Inspiration comes from some of the most unexpected places. One of our notable contributors, Anna Ivanova, had to go through an unfortunate experience that eventually led to her changing her life around and becoming a photographer.
Anna’s inspiring story might encourage others to make brave choices, and work towards building a lifestyle you truly desire. Here is Anna’s story, and her impeccable artistic work that speaks for itself.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your professional background.
I believe my path to being a photographer started some time before I even held a camera in my hands for the first time. A few years back I used to have an ordinary job in marketing and sales in my native town and was not happy at all about that kind of life. I couldn’t even dream of doing something I really like.
One day I was hit by a car in the street, and that accident made me change everything. I had a lot of time to think it all over again and while recovering from my injuries, I finally realized I’m done with that life. I was asking myself many times what’s my dream job and lifestyle, and the most crazy answer was always photography and traveling the world. At that time I couldn’t believe it would all come true.
I quit the job, started freelancing with small projects (mostly in Moscow), where I met my husband. He was a freelancer as well and shared my passion for travels, so one day we just left Moscow for good.
As we moved from one country to another, I had to learn everything about working online. My husband gave me a small digital camera and a huge belief in myself. I started learning photography by myself while making some money with copywriting for the first time. My aim was to become good enough to contribute to photo banks as it seemed the best way to earn living while traveling, or doing what you really like to do. It worked for me.
To be honest, I never attended any professional photography school and have no diploma in the field. All I did was practice, practice and a lot more practice. I do it every day, the same way you would at an office, the same way you would in sports, wherever you want to succeed.
Your food photography is stunning, what led you to finding your niche?
My roots. My father’s family comes from a merchant class in Russia, and those people know a thing about beautiful eating. I remember how even in the late Soviet times my grandma was preparing for all the big family gatherings and celebrations with great care and attention to every detail in cooking and setting the table.
That’s where I guess I got my passion for food, table styling and cooking/ It’s in my blood. I believe food has to be beautiful and fit well the time and place. I believe every type of food can be beautiful when properly cooked, styled and served.
As for my passion for photography,I guess that comes from my father who used to be keen on it when he was young. I was always mad about how beautiful it is when light draws reality on a small piece of film in the hands of a photographer and how amazing it is to reflect reality with your own eyes and a small box made of metal and glass.
To see unlimited beauty in simple things and try to make it even more beautiful– that’s what I just love and adore.
How do you achieve the artistic lighting in your photos?
I use both artificial and natural lighting in my work. Of course when you’re limited on time and shoot something commercial, artificial lighting is better. Here is where you can start from the final result: you know what you need to get in the end and adjust your lighting scheme to achieve that. It gives a lot of freedom: you can shoot even at night (and I love shooting at night, he-he!) as you never know when you get the inspiration and the best ideas.
I love working with natural light as well. Sometimes I get inspired with the beautiful natural light spots and shadows and try to shoot something quickly to catch the moment. I believe both natural and artificial lighting can be used to create masterpieces, you just need to learn how to use each of them in the best way. Of course, to achieve this you have to practice a lot.
What would you say is an important factor to success with food photography?
Avoid unnaturalness. Food is what we deal with every day, it has to be close to the consumer, it has to be inviting, intimate, bring comfort, no matter if you shoot an armful of veggies for the family dinner or a dish at an expensive restaurant.
Value traditions of various cuisines. You should know what people eat and how they prefer doing it. Be simple and honest in expressing your ideas. And love what you do.
Do you have a favourite photograph? What’s the story behind it?
Although I’m a food photographer my favorite photograph is one from my travels. It’s a medieval paved street of Citta Alta part of Bergamo on a foggy winter night. This place is very picturesque and really old, and the fog together with those dim lights made me feel like I was trapped in a time loop and thrown back to the past. I’m in love with such places.
Your #1 tip or words of wisdom:
Do what you love and love what you do. Learn and practice every day. Work hard, don’t be afraid to get tired, because you’ll never get tired doing what you love.