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

Snapwire Interviews: Scott Borrero

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Top cover photo by Christian Becerra. Bottom photos by Scott Borrero.

Snapwire Interviews: Scott Borrero

Scott Borrero shoots incredible photos, ranging from portraits, to architecture, to landscapes, to fashion - and everything in between. It’s no wonder that he’s experienced great success both on Instagram and in his real life, working as the Director of Photography at LeTote, and working with other brands on the side. Scott is also one of our Snapwire Ambassadors, and he recently launched his first Snapwire Ambassador Challenge: Long Exposure. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Scott to talk about his life and work, and are excited to bring you Scott Borrero!

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get into photography? What are you passionate about?

It really started with drawing when I was a kid in high school. It was my artistic outlet when I was younger. When I got into college, I lost touch with my artistic side. During that time, I actually tried my hand at modeling for a year. It was fun for a while, but it wasn’t doing anything for me artistically. I’d have these good images, but I always wanted to retouch them. It drove me to learn retouching, and I was actually a retoucher before I was ever a photographer. The retouching was so intricate, you really had to have an eye for detail. That’s initially what drew me into photography. I loved creating beautiful images that were so perfect that it was almost unreal.

My buddy Anthony Deeying, who’s a pretty big fashion photographer, kind of took me under his wing and took me on my first photo shoot. It was kind of crazy. For my first photoshoot ever, I shot a Ford model. I was really nervous, but it ended up turning out really well. When I showed Anthony the images, he was like, “whoa, I think you have an eye for photography!” I was like okay, maybe I should pursue this.

I went around to businesses in the Long Beach area and gave them my name, gave them my card, and dropped them off wherever I could. One company actually called me back, a glass shop in Long Beach, and that’s where I got my first real paid gig. They were really happy with the results, and I realized I might be able to do it as a profession. I transferred from CSU Long Beach up to the Academy of Art for photography to re-learn the basics of photography and give credibility to my name. From there, it took off. I joined up with LeTote, and started here as an intern for 6 months. It transitioned into a paid job, and I’ve been doing that ever since. I didn’t even get on Instagram until just over a year ago.

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Scott Borrero for LeTote

How did you discover mobile photography?

I was originally anti-Instagram. I thought it was a way for non-photographers to cheaply make photographic-looking images. At that time mobile photography wasn’t at a great level, and the capabilities weren’t there camera-wise. I looked at the images and all I saw was the noise. Then, I got my iPhone 4S, and I was on my way to Burning Man. It was the most random time to download it, but I did it. I took my first picture and posted it, then didn’t touch it again for another two to three weeks. My buddy at the Academy, Robby, was somewhat into Instagram, and he taught me and got me into it. I started taking pictures randomly. There was no theme, or rhyme, or rhythm to my pictures. It turned into a really fun hobby, where no matter where I was going I’d keep my eyes open for something interesting and capture it. I really enjoyed the fact that I could take a photo a day, catalogue it, and it was so instant. It got me in the habit of shooting consistently. The more you shoot, the better you get. That’s sort of the rule.

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Scott Borrero

Have you developed a style that’s your mobile style? Do you find yourself shooting differently?

Totally. I would say I developed my style through Instagram. I didn’t have a style. My images looked like everybody else’s images. There was really no way to be like, “oh, that’s Scott Borrero’s.” Through using the filters, I discovered what I liked. I downloaded this app called PhotoForge, which is what I still use today whenever I edit my iPhone photos. I don’t even think they have it in the app store anymore. You can control a lot, it’s basically like Photoshop for your iPhone. The most powerful tool is that you can control your curves. I can add blue into my shadows, I can lift my shadows, apply contrast selectively. Most of my images are just curves edits, unless there’s some heavy modification like dropping a sky or putting a person in. I also have a tag, #breakthefeed, and I really don’t like my work to get stagnant and boring. I try to change up my style and what I shoot. I like to keep my followers guessing.

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Scott Borrero

Tell us about your experience with Instagram as far as community. You do lots of photo walks and meet-ups. What’s that been like?

