Hear It!

In the August 2011 edition of Hear It, let’s welcome Aleksandr Markin who hails all the way from Russia. Aleksandr is the lucky participant who secured the 10th million spot of contributed image on 123RF.com and with that, he won himself the Apple Macbook Air! Read on to get to know him more and see what advice he has for aspiring photographers.

Photographer: omegas / Aleksandr Markin
Country of Origin: Russia

1. Production Equipment: Please list the production equipment that you use on a regular basis (eg. Cameras, lenses, flash & lighting, photo editing software).
Nikon d300s + Nikkor lens, unbranded portable studio lights, standard studio equipment and different sun reflectors for outdoor use. For photo editing, I use Adobe CS5 on the PC and the Wacom pad.

2. What do you think of photography these days?
In this day and age, the features and techniques are constantly growing, so it's quite hard to imagine and predict what will happen next. But at the end of the day, it is a win-win situation and I'm fine with that.

3. What did you want to be when you were younger?
Either a teacher or a traveler. I always wanted to be both.

4. Tell us about the time when you first got started in photography.
When I was younger, I started off using a film compact camera and then I moved on to a digital camera. Then, one fine day I decided to change to the Olympus C4000 compact camera, which is small, physically beautiful and comes with a huge number of pixels. Unfortunately, the image quality was terrible and I was upset that the photos I took of some memorable moments in my life turned out to be in such a terrible quality. So I decided to splurge on a big Digital SLR camera and thus, became a proud owner of a Nikon d80. I also got myself a variety of lenses and equipments. I simply did not notice how a simple hobby for photography can lead to me being so passionate about it. However, I only have a couple of years experience on actual photography shoots which have been planned and prepared beforehand.

5. In your opinion, what does it take to become successful in this industry?
To be successful in this industry, the most essential thing is to be very talented and very hardworking. Being a good organizer and working with a good team is definitely a plus point.

6. What was your biggest challenge coming into this industry?
The best part is I get to be my own boss. In other words, the director, because of all the freedom I have and the other thing is I don't work behind a desk in an office from 9am to 5pm - so that’s cool. There are, however, always a lot of interesting ideas and plans so the greatest challenge for me would be the lack of time that I have. Even if you are the art director, secretary, image retoucher or even photographer, you will need more than 24 hours to get the job done.

7. What are the best perks as a Photographer?
As a freelance photographer, I get to have a lot of freedom but the most important thing is I get to do something that I love and enjoy very much.

8. How do you plan for your shooting sessions?
First of all, I will do a research on different pictures from my favorite topics such as sport, lifestyle, or beauty just to analyze their successful shooting. Then, I will choose the models and the props needed for the shoot. I will also try to get the various models to get in the mind set of the particular theme, then I start negotiating with all relevant parties and finally, start shooting. It all seems pretty simple, actually. If I plan to shoot on a particular location, I will make sure to check out the place in advance.

9. How would you describe your work to first time viewers?
Very simple - stock photography for beginners.

10. Do you shoot to what your heart tells you or do you go through a complex check list in your mind when you produce your work? Describe the feeling/check list.
I usually do both, follow my heart and also go through a check list first. One of my rules before I start shooting is to always have a theme subject and a set of mandatory model poses, which I then select it as a theme. After that, I will write down a check list of about 10-15 points without too much detail. For example, let's say the theme is city sport, so the points would be she runs, she drinks, she straightens her clothing, etc. It shows that a specific implementation of each item is improvisation.

11. From your experience, what subjects gives you the greatest satisfaction? Any examples?
Getting along with people, the organization process, dynamics, drive and the energy on the set!

12. From your experience, what subjects are the hardest to work with? Any examples?
People who I have difficulties communicating with because 99% of my pictures are related to people so it can be quite difficult. I've tried shooting landscapes and objects before but that’s very boring to me and does not suit my characteristics at all.

13. What is your philosophy when it comes to your work?
The best is to focus only on what you like and are passionate about. That way, you can be happy and content!

14. Describe who/what inspires you, tell us why?
What inspires me are photographers who often take shots of scenes from different genres because it is something that is impossible to plan in advance for negotiation or to play around with. For this, one has to have both the talent and the luck at the same time.

15. What do you do when those creative juices just seems to evade you. How do you "get creative"?
I get creative by listening to music and checking out pictures of other authors. Moreover, dynamic type of music often helps to "capture" the right mood before the shooting and it transfers this energy to all the participants. The end result usually develops photos that are tranquil.

16. Tell us about a time when inspiration just hits you, and you felt the insatiable urge to create. What did you do with that energy?
Honestly, this usually does not happen to me spontaneously. First, I will start by doing something and I will get caught up in the process and that's where my inspiration comes from. I will then forget about other things around me like food or even what I dreamed about the night before.

17. What have you discovered about yourself through photography?
It turns out that I am actually a workaholic. I never would have guessed this at all during my past jobs but I discovered this ever since I started being a freelancer.

18. Whose work do you admire the most? Why?
Wow, there are so many talented photographers out there and it is difficult for me to select one. I admire photographers who can create a masterpiece now and still make it look very current and modern a year later.

19. Do you have any advice for those who are just getting in to stock photography?
If you have the calling to be a photographer, the job will be easy and you will be able to learn it very fast but if you have no interest or calling at all, it will be more difficult and you will feel miserable. Be honest and true to yourself, do what you like so that you can enjoy your work even more.

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