An Interview with Lev Dolgatshjov
In this issue of Hear It! We take a peek into Lev Dolgatshjov a.k.a. Dolgachov's portfolio. Born and bred in Estonia with over 20 years of experience in photography, Lev spilled the beans about his secret in creating bold and sexy shots of stunning women. Let us find out more about this aspiring photographer and discover what drives his passion.
1. Production Equipment:
Photographer: Lev Dolgatshjov
Country of Origin: Estonia
Canon EOS 5D, Canon prime & L lenses, Elinchrom RX and FX flash units.
2. What do you think of photography these days?
I think photoghaphy didn't change. There're not much differences from those days. It's just like history repeating itself all the time. Some are good photographers, some are bad ones. Some are good pictures, some are not so good. There's nothing special about it now compared to the time before.
4. Tell us about the time when you first got started in photography.
3. What did you want to be when you were younger?
Rich and healthy ;]
I believe it was some experience with my father's Fed-2 rangefinder camera when I was 10 or maybe 12. Ever since, I never gave up my romance with rangefinder cameras and I still have quite a good collection of Leica M cameras and lenses. I'm always dreaming of, "Someday when I'll find time to load Leica with Tri-X and make some sexy monochrome set at the beach with 2 or 3 of my models". You know, in Chris Isaac's "Wicked Games" video by Herb Ritts style. Well, someday I'll find some time to get to it. I promise. Maybe for VOGUE - you'll never know.
5. In your opinion, what does it take to become successful in this industry?
Talent. Thinking business. Working hard. Loving the things you do. If you don't have a "thing" to photograph to your specific liking, you can still succeed but you'll run the risk of constantly feeling tired instead of happy with your photography. Things you do in photography must make you happy. If your business is something you would do for free anyway - it will pay you back big time, believe me. If it's not, stop fooling yourself and do the things your love.
6. What was your biggest challenge coming into this industry?
Getting into microstock's TOP 50 photographers in sales figures. That's where I am now and that's where I'm intending to stay.
7. What are the best perks as a Photographer?
Being famous. Being famous makes lots of things smooth and easy.
8. How do you plan for your shooting sessions?
New models come asking for some co-operation with me. Like, "I would be happy to make some art with you, Mr. Dolgachov. Please look at my pics". I'll say, "God, you're beautiful and you have killer legs" and we'll proceed with some discussions then. We're looking if it's possible for us to find some common starting point in photography afterwhich we choose the session day with model and make-up artist (normally in a month or two). We'll choose several concepts and discuss some setups to try during a session. Some with smallest details or some in basics only. The average time spent per session is 8 hours. It can be 4 or 12, but the average is 8 hours when working with one model.
9. How would you describe your work to first time viewers?
Bright, sexy, attractive and eye-catching. That's what I intend mostly. Sweet and delicate, dark or pale. I sometimes feel this way. Overall, still sexy. ;]
10. Do you shoot to what your heart tells you or do you go through a complex check list in your mind when you produce your work? Describe the feeling/check list.
Heart and feelings. My girlfriend who assists me (Editor: we wonder why...! All that beautiful women around... *whew*) always reminds me of my "check list" though, so the outcome is balanced somehow.
11. From your experience, what subjects gives you the greatest satisfaction? Any examples?
Women. Women are terrific. (Editor: Oh yes! We agree!)
12. From your experience, what subjects are the hardest to work with? Any examples?
My 6 year old nephew Cristian and my cat Peter Porai-Koshits. These two are pain to shoot. Fireballs. ;]
13. What is your philosophy when it comes to your work?
No mercy. Be as hard to yourself and your work as you can. Be your hardest and only critic. Never ever pay attention to what others say if you know what you're doing. Anybody who pretends he cares for your business should back off and get to his own things. Period.
14. Describe who/what inspires you, tell us why?
Models. Nothing can be as inspiring as working with a good model. Creating something together, discovering some chemistry between me and the model is always a magical experience.
15. What do you do when those creative juices just seems to evade you. How do you "get creative"?
When these juices evade me, I hope I'll finally take a nap and have some good sleep. Last year, I became "sleep when I'm dead" kinda man ;]
16. Tell us about a time when inspiration just hits you, and you felt the insatiable urge to create. What did you do with that energy?
Getting my pictures published always gives me an impact. In the last 12 months my photographs were published in Playboy, Men's Health, Glamour, Marie Claire, Advanced Photoshop Magazine and many others worldwide. This summer, I made a front cover of Russian Penthouse. All via microstock. It's just amazing, knowing the fact that my work sold over 10,000 times a month is quite inspiring, believe me. What do I do with this energy? Well, I CREATE.
17. What have you discovered about yourself through photography?
I discovered that I'm a workaholic. I never used to be before but I can't deny the fact I became one.
18. Whose work do you admire the most? Why?
You mean microstock? I think Mikael Damkier and Yuri Arcurs are amazingly good. I know them both in person - they are very inspiring men and their work is a top notch. Professional, bright and eye-catching. Leaving microstock aside and concerning on those who are still acting now, I would say Sante D'Orazio and Anton Corbijn are absolutely brilliant. They have a real "eye". Also, I must give a big credit to Andrew Blake. He's a hardcore guy but we share the same aesthetic vision. When I look at the things these men do, I always feel like "Wow! That's exactly the way I feel". They are quite different though. So am I.
19. Do you have any advice for those who are just getting in to stock photography?
Enjoy your work. Shoot the things you love to shoot and do it as good as you can. Be your hardest critic. Never give up. Always try something new and it will all pay off. Good luck!