In the ‘Discover’ series, we highlight distinct up-and-coming photographers on 500px, sharing their experiences from behind the lens. In this instalment, we’re featuring Renat Renee-Ell, a photographer from St. Petersburg, Russia who creates unique monochrome series.

Q. You posted your first color series to 500px in 2016. Did you plan to use monochrome in your series from the beginning, or did it happen along the way?

A: It happened along the way. I often find inspiration in simple things. For example, in my green series, I was attracted to the house, with its mint color. I saw how it could be used in combination with the grass and trees—even the benches and trash cans were green. Once you have such a background, you can easily place different things using the same or complementary colors. We used green clothes, a book with a green cover (Tom Sawyer), green soda, etc.

green by Renat Renee-Ell on

green ends first by Renat Renee-Ell on

green ends first by Renat Renee-Ell on

Q. What role does color play in the creation of each photo series?

A: Color plays a decisive role in this cycle. The entire visual concept is based on a combination of fine shades of one color. I find a suitable location and then think over the idea of series.

Q. Do you typically choose the color or the theme first? Have you ever created a series inspired by a color?

A: In this cycle, I choose the color first then find the location and think of the theme. In other cases, it could be a model first whose appearance and personality inspires me, or an interesting location (like with green series), or some message that I want to convey through images. Color is very important to me—I don’t remember the last time I did a black and white photo.

rose by Renat Renee-Ell on

Glitter Sport by Renat Renee-Ell on

Q: The overarching color in each series is distinctive but still subtle enough that it doesn’t overpower the photo. How do you find that balance?

A: It is a lot of pre-production, searching for and coordinating the location, clothes, and props. I do all of that myself as I don’t have a producer. And then there’s post-production, of course.

Q: Some series involve a wider variety of locations and subjects than others. How do you ensure the monochrome color matches so consistently across all the photos?

A: Experience and flair. And I always do pre-production: I check the location beforehand, and select the clothes and props myself.

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Untitled by Renat Renee-Ell on

Q: It’s clear that a lot of planning goes into creating these series. Are the final shots always planned, or do you ever end up with spontaneous captures once on set?

A: Like I said, I always plan out my series (I’m kind of a control freak). I make a list of shots, the minimum that I want to do and a list of solutions for any “what if” issues I can think of. It helps me to order my ideas and ensures that I don’t forget something. But once I’m on the set, nothing prevents improvisation.

Run with scissors by Renat Renee-Ell on

run with scissors by Renat Renee-Ell on

Q: Let’s talk about your profile. Yours is beautiful to scroll through because of the range of colors in different series, and ‘rainbow grids’ are a popular trend on social media now. Do you think about how your 500px profile looks as a while, too?

A: Yes, I like this trend too. When I’m uploading images, I always think about how they will look together. It’s my portfolio, so I want to show it in the best way. To make “blocks” of color is a good method, I think.

Q: What advice do you have for photographers on creating a signature style or look?

A: Try different things. Look for simple forms and check out interesting photo selections for inspiration. Train your imagination, even when you walk.

Camera, camera on the phone... by Renat Renee-Ell on

yell by Renat Renee-Ell on

Follow Renat Renee-Ell

Instagram: @renat_renee