Shana Rappel | Tel Aviv

Hello Shana thanks for your submission about the Pride Parade in Tel Aviv! Can you tell our readers a little bit about you ?  
From Paris to South of France to Miami, from Miami to Tel Aviv, I expressed my art everywhere. First in painting, then in street photography. I track the light everywhere and that moment of fusional love delivers creativity in me and gives me this personal look of people and cities.

My pictures are spontaneous, without post editing, and for a few seconds I have this pleasure and excitation to capture the moment to make it unforgettable. I often tell myself to be lucky to have been there without deciding it, at this place, with this unique light that allows me to give life to my Art. I want to show people situations that highlights an aspect or different aspects of who they are. The human experience is unique and entirely unpredictable. It’s a fantastic challenge to explore it through Street photography.

As an artist you went from painting to photography? How did this come ?
By reducing the home's square meters. I had a lot of fun to paint but the pleasure I feel in photography is even more intense and passionate. Why? Maybe because photography is more instantaneous than painting. The resultis immediate. Photography gives time to see things that the eyes do not have time to see.

What fascinates you on street photography ?
Bring back to consciousness a scene differently from what everyone sees in his own way, is create a different life to a stage, an object, an event, a person that anyone could see in an unconscious way, trivial, but my eye constantly revisits these street scenes with my own sensitivity and light is my mentor. I put on stage continually a scene even without my camera . I imagine it and I create it in my lens.

For me, photography is a spontaneous pleasure. I'm not a photographer in love with technique, rules. I love to shoot in a car behind the glass for example. The speed of images in my lens and my frenzy to capture these fleeting momentsare very intense.

I do not want pictures prepared in advance. I refuse to lock myself in the technique. I do not want to photograph poverty and pain. I photograph people in their deepest intimacy, in their thoughts, in their gestural expressions, in their daily life or in their special moments ... I like the street, during the day, the night ... I love people in their life and I love to freeze those special moments they offer mein a candid way... and to transmit what I felt at this exact time to others.

It is the emotion of a stealth and magic moment that I want esthetic also. My photos are expressed by the movement and are intimate, could be with an Iphone or a 24 Millions Megapixels camera…

You submitted a project you shot during the Pride Parade in Tel Aviv 2016. The pictures show the distinctive atmosphere duringthe parade.  Can you tell us a little bit more about it ?
I wanted to show that Tel Aviv is one of the cities in the world where people can post their difference in total freedom without undergoing the eyes of others. This allows them to express their exhuberance and madness that I wanted to capture in my photos. I have stolen beautiful and unique moments through their looks, their attitude, their poses and if my viewers can feel the essence of the Parade through my photos, it means that I reached my goal to transmit this distinctive atmosphere.

The Pride Parades are always very colorful and vibrant. Is there a reason why you choose to take the pictures in B&W?
B&W gives a different character and originality to the images. A different spirit, drama, globally, a very different atmosphere.

The subject in B&W is more valorized than in color, because in color, the eyes can be distracted by all the surroundings who are part of the scenery, but not focused in the subject. 

What are you looking for when you go out into the streets and shoot ?
Multiple encounters and lights, topics, situations, atmospheres which inspire me.

How do you choose places for street photography ? Are there any great spots in Tel Aviv for street photography ?
I do not choose any place. It is in my random walks from one neighborhood to another that I find my inspiration and I have not even operated all locations in Tel Aviv or in Israel in general.

Tell us a little bit about the photography scene in Israel . Are there anywork of female photographers you can recommend ?
There are a lot of photographers in Israel, women and men so the photography scene takes a large place here. I don’t know personally Orna Naor but I like her work as well.

What are your next plans and projects?
My next project is my daughter’s wedding in November where, for the first time, I am going to experiment my photography skills with a drone but it ‘s too early to talk about it.

My next plans is to go to Antartic and Cuba.

Kalliope Amorphous | New York / Rhode Island

Hello Kalliope, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how you got into photography?
I come from a family of artists on both sides, so I have always been very creative. I started working with photography about eight years ago and never looked back. It’s the one thing that combines all of the things I love in one medium. 

I started working with photography because I wanted to see if I could make the emotions and ideas in my mind visible in photographs. From day one, I approached the camera as an artist first. I learned to photograph intuitively and to view the camera as something capable of manifesting the invisible. Photography became my primary medium because I feel that there is no other medium that is capable of as much synchronicity and magic.

You submitted some work of your self-portrait series. How did it come up that you started shooting yourself?
I started using myself as the model in my photographs because it was convenient. I was the one who was always there at two in the morning when I had an idea. Once I started with self-portraits, I also started to see the cathartic value of being both the subject and object of what I want to express. 

When I was younger, I was a model, so I had experience being creative in front of the camera. Being creative in front of and behind the camera at the same time was new to me, but it came naturally and I really loved the level of creative control that it allowed. It’s important for me to be able to work in solitude, so self-portraits became the bulk of my work.

The visual expression of your series is very unique. How did you cultivate your sense of composition?
I don’t really plan out my photographs too much other than the concept. My process would probably be considered chaotic. It is very performative and emotional rather than pre-planned and I think that this sort of approach comes through in the mood of the finished photograph. My process essentially involves my asking a question in the form of gesture and receiving the answer in the photograph. I always compare my process to the Japanese art of Butoh dance, because it is very much a dance that is summoning something deeper than myself. The difference is my process finishes in a photograph. 

So, my compositions are usually very spontaneous. I tend toward creating a base for my compositions that creates the mood of a viewer looking in on a secret moment, or compositions that are evocative of pictorialism. My compositions and all of the elements that I use in my process are always reaching for something timeless in the finished image. 

Can you tell us a little bit about your workflow?
I have two residences, so it’s different depending on which state I’m in. When I am in New York, I do a lot of street photography and so it’s a very different kind of workflow. I spend a lot of time taking photographs of the daily hustle and bustle as well as the quiet beauty of the city. It’s a quiet, daily chronicling of memories of a city that means so much to me. Street photography is spontaneous, so my workflow is very simple. I live my life, I capture the beautiful or interesting moments in it, and I don’t spend too much time editing.

When I am in my other residence in Rhode Island, my workflow is different. I have a very large studio and office in my home, so I incorporate a lot more staging. I have closets of backdrops, props, handmade lighting and filters. So, even though the subject of the photograph may be loosely planned, I tend to plan out the “stage” or the experimental effect more intricately. I also tend to spend more time editing my self-portraits and experimental work, because over the past few years I have really come to appreciate the possibilities of filters and textures. 

Before you became a visual artist you were a poet. Did poetry influence the way you work as a photographer?
Photography is visual poetry to me. I go through long periods of time without writing. In the absence of words, images are how I express my inner and outer landscape. When I have periods of time where I am not creating photographs, I write. To me, photography and poetry are different aspects of the same language. They are both vehicles through which I can translate the invisible into something more tangible. 

This year you started with street photography. How did this come up?  And what do you enjoy most about it?
The first time I took photographs of people on the street was shortly after David Bowie died. I went down to his apartment building and the scene there was such a mix of beauty and grief. I think it was the day after he died, and a makeshift memorial was starting to grow. It was such a beautiful and sad moment. That was the first time I felt inspired to take my camera and photograph moments on the street and to take candid portraits of people. 

It was the first time I had the experience of creating art by capturing a live and very emotional moment outside of the studio. It was the first time I recognized that documentary and street photography were capable of capturing the fragility of being human, the passing of time -all of the things that I have focused on in my other work. So, it was outside of David Bowie’s apartment on a very sad day that I became inspired to start capturing more of the human moments around me.

Was it a challenge to shoot strangers on the streets?
I try to remain an invisible observer because I feel it adds a more interesting perspective to the finished image. I don’t like to invade people’s personal space or be intrusive. If there is any challenge, it is the challenge to try and stay invisible. Sometimes it’s a challenge to make sure I am not invading people’s space. I like to catch people as they are, in authentic moments, lost in their own thoughts, lost in the landscape of the city. When it becomes obvious that I am taking a photograph, that dynamic is changed and it results in a different aesthetic.

