No, it is a joke. I have not. It was a journey. And if you are interested to know more about me, here is my story.
I was Born in Russia, and went to University meant to be good for Civil servant jobs. Got a job in the IRS right after summer break after getting my diploma.
I also had a hobby. My best friend and I loved to take photos. Because of the popularity of point-shoot cameras it was an easily accessible hobby (plus my parents were always updated on new cameras on the market).
One day I took my Dad film camera Zenit (camera brand manufactured by KMZ in the town of Krasnogorsk near Moscow since 1952 ) for a walk with friends to the Botanical garden.
When film had developed and photos had printed the depth that I saw on the photos was so admirable. It was more than a picture of real life. It meant to shift your attention to where photographers want it to be, It means to take you away from reality, tell you a story. There I knew : I am down to explore the photography world in it’s deepest.
I also was modeling for fun so it gave me an opportunity to meet a lot of photographers. And make friends.
So I asked one of them to take me to the photo store and help to choose. The choice was simple: Ii had a budget and knew I was looking at either Nikon, Canon or Pentax. The Nikon menu was most comfortable for me to use and the decision was made. Nikon D50 . My first DSLR. ( this is the Brand i still use )
Then self education began. I immediately start shooting in manual mode. I heard that professionals don't shoot in auto mode. I heard that an artist can control the way the photo looks by adjusting settings. I had basic understanding because on my Dad Zenit there was no auto mode, so I was pretty familiar with ISO, Aperture and shutter speed.
I read some Soviet Union books about photography basics and developing. Even though I never developed film myself ( Until last year using an instant coffee technique with Russ Edge, the owner of Studio 210 in Rahway, NJ ) I often had watched my father do it
( Fun fact: On 7 January 1839, this first complete practical photographic process was announced at a meeting of the French Academy of Sciences. It is exactly 150 years before I was born)
I learn from books, photography friends, and practice.
I also took several workshops to advance quicker. While my friends were partying during winter holiday , I was using my time to learn more about light, posing and editing.
At the age of 23 I was already disappointed in working in the federal structure and was looking my way out. One of my friends decided to move to the USA and it planted an idea in my head. I went on a short trip to Czech Republic traveling for the first time by myself, speaking no Czech language (and surprisingly English wasn't a popular second language there either) to have a taste ( a little bite .) of different country on my own. And it makes me feel confident.
June 13, 2021 I got on the flight that took me to New York, New York.
Looking for a way to make money I wasn’t hoping on photography a lot right away. I had some money with me, but I still had to pay bills that kept coming, so I was picking up jobs that were laying there. Selling flowers at the night club wasn’t ideal, but it was something to keep me going for 6 months in the USA and then I had to fly back home. I was supposed to stay in Russia for a few months and got an offer to work in a Photo studio ( this is what I consider my first official Photo money come from) . This is where I felt that I could make money doing what I like so much. Then I flew back to America.
Started offering photo sessions but haven’t had a big success there. Here is where my bartending job came across and I was doing it full time, 5-6 days a week. And I am grateful for that experience. Money I made there was good enough to pay my bills, build my expensive photography equipment closet and what is more important to do Internship with award-winning Commercial Photographer, Jill Lotenberg. Ability to See the business side of the work taught me a lot: How to treat customers, how to discuss their needs and suggest the ideas, how to be professional as a photographer and as business owner , how to understand your value and how much more you can offer client that just “snapping a photo”
I have been working in different photography fields simply because when people know that you are a photographer they ask you for different types of photo sessions and you can pick and choose which one you are interested in the most.
This are the main categories that I work in
- Family photography : Small Family portraits, Graduation photos, Engagement photos, Wedding,
- Commercial photography : Personal branding photos, Commercial branding photos, Business headshots, Acting headshots, Product photography