Interview: Nailya Bikmurzina

Snapwire Creator MASTER | Nailya Bikmurzina’s lifestyle work is warm and inviting while her personal work has colder tones and focuses on isolation and graphic lines. After working with her on multiple projects, we sat down with the Berlin based creator to get to know a little bit more about her and her photography.

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Tell us a little about you. What are you passionate about? What do you do when you are not photographing?  What is your favorite color? You know, the important things. 

I have been fascinated with the photography world since childhood, as my first memories are playing with my dad's mechanic film photo camera, just making snaps with different shutter speeds and opening the back of the camera. I came in to being a full time photographer unexpectedly from science after deciding that I don't want to do a PhD after completing a master program. It was a frightening decision, especially when people around you don't understand. However I've made a right choice. Now I'm in the photo and video making world, developing a personal project connecting art and science. 

My favourite color: All shades of blue, or better the color palette of the ocean and the color palette of the sky. They are always making me feel like magic.

Another passion of mine is movement in any forms, connection between mind and body and visual beauty of it. You can call it a lifestyle, but I'm sure it's much deeper than that. 

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How did you get started in photography? 

When I was 17, I took my first analog photos just was because I was curious about it. Then I've got a digital compact camera. It before social media, so I shared the photos only with my friends and in my live journal blog. At some point people start to reach me out to take photos for them and for different events. This is how it all started.

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Your work has is bright and inviting, while still hanging out to the beauty of shadows. How did you develop your style? What inspires you? 

I'm a visual person and hungry for movies and visual art. Color wise, of course, nature inspires me the most. Nothing could be more beautiful. I think I'm still in the process of developing my style and I would love to keep it as an ongoing process. 

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You have worked with us for a variety of buyers, such as Google, Canva, and Ubrands. Tell us about a  project (or two!) you enjoyed working on. Were there any surprises, successes, or struggles? 

I liked the projects with Google Maps because I love to explore new places, locations, perspectives and the way to see new things within familiar streets. I love to be lost in some sense in the places, because then I can see a lot from different angles. 

Do you have any advice or tips for fellow photographers? 

Heh I need a lot of advice for myself. The only suggestion which I surely can share is: no matter what, keep on working.

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Interview: Pat Ryder

Creator PRO | Pat Ryder’s Snapwire profile is filled with clean lifestyle stock photography and tasty food settings for Skip the Dishes, while Ryder’s personal work pulls tones of old film, plays with shadows, and has a hint of fashion forward grunge. Recently completing 100 shoots with us, we wanted to sit down and get to know one of our top contributors based out of Toronto, Canada.

Photo of Pat Ryder by: ADVANCED |  Sean Pollock

Photo of Pat Ryder by: ADVANCED | Sean Pollock

Tell us a little about you. What are you passionate about? What do you do?  What's your favorite food? You know, the important things.

Well my name is Pat Ryder and I’m a photographer and creative from Mississauga, Ontario and I’m passionate about a lot of things!  My day to day consists of anything from a couple photo shoots to watching a football match with friends, cooking with my mum, or getting together with other creatives to either make something cool or start brainstorming. I love working with people from across the creative spectrum, whether it’s food, music, fashion or cars, there is a creative element to the way all of them shape and define culture. I think that’s the best part about being a photographer, is the freedom to work within a wide range of subjects and still be able to express a certain level of storytelling. Speaking of food, I started working at a restaurant when I was 17 so food has played a big part of my life so far. It’s so important culturally and impactful on the world, so it’s easy to love and important to pay attention to. I feel like really good food is made with care and can take on its own means of expression. If I had to pick a favourite food I’d probably have to choose guacamole, I don’t have it very often but it’s a real treat I gotta say.

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How did you get started in photography?