Beside your personal project, you also shot portraits of Hillary Clinton and Marina Abramović. What advice would you give someone who starts with photography and looking for his own direction? 


Those series were not a result of working as a portrait photographer. Both Marina and Hillary are women that I am inspired by and when I am inspired, it influences my art. So, both of those were personal projects. In fact, all of my series are personal projects, because I could never work without complete artistic freedom. I don’t work for anyone but myself, and I don’t do commercial photography. It’s all fine art photography. It’s all art and it all comes from the same place, so all of the work I do is personal. For the past few months, I have been focused on photographing Hillary and creating other art in support of her campaign because it’s really important to me. On that note, my advice to others is to focus on what is important to you, while at the same time realizing that what is important to you will always be changing.  

My advice to other artists is to do what you love and follow what moves you without making concessions if you are able to. I have never made concessions in my art, my career, or my life and this is important to me because it keeps my work and vision as authentic as possible. My advice is also to focus on your own vision. Don’t pay too much attention to what others are doing, what gear they are using, or what the latest trends are. Trends will come and go, but authentic vision that originates in the gut and the heart will remain timeless and endure. 

Hyun Suk Kim | Hong Kong

Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Hi Nicole, thanks for giving me a great opportunity to share my images on Women in Photography. I'm Hyun Suk Kim and I love to take pictures as a hobby. I have around 5 years of experience in photography. I love all types of photography, however my passion is specifically street photography nowadays.

How did you get into photography?
When I moved along with my family 8 years ago from New Work to Hong Kong, I didn't know anyone and quickly lost interest in visiting famous tour spots. My role as only a mother and a wife caused a sense of lost identity. So, I found that photography sparked my interest. However, after becoming a photographer, living in a new city was inspiring and fun. I was able to meet new friends with common photography interest.
 


What do you like about street photography?
My passion for street photography means I need to get out and walk around. 
I NEED TO APPROACH AND INITIATE STRANGERS, I NEED TO SHOW CURIOSITY FOR OTHERS.
I started with places that are familiar to me, and then slowly explored strange and unique places.
With my camera in hand, an average situation can easily change people and places into unique and special. For example, taking pictures of tourists from around the world who take pictures in front of the Bruce Lee's statue with various different poses makes me excited. 

You submitted an amazing series called @ the Beach from Hong Kong. Hong Kong is usually not knowing for it's beach life - so how did the idea came up to you to work on this project?
Hong Kong is famous for the high sky scrapers and has fantastic night lights. But after seeing it everyday, it become the norm. So, I spent researching and looking around my area carefully.
My home is located near many beaches which i've never swam - however almost everyday I have opportunity  to watch beach scenes of local people.

Spending time at the beach  and taking pictures made me even more nervous than usual because of the special situation of people being half naked or wearing skimpy swimsuits. Even though these are considered private moments many people sincerely enjoyed to interchange their moments with mine. I made a point to visit each beach on the south side of Hong Kong. Each beach has their own personality. Each single person's story was fantastic and I enjoyed capturing that moments with my camera. Another surprise I didn't expect was the change of weather
conditions.

Which equipment do you use? and do you think gear really matters?
After 5 years with various lens and camea bodies, especially Canon 5D Mark II, I prefer to take pictures with a light compact camera, no zoom, such as Leica D-Lux 5 (not to use zoom).
My approach is to raw and transfer to black and white. I find myself using my I Phone camera too.

I know that for the professional, for the commercial, and for the scenery photography one should shoot with highly tuned equipments, however, I prefer small and light cameras. It gives me flexibility and at the same time remove the uncomfortable feeling for others so there is more chances to share the moments on the street in its natural form. Lastly, I'm not technical at the mechanical knowledge.

You said, that your photography is strongly influenced by movies. Can you tell us a little bit more about it?
I notice that my photography is strongly influenced by movies which usually shot by 16:9. There is also a certain style which tells a story. When I studied film and television in college, I was particularly interested in making storyboards which usually broke down the whole script and evalutated each single shot. I think this process definitely helped me to develope creativity and to able to capture a story in every single image. For example, my all time favortie movies are Federico Fellini's Amarcord and the La Strada which show the ordinary people's extraordinary life story in black and white. 


Tell us a little bit about street photography scene in Hong Kong. Is there a favortie place you prefer for your street shots?
Cosmopolitans like Hong Kong is also difficult to take pictures of people but when I try to have open minds with good and positive attitude, still there are many chances to take pictures in HK. A Favorite place? the beaches?  When I started to learn photography, I used to complain of my environtment such as, a small city, bad weathers, and etc.
 
However, everywhere in HK, every weather in HK, and every time in HK make me excited with my camera these days. That's why I'm able to take this project, @ the Beach. A rainy day, a cloudy day, less or more people at the beaches, sometimes none ... etc. 

Just enjoy and appreciate your ordinary life with camera, I think  every one can enjoy the street photography.

What are your next plans?
I'm still interested to take pictures at the beaches so I've been taking more beach shots from other cities for last summer, such as in LA, San Francisco, NY, and Busan (Korea). I also want to develope some images of women who lost their identity with my own point of view but still thinking and thinking...

Anita Lee | Tokyo

GREEN FANTASY
MODEL   Marina
MAKEUP   Ryan Han

Hello Anita, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
I'm 100% made in China from the Guang Dong province. After studying at an art school, I prefered to stay in Japan. Now I am working as an assistant in a photography studio.

How and when did you get into photography?
I got my first digital compact camera at the first year of university. I started to use it to record daily moments. The time when I really started to take photography seriously was the first year at Tokyo Visual Art College. I studied photography and majored in fashion photography. Besides photography I've learned a lot about the photo industry from my mentor Zigen, who is an outstanding Japanese fashion photographer. He was the first person who guided me into fashion photography.

ORIGAMI GEISYA
MODEL   Leňa Lolita Šeránková
MAKEUP   Annie Hsu

You submitted some of your incredible fashion/portrait work. What fascinates you so much about fashion photography?
Fashion photography is a special genre. It's not only about beautiful dresses, makeup and models. For people, who like imagination, nothing is better than creating a whole new fantastic world through fashion photography!

How does a usual set up looks like when you shoot fashion portraits?
I shoot most of my work in natural light. Some are finished by just one simple lighting in the studio. I don't specifically insist on natural lighting and one lighting set up, but I need to look for the budget ;). In the future I will test more different lighting setup by using what I've learned from my assisting work .

Do you prefer working alone or in a team? With Models or Strangers?
I prefer working with a team. It's impossible to do everything by myself. I'm lucky that I have met some talented people during my school period.

I am still in touch with my makeup and model friends and when we are together we come up with new ideas. I think working with people who really know you and understand your style is very important, especially when you are a beginner in the industry. It's very difficult to get a chance to work with big names, but you always can start from a small team and grow together!

MODEL   Miku Hashimoto
MAKEUP   Minori Kato

What is the hardest challenge as a fashion photographer?
Money! Ha! Of course having money doesn't mean you'll become a successful photographer. However, I have to say most of the time, money is the key that helps you to solve problems in your work. Especially for new photographers who just get into this industry. You need money to support your dreams.

You’re currently working as an assistant in a photography studio. How does a day as an assistant looks like?
As an assistant in the studio I don't just assist photographers ... Sometimes I also need to assist other staffs in the team including hair stylist and makeup artist. I need to do everything. Carrying luggages, cleaning up toilets (not just one toilet), helping clients to google the nearest cafe.... Especially in Japan, it has a very traditional and strict seniority system. A new assistant is the lowest position in the studio, and he/she has to do everything what the boss demands. It might be strange to many foreigners who are working here. But if you want to keep getting hired, you have to adjust to it, no matter you like it or not.

