Have you ever wondered how hard it is for someone to set up their entire life in a different country to your own? With the devastating war in Ukraine, thousands of lives have changed drastically. Anton Shevchenko is among many Ukrainians, across Europe, who have had to tackle the difficulties of building a business away from home. He is a professional photographer based in Valencia and photographs a range of subjects from portraits, events and food. His skilful way of depicting the everyday lives of individuals has a unique and aesthetic quality. After having the privilege of speaking with Shevchenko, I found out more about his life as a photographer, his passion for the art and how he has managed to succeed in his profession.
24/7 VALENCIA: Tell us about how it all began. What attracted you to photography? Did you grow up in an artistic environment? What was your focus and style at the time?
ANTON SHEVCHENKO: I, like many photographers, started with photos of insects, flowers, and pets. In the beginning, when I bought my first digital camera, I tried to take static shots. My father took many photographs of our family with a film camera. After some time, I stumbled upon the family archive…and it impressed me greatly with the range of emotions in the photos that I saw. From that moment on, I decided to photograph people more often. In 2016, I took a photography course and studied studio photography. At some point, I decided to try to do photography on a commercial basis. And I divided my path into two: portrait (business portrait, family, individual and wedding photography) and subject, advertising photography (food photo, content and advertising).
Where do you get your ideas from? What inspires you?
In this day and age, mindfulness is very important. In addition to the classics of world photography, I look a lot at the work of colleagues around the world, draw details and ideas from films and trips to the art galleries of museums wherever I go. Teamwork with clients at the shooting and preparation for it is very inspiring. Honest Feedback is more powerful than a nuclear power plant ;).
Do you have a favourite photo you have ever taken?
Maybe I will be wrong, but my personal opinion is if I have a favourite photo, then it’s time to put the camera on the shelf and leave the profession, as I have achieved the best I could;).
What is the hardest thing to photograph?
Of course, the most difficult thing is an individual portrait. Here you are with a tête à tête model, and you are not just pressing a button on a camera. There must be dialogue and contact with the person being portrayed in order to get a 300% result.
How do you calm people down and make them relax in front of the camera, so they look more natural?
Often the “preparation” for shooting begins long before the actual shooting. We have a chat; discuss details, wishes and possibilities. My task is to create for a person / family / group of people an optimal comfort zone for them, in which I will be able to give 100%.
When did you move to Valencia and why?
We arrived in Valencia in the first week of May 2022. The outbreak of the war in Ukraine found my wife and I in Sri Lanka. Our friends in Valencia offered to visit them for a while, in the hope that the war would end quickly. And now we have been here for almost a year :(. After discussing the situation with my colleagues in Ukraine, I decided that it would be better to work effectively in my profession at the moment here in Valencia… and not at home in Kiev.
How did you manage to build a business in Spain after moving here?
Here you have to start from zero. Communication is the core of any successful business here. Spain, it seems to me, is a little conservative. Due to this, word of mouth plays an even greater role here than in Ukraine and the countries of the post-Soviet space.
How does your daily life as a photographer in Valencia look like?
I try to plan my schedule by dividing the day into several parts: sunrise and sunset – shooting time, morning and after sunset time – photo processing, and in the afternoon search for new locations (modern applications on the phone allow you to understand what kind of light will be in one place or another at the right time of the day), training, and so on. I usually set aside 1-2 weekdays for family and personal interests, as the main shooting takes place on weekends and days close to them.
Do you have any advice for a beginner photographer?
Shoot as much as you can, watch movies, feel free to just copy the photos you like as accurately as possible and add something of your own to them. Draw inspiration from the work of your colleagues.
Report by Sabina Redfern
Article Copyright 24/7 Valencia
Photo by Anton Shevchenko
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone number: +34 651581616
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