It’s been really awesome, because I lived in Long Beach for so long. I actually went to high school at De La Salle in Concord, so I’m from up here in the East Bay. Going down to Long Beach, I kind of lost connection with all of my friends up here. Everyone moved away. When I moved back, I didn’t really have a strong group of friends. Sure, I knew people here and there, and my best friends would sometimes come visit, but there was no real community that I was drawn to here. Even the community at the Academy of Art was weak. It was pretty much nonexistent. When I discovered that on Instagram, there were all these groups that had meet-ups, I knew I needed to get into it. What better way to learn than from other people, and teaching other people. Just interacting with people in photography is a way to better yourself. You can pick up on little tricks, or when you’re shooting someone, you learn how to direct people. There’s a whole lot you can learn from shooting with other people rather than going out by yourself.

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Scott Borrero

What did you learn from shooting with people?

I learned a lot. When I’m out shooting with someone I’ll ask them about what apps they use, and what type of stuff they like to shoot. I’ll watch people while they’re shooting, see how they’re shooting in correlation to their subject, what time of day they’re shooting, the lighting that they like, and I pick things up here and there. One thing recently, just off the top of my head, is sunrise time lapses. The lighting goes from really dark to really contrasted in a matter of minutes. I was having trouble getting my clips to not blow out when the sun had actually risen. I talked to Kevin Lu, who’s @sweatengine on Instagram, and he gave me a bunch of tips. The next day I went out and tried it again, and I got it right. I had gone out three sunrises before that; all failed attempts. I never would have met my buddy Michael Lax if it weren’t for Instagram. He’s become easily one of my best friends in the city, and we go out and shoot all the time. We bounce business ideas off each other, too. It’s become a really great networking resource, in addition to making awesome friends to go shoot with.

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Scott Borrero

Can you recap any experiences you’ve had working professionally with your mobile device? Where has it taken you?

I’ve worked with SquidCam, which is a lens and case system. They were my earliest sponsor, it’s my buddy Charles. We first did a contest together, and now he’s working with Passion Passport. I’ve also worked with Joby. They wanted me to test some products for them. That was really awesome, I honestly couldn’t thank them enough. It was really great products like their GorillaPod Focus, which is the SLR version of their GorillaPod. A company I’ve been shooting for recently is Blenders Eyewear. They’ll send me glasses, and I’ll just shoot them. I’d like to eventually expand my mobile photography into photojournalism. I’d love to meet up with a dream company like National Geographic some day, and just go out and document the world. I’d really love to travel. For now, especially with LeTote being so busy, I try to keep it local and do what I can here and there. I went down to LA for the day for the Lexus shoot. It was a really fun experience to go down there, shoot with them, and help them create the commercial. It’s such a solid idea, and it really came out well.

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Scott Borrero for Lexus (left), and Blenders (right)

With the rise of mobile photography, and the top Instagrammers now doing sponsored posts and having business relationships with brands, do you think mobile photographers can be professional photographers?

That’s a funny question, and it’s a really hard one to answer. Whenever I think about it, it takes me back to this one time early in my career when I had just started shooting for that glass company. I was also shooting the TransWorld SKATEboarding Awards. It was a crazy experience for one of my first events. The guy didn’t want to pay me, and his reasoning was that I didn’t go to school, and therefore was not a professional photographer. It stuck with me, and it really bothered me. It was one of the motivating factors for me to really become a professional photographer and go to school. I don’t think going to school makes you a professional photographer, though, that’s not the answer. Sure, it gives you the building blocks, but I think what really makes you a professional is being able to get the image that the client wants. I think payment goes into being a professional photographer. If you’re not getting paid, it’s not your profession. If you’re a mobile photographer, and you’re getting paid by a company to promote their products, you’re a professional photographer.

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Scott Borrero

Are there any experiences you’ve recently had or projects you have coming up that you want to talk about or share?

