Tanya Yatsenko is a portrait and family photographer. Seven years ago, she switched from law to photography and started telling stories. Her works are light, authentic and natural, and her Depositphotos portfolio is an embodiment of happiness and carelessness that you can only get when capturing portraits of real people in context to their surroundings.
Tanya likes Impressionist, Rococo and Romanticism paintings. She describes her photography style as a mix of lifestyle and documentary and enthusiastically shares her personal tips on capturing portraits. In this interview, she also talks about her own approach to stock photography, and explains how to push your boundaries and experiment more.
On becoming a photographer
I was born in Kyiv, Ukraine but for the last four years, I’ve been living with my family in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
I got my masters degree in international law, but seven years ago, I decided to leave a career as a lawyer, took hold of my camera, and then my photography story began. I wanted to show my interpretation of the world, and photography is the best tool to do this.
I want to incorporate a person or a group of people in different surroundings and tell their stories. For me, life is either in places where people live or in the outdoors because we all belong to this planet. We are a part of the world so I want to show a kind and happy side of it, of us being able to enjoy each other and nature we are surrounded by. And I want to show the important role families play in our lives.
I want to show feelings and lightness in my work. I like to combine a bit of lifestyle photography and documentary when I just follow the flow and capture moments. I like to experiment in different styles so my photography may change in the future. At the moment, I get inspiration from photos of other photographers. I like Impressionist paintings, Rococo and Romanticism style ones as well.
On being a stock photographer
I shoot my family life all the time and use many of these photos for my portfolios on photography platforms. When I am not so busy with client work, I get ideas and either create something with my family or ask my friends to take pictures.
Shooting for stock takes a lot of time but it definitely pushes your boundaries to create new images and experiment more.
I try to follow trends but I know that I will do what I like and what inspires me. Shooting for stock takes a lot of time but it definitely pushes your boundaries to create new images and experiment more. Without a doubt, I need inspiration. I have a notebook where I write down all my ideas or color trends I want to try.
I save pictures on Pinterest and my Instagram. I save photos on my phone and put them in a separate folder. And when I am in the mood, I prepare activities at home for the kids or we discuss activities with models.
On the challenges in a journey with photography
I don’t like posed photos. I had a bad experience as a child in my nursery when a photographer came to take some portraits. He said to sit straight and was very rough. I was nearly crying. So I promised myself that I would never do so as a photographer and my kids became the greatest challenge in my photography journey.
If you want to make kids look happy the secret of a good photo is simple: make them happy!
What do they want to do? Bubbles, playing with water, painting or having a picnic? Or mommy and daddy tossing them up into the sky, hugging, kissing, tickling or reading a book? Kids are all so different. And you need to be very quick in capturing these moments.
The secret of a good photo is simple: make children happy!
When kids are doing something, come closer and call their name. They look at you and then you click. You have to predict movements and be patient.
Once, we blew up a balloon and then released the air from it into their faces. The effect was hilarious. I had to juggle my camera in one hand and the balloon in another, but it was totally worth it. My point here is that you don’t have to talk much to kids. Be invisible and let them play.
5 tips on capturing a great portrait
Invite a model for a cup of tea before a photoshoot.
I didn’t follow this rule at the beginning but now I always ask a person to meet up at least for half an hour. We need to see each other and have a chat. Without this, I don’t feel as comfortable, because to take a portrait is to tell the story about the person. You become a friend for a while or even for the rest of your life. It happens to me very often.
I think it’s important to be able to say no.
A portrait is about trust. The connection between a client and a photographer is crucial. For instance, I can only capture people that I feel comfortable with, who have seen my portfolio, and totally trust me. If I see that a person wants something else I probably wouldn’t do the photoshoot.
Talk to the model.
Ask about his or her life, traveling, family, interests and so on. I am an introvert myself so it’s kind of like leaving my comfort zone, but I always treat people the way I want them to treat me. Also, don’t hide behind the camera all the time. People have to see your eyes.
Take photos from different angles and distances.
Play with it. If your model sits in a chair, do some shots close, some from a distance, and some from above. You can even go behind any object or a person and use them as a foreground. It brings more cinematic view and more liveliness in some cases.
Preparation is always good.
Make a list of the photos you like and that you think would be good to try with a particular model. Discuss the outfit and make sure you find the right place for the photoshoot. Even if you think you’ve thought of everything, something will come up in the middle of the shoot.
More advice on working with stocks
Upload images. Be patient. It takes time.
Observe and investigate what photos you see around you on billboards, magazines, on the internet or in books and which of them resonate with you and your style. See what you like or dislike and what you can do better than others.
Learn a lot from other photographers. Learn to appreciate what themes are closest to you and have real meaning to you. You have to be different but, at the same time, to be on trend.
What I like about stock photography is that you can create anything you like and see if these images are loved by people. If they like your art and even pay for it, then you know you’re doing something good not only for you but for the world. Receiving recognition will also push you forward.
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