My interest in photography started back in university I think? I would always do the most for that perfect insta pic with my friends on our phones and I always enjoyed playing with the colours and editing after on vsco. I bought my first camera two years ago and I haven’t looked back since. With the help and guidance of some really amazing friends, I’ve started to develop my own style and begun to figure out what photography means to me. I’m really glad I tried something outside of my comfort zone and I can’t wait to see where it takes me. Another thing that furthered my love for photography was going out and getting an old film cam. Film is one of the coolest things about photography because of the nostalgia factor you get after getting a roll developed, nothing can replace that feeling. Film taught me to be more in the moment, it humbled me and continues to teach me to trust myself behind the camera.  

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You have a very distinct style in your personal work, playing a lot with shadows and color blocking. How did you develop your style? What inspires you?

First of all, thank you for saying that, I think it’s still a work in progress, but I feel like I’m slowly getting somewhere, so it means a lot.  As for how I developed it, I guess I’ve just been shooting as often as I can. The more you shoot the more you begin to pay attention to details that matter to you. Colours are a huge thing for me, I’ve always loved the way they complement one another and can create their own energy, especially when paired with some cool lighting. Shadows are another fun thing to pay attention to. I always tell myself to trust my shadows, but never too much. A lot like real life I suppose, it’s all about a finding that perfect balance. In terms of inspiration I think it happens when I’m actually shooting. It’s all about a moment or two and capturing them to tell a story. It can change from place to place and from person to person, it all depends on how it feels.

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Congrats on recently completing 100 shoots for Snapwire! Tell us about a couple projects you enjoyed working on with us. Were there any surprises, successes, or struggles?

Honestly it’s been so much fun working with all the different types of food our amazing home has to offer. It’s really fun learning about and trying different dishes and getting to know a little bit more about the restaurant and the owners while I’m shooting. The commute can definitely be a killer but who’s isn't? Plus most places like to feed me pretty well so I really can’t complain. One of my favourite restaurants that I worked with was Butter Chicken Roti on Queen West in Toronto. The owner, Abhishek, was really passionate about his food and wanted to make sure his food was represented in the best way possible. The presentation suited his restaurant perfectly and was able to communicate with people on the app in a creative way. It’s been a really rewarding opportunity, where I’ve been able to meet some really fantastic people and try some equally as fantastic food.

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Do you have any advice or tips for fellow photographers?

Most definitely. Photography is so amazing because you can make whatever you want of it, as long as you’re happy. I think the most important thing I’ve learned over the last two years is to trust that you’re doing your best, being true to yourself and don’t spend the energy worrying about someone else’s negativity, when you can spend it on yourself or on someone’s positivity. Once you start doing your thing and making sure you’re happy with what you’re shooting, just continue to practice and challenge yourself as often as you can. You’re only going to get better and more comfortable.

Photo of Pat Ryder by: ADVANCED |  Sean Pollock

Photo of Pat Ryder by: ADVANCED | Sean Pollock

Interview with Caleb Diaz

Meet Caleb. You wouldn't know it by looking at his photos, but he's only been in the photography game for four years. In that short period of time he managed to develop a personal brand, unique style, and amass more than 100,000 followers on Instagram (@hellohiccups). Read on to find out how he got started.

 How did you get started with photography?

I started photography about four years ago when I was a senior in high school. That's when I got my first camera but I mainly focused on making films and photography was more of a side hobby. 

How did your style develop overtime?

Well I studied cinematography for a couple years in college. I was able to translate a lot of ideas and concepts of cinematography unto my photography. After a while a started experimenting and trying to recreate images from Instagram from which I was inspired by. Over time I developed multiple styles of photography but I never wanted to be tied down to just one style of capturing images.

Your use of natural light is stunning. How do you work with light in terms of natural vs. artificial? Do you use both, and if so, when do you use each?

Again being in film school really helped me grasp the concept of using and manipulating light to create contrast between the subject of the image and the background. Since then i see the world in a different way, through lights and shadows. And hardly ever do artificial light in photography everything revolves around the sun so I use that to my advantage. Sunrises and sunsets is the perfect time to get out and take photos.

Instagram has recently become more than a photo sharing site. How have you used Instagram as a marketing platform, and has it led to any individual success with brands?

