“Trying to fit a person into constraints of your expectations wouldn’t do any good. So I just come in and try to quickly figure out what is working and what isn’t. I believe that helps me with getting sincerity in my pictures.”
Andrew Kovalev (born in 1983) is a Russian editorial & corporate portrait photographer, currently based in Paris, France. He studied photography at “Speos Paris Photographic Institute”.
“My photography is all about faces, stories behind them. I’m obsessed with portraiture as a way of seeing people, learning about them, communicating with them and the world.”
Interview with Andrew Kovalev
Andrew, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
My father’s Zenit E. I was just playing around without real understanding of what I am doing. Mostly – taking pictures of friends. Mostly – of beautiful girls, of course.
Why did you become a photographer?
Photography is something I don’t have to force myself making. Pictures just come out somehow unconsciously, naturally. That is what I really love doing.
What does photography mean to you?
For me it’s just the most sincere way of communicating with the world.
Which photographer has inspired you most and why?
Arnold Newman with his incredible talent to show a person in relation with that person’s context. Platon with his striking, sharply depicted characters. Nadav Kander with his minimalistic visual style.
“I am convinced that any photographic attempt to show the complete man is nonsense. We can only show, as best we can, what the outer man reveals. The inner man is seldom revealed to anyone, sometimes not even the man himself.”
What’s your favorite photography quote?
“If you don’t get rejected every now then, you are really doing something wrong.”
How would you describe your photographic voice and creative process?
I like to improvise. Since I specialize in portraiture, it all relies on a person in front of my camera. If I don’t know a person, I will only spoil the pictures by expecting something specific. Trying to fit a person into constraints of your expectations wouldn’t do any good. So I just come in and try to quickly figure out what is working and what isn’t. I believe that helps me with getting sincerity in my pictures.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic language and how did you achieve it?
Doing things. Shooting, editing, doing that all the time: the more often the better. Don’t wait for an assignment or a brilliant idea to come. Practice, train yourself, master your camera, lights, Photoshop – whatever you find interesting. Don’t ever stop growing.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?
Technically – on-set lighting and post production. Conceptually – finding a connection with my subjects, I guess.
What qualities and characteristics does a good photographer need?
I think, a good photographer should be broad-minded, easygoing and flexible. Sharp eye and technical skills would also help.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
Eye-stopping and story-telling.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
In fine arts.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
Most of the time: Canon 5D Mk II, 24-70:2.8, a monoblock flash with a small softbox.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
Be curious, go out, look around (even if you are a studio person), there are millions of opportunities out there in the world, only a few of them are waiting for you in your room.