The day I told myself: “I am an artist”.

11/09/2017

 

 

                                                                                      I never thought of myself as an artist.

                                                                                      I never believed in the concept of “talent”.

                                                                                      I never thought that photography was an art.

.

What I truly believed in, however, was hard and tough work. My life as a photographer can easily be divided into two phases: The one where I believed photography was a technical profession with no room for art, and the phase where I came to the realisation that photography is indeed art. So let me tell you first how I got there.

“To convey your soul into your work. Art is about an emotion, an idea, a message.”

At the University the way I studied photography was very technical. We didn’t talk too much about abstract art or what a particular photographer wanted to say through his pictures. Instead we discussed lights, lenses, composition, physics, chemistry and much more science. After all these years at Uni I realised that I was learning almost anything by just analyzing other photographers’ works. By observing closely any portrait work , I could tell precisely how many lights a photographer used, what kind of soft-boxes were chosen and, after a few years of practice, I could even tell how he implemented his post-processing.

“The key is to integrate our art into our life, not the other way around.”
― Brooks Jensen, Letting Go of the Camera: Essays on Photography and the Creative Life

And that’s when I started to work. At the beginning of my career I was doing a lot of photoshoots to whoever agreed posing for me – my friends, my colleagues, my classmates. Then, one by one these pictures reached social media. People started asking who was behind those shots and so I pushed myself into the position of no-stop-working forgetting about weekends, 8 to 14 hours a day. Too much? Right. But at that time, I believed that I needed to practice and practice, in order to shape myself into the professional I wanted to be. The funniest thing is – I didn’t know yet who I wanted to become. I believe I pushed myself into that corner by focusing on portrait photo-sessions and wedding photography. My work was totally commercial and technical with no space for artistic expression, also so oriented on the satisfaction of the client that I stopped enjoying the profession just after 4 years of being a freelancer.

And then I moved to London.

“The eye should learn to listen before it looks.”
― Robert Frank

It is really hard to believe, but I couldn’t touch my camera for another 2 years. I have had a huge passion for photography my whole life, but then I was not able to touch the camera anymore. Working in the apparel industry shop for 2 years led me to a huge depression because I abandoned what I love doing.  That’s when I started to reflect on my life, finally. But now, looking back I’m really thankful for that provisional break-up with photography.

It made me realise something very important:

We all are artists.

This is the truth.

Every single person sees this life very differently. And that’s the most amazing thing. You don’t need to wait for inspiration to create the greatest work of art of your life. You don’t need to be special. You are special! All you need is to look inside of you, listen to yourself and express it in the way you can. Some people create music, some paint and some take pictures. In the past, I was looking at other peoples great works and couldn’t understand how they managed to create it. Sometimes I listened to my friends tips or I looked for the idea somewhere else, both the wrong sources, this is why I couldn’t find what I was pursuing for so many years. But, when I focused in the inside, when I listened to myself that’s when all of the creativity and ideas started blooming.

“All my images are self-portraits, even when I’m not in them.”
― Nuno Roque

Currently I’m working on a portrait project which I’ll call Nature Portraits. My idea is showing the beauty of nature and human being. The combination of both to show natural interaction of human and nature. I virtually set these beautiful faces into different kind of natural environment – bushes, flowers and leafs. I collaborate with Make Up artists to create a reflection of nature on the models’ faces. And then I’ll capture this artistic combination. You will judge yourselves how poetic and delicate the outcome is. I have another great upcoming project in mind guided by a very strong message. What I will promise to you from now on is to tell you different lessons which I have learnt in my career, followed by some valuable advices on how to avoid the same mistakes I did.

Today’s pearl of wisdom: “Listen to no one, but yourself. All greatest things are inside you”

“Photography is my other kind of music.”
― Romi Florea

Alina Agarkova Photographer

Alina Agarkova

www.alinaagarkova.com