Interview: Self-Taught Photographer Brings Her Imagination to Life in Stylishly Surreal Portraits

Conceptual Photography

Conceptual photographer Anya Anti has always been a dreamer. Bringing to life the images born in her mind, she's created a rich portfolio of dramatic scenes. They often feature pastel blue, her signature color, while depicting portraits of female characters. The stories told appear in vibrant detail and capture the beauty of inexplicable moments. Each photograph incorporates her personal fashion style with the perfect combination of color and light.

After teaching herself photography, Anya followed her passion and relocated from her home in the Ukraine to New York City. A year and a half ago, she began creating fantastical fine art portraits of  women, an ongoing project she still continues today.

We were grateful to catch up with Anya for a Behind The Lens look into her conceptual photography.

Anya Anti brings fantasy to life in her fine art conceptual photography. Learn how Anya finds inspiration in our exclusive interview below.

Dark Fairy Tales

Can you tell us a bit about your journey into photography?

I'm a self-taught photo artist. I've been into photography since 2009. I have always been a creative person—as a child, I was good at painting and crafts. My passion for photography started rather unexpectedly. After picking up a camera I fell in love with photography and started shooting the world around me—gaining all my knowledge and inspiration through social media and online photography communities. A year-and-a-half later, I started creating fine art female portraits, which I still do today.

What are some of your interests?

I love fashion and music. I've graduated from music school where I learned to play the guitar and I used to sing in a band. Unfortunately, I don't do that anymore. I like creating a personal style in fashion and some people think I'm a fashion blogger, but I'm not.

Conceptual Photography

Conceptual Photography

Your work is colorful and rich in fantasy, how do you stay inspired?

I always say—inspiration comes to an inspired person. An artist should always try to find beauty in the unusual things in everyday life. To achieve that you need to give your brain food and information. It is a visual experience. The more you search, observe, and look over different kinds of art the more chances you have to come up with an idea. I get inspired by my favorite artists and all kind of visual art.

How do you choose your models?

I choose them by my personal preferences and depending on a project I'm shooting. It doesn't matter if she is a professional or not. Most of my models are my friends and girls I find through social media. The most important thing to me is the model's interest in the shoot and not being afraid of getting wet, dirty or cold.

How has picking up photography impacted your life?

It changed my life completely. Now photography is not only what I love and what I do, it’s a huge part of me and my life.

Dark Fairy Tales

Conceptual Photography

From conceptualizing to post processes, how much planning goes into a shoot?

It all depends a lot on the circumstances. Some ideas I keep in mind for years. Some of them I come up with in one evening and shoot the next day in the nearest city park. Some of them require a lot of work and preparation: searching for a right model, building props, getting to the location, etc. It usually takes two to four hours to shoot and then the same amount of time to post-process one image.

How do you light your photos? Do you use artificial or natural light?

Mostly I use natural light with a reflector, but sometimes I use flashes combined with natural light as well. Almost two years ago, I was a lucky winner of Broncolor contest and I've been sponsored with amazing lighting equipment. So now I use artificial light more often.

How would you define your style?

I shoot fine art and conceptual. I'd define my style as surreal, whimsical, dark and fairy tale.

Best Conceptual Photography

Best Conceptual Photography

Is there an overall message you would like your photos to convey?

I'm a dreamer. Photography is not only what I love, it’s also a gentle and romantic side of me. It's a reflection of my deep emotions, passion for unknown and craving for beauty. What I’m trying to show is a beautiful image and photography techniques, but also convey an idea, mood, atmosphere, and associations. I want people to stop for a moment, use their imagination and feel the beauty. I try my best to make my art understandable and self-sufficient. It doesn't need words if you listen carefully my silent pictures will tell a story.

What challenges have you faced while creating?

I've learned that if you want to be a successful and a famous photographer your talent, passion for creativity, and beauty is not enough. You have to be a business person as well. You need to have a lot of social connections, ambitions, and strategy in your future steps. And for me, it can be pretty frustrating sometimes.

What's a must have in your gear bag?

Besides my camera, it's my Helios 77 lens and a silver reflector. That's pretty much all I need.

Best Conceptual Photography

Fine Art Conceptual Photography

How much post processing goes into a completed photo?

Again it all depends. But I would say quite a lot. I do color correction, skin, retouching, and quite often special effects and compositing.

What are your plans for the future? Do you have any upcoming projects?

There's a saying: if you want to make God laugh tell him about your plans. I don't talk about my future plans in public, only to my closest friends. Someone would say they are overrated or understated, and if I'm not able to accomplish my goals someone may gloat.

Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers?

Photography is about art first. Forget about money, your gear, all those excuses and create. Follow your passion no matter what, just keep on going and you will make it.

Fine Art Conceptual Photography

Fine Art Conceptual Photography

Anya Anti: Website | Instagram | Facebook

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Anya Anti.

Are you a photographer who would like to be interviewed for our Behind the Lens series? Submit through our contact page for consideration!

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