Photographers come from all paths of life, but there are those that leave a significant imprint on the industry. Yura Shevchenko photographed people in an effortless, candid way, very particular to his vision. His images made him the silent observer behind the unfolding moments of everyday life.
To capture big concepts is no easy task, but looking at Yura’s photographs, you’re enveloped by joy because you’re looking in to a very intimate scene from daily life between people. These relationships are a mystery to us, but the skillful eye of an outstanding photographer brings us a little closer to appreciating the authenticity and effortlessness of his work.
Initially rejected by many stock photography platforms, Yura continued to stay true to himself, his style and his aesthetics. Today, he’s one of the most notable photographers with a growing portfolio of captivating images. It’s safe to say he really was the pioneer of authenticity, the word we use so often but can rarely pin down.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your personal background.
We all have old family photographs from our childhood, but a vast majority of those photographs are quite static and emotionless, they don’t translate what the people are like in real life. For some of us, it might be the case that we don’t have our loved ones with us, the ones we can only see in photographs. I want for my photos to tell a story about a person that is no longer there, to show what they were like in real life, and not how the photographer posed them. In my childhood, I didn’t have these photographs and I don’t have any real photos of my family, sadly. I’m trying to create these photo stories for other people now.
How would you describe your aesthetics or what kind of aesthetics appeal to you personally?
I really like movement in photographs, or an incomplete action to be exact when together with the hero of the story, we think about what’s going to happen next. For me, an ideal outcome is when each viewer can have his or her own take on what’s happening in a photograph or a photo story.
Authenticity has been the buzzword with stock banks for a while now, what are your thoughts on how one can achieve authenticity in portfolios?
I think that each person is unique, it’s just that chasing trends can result in missing pieces of your inner world and your authenticity. Following trends is perhaps one of the easier routes to fame, but it’s equally dangerous because trends change quickly but losing yourself might mean you won’t be able to find that ‘something’ again. This is why I think the most righteous route (although not the easiest) is to search for it with yourself and translate your feelings into your photographs.
Your personal portfolio is very much about people, and they all seem like they’re having such a good time. What’s your trade secret?
In life, you can stumble on some bad things. That’s why when I come upon something good, I want to photograph it more. This is where the secret to my grand plans stems from. As for specifically people in photographs, I have to be honest, I’m not really interested in photographs that don’t have people. I really like observing people’s lives.
How do you find your models?
It’s hard to say. Sometimes I just meet them on the streets, sometimes they find me on their own. It’s really hard to resist photographing a loving couple -sometimes I shoot loving passerby couples on my smartphone. These are the ‘real’ stories.
What’s your favourite part about being a photographer?
Talking to people, visiting them in their environment, living with them. I rarely have short photo shoots. More often, they’re 3 hours or more. There was a time when one photo shoot stretched out to a few days as I’m trying to capture a real story in the day of a family or a couple. In this time span, you get a sense of who these people are, you feel for them. It’s an indescribable feeling.
If you go back to the early days of becoming a stock photographer, what were some of the difficulties you’ve encountered and how did you overcome them?
Earlier I talked a little bit about how hard it is to stay true to yourself, and not just follow the general trends. Many years ago, I tried to pitch my photos to the initial tests on different stock photography platforms and I was rejected with the explanation that my photos don’t have a commercial value. I didn’t cave and try to change, I continued to stay true to myself and photograph what I love. Later, stock photo banks found me and proposed partnerships. In regards to my story of getting rejected, they just said I was ahead of my time and the market simply wasn’t ready for me.
You also have some excellent black and white shots, what are the instances when you choose to drain photos of color?
A black and white photo can sometimes urge the viewer to think deeper about what’s happening in the frame, without the distractions of color details. Sometimes a black and white photo adds a graphic element to the lighting. There are also times when I just want to shoot in black and white or I have black and white film on me.
What are your hopes and aspirations for the future?
I really hope that I have enough strength to continue improving, that I have enough self-criticism to grow as a photographer and also more confidence in myself to continue shooting my way. I dream to shoot with more freedom, when people are completely involved in their own world and the photographer is just an observer. I have similar projects right now, but at the moment I’m not really happy with it.
Your #1 tip or words of wisdom:
What’s inside is what’s on the outside. Whatever you do, it’s important to be honest with yourself.
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