M BUTTERFLY
MODEL   Som Siriya
MAKEUP   Annie Hsu

What advice would you give photographers who would start to get into Fashion Photography?
Stay real. You have to face the tough truth: credit card debt, tax, rent......  Real life is not so glittery and glamourous what you see in magazines or fashion shows. A fashion photographer is also a commercial photographer - most of the time it's about business. You need to know how to sell yourself and your work.

Love fashion and keep on learning. Don't just treat it as a hobby - take it serious. If you want to make a career in this industry, you should know everything about the fashion industry including trends, history of clothing, hair/makeup and style, marketing etc...

Communication skills are important too. I've seen many "so called fashion photographers" who never communicated to their team. I think without good communication your teammates will never understand your point of view and what you will express with the picture.

MODELAya Tsunematsu
STYLE/WARDROBE    Shiho Youfu

Can you tell us a little bit about the photography scene in Japan? Is there any work of a female photographer you admire?
Comparing to my country China, the photography scene in Japan is very vivid - especially in Tokyo. It has an incredible structure to support photographers who are passionate about their work, and who are not professionals yet. Japanese photographers have very special perspectives in photography which are quite different from westerner photographers.

I currently crushed into a very young talented photographer: izumi miyazaki. Her work is so creative. She is very successful in creating a trend which express her point of view about photography and the world.

What are your long time goals and wishes as a photographer?
Take more good photos, keep renewing my portfolio and built up my own photography studio.

SWEET FAME
MODEL: Som Soriy
MAKE UP: Hitomi Haga

Dawn Mander | Blackpool

Hello Dawn, thanks for submitting your work. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself ?
Not really much to tell, semi retired translator/interpretor with background in theatre and arts.

How did you first discover street photography?
Everyone starts out taking pictures of signs, and details, and sunsets. But not many people feel the need to take pictures of strangers.

What attracted you to it?
I find street photography exciting, I love people and people watching, imagining their lives and private stories. The behaviour and expressions of people on the streets excites me, draws me to the individuals.  I’ve been known to run up and down the streets to catch that moment , that special shot that makes me think ‘yes’ to myself… thinking ‘right that’s it now I can go home’ knowing that have captured that ‘thing’. But there are other times when I will find a spot and if the light is right will stand on a corner or sit on a step somewhere and wait,  watching daily life as it unfolds around me, sometimes am lucky and a story will come in to my line of view and I can capture that ‘attimo della vita’ that happens and is then gone…

You mainly document life in your hometown Blackpool. Can you tell us a little bit about the relation of the city and its people?
It's simple really I love my home town, not big enough to be a city but bigger than a small town its got something for everyone. Like many coastal towns it gets neglected when 'out of season' but its a great place with great characters for photography.

What drives you to pick up that camera day in and day out and hit the streets?
I think of street photography as a way of documenting history, capturing candid moments of subjects in everyday situations. I will leave the house with a destination in mind and go in search of the right light, once I get there will either go looking for a shot or simply wait till something or someone comes in to my frame and then, hoping that have the correct settings, will just press the shutter button capturing that moment in someone’s life when without knowing it they came in to mine.

Are you more of a walk and watch or a wait and see kind of street photographer?
There are times when I will find a spot and if the light is right will stand on a corner or sit on a step somewhere and wait,  watching daily life as it unfolds around me, sometimes am lucky and a story will come in to my line of view and I can capture that ‘attimo della vita’ that happens and is then gone…

How do you deal with confrontation when shooting on the street?
I frequently ask self "will this shot get me in trouble"? but I usually just risk in and come up with an on the spot explanation if questioned. A high viz jacket is always a good thing to have if going somewhere you shouldnt really be. Saying that I generally try to avoid being too noticeable using a Canon fd 28mm manual lens on my Lumix G2, also having the appearence of someone's (everyone's) grandmother helps!

How do you stay positive when you’re shooting on the street?
I get on the streets as often as I can and always feel positive when out shooting the unsuspecting public.

What advice would you give new street photographers that are stuck in a rut and can’t seem to move forward with their work?
Never compare yourself with others and don't copy other people's styles and images find something you like and practice till you're happy. Always look for something different.


If you had the chance to go on a photowalk with a famous street photographer. Who would it be and why?
William Eggleston - because I love his simplicity, the colours and the seeing something in the everyday.

Bruce Gilden & Dougie Wallace - because I admire their courage of using flash on the streets and Georgie Jerzyna Pauwels, a facebook photographer friend whose work have admired for many years.

Do you have a favorite photobook?
I have many and will carry on collecting ... I think mine will be my fave when I get round to printing it!!

Thanks for taking the time for the interview, Dawn. 
It was a pleasure!

Alina Autumn | Saratov, Russia

Hello Alina, thanks for submitting your work and taking time for the interview. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hello, Nicole! My name is Alina Autumn, I am 23 years old. I'm from the city in Saratov, Russia. For me photography is a way to share my thoughts and feelings with people. I like to create tragic, sensual images of women. It is important for me that the photo tells a little story. Usually I create series’ of pictures which represent a complete project. I am inspired by natural beauty of people, nature, cinema, vintage, light, and color.

When did you first become interested in photography as a mode of expression?

Photography attracted me from teenage age, but I photograph people for the last three years. My muses are natural and fragile girls. I appreciate natural beauty, feminity and mysteriousness. I am facinated by the shooting process - I like to photograph especially outdoors.

Did you have any formal education in photography or are you self-taught?

I am self-taught. It took a while to find my style. When I began with photography the world and people have changed around me, this helped me to develop creativity.

What does photography mean to you?

With my photography I can share with the world what I have in my mind and share the vision of beauty. Photography has helped me to see the world differently.

Your portraits are very poignant and very well composed and each seems to tell its own story.  Where do you get your ideas from?

When I get the idea for creating a pictures, I do sketch or record this into a notebook. The idea is born incidentally and occupies all my thoughts. Then I begin searching for objects for the shooting. I think about clothes, details, location and color.

You submitted a beautiful photo series of albino girls. How did the idea for it come up?  

In this series of pictures "Light souls" I wanted to pay attention to harmony of the people and the nature. The choice of albino girls isn't accidentally. They look as if they were angels who have arrived from a far-out planet. Albinos submit the mysteriousness and fragility, just like trees or the infinite sky.

What is your work process?

Besides sketches it is necessary to prepare an image in general. I pay much attention to clothes. Iusually choose them for the shootings individually. In the series "Light souls" I tried to show a new point by common clothes - they made the images of the girls complete.

What is your intention behind your photos?

For me it is important to develop my creativity, but not to loose myself and to inspire people. Photography will always be part of my life.


Do you have any role models that your photography is directing towards?

Marta Bevacqua and Monia Merlo. These photographers are able to reflect female beauty in all its variety. There is also a project of the Romanian photographer of Mihaela Noroc "The Atlas of Beauty" where she shares the beauty of women from around the world. I am inspired by the large-scale of projects devoted to a certain subject. In the future, I want to create a project like this - the first steps are already taken.

DASHA PEARS | HELSINKI

Hello Dasha, thanks for submitting your work! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi, and thanks for your interest to my photography! I’m a conceptual photographer from St. Petersburg, Russia, currently based in Helsinki, Finland. I’m self-taught, mostly. I use photography for expressing myself. I’m not documenting reality, I’m documenting myself and my imagination in my photos.

When did you first become interested into photography as a mode of expression and art form?
I first tried to express myself by photography about 5 years ago. I was interested in photography before that, but mostly in street and documentary genres. I also had a day job, that was very far from visual arts, so I didn’t actually have time to even think, that I could be anything but an office worker. Then a major change happened to my life: my elder daughter was born. For some reason her birth produced a burst of creativity inside me. I had a friend who encouraged me to try something new in photography. This is how I started taking conceptual portraits.

How would you describe your work?
My images are stories that could have happened to the characters in them in some parallel reality. The stories come from my thoughts, observations and experiences. So, I could say, I tell a story about myself by visualising tales about my characters.

