Masha Raymars is a conceptual and fine art photographer from Lviv, Ukraine. Masha’s portfolio features a great blend of different kinds of portraits, some quiet and intimate, while others are heavily stylized and surreal.

Q: Masha, how would you describe the arts and photography community in Ukraine?

A: Our photography community grows like mushrooms, with each year, new talents open up. The community has grown so much and is huge now—there is a lot of competition amongst photographers. It can sometimes be very difficult to be different from others and to stand out, but despite that, we have a lot of great photographers with interesting vision.

Q: Your work shows a great level of skill and creativity. What would you consider to be sources of inspiration for your work?

A: I`m always in search of inspiration. I think it comes from everywhere—films, music, from other photos, nature, people, and the atmosphere around you. I try to remind myself to pay close attention to every detail of what surrounds me and most of the time, I can say that I’m inspired.

Q: A lot of your work is very conceptual, looking at your portraiture, themes of identity and intimacy stand out to me. What themes and concepts do you try to work into your photography?

A: Certain themes arise from my imagination more than others, and I often catch myself working with them again and again in my work. Themes of delicacy, intimacy, nostalgia, melancholia, and also love. These themes are more tied to emotions rather than to specific concepts, but in photography, and in my life, emotions are incredibly important to me.

Q: You’ve prepared a series of self-portraits for this interview, what was it that inspired you to step in front of the camera for this series?

A: Last year, I found making self-portraits to be a very intimate process and experience. Sometimes, being in front of my camera I feel freer than when I’m shooting a model. It can sometimes be difficult for them to always understand what I want.

I started to take self-portraits because they better convey exactly what I feel. As I said earlier, I’m easily inspired by my surroundings, and for this series, I was inspired by the light from my window. I stood there and realized that the light was perfect for capturing a very cinematic look that, in combination with the blue of the walls, created a nostalgic and melancholic atmosphere.

Q: Much of your photography has vibrant, saturated colors and cool temperatures, giving a very “cinematic look”. What is your approach to working with colors both on the shoot and in post-production?

A: I`m always very specific with the colors that I’ll be working with on shoots. I’m picky about the colors of clothing, or the backgrounds if the shoot will be indoors. I stick with a minimalist pallet, and I try to use a maximum of two colors. With this approach, I usually get that cinematic and stylized look.

Q: What would you consider to be the most challenging aspect of your creative workflow?

A: I think it would be the preparation, to be honest. I don`t love having to prepare and organize everything, but I know that if I want to have a great shoot and produce great photos it’s something I just have to do.

Q: Looking at Untitled from your 500px Profile; visually I’m reminded of Sirens in Greek mythology, as if the model beckons the audience to join them in the water. What were your thoughts in capturing this photo?

A: Actually, it all just came together in a single moment. I really didn’t have a specific concept or topic in mind when shooting, I just asked the model to pose me in the water. Sometimes the framing is just so well composed that the final photo is magical.

Q: What qualities of your subject are you trying to capture in your portraiture?

A: I’m always trying to capture some of the feelings, emotions, and the attitude of the protagonist or subject, to the world around them. I also try to connect the attitude and emotions of the viewer to those of the subject themselves.

Q: Every photographer has their unique approach to shoots; what three things would you consider essential for a great photoshoot?

A: My three would have to be having a model that understands and feels what you’re trying to achieve with a shoot, your own emotions and creativity to drive and direct the photoshoot, and lastly a great location or lighting.

Q: What is the next step for you in your photography career?

A: When it comes to my photography, I just do what I like, and what I want is to find people that will understand and appreciate my art. Also, it would be nice if I could work with some famous people.

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