What is your name and where are you from? My name is Olga Gridina, I'm Russia born photographer based in London.
How long have you been taking pictures? I always was the one with the camera, and started to shoot with the good old Zenith, a film camera built in Soviet Russia. I never was "camera-less" since then. While still in Russia, I worked as a house photographer for a couple of model agencies, but my main focus was graphic design. I revisited my passion for photography once in London and I am doing it professionally for a second year now.
When did you get into photography and why? I got into photography whilst at University in Russia, doing my masters of Architecture. During that time, I would just go around the city taking shots of flowers and trees, and occasional cats; until I discover what fascinates me the most – people’s faces. Since then I centred on portraits that later lead me to fashion and beauty.
What would you say your style is and has it changed throughout the years? If so why? I believe that personal style and aesthetics are always in development, evolving with every experience, no matter how little it might seem. Right now I'm gladly leaving to the spectators to define my style.
How do you approach a shoot? Do you pre-plan or is it a click and run? I plan every shoot thoroughly, starting from mood boards and scouting the location, and finishing with scheduling all the members of the team, making sure we are all on the same page. And of course after clicking the shutter, the post-production takes place, with long hours of choosing and editing the images. But I can promise one thing, my shoots are always fun!
Is there an end goal you’re trying to achieve with your images, be it an aesthetic or story? I love creating stories and working on series. Also I'm a novelist and storytelling is as important to me as aesthetics. I love dark looks, sombre places, melancholic mood and connection with nature. The more I grow as a photographer, the more goals I own.
Do you have an influences you can share? My influences are too broad to mention just a few.
What inspires you? Apart of beautiful photographic work, I'm inspired by paintings (Pre-Raphaelites are my favourites), music, dark folklore, and of course people themselves.
Is there such a thing as a bad photograph? Yes ;)
Are you looking for a career in photography or are you just having fun? I'm currently a full time professional photographer.
Which social media platforms do you use and why? I use Instagram & Facebook as a main place to create networking for a general exposure. 500px offers more professional orientated network. KAVYAR is great for publishing editorials and exposure to publishers and people within the industry. ViewBug offers many challenges and competitions. PhotoVogue is an amazing place to be published as well, where your images are approved by the editors if Vogue Italia. And finally, YourPhoto by National Geographic where you'll also have a chance to participate in competitions or being selected by the editors.
Which photographers do you mainly follow on social media? I follow thousands of photographers on social media who inspire me, from some iconic names to fresh start-ups; as well as I follow hundreds of artists – painting was always a great source of inspiration on lighting and editing techniques.
What are your thoughts on mobile photography versus DSLR / mirrorless? The mobile phones' cameras are great to document everyday life events, meanwhile when working professionally you need a mirrorless or DSLR camera.
What’s your main go to camera, lenses and how did you make that choice? My main camera is a Canon 5D Mark III, and my favourite to-go lenses are Sigma Art 50mm f/1.4 & Canon 85mm f/1.8. I also love to experiment with old manual lenses such as Mamiya Sekor 55mm f/1.4, Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 135 f/3.5, Helios-44-2 58mm f/2 and Jupiter-9 85mm f/2 -- they create a beautiful bokeh and soft focus for portraits.
What is your dream location to shoot at? I usually prefer to shoot in a natural location under soft and moody sunlight, the woods are my favourite; but I always dream of a stylish black & white editorial shot in urban environment.
Describe your favourite picture and how you captured it? I really can't name just one, or maybe I can't name just one yet. What I can say, the images that are closer to my heart are always the one from more private, personal projects.
In three words how would you describe your photography? I avoid putting any labels on my style of photography, I leave the images speak for themselves.
How do you feel about better quality cameras being put into smart phones? It's amazing the accessibility it offers for everyone, nowadays there are feature films shoot with smartphones. It only increase creativity, though not yet replacing traditional reflex.
What are your thoughts on expensive cameras? Do you think they create better images? Of course, but not solely. Any camera is a tools that helps to archive technical quality, no doubt; but it's not yet an AI or an artist, only you are. Personally I prefer to invest in lenses before expensive cameras.