Where do get the ideas for your work ?
I try to see beauty in simple things and ordinary people and aim at showing it to the world. I do believe that we are constantly surrounded by miracles, but we do not recognize them because they come to us so gracefully and seamlessly. My work explores magic and beauty in ordinary people and simple things. Thus, I am very often inspired by people, things and places.

Your work is very well composed! How did you cultivate your sense of composition?
Thank you! I got so-to-say formal education in composition in an arts school, which I attended, when I was a child. Later on, I studied composition by looking through the work of great masters of photography: Henry Cartier-Bresson, RIchard Avedon and of cause, Rodney Smith. I never stop learning though and I feel, that I still have a long way to go in order to become a master.

Congratulations for winning the Best of Russia Conceptual Contest! How do you feel about it? And do you think it is important for a photographer to take part in Contests?
Thank you! It was a big surprise for me and I didn’t even believe it at first. And yes, I feel very happy and proud. I do think that taking part in contests is important. First of all, a photographer can get some valid appreciation and recognition of his/her work. In my opinion, this is crucial for any creative. We live in the times of social media and sometimes, even if you get 100 comments, saying that your work is amazing, it’s not worth much. But when your work is recognised officially by some authoritative jury, this is when you get self-esteem and strength to keep on creating.

Is there a female photographer or a type of photography that influenced your work or inspired you?
There are several photographers that influenced my works. The first is Anka Zhuravleva, a conceptual photographer from St. Petersburg, currently living in Portugal. Her work is incredible and I can say that her photos made me turn to conceptual shooting. I was amased by the fact that her photography fairytales were created in the very same city where I lived. I was so close and therefore seemed possible for me as well. Another big inspiration is a female photographer, known as Sparrek. She is from Tallin, Estonia. There’s such depth in every one of her works. And once again, I’m in love with Rodney Smith’s photography. He’s an endless source of inspiration for me as well.

What are your next plans?
I’m working on several very interesting projects with other visual artists. I’m not publishing anything about them yet, as I really want to collect some more material first. Now I can only say that they will explore human psychology in a way. Or should I say female psychology? As my models are generally young women.

I also want to continue sharing my inspiration and skills with other photographers. I organized my first two-day workshop on creative photography last February. Now, I’m planning to organize a few more and also I’m working on a program for an intensive four-day course in creating concepts with a camera.

ALEJANDRA VIDAL | DUBLIN

DSCF0574.jpg

Hello Alejandra, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself? How got into street photography?
Hello Nicole, first of all thanks for giving me the opportunity to take part of Women in Photography, I am so glad of it.

Hi all readers, I’m Alejandra originally from Spain but living in Ireland, I left my country four years ago. I was traveling with my husband in Mexico and Guatemala for over a year, when we decided to move to Dublin where my passion of street photography started.

All my life I have been curious about photography but never interested in landscapes, wildlife or macro photography. I had an old Nikon for my travels..  My passion for street photography truly started one year ago when I bought a Fujifilm X100T.

When I got into street photography my first inspiration was Des Byrne the founder of The Irish Street Photography Group. I saw a video of him talking about his passion of street photography. Then I became a member of his photography group, where we met once a month.

After some research on google about street photography I came across and discovered Bruce Gilden one of the most famous and controversial street photographers all over the world - it was love at first sight.

What were the difficulties when you started with street photography?
When I started shooting, the most difficult thing I came across was getting close to the subject due my lens is 28mm so need to be very close, it was embarrassing at the beginning but not anymore. It is exciting, pure adrenaline.

What fascinates you to take pictures of people?
Taking photographs of strangers without permission and unplanned is my passion. I love facial expressions, one expression can tell more than thousands of words, from my point of view one of the most interesting pictures you can take is of people.

How do you choose places for your photography?
When I grab my camera and go out for street I usually go to crowded places, food markets, protests, parades, events. These are great places to find good street scenes and stories.

What are you looking for when you go out into the street and shoot?
I am very attracted to special characters, facial expressions, colors, shadows, light, anything that appeals to me.

You said you like flash day or night why so?
I love shooting with flash day or night - this gives my photos another dimension. I know it is quite controversial. When I started doing flash and getting so close to the subjects many people told me if I was mad? I did not listen to them. I thought it is my responsibility and like it, so continued doing it.

What are some tips you give yourself, if you started with street photography all over again?
If I started again in street photography the first thing what I would do is look for interesting subjects, don't shoot whoever you meet.

How important is traveling for you? Is there a place in the world you would like to photograph?
When you travel to a new place you see new things.. The light is different, colors, people, specially if you live in a country where the sun doesn't come out often, everything is exciting! You feel the adrenaline, you feel exited, your eyes open hungry of new experiences, so yes, it is very important for me, not only because of street photography it is important because I love traveling.

Next year I plan to visit Japan - love taking pictures of Asian people. I find them very exotic, I love Asian food too, I can’t wait.

You said that you are really inspired of the work of Bruce Gilden. What fascinate you about his work?
The first time I saw a video of Bruce Gilden, I got shocked, fascinated how brave he was shooting all of those people in the streets without permission in a way I’d never seen before. It was love at first sight. He is best known for his candid close-up photographs of people using a flashgun, he is just brilliant.

Tell us a little bit a about the photography scene in Ireland. Are there any female photographers that you could recommend?
Dublin, where I live is a city with many interesting subjects, spots and color, particularly in Dublin I miss shadows and light, as I mentioned before , sun does not come out as often as I want.

I think Ireland is a great place to all of those people who love photograph landscapes.

Respect any female photographer in Ireland, I can recommend Esther Moliné , she is a great street photographer living in Dublin, she is from Spain amd has participated in many street photography projects. She runs the Smena Photographic Society here in Dublin, a group dedicated to sharing photographic skills and photowalk meetings.

What are your next plans?
I am delighted to have one of my photos selected in the upcoming International Street Photography Exhibition at the In-spire Gallery in Dublin.  Starting next week and is a part of the Photo Ireland Festival 2016.

I am also thinking about to get into film as I am very curious about it, just need free time and be patience.

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MICHELLE CHAN AKA LITTLE.RICE  | HONG KONG

Hello Michelle, thank you for submitting your work. I am very excited that you are our first photographer from Asia! Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hi! Thanks for having me here - truly honoured to be interviewed here and wow first from Asia too! I’m over the moon.

I’m Michelle - my nickname is Rice cause in Chinese “Mi” means Rice, and I do like to eat rice - hahahaha :) I was born in Hong Kong but have been pretty much raised in the UK, till recently I returned cause family is here. By day, I’m a freelance art therapist. I work with special needs kids. I used to do it full time, but for various reasons and mainly for having more time to do photography, I changed to freelancing. So now I can do both! Hehe.

When did you first become interested in photography as a mode of expression?
Photography has been a lot of things for me - recording of moments, expressing my feelings, translating my ideas etc. I’m no good with verbal languages… whatever that’s been rehearsed in my mind comes out all haywire - very weird. I’ve always felt that languages can’t describe exactly how I feel, or what I’m thinking. So ever since I have a camera, or can get hold of a device that has a camera, I’ve always been using imagery as a mode of expression. It’s only been 2 years that I took photography more seriously.

You submitted your project “The third eye“. How and when did you get the idea for this project?
Haha, actually it’s funny that you asked because how I work is really strange - I don’t set out a project idea and follow a project and shoot. When I do that it goes all wrong for some reason - meaning I feel those photographs come from the brain rather than the heart - they don’t connect with me (Not sure whether I’ve explained it well haha). Anyway, for me, I shoot with my instinct almost all the time. Then after a few months I look back at the bunch of photos I have and try to sort them into “themes”. One of the themes I found I’ve been shooting a lot is enigmatic and mysterious. The title “The third eye” came about because I’m into spirituality and meditation and I thought it fits well with this theme. In Taoism, “the third eye” is a mystical and esoteric concept referring to a speculative invisible eye which provides perception beyond ordinary sight.