I can honestly say that Instagram has changed my life. In just a short period of time since it's launch, Instagram has been able to establish a fantastic community of creatives around the world. I started Instagram about 3 years ago but it wasn't until the start of this year that I really started to invest into Instagram and into marketing my work. Since then i have been able to gain great opportunities and have been steadily growing my very own freelance photographer business.

Do you have an advice for fellow photographers?

Best advice I can give to photographers who are just starting out is that always take an opportunity to go out and practice your photography. Being around other creative individuals also helps you fuel your very own creativity. So don't be afraid to attend photowalks, workshops, or even Instameets. Also don't be afraid to try new things and experiment with your photography you never know what you would be able to create if you don't try. 

What two Instagrammers are you blown away by right now? Who should we reach out and follow?

I recently started following @ChrisCreature . His gallery exhibits some fantastic portraits and editorial work. And @hannes_becker has always been one of my favorite Instagram accounts ever. I love seeing all the images from his amazing travels.

Interview with Cora Bamberg

Cora is a creative and unique photographer with a knack for incredible shots. The first time we saw a photo of her dog Rosie, we fell in love. We've been obsessed ever since! Read on to find out more about her photography inspiration, process, and how she gets Rosie to pose so damn well.

For more pics of Rosie, follow her on instagram @rosienfriends

Tell us about yourself. What are you passionate about? What do you do?

I'm a huge animal lover, and have always been into art. Drawing, painting, crafts, and of course, photography. Though, these are mainly just hobbies I enjoy doing. I train horses, which is my future career choice. I've been riding horses since I was very young, and actually started training since age 10. It has become my biggest passion, and I can't wait to make it my whole life, with my hobbies on the side!

What kinds of subjects do you find yourself drawn to when you shoot? What do you look for? 

I love anything to do with animals and wildlife, and I enjoy capturing the unique beauty in these subjects from using interesting angles. For my pictures of Rosie, I generally try to achieve a great amount of creativeness and humor. I absolutely love mini versions of regular, everyday things, which is exactly what I look for in props to use for Rosie, since she's so small. I basically humanize her in most of her photos, as seen on our Instagram. This is where the humor and creativity comes in play. Also making these pictures (or the caption to the picture) relatable to 'everyday' problems and/or thoughts. Which seems to intrigue a lot more people, other than just dog accounts on Instagram.

What does your photography process look like? From setting up the shot to the final edit, what tools do you use to get the look you desire?

Right now I have a small set up in my room that consists of white foam core board which is used for my backdrop, accompanied by a light. I eventually want to upgrade to something bigger and better, but for now, what I use works great! I initially like to have an idea, and things ready before I shoot, otherwise I end up sitting there with little to no progress on photos. Once I feel as if I've gotten what I wanted, I then give Rosie her treat, and let her cuddle up with me while I go through and delete the bad pictures. After I've kept the ones I like, I then use the app VSCO, which I love! I mainly use it for cropping, adding exposure and contrast, and depending on the picture, I'll try out one of there many filters. Once I'm happy with the finished product, I then use an app called PhotoMarkr, to add my watermark for Instagram use. Though I always keep the unmarked photos for sharing on Snapwire!

You take incredible portraits of your dog, Rosie. What do you do to make her so relaxed, or does she simply love the spotlight?

Thank you! I've been taking pictures of Rosie ever since she was fairly young, so she has easily come accustomed to the process. But I actually have never formally taught her to stay still or even pose. She literally has done all of that herself from the beginning. And when I say she poses on her own, I literally mean she does it completely on her own! She will pick how she wants to sit, and what her facial expressions will be, which direction to look, etc. It's actually really funny, and unbelievable, and makes photographing her so fun! Though I will admit, there are times I do have to get her attention, for she loves to fall asleep during the photo shoots! But yes, Rosie loves the spotlight and really enjoys taking photos. As soon as the light goes on, she runs to her spot and sits there and waits for me. Though I always make sure to keep the photo shoot short, so she doesn't get sick of it, or gets restless.

Are there any photography related projects, experiences, or thoughts you’ve had that you want to share?