My biggest projects are with the company I’m working for, LeTote. I’ve been with them for a year and a half now, which is really my main priority. Sure, I love to go out and shoot landscapes, shoot for fun, but a lot of my effort is going towards pushing LeTote to the next level. 

Who are two Instagrammers who are blowing you away right now?

I would have to say @jnsilva and @jaredchambers are two of my biggest inspirations on Instagram. Jose is great at getting the community together and at coming up with creative New York shots. Jared just inspires with beautiful photos in every post.

Scott Borrero is a multi-talented Director of Photography at LeTote and Snapwire Ambassador, living in San Francisco. For more of Scott, visit scottborrero.tumblr.com.

Instagram: @scottborrero 

Twitter: @scottborrero 

LeTote Instagram (run by Scott): @letote 

Click here to see how to get an invite to Scott’s Snapwire Ambassador Challenge: Long Exposure.

Snapwire Interviews: Kat Irlin

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Top cover photo by Sasha Davidov. Bottom photos by Kat Irlin.

Snapwire Interviews: Kat Irlin

Kat Irlin is an incredibly versatile fashion, architecture, and lifestyle photographer located in New York City. Kat’s unique perspective on city life has earned her many fans, as well as opportunities to make friends and meet people through Instagram’s community. Her visually stunning feed has also led to her work with brands such as J. Crew, Coach, and Michael Kors. We had the great pleasure of speaking with Kat about what inspires her and where her photography has taken her. We’re excited to introduce Kat Irlin.  

Tell us a little about yourself. What are you passionate about, what do you do for a living? Do you do photography full-time?

Right now I’m not doing it full-time, I’m doing HR as my career. When I started on Instagram, it sparked the passion that I have for photography. Because of the feedback that I was getting on my shots, I started getting a little bit more serious about it. I still shoot everything on Instagram with my iPhone, and I still pretty much only shoot iPhone. I’m doing a little bit of HR, but I’m hoping to transition to photography full-time.

You’re a very versatile photographer, and you seem very interested in lots of different types of photography. Are you drawn to everything? What fires you up?

I think I’m still trying to find my niche. I think most people are good at that, sort of finding what they’re best at and sticking to that, and I’m still trying to find that for myself. I really enjoy architecture, and I would say that that’s probably one of my strongest areas. I enjoy portraits, too. I’m usually passing by something or sitting somewhere, and something catches my eye. I notice random things, and it’ll look good and look like it belongs in a shot, so I take a shot of it. Right now it’s kind of all over the place. There’s some architecture, there are some portraits, there’s some food, there’s a little bit of everything. I’m trying to narrow it down, trying to be a little more specific.

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Kat Irlin

What about the city inspires you? Is New York your muse, or are there other places where you want to shoot and travel? Is there something special about New York for you?

New York is definitely my favorite city. There’s just so much to shoot. It’s so beautiful, and it’s so different depending on the weather and the time of year. It’s ever-changing, so it definitely inspires me. I’ve been to Chicago, or San Francisco, and there are always things that are different and amazing, but I would say that New York is definitely my favorite.

Where has photography taken you? You talked about other cities and your love for travel a little on your website. Have you made photography a purpose for those trips? More recently, as Instagram has become a bigger deal, have you found yourself traveling differently for photography?

Yeah, definitely. I look for places that will allow me to get that crazy shot that everyone’s going to rave about. I’m hesitant to go places where there’s nothing for me to shoot; it makes me restless. I like going somewhere where there are things to shoot. I love San Francisco, and I went to Paris recently. Those are the places that really excite me.  If I know I’m going to get something good out of it, that certainly drives where I want to go.

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Kat Irlin

On Instagram, you have a great following. More than sharing your photos with Instagrammers, what does the community aspect mean to you? 

