As a filmmaker, I use the most realistic of all mediums – cinema – as more than just entertainment. Rather, a contemplative exploration of the visual and aural around us, for viewers with patience, focus, sensitivity and intelligence. An experiment with time, emotion and thought. A sum of all my skills and experiences.
As a motion and still photographer, my personal artistic motive is to search for beauty, spirituality and harmony in everything I see. My artistic contribution to the public is to communicate the beauty and variety of the world most people overlook and to encourage an intuitive and spiritual understanding of reality.
As a designer, my goal is to extend my artistic sensibility to the world of applied art and to serve the public in a more practical way, hopefully making a tiny part of our life more beautiful and enjoyable.
As a writer, I strive to complete my visual message with words. I mix the intuitive with the conceptual to question and explain. I do my best to draw the attention to the complexity and the paradox of our world and to help those looking for change.
Because we lack a clear, unanimous definition of what art is, I have classified my own creations myself, using the utility criterion:
// art (low utilitarian value):
// applied art (high utilitarian value):
But I do blur the borders of my art as I trickle photography into utilitarian design and blend my journalism with prescriptive opinions and literary tricks.
Overall, I define myself as an artist. If I had to choose, cinema would be the trick not having to, because filmmaking requires everything I know and do. Tricks barred, I would focus on photography and writing. Fortunately, I can spare my talent on other areas and serve in different ways.
I make photographs because reality overwhelms me. I cannot just stand there and watch and do nothing. It’s just so big, so terrible, so beautiful, so powerful, so sad.
I am fascinated by reality. But I do not limit myself to the brain’s representation of retinal stimuli. I also feel and filter the intangible forces that infuse everything around us. I strive to extend, into a living photograph, the forces that shape reality.
I emphasize color, light, minimalism, elegance and precision.
I generalize in subjects. I specialize in vision and style. I have photographed climbers, restaurants, cars, CEOs, buildings, runners, landscapes, DJs, ships, artists, telephone booths, planes, lamps, fashion… Day and night, any weather, any place on Earth. I am always eager to shoot new subjects I have never shot before.
I think there is enough art showing ugliness and horror. Most objects have good and bad, beauty and ugliness. Some objects seldom show their beauty, but they still do, sometimes. Finding and showing the 10% of anything that is not crap is difficult. But I like to challenge myself and show the intrinsic beauty of any person or location, however unglamorous they may be.
I consider design an applied art of arranging image, text and color to communicate a message or facilitate understanding. I subordinate design to a purpose that serves the client and the audience: design is goal and user oriented.
My creative prose seeks to question and understand the complexity and contradiction of our world. I write to say what I cannot show with photography.
I have amassed a lot of thoughts and experiences. I relish every opportunity to share what I know with people who are interested, people who want to learn and improve. My prose is also a way to give back to the community, to give answers I could not find when I was looking for them myself.
My practical articles intend to help with choice and judgment. I specialize in opinionated, subjective journalism. I mix facts and analysis with personal experiences, opinions, thoughts and feelings.
I feel a great responsibility for what I do with my talent. For 23 years, amusingly since the same time I started as a professional photographer, the events in my life have been frequently reminding me of how easy it is to die. I quickly understood that my life and my talent were not given to me to fool around carelessly.
I create with sincerity and honesty. My personality, my life and my art blend together. I study myself so I can build projects that are as close to my individuality as possible, as authentic as possible.
I do not create from 9 to 5. I dedicate my entire life to the creative process.
I would prefer others to either like or dislike my photography. What do you mean by “understand”? Trust your feelings.
I appreciate intelligent analysis of my design and look forward to user feedback.
I would like my prose to stimulate thoughts, question the status quo and spur a debate. Either public or internal. On-line or off-line.
I can shoot with any camera. Contrary to the popular belief, an expensive camera does not make an excellent photographer. I started with very, very bad cameras. I shot award-winning photographs with plasticy point-and-shoots worth less than 100 EUR.
Of course, I do suffer discomfort and frustration when I work with such equipment. But suffering does not prevent me from creating a stunning photograph or design.
Ideally, I look for photography equipment that is compact, lightweight, intuitive and instantaneous that yields the best quality files possible.
My prose requires little gear. A bunch of notebooks, a pen and a word processor. A collection of books and dictionaries in English, French and Russian. And the web.
I always shoot photographs on location and prefer available light. I rarely work with an assistant and favor the fast and light approach. Even on complicated shoots, I tend to work with a small and efficient production team.
I learn any technique that solves my creative challenges. Radio controls, computers, high-tech clothing, physical conditioning, Photoshop… whatever gets me nearer to the result.
My photography seldom requires heavy digital retouching. Most fail to notice the amazing gamut of colors, lights and textures of reality. When people see uncommon light or color, they think Photoshop.
I think shooting time. I expect to create the right picture right now and avoid digital manipulation afterwards. I stay curious and intent. I interact with the environment: experiment with viewpoints, wait for the best light and sometimes arrange the details. My focus to extract the most from the scene creates subtlety, harmony and realism.
The bulk of my post-production in Photoshop expands the mechanical recording of the camera to the sophistication of human eyesight. Photoshop was not there with me on the shoot. Photoshop has not seen what I have seen. I manually adjust every scan to match the original slide. I process every RAW file with individual parameters to correspond to my initial vision.
