradually turned to my own rental business. Half a year ago I decided to move to New York, which is the capital of world’s commercial photography, and now I am working on creating my own studio and making connections with people in fashion industry

Photograph by Oleg Igorin. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Were you always interested in fashion photography or this interest developed over time?

Yes, I was always interested in fashion and beauty photography. I liked to paint and now it helps me to feel better the photographs that I make.

Photographs by Oleg Igorin. Click on the photo to enlarge.

How would you describe your photographic style?

With my work I want to show the beauty of people and fashion.

What does it take to be a fashion photographer?

It is very hard work that takes most of my time. But this is also a very interesting part of my life.

Photographs by Oleg Igorin. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Do you find your models or models find you?

Models are the part of my work. They appear when I need them.

Photograph by Oleg Igorin. Click on the photo to enlarge.

And now to more technical questions.

When you are photographing your models on the streets of New York city, how do you do that? I mean do you just take the model out on the street, take out all your gear and shoot ignoring the people around you, or you make certain preparations, ask people not to interfere?

New York is very “photographed” city and shooting on the streets doesn’t take a lot of people’s attention. For me it is much more interesting to take shots not in touristic places, but in the real New York – places that are usually not crowded.

Photographs by Oleg Igorin. Click on the photo to enlarge.


Where do you prefer to shoot – in your studio, or on location, and why?

I like studio, and I also like outdoor shooting. But I don’t like shooting in interiors. I don’t like it when a certain interior “forces” it’s story on my work.

Photograph by Oleg Igorin. Click on the photo to enlarge.

What photo and lighting gear are you using?

I use Hasselblad H3D-II 31MP, and for lighting I use Hensel equipment.

Can you share with us some of your favorite lighting techniques?

I like to experiment with lighting techniques, making a lot of discoveries every day. And I think that every photographer needs to do the same.

Photograph by Oleg Igorin. Click on the photo to enlarge.

What advice would you give to beginner photographers that want to start in fashion industry?

One of the best way is to work as an assistant of fashion photographer. You will get experience, connections and self-confidence.

Photographs by Oleg Igorin. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Thank you Oleg for your time and for sharing these great photographs with me and my readers!
Greg.

You can see more of Oleg’s work on his website

Interview with Katerina Lomonosov – Part II

Before reading this interview I suggest reading my Introduction to Interviews with Photographers.

This is the second part of my interview with Katerina Lomonosov. Click here to read the first part.
To read the whole interview in one piece click here.

Let’s talk about the following photograph:

Philosophy Of Unfreedom

Photograph by Katerina Lomonosov. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Looking at it I feel vague associations with some of my childhood fears. What did you want to communicate through this photograph?

This photograph is named “Philosophy of Unfreedom”. At first this photograph is simply gives an impression of prisoned child staring outside from the “cage”. But I put also a hidden meaning here. Pay attention to the child’s hands. Look how hard he clings to his “cage”. How often we, being unfree in the literal or figurative meaning of this word, are afraid to loose our “cage”, fear to make changes in our lives, and feel comfortable in our unfreedom, though not always admit it?

Such interpretation doesn’t lie on the surface, and if a viewer won’t take time to “decipher” it, it will remain hidden. But even without it the photograph turned out to be deep, memorable, and strong – mostly thanks to a good acting of my five years old son ☺.

Photo “October…” I liked the most. It breathes with tenderness and freshness of the autumn… Tell us a bit about the creation of this photograph.

October...

Photograph by Katerina Lomonosov. Click on the photo to enlarge.

This work is one of my favorites. The model is a young woman who came to me. She wanted me to create beautiful photographs of her. So she wanted to look good in the pictures, and my goal was not to disappoint her…

The idea of hair-tree came immediately to my mind, but post-processing took several hours. Then I was ready to send the work to my customer, but something stopped me…
I was returning to work on it each day of that week – tried to add various elements, but nothing worked. Until one day I had the idea to add falling leafs to the tree… Then everything fell into place, and the photograph got its final look.

Tell us about the accessories that you use in your work.

Each composition gets its own accessories. Sometimes it’s gloves or a fan, often different types of fabric, sometimes flowers. I also like to use fruits and vegetables – they seem “real” to me, just as the nature created them, I think this is important for my work. Once I even brought a stepladder from work – it complemented the background of the composition, and I made some very nice pictures with it.

Incorrect Step

Photograph by Katerina Lomonosov. Click on the photo to enlarge.

What equipment do you use? How important is quality equipment for photographer?