Your images are very poignant and well composed. Do you first look for a framework for the composition or do you use your instinct?
Haha - well some people say your photography reflects your personality and the things you have been through in life - which hmmm I guess it’s partly true. I studied psychology and I kind of understand how subconscious works. So when I shoot with my instinct, maybe my subconscious surfaces and translates into visual imagery...

How did you cultivate your sense of composition?
Good question. Honestly I don’t follow any rules for composing my work (or maybe I did but I didn’t know that I did, you know what I mean?). I’d say, I look at many photographs - thousands and thousands of them everyday. And maybe the composition of these images get imprinted in my brain which I replicate when I shoot.

Your work is exclusively in Black & White. Why?
Because…. I can’t do colour! Hahahaha. No - ok that’s not it. It’s because I think black and white somehow demolishes the presence of reality and takes me to my dreams and imaginations where they can be found in my photography work. I want to capture images that hopefully make viewers feel the emotions that I left on the prints.

What would be the best compliment you can get from the viewers of your pictures?
Compliments in general is a plus for me already. I try not to shoot for compliments, but what resonates with me. And I guess when viewers see that too, I’ll be even more grateful.

Recently your work has been chosen as one of the Top Tens for the “Urban Playground“ theme of Toronto Urban Photography Festival 2016! Congratulations to that! How do you feel about it?
Wow yeah. I was ecstatic!! It’s great to have your work get recognised by people who know what they are doing haha. I would love to attend the festival unfortunately the timing was off.

You are also one of the founders of The Orange Moon Collective and also a member of (DRKRMS) which is a photography platform for Asia’s best emerging photographers. Can you tell us a little bit about it and what was your intension to start a platform of the Orange Moon Collective?
Sure. The Orange Moon Collective started with a few friends who clicked with me and have really similar vision in photography - Edward Chan and Ricardo Leung who attended the same workshop by Richard Kalvar and another good friend of mine, Arek Rataj, who’s based in China. We thought of forming a collective to promote the interest of this genre here, in Asia, since it is still relatively unknown. Right now, we organise photowalks and workshops so that more people get a chance to learn more about it, and for the future, we are planning to do projects and exhibitions.

Tell us a little bit about the photography scene in Hong Kong. Are there any female photographers you could recommend?
Hong Kong is a vibrant and fast-paced city. It’s a great place for doing street photography - lots of interesting people and scenes where you can capture human behaviours and emotions. Female photographers - I’d recommend Xianfang Zhu - the way she captures rain in Hong Kong is mesmerising.

How do you see your photography evolving over the next years?
I’m into people. I love people. This may be a little far off but I’m hoping to work on projects that speak for the minorities in the near future - maybe a project on special needs kids - who knows haha. Right now I’m still focussing on learning, being better both in my skills and knowledge of photography, reading photobooks, connecting with other great photographers, and sharing what they love and what I love about photography.

Daria Amaranth | St. Petersburg

Hello Daria, thank you for submitting your beautiful portrait series. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Hello, Nicole! Thank you so much for your attention towards my works, I really appreciate it and I can say that it is great to me to be published in such an inspiring magazine dedicated to women:) I was born in Russia and I live here as well. I am enchanted by different spheres of art – singing, literature, cinematography, music, painting, perfumery art but only photography has become the main field for expressing something important to me.

How did you get into photography? Did you have any formal education in photography or are you self-taught?
I took some photography lessons two years ago, but then there was a long break and only last summer I realized that photography is exactly that kind of art in which I have much more inspiration concerning possibility for self-expression and I began taking pictures more often than before. So most of all I am self-taught but I think that works of great artists and photographers are the best teachers.

What do you like about photographing people?
People faces can reflect silent stories without words, they help me to convey magic, mystical, melancholic atmosphere and also depict my own vision of unconscious life and beautiful, strange, unknown aspects of imaginary reality and at the same time the real world of confused feelings, fears and hopes.

Your portraits are very poignant and very well composed and each seems to tell its own story.  Where do you get your ideas from?
Thank you so much) I get inspiration from movies, paintings, songs, literary characters – ideas come to my head one by one in an abstract way and then I see the contours of future photo-shooting. But very often ideas come unconsciously and after that I visualize different stories and symbols which I get from my imagination. I really think that some secrets and mysteries shouldn't be solved because their disturbing beauty and mysterious charm are much more important that the key to the riddle.

How did you cultivate your sense of composition?
I think now that this is something intuitive, but I believe that my love towards painting and cinematography has played a big part.

Do you think simplicity is often more important than complexity?
Yes, I do so, but I can also think – which can sound quite paradoxical — that something that seems to be simple is much more complex and deeper than may look like at the first sight. This kind of complexity which is hidden among simple things is wonderful.

Do you have any role models that your photography is directing towards?
If we speak about some traits of character, emotions and atmosphere I can say that there's always some mystique mood and incompleteness that attracts my attention and which I try to implement in my works in a harmonious way. As for particular people, I have been trying to analyze my own preferences towards appearance of models which I photograph and I've come to conclusion that they always remind me of such dramatic, melancholic, clouded, surreal world in which emotions, feelings, vague and strange memories are turning into elements of reality. Sometimes I like another mood – the sense of theatrical expression (as for visual side) but the emotional aspect remains the same.

What inspires you?
Besides movies, paintings, books I can get inspiration from a woman's face as well, they can be so different and so inspiring. A face of this or that girl helps me to convey my idea in such a way in which I see it in front of my eyes – she's like an actress in a movie who creates the particular and necessary atmosphere for her heroine.

Are there any work of female photographers in Russia you can recommend?
The works of Anna Danilova are remarkable – her photographs look like paintings, colours are perfect and images are great to me.

What is the biggest compliment you could be given for your pictures?
The words about mystery atmosphere in my works, the presence of meaning in them and their similarity of tones to painting, these kinds of comparison sound like music to my ears:)

Natalia Jaeger | London

Hello Natalia, can you tell us a little bit about you and how you got into photography?
I was born in Caracas, Venezuela. When I was 19 I moved to Arizona where I studied fine arts at Arizona State University. The work I did while in art school was multidisciplinary and, in most cases, it included video as well as performance art. My interest in photography developed soon after I moved to London.

How did you get involved with street photography?
Two circumstances led me to get involved in street photography. In 2011 I moved to London; a place I had never been before and where I knew very few people. It was also around this time when I received a gift from my mother: an Olympus OM-1 camera that had belonged to her since 1976. So, without having planned it, I had acquired all the necessaries for this type of art practice: solitude, a camera and a new city to explore.

Most of your work are street portraits… What do you like about photographing people?
I truly enjoy observing people’s engagement with the details of their everyday routine. A person’s expressions and habitual gestures are, to me, a gateway to that something hidden underneath our character and personality.

Your street portraits are characterized by their very minimal composition and intimate moments. How did you come up with it?
There is an intriguing and haunting trait that seems to emerge when someone is in a state of waiting (i.e. at a bus stop, waiting for someone/something to arrive or, just simply, gazing into the distance). These brief reveries are, perhaps, one of the few instances when a person’s essence is unveiled. I continue to be fascinated by observing these moments and, by photographing them, I wish to exalt the inner life of people.

When you are out shooting, how much is instinctual versus planned?
At the moment my work is guided by instinct and chance. The only planning I do involves choosing a location (a street or a neighborhood) and the time of day. This approach has been, for an over-thinker like me, quite a freeing and enjoyable experience. By not setting a particular goal, and without the need to achieve any type of objective, I have been able to focus on observation—something I feel has helped me create a visual language of my own.

Most street photographers shoot in B&W - you shoot in color - can you explain us why?
This has been choice based purely on instinct. I enjoy seeing the play of colours created by the juxtaposition of reflections and don’t think B&W is capable of producing the same effect.

If you had the chance to go on a photowalk with a famous photographer, who would it be and why?
Saul Leiter. He was a remarkable photographer with an interesting and wholehearted personality.

What and who inspires you?
I am, for the most part, inspired by films. The works of Maya Deren, Stanley Kubrick and Béla Tarr (to name a few) have helped me understand the importance of seeing and framing an image with a meticulous and attentive eye.

