Inspiration

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Trailblazers: Exploring a dark romanticism with Elizaveta Porodina

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In her experimental fashion and fine art photography, Elizaveta Porodina effortlessly extracts the underlying emotions from her subjects to produce captivating images that make her the modern-day master of dark romanticism. Based in Munich, Elizaveta’s work is sometimes ambiguous, sometimes honest and sometimes obvious, easily bridging the worlds of cinema, fashion and documentary for a roster of clients including Louis Vuitton, Vogue, Sunday Times, Elle and BMW.

It's great to chat with you Elizaveta. You trained as a clinical psychologist before settling on photography as a career. Do you think your formal training informs the way you approach your work now?

Hello! Well yes, I studied as a therapist for five years and then worked in psychiatry for two in a state-run facility for people with severe psychiatric needs. That was hard. My studies were more of an experiment though, I’m interested in people and in human psychology but ironically they didn’t really help with that. When I got to the point where I was spending half my time at work and half the time doing photography as a side project for myself, I knew I needed to focus on one over the other, so I chose photography.

I met a lot of different type of people in my psychiatric work, but I always found myself most interested in young women and the similarities between me and them. There was something quite voyeuristic about that - which again lends itself well to a career in photography.

It’s an interesting question, but a really good psychologist is empathetic and listens which is also an imperative skill in many other positions - including photography. I feel like many other great photographers, including those I admire such as Helmut Newton, must have also had the same skills as me, otherwise they wouldn’t have taken such great images.

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Tell us abit about your video work, is this a new direction for you?

Relatively, I’ve been working quite a lot with my boyfriend, Josef Beyer, which is great because we explore subjects from very different angles–him from a more documentary/reportage one and me obviously from a more art focused one–so there’s never any competition.

The video for Vogue Ukraine is our most recent work, it was a really small team on the shoot; just a photo camera, a video camera and then a few other people as well as the models. It was great working like that.

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What are you working on at the moment (that you can talk to us about)?

My book project! Throughout 2016 I shot most of the images for it, we still need to do a few more and then I’ll begin the process of laying it all out to create the book.

The book explores the two models, who are also sisters, from the Vogue Ukraine video. They’re close friends of mine and we spent a lot of time living, working, exploring and travelling together, during which I was privy to the sibling’s relationship and the secret bond that they have. The book explores this, as well as the dynamic of having another person in within that (me and the camera). I’m hoping it will be ready to publish by mid 2017.

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Where do you work best?

Everywhere! I’ve spent the last couple of years travelling around a lot on very spontaneous trips. My talent works best when I’m travelling around, working on new challenges and under pressure. I get a lot of adrenaline from working like this.

Tell us about one of last year's most creatively fulfilling projects 

I was lucky to have a lot. 2016 seemed to be the year that clients came to me and said “do what you want” and this freedom is of course, incredibly fulfilling. One that stands in my mind is a Vogue Ukraine shoot in February. We were in Paris and we wanted to shoot in all kinds of light conditions which gave way to some very eccentric circumstances. In particular we were in Opera, it was cold, the girl’s dresses were transparent and it was very challenging for all of us. People were literally standing in the streets, staring and laughing at us and some Asian photographers were taking photos of the girls. So I then took photos of them taking photos. The end result was great.

I also spent a couple of weeks in New York - a city I find incredibly inspiring. It was mind blowing, I was so wired I couldn’t sleep and I was constantly shooting in the middle of the night, down hidden streets. I had my muse with me and we shot a lot of projects for the book.

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How do you stay inspired?

I’m actually pretty good at managing my inspiration input and output. I never look at modern fashion photography, but definitely more at older photographer’s work such as Anders Peterson and Lillian Bassman. Cinema inspires me more than photography though, especially Tarantino, Kubrick and Pasolini, and then there’s one musician I come back to time and time again and that’s Marilyn Manson. His music helped shape me and build my own opinion about things, wherever possible I love listening to him on shoots.

Would you say Marilyn Manson is someone you’d like to work with in the future then?

YES! Definitely. I’d love to shoot him.

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