I think that the Instagram community isn’t like anything else. It’s really pretty different from any other social media site, network, or community. As far as the people that are following me, I try to be interactive with them, I try to answer any questions that I get. If there are comments when I post things, I get a ton of emails asking about my process, or my editing, or what camera I use. I try to take the time to respond to all of those. Beside the followers, I’ve had the chance to meet some incredible people through Instagram. I’ve met so many good photographers in New York. I met people when I went to Paris, and when I went to Amsterdam and San Francisco. It’s just crazy how it’s ok to meet these people that you only know through Instagram. I think that’s unlike any other network. I think that’s the reason so many people are drawn to Instagram, it’s because it’s ok to take it to your real life and not just communicate through the app.

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Kat Irlin

Has Instagram created any opportunities for you to work professionally? 

I’ve worked with some of the fashion brands like J. Crew, Coach, and Michael Kors. I think brands are recognizing the value of Instagram now. I think that they’ve been hesitant in the past. I get that social media campaigns are tough to measure, but I think that since my audience has grown so quickly, they’re drawn to it much more. I’ve been able to work with these fashion brands, and I’m going to be doing a little bit more of that in the future. I think that because the bigger influencers are doing it, it’s okay as long as the aesthetic is there and the shot is like any other.

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 Photos for Club Monaco by Kat Irlin

When they work with you, are they asking you to do what you do best and shoot iPhone, or are you kind of starting to use DSLR and adapting them to Instagram? How does that relationship usually work with the brands you work with?

Usually if it’s going to be on Instagram, it’s sort of assumed it’s iPhone. If you’re using something else, I guess that’s totally fine. Usually they leave the creative process to you, they don’t dictate. Fashion brands say it’s up to you to make it how you want it to look. Really, the only direction is for you to mention the name of the brands.

You participated in Levi’s x Hypebeast Railside Conversations. What was that like?

It was really fun. I felt very honored to be included among the creatives that they reached out to. It was myself and Sonya Yu, who’s a photographer in San Francisco, basically having a dialogue regarding our creative process. It was really a wonderful experience. I got to learn a lot about her, and I got to share what it’s like for me. It’s been really cool, and I’ve gotten great feedback, even though I’m not really used to being on camera. 

It was cool to watch. With the rise of mobile photography, and the top Instagrammers now doing sponsored posts and having business relationships with brands, do you think mobile photographers can be professional photographers? There’s still a debate about what being a professional means.

I think a professional photographer just means someone who’s doing it for a living, someone who’s doing photography to support themselves. What does that mean in any industry? It’s such a fluid type of word. To me, that word doesn’t really mean anything other than the fact that they’re doing it for a living.

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Kat Irlin by Ruben Hughes

Any thoughts you want to share about mobile photography?

It’s pretty scary because it’s a whole new field that I don’t really know anything about, other than that I have a good eye for it. It’s exciting to be doing something that I really enjoy. I’m excited, yet scared. I hope I’ll find the niche for myself, something that I’ll be known for. Maybe I’ll be famous one day! (laughs)

What two Instagrammers are you blown away by right now? Alex Strohl and Anastasia Glebova.

Kat Irlin is a multitalented photographer living in New York City. To see more of her work, visit www.KatIrlin.com.

Instagram: @kat_in_nyc

Twitter: @kat_irlin

Levi’s x Hypebeast Railside Conversations: YouTube

Featured Photographer: Vicki Liantonio

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Vicki Liantonio

Vicki Liantonio is a wonderfully talented photographer who has swiftly accumulated points within Snapwire, achieving the level of Featured Photographer. We’re excited to introduce you to Vicki!

1. Briefly tell us about yourself.

I’ve lived in Philadelphia for a dozen years or so with my husband, our adopted Westie, Moxie, and our rescued stray cat, Mr. Moo.

2. How did you get into photography?

When I think back, I’ve enjoyed taking pictures ever since I was a kid. My first camera was a pink and purple 110mm “Le Clic” - how 80s is that? As I got older, I took many of the photos and videos of our family vacations. 

I went to school for art and graphic design, and after graduation, worked designing CD packaging for independent musicians. After ten years there, the economic downturn hit, and I was laid off. This was both a blessing and a curse, as for some time, I’d been yearning to move in a new direction, although not confident about what direction that was. But during this time of exploration, photography kept coming back to me, whether I was asked to photograph friends’ weddings or children, document community events, or lead a summer camp class. 