What are your next plans?
I am currently in the process of finding opportunities to train as a cinematographer. The combination of my work as a photographer, my love of cinema, and the urge to learn a new skill has prompted this new creative search.

Sandra Jonkers | Rotterdam

Hello Sandra, welcome to Women in Photography! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
First of all thank you for having me here. Always great to see that there are people like yourself that are giving us street photographers opportunities to show our work to the public and talk about street photography.

Hi all, I'm Sandra Jonkers. I'm a street photographer living in the Netherlands, Rotterdam. I'm hitting the streets as often as possible. But only when I feel the need to shoot, I shoot.

How did you get involved with street photography and what fascinates you about shooting in the streets?
I was already in possession of my camera and taking some courses when I noticed that what I was doing in photography bored me. I really needed some excitement in my photography. That was the moment I noticed the world around me, really noticed the world around me. The streets, that's the place where you find excitement! That moment was life changing for me personal and for my photography. I'm really fascinated by the fact that when I take a shot, you see me. What I shoot is who I am. Nothing more, nothing less.

People are calling you „The pirate of the streets“ Can you explain us why?
They call me 'The pirate of the asphalt' to be frankly. It all started as a joke on Facebook, because I'm hitting the streets with my cam on an electric scooter for disabled people. Someone made a cool joke about that and gave me this nickname. Another one picked that up and used that in an interview with me. Now my nickname 'The pirate of the asphalt' pops up everywhere, it's funny.

What demands do you have on your camera equipment?
Ha, for most people this is going to be a strange answer. I'm using a Canon 70D with a Tamron 24-70 for my street shots. Not really equipment street photographers use for street photography. Most of the street photographers use system camera's. System camera's are much quicker and much smaller and light weighted camera's. You need to be quick on the streets, those camera's are perfect for that. Why I still use a DSLR which is so much slower and also huge and heavy? It's because I'm feeling one with it, the camera became a part of me. Maybe I will take the step to a lighter and quicker camera in the future, but for now we still are having a really good relationship. My scooter is also a part of my gear, that requires a totally different way of shooting the streets, so I'm a bit strange anyway. ;-)

What do you find is the hardest challenge when taking pictures?
Street photography in general is a real challenge, it's so not easy to do. I'm always trying to catch the eye. To me that's the door the someone's soul. Eyes are strong and powerful. They can tell you a lot and nothing at all at the same time. But while I'm looking for that, I also don't want to interfere in that particular moment. I want the moment that I push the button to be as pure as possible. When I succeed, people see me, but not really. In this split second they look at me, and the next second they forgotten all about me already.

Why did you choose to photograph in black & white?
I just love black and white photography. Though it was not really a choice, I just didn't took a shot yet where colors would add something extra into the picture. At the moment colors in my pictures are just not important to me.

What advice would you give to someone who would like to start with street photography?
Make sure that it is really is what you want to do. Be friends with your camera, be one with it. Taking good street photo's needs a certain devotion. You need to step over some personal boundries. Loose the fear of getting closer to people or stepping into a scene as soon as possible. Fear will be seen in your end result. People will not kill you for taking a photograph. Stay close to yourself, shoot what YOU want to shoot. Don't shoot what others are shooting, and when you do make sure you do it better. Shoot from your soul, shoot from your guts. Never stop learning and be open for useful criticism. It will bring you to a next level.

Was there a photographer or any style of photography that influenced your work or inspired you?
Consciously and unconsciously I'm influenced and inspired by a lot of photographers. I could not really give you a name. I'm absorbing a few thousands street photo's a week. From the big masters and the smaller ones. I'm pretty sure that has an impact on my daily shooting. But what I can say is that I just love the work of Vivian Maier deeply to give you a name of a big master. But other masters to me are for example my Facebook friends from New York Mark Brown and Melissa Breyer.

Tell us a little bit about the photography scene in Holland. Are there any female photographers you could recommend?
For sure there are a lot of female photographers in the Netherlands, but I have to say that I'm only focused on street photography. Street photography is a man's world in the Netherlands. I really could not give you any Dutch name of a female street photographer. I don't know any who's really devoted to street photography. I hope someone's out there and will respond to this, I would really love to meet and see the work of other dutch female street photographers.

Here you can find more about Sandra's work:
Website: www.sandrajonkers.com        
Facebook: www.facebook.com/sandra.jonkers.14

Héléne Veilleux | France

Hello Héléne, tell us a little bit about yourself and when did you first become interested in photography?
In my case it was a kind of inverse movement. I started as a photo model in 2011 and quickly moved to the other side of the camera. As an introvert and very shy person I discovered that photography could be a powerful language to explore my own obsessions.

You’re a former software engineer. Since 2015 you are working as a pro photographer. What made you decide you were ready to dive into the career of a full time photographer?
As often in life that choice is a subtle blend of good timing, opportunities and probably a huge amount of unconsciousness. Moving to a full time career was in my case the only solution I could imagine to really focus on my body of work, before I used to photography “on the run”, now I had time to construct and think my subjects, it is a long process but I hope it will make a big difference at the end.

You submitted your project „38th Parallel north“ - a stroll in one of the most closed worlds capitals: Pyongyang in North Korea. How did the idea came up for this project?
Lately I became very interested in the way states put in the scene public’s space, how architecture can be a major political act. Pyongyang is in my opinion the perfect example of a “theater” city, a place where every monument, every views are thought and constructed to serve the “fiction of state”. Even citizens are obviously urged to stay in their roles in this authoritarian play. So when I had finally the opportunity to visit North Korea I did.

I knew that, as a foreigner, I will not have access to the reality of the country so I choose to focus my photoset on that simple idea:  what a country is willing to show tells a lot of what a country really want to hide. What’s behind the too clean avenues, the giant ever smiling statues, that are the unspoken question which lied in “38th parallel north” ...

What did you experience while shooting this series? Where there obstacles or problems while shooting the images?
I was travelling with a small group of foreigners and we just had a very brief talk about photography rules before crossing the border between DPRK and China, the biggest NO NO was to take any subjects related to army or police. Beyond that nobody checked my pictures at any times … no big frill I am afraid.

The photographs of „38th parallel north“ look like a series of postcard images. You rarely see street life - was it difficult to get into contact with habitants of Pyongyang?

It’s probably one of the things which stroke me the first while visiting the capital, it’s definitely look like an empty shell. There is no that typical and busy street life you can encountered in most Asian cities. This emptiness add to the whole “unreality” I felt along my stay in DPRK.

What is your personal perception after shooting this project?
I probably left the country with more questions that I had at the arrival. But I am really aware that, as a foreigner, I had access to only a tiny and distorted fraction of it. As a curious person I want to go back and see more …

You said you have a major attraction for the ex soviet countries as the esthetic core of your work which is mostly influenced by the Tarkovsky movie „Stalker“. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

I cannot really explain why I developed this attraction for the eastern Europe and Russian “world” and aesthetics, nothing in my personal background or family tree are related with those cultures but I guess it something “generational”, I was only 11 years old when the USSR collapsed but I still have vivid memory of it, especially the destruction of the berlin’s wall and the Tschenobyl incident.

What type of photography do you enjoy most and why?

I crave for photojournalism even if it’s not my “world”, I am news feed addict and I am especially interested in nowadays conflicts and war zones photography and photographers.

Do you research and plan a project or is it that you wait and see what your work brings up?
I used to read a lot before travelling, checking websites, contacting people , trying to grab some useful sentences and cultural knowledge… I usually have one or two main ideas in my pocket when landing to the location nevertheless I don’t mind changing my plans if I had too...

Do you have any upcoming projects that you’d like to share with our readers?
In few weeks I will move for a long term stay in sputh caucasusarea in order to complete a body of work I started this year focusing of the various fates of post soviet countries and how they deal whith their dark past.

Here you can find more about Hélene's work:

WEBSITE  |  FACEBOOK TWITTER  |  INSTAGRAM

MICHELLE GUILLERMIN | Washington D.C.