I started with a small point-and-shoot Fuji A210. Many of my early works, which are made with it, now participate in international exhibitions and competitions. Later, I bought Canon 350D and used it for three years. My best works are made using this camera.
Now I have Canon 5D Mk.II. I gladly switched to full frame, but still think that the photographer’s eyes and mind create the photograph and not the camera.

My opinion is that in most cases it is not essential which camera captured the picture – most important is when photograph reaches deep inside and touches your feelings.

Tell us a little about your work with light. What lighting techniques and equipment do you use?

Lighting? I use natural light that reaches my living room through the windows. Nothing more. I don’t use flashes, umbrellas, or reflectors. The important thing for me is to have free time during the daylight hours.

How much time you devote to Photoshop? What features of Photoshop you use the most?

Post-processing in Photoshop is crucial to me. I devote quite a lot of time to it. I work on each photograph for several hours. I use color-correction, add various textures, and work a lot with masks and layers.

Photograph by Katerina Lomonosov. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Is it possible to buy your work, and if so, where?

I sell my work in galleries on the internet, some of them are presented in the Moscow gallery “Fotoloft”

You can also purchase my work directly from me.

If you could give only one piece of advice to a beginner photographer, what would it be?

I would advise to photograph with your “soul”. To put a maximum of “yourself” in what you do, and the result will not be long in coming.

Photograph by Katerina Lomonosov. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Thank you Katerina for your time and knowledge! It has been a true pleasure talking with you.

If you liked Katerina’s works, you can visit her Gallery.

You can also contact Katerina regarding purchasing her work through her email: lomonosov.katerina at gmail.com

Interview with Katerina Lomonosov – Part I

Before reading this interview I suggest reading my Introduction to Interviews with Photographers.
To read the whole interview in one piece click here.

Katerina has a unique style in photography and she is a winner of many international photographic competitions. I was very lucky to have a chance to interview her, and she also turned out to be a very nice person.

It is my pleasure to present you Katerina Lomonosov!

Katerina Lomonosov

Click on the photo to enlarge.

First of all please tell us a little about yourself. When did you start getting interested in photography? Which stages of your development as photographer were the most important?

I was born in 1975, in Ukraine. As a child I liked drawing and graphics. In 1997 I moved to permanent residence in Israel, where I live now. From the year 2000 I am working as graphic-designer in an advertisement company.

I got interested in photography back in 2005. It so happened that at that time, a certain kind of emptiness appeared in my life. I wanted to fill that emptiness with something interesting, beautiful, bright… That “something” turned out to be photography…

I grow and evolve with my every new work, I’m a painter, I live, think and feel with my creations… Creative photography has become a crucial part of my life… I take part in various projects in the field of documentary and art photography, and I plan to grow and develop further in this area.

Sisyphian Task

Photograph by Katerina Lomonosov. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Where are you drawing inspiration and ideas for your works?

Inspiration and ideas for my works come in different ways… Sometimes idea just pops up from the subconsciousness, and some things come from pictures of other authors on the Internet. Some of my works are inspired by paintings of famous artists. There are also ideas on a particular subject, which are literally “nursed” in my head for a long time before they find their way out to be captured in a photograph.

Who are your models? Are they your relatives, acquaintances, or maybe professional photo models? How do you choose them?

My first models were my children – my son, who was then five years old, and a daughter, she was thirteen back then. Later, some of my friends and acquaintances were added to my arsenal, and also friends of my daughter. Nowadays many professional photo models would be honored to participate in my photographic work.

The most important thing for me when I choose a model is not the professionalism of the model but his/her natural body language and an expressive face, especially the eyes.

For me it is important to show in my photographs not only the beauty of lines, and location of light-spots, but also something from the depths of human nature, you may call it the “soul”. In my work I always strive to give depth of meaning to my photographs, so that they would make people think and try to understand what I wanted to express. I want my photographs to reach for the person’s deepest feelings and emotions.

Where are you from ?

Photograph by Katerina Lomonosov. Click on the photo to enlarge.

How do you find and choose locations?

Most of my photographs are a created at my house’s living room. I just move the furniture aside and make a small “studio”, but it is more like a simple corner. Occasionally I get out with my friends to take pictures outside. When shooting outside I prefer abandoned houses, but with walls and windows still intact , so even outside I seek places that look like my familiar environment at home.

How much time in your weekly routine is given to photography?

In good times, every Friday is all about photography. One day a week. Sometimes I also shoot on Saturdays. But I also have busy periods, when I have to sacrifice my hobby for other matters, and several weeks can pass without me creating a single photograph.

