Anastasia Kazakova is currently one of our top contributors. Her story is another one of a long journey from an office job to a freelance photographer. Her background in advertising gave way to a very clean and focused collection of photographs. Becoming a stock photographer allowed her to dictate her own rules and move around the world to focus on her new career.
Anastasia focuses mainly on the elegance and grace of her models. She shares her advice on how to ease tensions during photo shoots, working with stock agencies and little tips for newcomers.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your professional career and how you made it to stock photography.
I started taking pictures when I was working in an office job at a magazine in Moscow. I was a secretary back then. To be honest, the atmosphere of the place was so uncomfortable that I wanted to try something a little more creative. When I came to this realization (which was about 12 or 13 years ago), I started working as a full time photographer.
The first year I was working as a photographer for the same magazine, but then I decided to do it on a freelance basis and I never looked back since. It was a part of my career when I was working in advertising and doing photoshoots for the magazine. It was kind of the highlight of my professional life then.
Later, I decided to move to a different country and I also wanted to experience living somewhere else. Stock photography just seemed like the right career path. Three years ago, I moved to barcelona and started my own career in beauty photography.
You photograph lots of people and the images are very candid, do you have any tips on how to make models comfortable in a photoshoot?
It’s difficult to explain. You need to appreciate your model; be able to see the best in him/her because they’re all stunning. All that I personally need is to see what the best features of the models are. Most of my models are not professional ones, quite shy. They try to speak up about their ‘imperfections’ but I strongly disagree and try to show them the best side of themselves. I praise them a little, help them find their pose and just converse with them.
The subjects of your photography are mainly female models. How would you say beauty standards are changing with time?
I really like how beauty standards are changing. Women feel more comfortable with a more natural look of themselves. We still care about our “social face” but it finally looks more like a face, not a mask. That’s why I generally use natural makeup on my models and they actually don’t even want to take it off after the photo shoot.
What have you learned from your experience working with stock agencies?
It’s important to be patient and diligent, especially the first year.
What are some of your interests outside of photography?
I really love to cooking. The process is magical for me and I could spend a lot of time making some dishes to then see the happy smiles of my family when they’re eating it.
Why do you think images are so important and relevant today?
I guess because people have no time to read and to catch their attention it’s important to use a quick mode of communication. Images are a language of their own.
Who are your favourite photographers?
It’s a big list of famous and classic photographers like Annie Leibovitz, Rankin, Helmut Newton, Mario Testino and many others who made and still make women look like better versions of themselves.
Are there some themes and trends that will never be out of style?
Subjects such as women, people in general and food. Other popular topics like business and success – it’s just a given these subjects stay in the spotlight.
Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers that are just getting started in stock photography?
Be patient and stay strong. Create work that you like, doesn’t matter if it’s popular or not on the platform. It’s much more important to stay true to yourself and produce work you really believe in.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m taking up video now. It seems similar to photography to me, but at the same time it’s vastly different. It’s a great way to learn new things because in photography I can’t say I’m really learning anything new right now.
What’s more important, specialization or experimentation?
It’s more important for me to produce work that I really like. Of course, I could try something new and shoot in a different style or pick up the theme of sports (as an example). This isn’t my territory though. I don’t think it’s worth losing time to venture into something that is not my specialization.
Your #1 photography tip or words of wisdom:
Love what you do.