The iPhone has played an unquestionable role in my renewed curiosity in my surroundings and deepened interest in making and taking pictures. Even before Instagram, I began experimenting with self-portraiture and capturing everyday details as I walked through my neighborhood. And I can easily say that joining Instagram several years ago, as a place of sharing, encouragement (and unbelievable talent!), has led to growth in both my breadth and skill. 

But really, when it comes down to it, making photos is something I’ve always enjoyed. 

3. What inspires you?

First and foremost, I’m inspired by authenticity - the spontaneous, the intimate, the real. Be it in nature, human nature, design, or process. That, to me is the undeniable pull. 

When thinking about what I value — what resonates with me — I came up with the term ”Sentimental Preservation.” To me, it’s collecting that fleeting or quiet moment; that light, or that detail, even a convergence of form or concept — one that may have gone otherwise unnoticed — and extending its life, allowing time for others to join in that moment. 

4. Where has photography taken you?

I’ve been fortunate to do some mobile photography work locally, for Philadelphia’s tourism bureau. I’ve also had several great opportunities to travel outside the city and state, for work on architectural and interior design shoots.

But more importantly, photography takes me outside of myself… It takes me to new places, even in the familiar. It allows me to meet people and enter into their experience, even if they’re not the subjects of the photo, if only for a moment. It’s brought me to notice light in the unexpected. 

5. Who would you love to collaborate with? 

I’ve already been lucky to have both informally and formally collaborated with some very talented people and contacts I’ve made through Instagram. And I’d love for that to continue.

But, if I had access to a time-traveling DeLorean, it would be extremely interesting and fun to work with Charles and Ray Eames. I’m not sure how that collaboration would look — maybe I’d be observing and documenting their relationship and process together, or actively participating in design and film projects, or possibly I’d just be running to get their coffee — but I’m sure whatever form it took would be exciting, educational, and enlightening.

However, I’m afraid 2015 will come and go without the advent of flying cars or Hoverboards. So in the present era, I’d be interested in collaborating with some local Pennsylvania companies who are working hard to preserve integrity in manufacturing — in regards to people, process, and product. Several examples are Martin Guitars, Knoll, Nakashima, Emeco, All-Clad, Bill’s Khakis, and Woolrich. I’d also be interested in learning of and getting connected with some of the manufacturing, services, and artisans right here in Philly. 

For more of Vicki, follow her on Instagram @piccolotakesall

Snapwire Interview: Alexa Goglanian

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Cover photo by Adrina Goglanian. Photos by Alexa Goglanian

Snapwire interviews Alex Goglanian

Alexa Goglanian is a gifted young photographer and artist who uses mobile photography to create impressionistic images of the people and places in her life. Many of her photos feature her twin sister Adrina and are full of joy and beauty. The Goglanian twins Alexa and Adrina show how two people who share so much can create images with personal meaning special for each of them. We’re excited to introduce Alexa Goglanian.

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

I’m a student and art major at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA. I’m focused on traditional art and my medium is watercolor, but I’m slowly branching out. My twin sister Adrina (@i_am_alive) also goes to Westmont, and she’s an art major as well so we’ve been combining our forces.

Were does your passion for art and creativity come from?

From my parents. My mom is a very creative person, and I grew up with her building props and doing all these craft projects. My dad went to school for architecture so I’ve always been around a ‘think outside of the box’ creative mentality at home. Plus, my brother is a photographer so being around cameras and photos and that world got me started.

How did you first discover mobile photography?

I first got Instagram three years ago by my brother. Instagram opened my eyes to a new world and I saw the beauty in it. I look at things differently now, and I’m always trying to find how I can take something ordinary and turn it into something unique. I really like the use of light and hands, so if I can find some cool light pattern on a wall or something, and have my sister stick her hands in there, then that’s always one of my favorite photos to take. I’ve always been a fan of double exposure portraits. Just being able to combine two totally different pictures is amazing. If I do have a story I’ll blend the two together to tell that story.

