When Oleg Oprisco agreed to take an exclusive photo for the 500px ISO launch, we were over the moon. If you don’t recognize his name, you will definitely recognize his photos. Oprisco is an inspired photographer who brings that ethereal, fairytale quality to his photos that make them iconic. His photos have inspired so many photographers to try and capture the same magical effect, which we truly admire. As Oprisco says, “Create + Desire”. Here’s a little more about him.
Hi Oleg. Can you please tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in the small town of Lviv, in western Ukraine. After completing my studies and working a little, I moved to Kiev where I worked as an assistant to a famous advertising photographer. I was making money, but I lost my creativity. For a long time I thought that was all I was able to do until I tried to shoot on medium format film. That changed my life.
You’ve said your photographic journey began when you were 16 and working in a photo lab. What about that experience made you interested in photography?
Yes, that was a very important moment for me. As an operator, part of my job was to adjust all the pictures that the photo lab printed. I had a few buttons to control the color, brightness and contrast.
I lived for several years in “reality show” mode, observing every day life. I have visited thousands of weddings, birthdays and many other special occasions. I could do this forever, in what I call “robot” mode. This means working seven days a week for several months. This experience taught me what colors people like. I am using this information to this day.
What do you love most about photography?
Like every Ukrainian, I love freedom. I like the ability to stop time and create my version of reality.
Where does your inspiration come from?
We live in exciting times. Everything changes very quickly: the weather, architecture, landscape, people, time. We can see this all happening in real time.There is inspiration all around us. Everything that happens in our lives is a unique source of inspiration. There’s no sense in stealing someone else’s. Only the original is a unique creation. Be sure any artist of the 18th century, the 19th century is very jealous of us. We can live anywhere and create anything and show it around to world. Everything is in our hands.
Can you share a memorable story from one of your photographic experiences?
Each picture has a unique story. My models are heroes and I love them for it.
Is photography your hobby or profession?
Funny question. I only work in photography. If you want good results, it cannot be a hobby.
Your photos have so many complicated props and outfits. Do you design and make these yourself or do you have an assistant?
I always try to do everything myself. I collect clothes from flea markets or old studios and then learn how to adapt them. Same with the props.
How long does it take to prepare one shoot?
I have a notebook where I keep a lot of ideas for photography. If everything turns out as I imagined, preparation takes two to three days. It is a question of weather, people or mood. Sometimes the work I put in does not yield the result I wanted. Therefore, the more experience and reflection I depend on for the shoot, the better.
You only use film photography. Why is that?
I use medium format film. It’s hard to explain in a few words. It’s a different system. I shoot for 12 frames and enjoy the importance of each frame. I carefully work on each frame. This is a fantastic process.
You press the shutter button but do not know what happens. This is real magic.
I often hold workshops and it’s very funny sitting in front of many photographers with $2000 – $3000 cameras and lenses, and on my table is an old Kiev 6C, which is worth about $50.
What advice would you give to amateur photographers?
I strongly advise to use your time wisely. Laziness is your worst enemy. Enough looking at photographs taken by your idols. You’ve commented on enough work that you hate. It’s time to take photos. Your best photos. Let go and shoot, shoot, shoot!
You’re from Lviv, Ukraine and you’re interested in politics. What are your thoughts on the recent Maidan uprisings? Is there a message you’d like to say to them here?
This is the story of a free people and corrupt authorities. Ukraine is a very young country. We’re go through the processes that occurred in other countries for centuries. It’s very complicated, but we believe that the result will be wellness and peace. We wait and believe.
Thank you for taking the time, Oleg. And thank you for your gorgeous photo! We will always treasure it.