Well, actually I've been planning on a birthday party project including our other dogs, for Rosie's upcoming birthday (October 18th). This would mainly be videoing and editing, to make it look as if it's one big event, with games, presents, friends, and cake! This would then get uploaded to our YouTube channel, and shared on our Instagram (@rosienfriends). It would also include a lot of pictures! This is something I'm really hoping to put together within the next couple weeks! But it won't be easy, since none of our other dogs are photo obedient as Rosie, but hopefully it will turn out! But my other thoughts, are working more on short videos with Rosie. I have always loved the idea, and really want to achieve it.

Has the community on Instagram changed how you shoot? If so, how?

It definitely has impacted the style of my pictures. I had seen a lot of accounts using a white backdrop, and having a very minimalistic look to them, which I fell in love with! I then decided that I would try this style, and I absolutely love it! Yet I keep it all "me", as in, I don't like to copy anybody, and I like to put my own personality into it. Although I do like to get ideas from others. I also like to give my followers variety, so I do take pictures outside too.

Do you have any advice for fellow photographers?

My advice would be, explore your options, and try new things, but always keep your work true to you. This will allow you to not only explore new ways or styles, but also help you explore yourself as a photographer. Find new talent in yourself that you may not have known to be there. This can be very rewarding and fun. By making your work reflect yourself and your own ideas, it will give your work a sense of your own personality, which will shine through your pictures, and make them one of a kind.

What Instagrammers are you blown away by right now? Who should we reach out to and follow?

@Ps.ny @taco4president

These two have such stunning galleries, and they both are a lot different from each other. I think you would absolutely love and enjoy both of these accounts! They both give me so much inspiration for bettering my photography skills, and trying new things.

@pomfro @punnypoodle @flapi @nyc.chihuahua

These accounts are also very beautiful and definitely deserving of recognition (as well as the other two), I love seeing their photos each time they post, and I think you will love them as well! @flapi in particular, has some amazing edits that are to die for! Look for the one with the dog looking out the door and the water flooding in from the outside. I was amazed at it, and even told them they should upload it to a request, at the time, on Snapwire! 

Interview with Eric Saczuk

Eric is a spontaneous and passionate photographer with a refreshing perspective about his work. His notion of giving something back to the photos he takes is evident in his vibrant images. It’s no wonder that he his currently ranked fourth on snapwire’s leaderboard! Eric has used his entrepreneurial and adventurous spirit to travel to Nepal on documentary film expeditions. Recently, he has had individual success working with a snapwire buyer for Smirnoff vodka! Read on to find out about Eric’s photography journey, as well as advice he has for fellow photographers.

Tell us about yourself. What are you passionate about? What do you do?

Those who know me well, would describe me as laid back, happy and VERY lucky! I can't say I'd disagree with them. I am passionate about helping others find out what their passions are. I do this through my full-time job as an instructor in the Geomatics Engineering program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), as a photographer, friend, future-husband and as a father. I'm also very passionate about travel. Travelling and exposing yourself to the incredible diversity of this planet is the best way to find out how similar we really are.

How was working directly with a buyer and how did it challenge you as a photographer?

I actually found it very effective working directly with Amanda from Traffik (the buyer). Our communication flow was excellent and the original storyboards that were attached to the initial request email from Jason Hughes were fantastic. I was not only the photographer but also the coordinator of the photo shoots and they really helped me to understand what I needed in the shot, how to frame it and who I needed to engage as talent. The initial deadline was incredibly tight (about three days if I recall!!!) but I managed to shoot three out of the five scenarios and the client really liked the photos. As I understand it, I was the only photographer to have submitted images, so the odds were definitely in my favour! Based on this, I was put in direct contact with the buyer to make sure the images exactly matched their criteria. The two remaining scenarios were a long shot for me due to the locations, the requirement for a fire pit (there's a complete fire ban in the entire province of BC) and the fact that I was leaving for a week-long vacation to San Diego. Nevertheless, the buyer convinced Smirnoff to extend their deadline by another week and wait for me until I'm back in Canada to complete the last two shoots. I put out the call to my friends to find the right talent and one of them also came through with access to a roof-top deck. This is where it really pays to know a lot of people! I returned to Vancouver on Thursday night and completed the last two shoots on Friday and Sunday nights. The buyer had all the processed images on their desk by Monday at noon. Smirnoff requested a couple of replacement images which had to be in by noon the following day so I did some re-takes while on vacation in San Diego and this is where the prompt communication between Amanda and I really paid off. Amanda even shipped over four bottles of vodka directly to my house, so that I could complete the last two shoots on time! That was pretty awesome. Overall, the buyer was very pleased with the 41 images purchased for the five requests and as a result, my ranking on Snapwire shot up big time!