Hello Michelle, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how you got into photography?

Photography is a second career for me.  After graduation from university, I pursued a career of business consulting, implementing bank mergers and acquisitions.  I am a Certified Public Accountant, so I also held roles as Chief Financial Officer at a number of organizations.

Photography was a serious hobby for me, that has fortunately transitioned into paying work with print and web publications and corporate reports, allowing me to pursue the side of photography that interests me and find a public outlets for that work also

Your primary focus in photography is on wildlife, especially East African wildlife. How did this come up?

As a child, I grew up watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and Flipper on television.  Those programs really were the origin of my love of wildlife. 

In 1989, I took a leave of absence from my consulting job and traveled around the world with $3000, a backpack and a camera.  During that adventure, I spent two months in Kenya and fell in love with the country and the people.  Before the trip, I picked up Peter Beard’s book, The End of the Game, which graphically demonstrated the loss of habitat and the impact it was having on East African wildlife, primarily elephants.

Over the next many years, I traveled extensively, but primarily went to Asia.  I would photograph as a tourist and traveler, but again, didn’t really focus on my craft.  Finally, in 2006, I joined a safari to a conservation area in Kenya that has made significant contributions in protecting rhinos.  It all came together for me on that trip – the book I’d read in 1989 and learning what these wonderful people were doing to ensure endangered animals had a safe area in which to live and breed.  Some of my photos were included in marketing materials for the conservancy – and I haven’t stopped since.

You submitted a series of photographs with elephants from your latest trip to Africa. Can you tell us a little bit about the background behind this series?

This was a very special trip for me.  I have kept in touch with one of my Masaai guides in Amboseli National Park, which is one of the best places in the world to see happy, healthy elephants.  As I FaceTimed (yes, with a traditional Masaai!) with him, he mentioned that he was involved in creating a new conservation area – the primary wildlife corridor between Amboseli and Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Elephants move great distances on a regular basis, along paths that they have followed for centuries.  When we humans build a road or a town across these paths, all kinds of bad things can happen, none of which generally end well for the elephants.  This new conservancy was created to ensure that elephants could move safely between the park and the mountain, and at the same time, address the very real economic impact on the people that lived in the area.

We were the first people to go into the area specifically to photograph.  We witnessed hundreds of healthy, safe elephants in a very intimate manner.  It gave me great hope for the protection of this species.

I guess a huge problem is primarily poaching and the conflict of human/ wildlife and habitat conservation. Can you explain us a bit about the current status?

It’s a good news/bad news situation.  There are a tremendous number of very talented, dedicated and SMART people working to protect the animals and create safe habitats for them, recognizing that local communities can’t just stop farming or herding just so the elephants are protected.  If an elephant raids their garden, or a lion eats their cow, their family goes hungry.  These communities, NGO’s and local Kenyan leaders are working together to address all the issues in a comprehensive way and are making great strides.

At the same time, poaching has increased to epidemic proportions.  Elephants, rhinos, lions and pangolins are prized in certain cultures for their body parts, rather than as a living, thriving creature.  The cultures tend to have a significant amount of money they can use to enlist locals to kill animals and provide the horns, paws, tusks and other pieces of the animals to be sold as aphrodisiacs.

The number of wild animals is decreasing rapidly due to the poaching and human/wildlife conflict.  Much is being done to educate those who want animal parts

What do you find is the hardest challenge taking wildlife pictures?

Fortunately, I enjoy it so much, it took a minute to think about whether there were challenges at all.  My biggest challenge is finding the time to get to Africa for a couple weeks of dedicated shooting.

When I finally get there, wildlife photography is largely opportunistic.  You can plan a shot, find your place to wait, and the animal never does exactly what you hoped it would do.  So, getting a shot with the right background, the right behavior and in the right light is pretty exciting.

On the flip side, the unexpected moments, and resulting shots are so special.

Were there obstacles or dangerous situations while shooting the pictures?

This trip we were very well behaved.   I took two people who had never been to Africa, and who really didn’t understand animal behavior.  I felt responsibility to keep them safe, so I made sure we didn’t get into situations that could have ended badly.

I’m a little less careful when I’m out on my own and have been charged by both elephants and rhinos.  Fortunately, I was in a truck that could move fast enough to escape.  But, safety should be your number one concern when dealing with wildlife.  I read an interview recently with a man who grew up in the bush, and knows exactly how to manage difficult wildlife situations.  Just a few weeks ago, he was walking in the bush and happened upon a mother elephant and calf – he was thrown across the ground and almost trampled.  Thankfully, I have never come close to that, but always keep the inherent danger in the back of my mind.

What do you think might be a reason that there are just a few female wildlife photographers?

Oh my goodness, that question could take years to answer!  There are all the social reasons that women are not in many male professions – some by choice, some because they weren’t permitted to join. In many ways, the wildlife photography path starts with science education, which typically hasn’t attracted as many women as men. I see that many of the really talented wildlife photographers also serve as guides.  They are highly educated in animal behavior and biology, as well as the habitat.  I am starting to see more women graduate from these programs and becoming guides and rangers – and hope that will turn the trend to more female wildlife photographers. 

What demands do you have on your camera equipment? And what equipment would you suggest in shooting wildlife?

I’m a Nikon girl all the way.  Fortunately, the cameras are well built and take quite a bit of knocking about.  But the dust, oh my goodness, its dusty!  And, the best photos always seem to require rolling around in the dirt a little bit.  Annually, I ship everything to Nikon for a good take-apart and cleaning.

Long lenses are essential.  I generally have two cameras set up and ready to shoot.  One with a zoom lens, reaching 400mm and one with an ultra-wide angle lens (my favorite is a 10-20mm zoom, but also have lots of fun with a fisheye 10.5mm).  I’m fortunate in that I primarily shoot in private conservancies, which allow us to drive off-road and get very close to the animals.  I find that even though I can zoom to 400mm, most of my shots are taken between 150-200mm.  Aperture isn’t quite as important with the long lenses to capture the depth of field that you wish, but I generally open my lenses up as wide as makes sense.

Would I love a 400mm 2.8 prime lens?  Oh yes, absolutely!  But, I’m a firm believer that it is the person behind the equipment, not the equipment that makes a shot, so, while I dream, I’ve found that two zoom lenses can do the trick!

What is the biggest compliment you could be given for your pictures?

If someone said that my photos influenced them to take an active role in protecting wildlife, I would declare success!

You can find more about Michelles Photography on her Website, Facebook and Instagram.

 

 

Alexandra Bochkareva | St. Petersburg, Russia

Hello Alexandra and thank you for submitting your beautiful Portrait series. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into photography?
Hello, Nicole! Thank you too for your interest to my works :) I was born and grown up in Tashkent (Uzbekistan), now I live in Saint-Petersburg (Russia). From my early childhood I fell in love with art through drawing and painting. In the period of study years and work I forgot about it for few years, but after giving birth to my daughter I started it again with a help of my dad's "Zenith", my first shots were made on film.

How did it come that you mostly shoot portraits of redheaded and freckled girls?
I'm freckled myself, but it wasn't the reason from the very beginning as many peoply ask me. I just started to notice that redheads are unique for me - pale skin, bushy eyelashes, freckles, bright eyes – these all are very importrtant details of my portraits. My first freckled model was my sister, I love this type of appearance, so I’ve started to shoot redheads more than others.

In another interview you said that the models Polina and Alice, you work with, are kind of muses. What makes it so special to work with them?
Alice is  the fox, which worked with us :).  This was one of the most difficult and amazing shootings for me. It was very cold and windy weather, Alice didn’t want to play more than 5 minutes, but I tried to do my best, they (Polly & Alice) were very inspiring.

Your images are very well composed. How did you cultivate your sense of composition?
Thank you :) I even do not know, maybe this sense came with practice of drawing. I try to shoot from different angles, to select the most appropriate point of shooting – it helps me.

