Valery Skurydin tells stories of relationships through his photography. For his shots to be sincere and authentic, he never works with actors or professional models. “Natural beauty is very on trend right now”, says the photographer.
You may have also recognized the shot below, which was used in the Depositphotos Visual Trends project. His photograph was used to illustrate the trend “First Global Aesthetic”. We reached out to Valery and had a chat with him about some secrets to working with stocks, ways of finding inspiration, and how important it is to follow trends.
I took up photography out of boredom. I bought a film camera and started shooting everyone surrounding me. I started learning more about photography — I read books, took up classes, watched documentaries on photography. At some point, I realized that there are websites where you can buy photographs. I was amused by the thought that photographs that I shoot here, in this small city, could be useful to someone on the other side of the world.
I uploaded about 10 images to different microstock websites, and in one night one of my images was bought. On the purchase order, I could see that someone bought it all the way in Mexico. I was so happy! From then on, I started uploading newer shots. That’s the short story of how I got started with stock photography platforms.
Today, I have a slightly different approach. I upload around 500 works a month to microstocks, and about 100 works to premium stocks. To be honest, there are alway situations that ruin my plans. For example, maybe I planned a day to post produce photographs and keyword them. Suddenly, there’s a storm, and I think to myself — who knows when I’ll see this kind of weather again? And I go out to shoot the menacing sea instead.
I like observing people, especially how they interact. Everyone acts slightly different from person to person, sometimes they even hold their hands differently. Everyone falls in love in a unique way, or form friendships differently. I never use actors or professional models in my shoots. If I’m shooting on the topic of medicine, I would rather have a real doctor in the shot. If I’m shooting a family, it has to be a real family. Sure, they may not look like they’re from the cover of some fancy magazine, but I like the sincerity and authenticity in the idea and in photography.
I try to translate people’s relationships with photography. I mean towards themselves, to one another, to their pets, and their jobs. I want to share stories of inner beauty. I try to say something with all of my shots. Maybe to show a dialogue of a person with themselves, or with their surroundings. But I think it’s difficult to describe photographs and what I wanted to say. It’s best to just look at the works as a whole.
Each photo shoot is unique. Every person is also unique, which is what I often try to say with my photographs. I had this interesting story once. I was taking the bus, I turned around and looked behind me. I saw a mother and her daughter playing in their seats, sharing stories, and fantasizing tales. I was very inspired. I got to know them and had a photo shoot with them the next day. Right now, this series is in my Focused Collection portfolio.
My interest is in photography, not money. Although I do understand that the aspect of making money is an important one as well. Based on my experience, I can say the following. Firstly, you have to upload photos regularly. If you have a lot of photographs, don’t rush to upload them all in one day. It’s best to upload several times. Maybe 10-20 shots from one photoshoot rather than 100 images all at the same time. Secondly, you have to follow trends. You could read stock photography blogs where they usually bluntly state what’s in demand from clients and what you have to shoot to have more sales.
I have a special photography project, the topic is self-identification of women in the contemporary world. I shoot dolphins and dolphin therapy. On the side, I have a small blog about movies, it’s in my Instagram account (@skvalva). I also teach photography online.
When I just started working with stock photography, the more real and emotional photography wasn’t as popular as it is today. There were lots of common shots back then, or what I call “apples on white backgrounds”. I’m so happy that now there’s this trend of natural beauty and authenticity, where there’s almost no place for Photoshop and skewed model appearances.
I like that beauty standards are changing. I like that it’s influencing microstocks and premium stocks. The point is that often, it features exclusive content that’s very high quality. I work with Depositphotos’ Focused Collection. They have an excellent support team and generally it’s very easy to work with.
It’s hard to imagine my life without photography. If photography didn’t exist, I guess I would have to invent it.
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