What kinds of subjects do you find yourself drawn to when you shoot? What do you look for?

Trees. I find myself very drawn to trees, especially free-standing ones in a big field. Other than that, I'd describe my shooting style as completely schizophrenic because during the course of a typical photo walk, I'll change lenses ten times to photograph everything from a tiny raindrop on a rose petal to the beautiful clouds in the sky to the distant cargo ship on the horizon. Lately, I've been pushing my own boundaries in the studio working with models and experimenting with multi-media photography using data projectors.

What does your photography process look like? From setting up the shot to the final edit, what tools do you use to get the look you desire?

Most of the time it's just me and my trusty Nikon d800e doing the shooting and I post-process the images in Adobe Lightroom. Sometimes, my always-willing fiancee Irina either helps me with the shoot or gets in front of the camera. She's such a good sport and really believes in me even if I find it hard to. Once in a while we even get the kids involved! In the studio it's a whole different ball game. That's when I take much more time to set the scene and carefully plan out my strobe/softbox, kicker and speedlight layout to get the exact mood intended.

You take incredible portraits. How do you work with your subjects to ensure they’re relaxed and you can get the desired effect?

Thank you! Portraits are such a challenge for me! They are one aspect of my photography that I definitely want to improve on. While on a trek in Nepal, I came to the realization that I was constantly "taking" photos of people...the question that came up for me was, "What are you giving back?". You see, portraits are never a one-way street. They're never about a photographer just "taking" someone's picture. It's an interaction, it HAS to be an exchange! The question is, what, as a photographer, are you willing to offer your subject so that they are willing to open up to you. There is no simple, general answer and it takes time. That's why it's so challenging! I like to ask the subject specific questions which hopefully will put their minds into the mind-frame of the effect we're looking for, that's what I've been experimenting with lately.

Your use of natural lighting is stunning. How do you work with light in terms of natural vs. artificial? Do you use both, and if so, when do you use each?

Again, thank you very much. Most of my photography is done with natural light because most of the time it's a matter of capturing a moment right then and there. There's a great benefit to shooting in RAW file format and knowing exactly what you can "tease" out of an image in post-processing when scanning a scene. I'm now able to imagine the final, processed image, before I even press the shutter. Generally I use natural light outside and artificial light in a studio though I do love the control artificial light affords when shooting outside...it just takes much more planning and time to set up.

Are there any photography related projects, experiences, or thoughts you’ve had that you want to share?

I am incredibly lucky to have been invited as a photographer on two documentary film expeditions, one into the Himalaya of Nepal for three weeks and the latest a 10 day trek across several mountain ranges in northern B.C., Canada. I've used my freelance photography business, Space Hog Graphics, to raise over $10,000 to provide underprivileged children with food, education and healthcare in Nepal. In fact, Space Hog Graphics has so far been an incredible social and entrepreneurial experiment for me because when a client asks what I charge for a project, my response is always "Whatever you think is fair". I don't want my love of photography to be about money and let's just say I've never been disappointed with what people are willing to pay for my services. For me, photography is a means of letting everyone experience the world as it occurs to me and that's absolutely amazing!

Do you have any advice for fellow photographers?

Don't be a follower and always strive to forge your own style and your own path. Photography is one of the most accessible and expressive forms of art, so don't imitate, just create! Follow your heart, trust your instincts and your gut and stop second-guessing yourself...just go out and shoot, shoot, shoot!

Check out more of Eric’s portfolio on snapwire @ArekS.