ANNA PAVLOVA BALLET PHOTOGRAPHY
CONTEST WINNER 2016
Ever since she bought her first Reflex camera photography became the main focus of her life.
Her art is strongly connected to dance because she has studied ballet throughout her life.
Irina says that photographing dance and dancers comes naturally and pleasurably to her.
Irina is young but experienced and her personal profile includes any collective and even solo exhibitions.
Our juror Wim van Sinderen (Senior Curator of Foto Museum Den Haag) described Irina’s photo the winner of Anna Pavlova Contest 2016, as “intriguing beyond standard traditional ballet photography”.
How can you describe your style in photography?
Whenever I have to answer this particular question, I always end up trying to explain how much dance is important to me. Ironically, this time is actually quite evident!
Much of my work reflects a connection with dance. That is obviously present in stage performing shoots, but also it is possible to find a trace of it in my personal artwork, and the reason is very simple: I have studied ballet from the age of 7 and have continued to do so throughout my life.
The result is a poetic yet endless lack of certainties when it comes to shoot not just dance, but also fine art and fashion; because I have developed the (bad?) habit of really knowing content, mood and composition of my pictures just when I am about to make them (not wide in advance, as many other photographers).
In other words: maybe because of ballet, dynamic is a key feature to me and – given how it works – it brings to life a kind of aesthetic that can only be discovered in the moment, observing what is happening in front of me and then shooting instinctively.
Apart from that, people says that my photographic style is characterized by an eerie and timeless allure, full of dream, hallucination and elegance.
What are the specifics of working with dancers as models for you?
Having dancers as models is actually priceless to me. They are able to feel their body and the space around them as anybody else can. Because of that, I can establish a connection, a kind of ‘ artistic pas de deux ’ with them: working together in order to get the best result.
What are the “laws” of ballet photography for you? Do you ever break them? Do they exist at all?
Honestly? I do not think there are strict laws in ballet photography, neither in photography itself. What is sacred to me however, is that there are laws of ballet and, more precisely, of ballet aesthetic. What I mean is that every now and then I see ballet pictures taken by photographers that knows nothing or little about ballet (often to non-professional dancers), and the results are full of painful details to me: wrong body lines, visible pointe shoes’ ribbons, lack of lightness, ugly outfits and so on.
How do you think your photography will be changing with time? Without originality, I am going to say: improving. In a field like this, you never really stop to learn. Photography, like ballet, grows just if you never stop practicing.
What are your professional goals?
I would like to reach a point where I can work more with quality than with quantity.
Italy is an amazing place full of art, history and breathtaking places but being a photographer here today is very hard: the country is facing a delicate moment and economy is not at its best, which results in a very hard taxation and low incentives for people with a job like mine.
Anyway, I dare to say that travelling around the world to shoot professional dancers and performing arts… well, that would definitively be a great goal to me.
Who is the dancer of your dream?
The dancer of my dreams… Let’s see, I could have thought carefully about that but… actually, my heart just yelled: Michail Baryšnikov. He is an amazing artist, one of the kind that are hard to find nowadays. I fell in love with him, as a child, watching his Don Quixote with Cynthia Harvey for the American Ballet Theatre (1983).
Where do you find your inspiration?
Partially in my mind, which is obviously the sum of my memories, my readings, the things that I see and my passions. But I also always recognize that the people with whom I work are a fundamental part of the pictures I take: every face is different, every individual is somehow unique, which means that every good image obtained, has been done that way also because of the person that is in it.
What attracts you more in ballet as a photographer – dancers’ everyday work and routine or the “glittering” performance part?
As a dancer, I have never really thought about this distinction, because I feel that those are two part of the same reality. However, as a photographer, I would say that to me performances are more comfortable to shoot: not just because there are good staged lights and scenography, but mainly because I can ‘ hide ’ in the dark and try to catch the magic without being invasive to the dancers (a thing that is way more complicated to achieve when taking pictures in a ballet class).
Your advice to those who are thinking of shooting dance for the first time. My advice is one and simple: if you do not know anything about ballet, be sure to work with a proper professional dancer. In that way, she or he would be able not just to perform to a great level, but also to help you understand which perspectives, moments and poses are fine and which are not. In fact, when it comes to ballet, you are entering a whole, rich universe and understanding its true essence is the first step to do in order to make it part of your art.
(c) ANNA PAVLOVA ASSOSIATION. All rights reserverd.