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Photos by Alexa Goglanian

How has being a twin impacted your creative process?

Adrina is definitely my best friend and the person I’m closest to. We have a special bond being twins, and we can relate to each other a lot more easily than just a regular brother or sister relationship. She’s her own person and I’m my own person, so being able to share her side is kind of what drives me. Since she’s also interested in art like I am, I love being around people who are so creative and it helps me make my own photos better. We spend so much time together, literally every day. Having not only a sister but a friend there is so great.

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Alexas twin sister, Adrina. Photo by Alexa Goglanian

What type of style of photos do you love to make?

My twin sister is a huge part of my photography. She’s in a lot of my photos, and I’m in a lot of hers. If I see some cool landscape or some trees or something, I’ll just have Adrina stand out there. I typically like the story that portraits can show. Not the traditional smiling at the camera portrait, but maybe they’re looking off or something.

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Photos by Alexa Goglanian

What’s your favorite kind of environment to shoot in?

There are just so many beautiful places. I love big open areas, or someplace you can kind of zoom out and see people far away, or you don’t have to be right up close and personal to get the whole picture. I like very grand scenes, I guess. Every place I travel to has so much variety that it’s great to see everything.

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Photos by Alexa Goglanian

Some of your photos have this recurring theme of hands. Why?

I have such a fascination with hands. I think they’re so marvelous, and they’re such a big part of people’s identities. Hands have their own story. Everyone’s hands are different, everyone has a different fingerprint, so it’s a great way to share that side of everyone because it’s so different from everyone else. I want to share that about myself.

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Photos by Alexa Goglanian

Do you see yourself pursuing a creative career?

I don’t know specifics yet, but I think I want to go into set design or making window displays, or physically building things for people to display or something. I wouldn’t call myself a professional photographer, and there’s still a ton of training that I would need to do to pursue a photography career. But I don’t know, I think I want to either use my painting skills or my building skills to share my art with the world.

You’re really engaged with the community on Instagram. What’s that like?

I’ve made so many real life friends through Instagram, and it’s so important just to make sure that you make that bond between your followers and you. I’ve seen some people who don’t respond or aren’t very open or sharing with their followers. It just seems kind of standoffish. I definitely don’t want to portray myself that way. You can have a friend behind every name so you might as well be open.

With the rise of mobile, there’s a debate about what it means to be professional. Can a mobile photographer be a professional?

I would say professional is making your career out of it, or getting paid I suppose. It also depends on how connected you are to your community and clients and if you can produce what they want to see while staying true to yourself and your style. There’s different levels of being a professional photographer, too. My brother is an professional photographer. He went to school for it, and he does jobs and stuff. You definitely have to have a creative eye, but it just depends on how you’re willing to market yourself and who’s willing to buy it.

Are there any photography related opportunities or experiences that you’ve had from Instagram that you want to share?

Through the connections that I’ve made through Instagram I’ve been able to actually do art projects for people, so I’ve made a couple of album covers for bands, and I’m making my own Etsy shop and selling some prints. The community from Instagram is just a great way to not only get your name out there, but to be who you are without having to change your ways. Since I’m in school I don’t have a job to go to or anything, it’s kind of hard creative projects-wise, but I take every day as a project. I just see what I can make of it and I share that.

What two Instagrammers are you blown away by right now?

@dariofrancoo. He has so much life and color without super grand scenery. I really like his feed. He has fewer than 300 followers. Someone I really enjoy too is @katekipley. I love the style she puts in each photo.

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About Alexa Goglanian

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Alexa Goglanian. Photo by Adrina Goglanian

Alexa Goglanian is a visual artist and mobile photographer based in Santa Barbara, CA. In addition to being a passionate Instagrammer, Alexa is a talented watercolor painter and a student of fine art at Westmont College.

Connect with Alexa:

Instagram: @hello_love

Twitter: @alexagoglanian

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