Do you have any advice for taking portraits?
Love what you do, don’t be afraid to experiment and get critique from viewers. Learn and practice today, tomorrow and ever!

What do you enjoy most of being a photographer?
I like that through photography I can express my own point of view about beauty, I work and collaborate with different interesting people, I build my own fairy-tale brick by brick. And it’s wonderful.

Do you have any role models that your photography is directed towards?
This year I have work a lot with Polina (Polina Partsevskaya, model, St-Petersburg). But I don’t think that I direct something special for her, vice versa, she's just one of the few who is emotionally and visually fits the most my ideas

Tell us a bit about the photography scene in Russia. Is there any work of female photographers you can recommend?
I can only say about the portraitists, because this genre is interesting for me. I like very much the works of Ulduz Bakhtiozina and Katerina Plotnikova, they are very inspiring.

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ALEXIA ZÚÑIGA | Mexico City

Hello Alexia, when did you first become interested in photography?
I've always been interested in images. I used to paint a lot when I was a child. At family events,  parties or birthdays, I was always played with the camera and took pictures.

You submitted photos of your project „A common day“, which is an approach to four third age transsexuals in Mexico City. How did you come up with the idea and how did you realize this project?
I used to work for the Secretaría de Salud (The Health Ministery) in México. When I was watching news about health in Mexico, I came across topics related to problems of elderly people. Questions came up like am I prepared to have a good life when I turn 60 or 70 years old? Do I have guarantees to have a good quality of life? Do I have it now?

So, I started looking at minorities. My question was: if their present life is complicated, how is their future going to be?

How are transsexuals accepted in daily life in Mexico?
This is a problem in Mexico. World’s life expectancy has constantly increased during the last seven decades. Nevertheless, the transsexual community faces an average of below 60 years. Transsexual have a big problem with their health: they don´t get medical support. Many of the surgeries are made in secret places or they don´t have a medical follow-up when they are taking hormones. Baring all this in mind and knowing that México is no 2 on the list of countries (since 2015) for homofobic crimes worldwide. Brazil is first.

So in México, for example, it is almost impossible to find transgender over 60 years old. They don´t have official records.

LINK:
http://www.proceso.com.mx/403935/mexico-segundo-lugar-mundial-en-crimenes-por-homofobia

Can you tell us a little bit about the interaction between you and your models - Did you give any directions?
I gave no particular directions but we have to have a closer relation - I have to know their stories. It is necessary to listen before taking pictures. I´m always looking for that moment when I could have empathy with them, and when that happens, that shows us the way, a “direction” that we have to follow.

What did your models say when they saw the pictures of the project? Did they feel to be captured the way they see themselves?

Once one girl told to me:  “do you know that I have to look more girly than you? I can´t carry, for example, my cellphone in my trousers... my behavior has to be more prudent and rational on the street”.

They are always worried (like us) about how they look when they go out. But, after a while, after years, after the wrinkles, there is a moment when they see what they are, something that cannot be hiden anymore, that is age. When they let me get into their houses I can see that process - their places are their stories.

At the beginning, I always had the impression that they know they are showing me more than they expected. They realized that neither me nor them have control how they or we look. They recognize themselves without masks and that could be amazing and revealing. In my case, is truly revealing myself into them.

What is your intention with „ A common day“? Is there a plan to exhibit?
Now I´m in Brazil doing my MA at the Federal University of Bahia, so I plan to finish the project here by comparing differences and similarities of the transsexual communities in Mexico and Brazil. Next year I will exhibit in Brazil and México in December. I would also like to make a book of this project.

Do you need a particular mood to be able to photograph?
It´s just to have questions (and I always have questions).  When questions don´t have answers, I look in other directions: films, photos, conversations with friends.... then something happens and I start to take a lot of photos, trying to answer my questions.

So there is my mood. Have questions without answers.

Tell us a little bit about the photography scene in Mexico. Is there any work of female photographers you can recommend?
I think that México in the history of photography has always visual questions. There are a lot of female photographers doing fantastic woks: Gladys Serrano, Dolores Medel, Sonia Carolinain Mexico and in Brazil Mayra Lins for instance... they are photographers that are always questioning our context. And it is amazing how their photos give us more questions.

Are you already planning other photographic projects?
I started one in Brazil: 2024. A fictional documentary that tries to question how information on the internet is generated and consumed. The aim of this work is to create images that speak of this darkness like a physical phenomenon and like an unrest of disinformation, in some way, exhibit the fear that causes the uncertainty. You can see part of the project here.

Annika Kreikenbohm | Hannover, Germany

Hello Annika, tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how you got into photography?
Hi Nicole! Thank you for the opportunity for this interview! I am 28 years old and a self-taught photographer from Hannover, Germany. Also, I am currently doing my PhD in astrophysics in Würzburg for which I study the extreme regions around black holes in the center of galaxies.
As for photography, I was fascinated by photos for as long as I can remember. I got my first reflex camera for christmas when I was 15. It was an analog one and I remember throwing away many rolls of film while learning how to handle it. I was just not very successful getting the correct exposure. Nevertheless, I tried to learn as much about photography as possible by studying the work of famous photographers. Until 2011 I had never shown my photos to anyone else but my friends and family. When I went to Spain for a traineeship in 2011 I explored the country through my camera lens and started my photography blog.

You are a self-taught photographer and working currently on your PHD in astrophysics. Both seems to be different worlds. What does photography mean to you?
Yes, these disciplines do seem very contradictory. But if you think about the motivation for pursuing these passions they are not that different anymore. Both astrophysics and photography are ways to discover our universe and communicate with eachother. While science tackles the problem from an analytical and rather exterior point of view, photography is able to explore the emotional and interior side of our world.
 
In astrophysics, we deal with very fundamental questions like "where do we come from?" or "how did and will the universe evolve?". It is curiosity that drives us. Science gives us the wonderful opportunity to explain our observations of the world. I think there is a misconception about science: many people regard the natural laws of physics as some kind of hard truth. But in my opinion it is a tool to design a concept of our world. It is actually a very creative process. The concept not only describes the things that we see but also allows us to discover new phenomena. We then come up with experiments to test these concepts.
 
For me photography is very similar. I am curious to observe the world that I live in. Like many others I started doing street photography. But photography is much more than observation. For me it is also a tool to express. My background as physicist certainly shaped my perception of the surrounding. Like in my series "space warp", which puts reflections in cars in the context of Einstein's theory of General Relativity. Lately, I am using photography to study. In my first big project "The world of thoughts" I interviewed a number of people about their way of thinking and portraited them within these worlds. It was a wonderful project about learning how the minds of other people are set. Those projects are my own little experiments and telescopes.
 
So both my passion for astrophysics and photography are driven by the same engine: curiosity and the urge to communicate our observations to other people.

Your submitted amazing photos of your project „elements of capoeira“. How did you get the idea for this project?
Capoeira is brazilian martial arts which is a mash up of different cultures and people from Africa and Brazil. This mix of influences created a very unique style among martial arts. It is very artistic and may seem like dancing sometimes. I wanted to capture these movements. When I got the opportunity to work with stroboscopic lights the idea for this project was just around the corner. 

What would you like to express with your images of the project?
First and for most I wanted to express the beauty of Capoeira movements. The project itself was a study. What kind of shapes are hidden in the movements of Capoeira? Most of the movements you see are attacks in the form of kicks or hooks. But because of the almost playful execution in Capoeira they appear as part of a dance. Music is in deed a very important part of the Capoeira culture. Because of this influence it is often described as a mixture between martial arts and dance: a battle dance. This symbiosis is something that I wanted to show.

The images of „elements of capoeira“ are very well composed. Can you tell us a little bit about the set up?
The set up itself was very simple. Besides the camera and the Capoerista there was just one source of light that was able to produce stroboscopic flashes. Typically, Capoeira is played by two participants. It is like a conversation between both Capoeiristas in which every movement is closely intertwined with one another. But I wanted to study the movements in the most basic form. Thus, the isolated set up of the Capoeirista in front of a black background.