“Any piece of equipment is important at the right time.”
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and when did you first become interested in photography? I’m a self-taught photographer living in London. When I was a teenager my grandfather try to hook me into photography by giving me a small Russian camera. Unfortunately at that time I was more interested in what is in the camera rather then what I can do with it. This changed few years later when I purchase my first camera Zenit TTL. It was heavy & bulky and it was almost impossible to focus in a dim conditions. In 2001 I moved to London. One of the reasons I was able to afford a better camera. I was struggling with the frustration of not being able to get the same results as the images in the magazines. I guess everyone does at some point. That pushed me to improve my English and I started reading photography articles and books. I was shooting landscapes, cityscapes, flower close-ups… anything that doesn’t involve people. Five years ago I decided to try something new. Since then I mostly work with models.
How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it? That would be difficult. I don’t really have my own distinctive style. I don’t limit myself to one subject or theme. I do admire photographers who have their own style: Helmut Newton, Marc Lagrange and even Jake Hicks are very good examples. However I get bored when I’m stuck shooting one style over and over again. I like to experiment.
Where do your ideas to shoot come from? Who or what inspires you? Idea can come from anywhere. We are surrounded by beauty we just have to set our minds to see it. Beautiful sunset can be powerful as a blossomed cherry tree or the curves of female body. I admire the female beauty. It’s a big inspiration for me. From fashion to beauty to art. From time to time a go scouting for new locations to shoot. This brings me new ideas and concepts as well.
From your experience, have your most successful shots come from perfect planning or accidents? Any experience to share? It is always good idea to prepare as much as possible. Ideas, location, lighting, team – there are so many thinks that can go wrong. But occasionally you struck a luck and from quick test shoot you get amazing results.
Which would be the first three things you think about when you start shooting? I guess this would be lighting, lighting, lighting. I might have an idea of what my lighting set up will look like, but I’m never 100% sure how it will interact with the scenery and model until I start shooting.
Which project/photo are you currently most proud of? Hmm, I’m hard to please and very critical of my own work. I don’t really have favorite photo. Sometimes I get pleasantly suppressed from the results. But most of the times I find flows in my work. On the brighter side I guess this pushes me to get better results and become better photographer.
What’s your one “can’t live without it” piece of gear? Any piece of equipment is important at the right time.
Do you typically work with a team or run solo, could you explain the process? I like to keep it simple. Sometimes for a beauty or fashion shoot I work only with the model. There are some models who very good with their own make up. Which makes them very versatile. But for other projects I would use full team – model, make up artist, stylist and even someone to help me with organizing it. All depends on the scale of the project.
What from your point of view makes the shoot successful? What is the trick to capturing a great shot? I don’t think there is recipe for successful shoot. But I guess having a good team preforming at their best can help a lot. If everyone is committed to get the best result, chances to end up with great images are higher.
You bring a very high production value to your work. What is your retouching/production philosophy? For example, how much time do you spend taking photos, versus retouching photos? I’m always trying to get it right in-camera in the first place. However in our days retouching is unavoidable and it takes big chunk of my time. Which unfortunately leaves me with less time to fulfill all my projects. I know some photographers are relying on retouchers which gives them more time to shoot, but does this make the image their? Should they get the credit for it?
Do you usually choose the models by yourself? Do you have any physical aesthetic preferences in the girls and boys you shoot? Often I choose who to work with, but I don’t mind if someone from the team suggest a model as they might see her/him in a different way. I would rather work with fashion-editorial type of models and also anyone with nice face line and clear skin for a beauty shoot are welcome.
From your own experience what are the most difficult aspects of professional photography? To be able to keep up with todays market demands. Not everyone realize how expensive is photography. Organizing a cashflow to support my projects is the biggest challenge for me. Sadly we are at the point where photography is turned more into business then a passion driven creative process.
Where can viewers keep up with your work and get connected with you? I’m not big fan of social media. I’m on Model Mayhem and Purple Port. But best place will be my FB page – VallentinoV Photographer
What would be your tips or advices for beginner photographers? Brace yourself with loads of patience and never give up believe in yourself.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you are not behind the lens? I love being in nature. It keeps me calm and helps me rethink a lot of things outside of photography as well. I guess it is close to meditation.
Tell us one surprising fact about you. I love cooking for others, but don’t tell anyone.