*         *         *

This is the end of Part I of my interview with Katerina Lomonosov. Click here for Part II.

If you liked Katerina’s works, you can visit her Gallery.

You can also contact Katerina regarding purchasing her work through her email: lomonosov.katerina at gmail.com

Interview with Jairo Abud

I was introduced to Jairo’s work on Flickr, and I liked it very much. In my opinion Jairo has very good eye for people and different situations that involve people. I frequently visit his Flickr account and enjoy great new photos, which he posts pretty often.
Though Jairo has a very busy schedule, he kindly agreed to this interview, and I am very grateful for that!

First of all a little about you.

Tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do for a living?
My name is Jairo Abud and I’m 52 years old. I was born in Brazil and live in Sao Paulo. I’m professor of economics at a Business School.

When did you start getting involved in photography?

I always loved photography since I was a teenager. My brother-in-law had a darkroom back then. I used to take pictures in B&W and he would lend me his chemicals and his darkroom so that I could learn and get used to developing my own photos at the age of 16. After I graduated from college, I got involved more with work and did not have much time to spare for my hobby, so I slowed down with photography.
I used to photograph with Praktica (brand of camera manufactured by Pentacon), which is still working pretty well. But two years ago I decided to get a new camera and bought a Sony Alpha 100. And my love of photography came back stronger than before, I guess. My wife told me about Flickr and I decided to start sharing my photos with other people.

Photograph by Jairo Abud. Click on the photo to enlarge.

What do you like the most about photography?

Unlike in movies, I believe that people have different interpretations and feelings when they look at a photo. Your life experience is the main interpreter of the photos. I really believe that photograph can touch you and set your hidden feelings and sentiments free.

Photograph by Jairo Abud. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Which subjects are your favorite to photograph?

I would say I’m a people’s photographer. I always like to see a human as subject when composing the whole photo scene. I like to take pictures in Sao Paulo downtown where I can compose images in which the architecture plays an important role, though the major role is played by the people of the city. As you know, Sao Paulo is the second largest city in Latin America, and you can find many different personages there – lonely people, people with sad or happy faces, and people with different life experiences. I like it when my photos try to illustrate that.

Photograph by Jairo Abud. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Is there photographers that you are inspired by? Who ?

I like Sebastião Salgado, a Brazilian photographer – he always put the human being in the foreground. And I’m also a big fan of Bresson’s art (Henri Cartier-Bresson).

Photograph by Jairo Abud. Click on the photo to enlarge.

And now, a little more details for us, keen amateurs 🙂

What advice would you give to a beginner photographer?

I consider myself as an amateur too. And I always will be an apprentice. In my opinion the first step to take good photos is to observe and study different photos taken by different known photographers and try to make similar ones. It’s just like a painting learning process. Painters also try to emulate great painters of the past to learn their technique before painting their own art.

You can also do that as a photographer. With time, you will start to compose by yourself and to create your own style. It is a learning process. But this was my recommendation for a first step… The next, and most difficult one, is to be yourself, and take pictures the way you like taking pictures and not because other people like that style. After you have found out what you like, stop worrying about what others would say about your photos and just take them.

Photograph by Jairo Abud. Click on the photo to enlarge.


What photographic equipment do you primarily use?

I use a Nikon D90 with 3 different lenses: Tamron 10-24mm for landscapes, a 18-200mm for general purposes and a 80-200mm for photographing people. I also believe that good equipment is fundamental for you to improve your photos.

Other important thing: you have to know your equipment really well, and have control over it, to have the camera as an extension of yourself. My next camera will be a full frame, for sure.
I also use Photoshop CS4 for processing – especially for contrast and minor adjustments.

Photograph by Jairo Abud. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Could you tell me a little bit about your typical photo-shoot?

I always invite friends to go out and take photos. After a couple of hours we take a break in a coffee shop and start to look at each other’s photos. That’s very interesting because you can realize that, even when you’re on the same spot, you find completely different photos among your friends.

I always try to take photos of people spontaneously, but if I see an interesting face that I would like to photograph, I ask that person’s permission and start talking to him or her to make them comfortable. And I always focus on their eyes, where the real emotion is.

Lately I’ve been trying a different way of taking photos: I don’t look at the camera display right after taking a photo – I think the movement of looking at the display will distract me and make me miss other important shots.

There is no “decisive moment” but a “decisive sequence”. After that sequence, those series of moments, you can choose the best shot.

Photograph by Jairo Abud. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Thank you Jairo for your time. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors!

If you liked Jairo’s photographs and want to see more of his work, visit him at:

Jairo’s Flicker Account