As long as I can remember, I have always been good at drawing, painting, writing and music. Thanks to my parents, I went to schools with great visual arts, music and art history lessons. Teachers quickly labeled me as a “wonder kid” of the arts and dispatched me to competitions and exhibitions to defend the honor of the school.
My parents gave me a point-and-shoot camera when I was 13. I killed my first two rolls of landscape photography by opening the camera before I finished to rewind the film. That’s also when I first met someone with a Zenit SLR. He impressed me with “apertures” and “shutters”.
Still, my main interest remained with painting. At 15, I started to methodically work on my skills, copying Monet and creating my first serious original paintings. Figurative painting fascinated me most, and I sought to paint the best representation of my perception of reality. I privileged water-based media, watercolor and gouache, for their speed, flexibility… and cost. I looked for spontaneity and direct expression. I quickly turned to the a la prima watercolor techniques. A typical painting took me 3 to 4 hours to finish. I painted a lot, kept the good ones and threw away the rest.
At the time I started lessons at Stroganov University of Fine Arts, at the age of 16, my creative horizon broadened to some sculpture, graphic design and photomontage. For my biggest project, I cut hundreds of pictures from my collection of aviation magazines and poured liters of glue to painstakingly create a 3m x 2m (118" x 79") photomontage on the theme of fighter jets. Looking for the best glue available in Moscow, I met Ilia KIREEV, an architect who had access to a secret arts supply shop at Moscow Architectural Institute. He showed me his photography and a book of Henri CARTIER-BRESSON’s pictures. I discovered the beauty and conciseness of photography.
At the end of 1996, my grandmother gave me my grandfather’s Zenit E, an entirely manual SLR from 1965. No batteries. No through-the-lens lightmeter. No automatic aperture. No flash hotshoe sync. I went to the library, dug out the operation manual and then read all photography books they had.
Photography turned out to be a natural extension of my a la prima watercolor techniques. Precision and spontaneity condensed into milliseconds. I edited away even more than with painting. With time, I discovered that my photographs corresponded better to the look and feel I wanted to achieve with watercolor.
I photographed my immediate Moscow surroundings. The buildings, the general artistic bohemia and the techno / electronic music scene. While everyone shot techno DJs and clubbers with autofocus cameras and flashes, I walked around with a tripod and shot XIX century style. Available light, long exposure. The external lightmeter on my Zenit was not sensitive enough to register dim light. So I carried a notebook with working exposure settings that I had found through experimentation. People posed for minutes without moving. As a result, my unique color photographs showed a vision of the techno nightlife that amazed everyone. I was soon published in Moscow techno music magazines and my professional photography career started.
I decided to dedicate myself to photography and moved to Paris, the city of great photographers. Internships at Magnum, Sipa Press and Liaison / Getty convinced me to become an independent photographer.
In 1999, two years after I committed myself to photography, I wanted to print a new version of my portfolio. I wanted to create something unusual, something exquisite. I analyzed tons of photography books, reviewed portfolios of my friends and decided to design an entire brand identity system. That portfolio project turned out to be my first design project, involving choice of type, creation of logos and decisions about my “corporate” color and composition. I designed the pages in Photoshop and Illustrator, and then printed and assembled my own book. Clients looking through my new portfolio kept asking about the art director who created the thing.
6 months later, when I decided to open my web site, I first tried to find a web designer with great taste, strong style and technical precision. In 1999 in France, only a handful of web agencies offered such high level design. And consequently high, astronomical prices beyond my budget. So I teamed up with some artist friends, learnt HTML and designed my web site myself.
The web site immediately attracted attention and received awards and recognition for its design. Clients started calling to ask for design services. In response to customer demand, we created Sylipsi, a team of independent pluridisciplinary artists offering services of web design, print design, photography, fine-art illustration and digital retouching, all backed up by expert consulting.
Since, I have been art directing and designing projects intended for web, print and projection, involving advertising, brand identity systems, brochures, direct mail, presentations, etc. I have used my photography to illustrate a good number of those projects. Cross-media projects mixing my print design, my web design and my photography give me a lot of creative freedom, extend the reach of photography and offer a very unique and customized solution to the client.
Two years after I designed my web site, I published my first technical article. I shared my tips and techniques of image optimization for the web to Russian photographers on Photographer.Ru.
In 2003, one of my clients asked me to shoot some Swiss alpine idyll. When I first probed the world of landscape photography, I was amazed to find so little information about equipment and technique of shooting in the backcountry. I invested huge amounts of time, money and zealotry to dig into the subject of backpacking and outdoor sports. To prepare for the shoots, I rediscovered running and started climbing.
After a crazy afterburner quest to find workable techniques, I accumulated an impressive array of gear and techniques. I was bursting with ideas. I was spilling tips and tricks on anyone who would listen.
Soon, I started publishing articles about outdoor sports and backcountry photography in magazines and on websites. I decided to specialize in opinionated, subjective journalism.
In 2007, I opened a section on my web site dedicated to my prose, where I write about things I know: art theory, photography, 2D and 3D art, literature, performing art, music, design, ego and society, sport, technology, business and logistics.
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