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  • Vladimir Kolesnikov

Why I started taking pictures

For me photography is a very personal issue as it has been my saving grace in my darkest times. It is the thing that took me outside when I was in a reclusive state, and continues to push me outside of my comfort zone and connect me with amazing individuals who continuously inspire me to see the world in new ways.

During my adolescent years I went through a major phase of depression and isolation. Eventually I began to contemplate, “if a person falls in the forest and no one is around to hear them, did they ever even exist?” and if there is no one around me, then where is the proof of my existence? This played a big role in my development (get it? Development??) as a photographer. A picture is proof that something happened and someone was able to immortalize a moment with a camera, and furthermore, it was proof of my existence and the things I had seen.

I am blessed that my parents loved me enough to buy me a DSLR the year of my 21st birthday. My first pictures were experiments. My depression kept me from having any sort of emotional response to the things around me, and I couldn’t bring myself to care about anything enough to actually focus on photographing it, so my pictures were just snapshots from my life, of things that I found looked interesting or cool, but in some ways, those were the most authentic pictures I will ever take. I took pictures of my home and my parents; I guess I cared about them… I felt like I had a story to tell though, the story of my existence, of how I saw the world.

Another pivotal night, or a series of nights also played a role in who I wanted to become. The rave scene… this is where the first chapter of my new life began. In the dark venues and warehouses, the open fields of the northeast illuminated by hazy orbs of fog and smoke, accented by hews of purple and yellow and orange and blue. It was there that I met the first photographers who had a profound impact on me. These characters were oozing with so much swagger and style, with their ultra wide-angle lenses, and complex off camera systems wired around their bodies. The pictures these people took were more than just publicity coverage for a show; they captured a true and authentic feeling from the individuals at these events. To this day, these images inspire me.

The next big step in my photography came on a fine April afternoon, on one of those days that felt like early summer rather than late spring. It was on this day that I took my first meaningful photograph. I took the family dog out for a walk out on the path behind our house. The images of her chasing her that ball, and cantering along the forest path, felt so full of life and emotion, and that feeling resonated with me.

The feeling of getting a good picture was intoxicating, like a drug, to see something so vivid, and full of life, something memorable, personal, something that I produced. To this day I credit these two incidents as the inspiration to my photographic journey. Since then I have photographed landscapes, portraits, still lifes and more, but recently I have gravitated to portraiture.

As someone who has always found the human mind fascinating I am enamored by the emotion captured in portraits. As stated by the famous instagrammer @vulhandees, “portraits are something else, they are personal.” Which is so true. Portraits are something truly unique, they capture emotions and connections that can only be felt at that moment. You can have the same subject, with the same photographer, on different days, and produce completely unique results. I have grown tired of photographing the same lighthouses, the same bridges, the same waterfalls over and over, but portraits will always feel novel, at least for now. And that is not to discredit people who photograph still life or detailed nature pictures, as they can also bring out the uniqueness of a certain location at a certain point in time, however I am drawn to the dynamics of interpersonal relationships, which is why I love portraiture so much. With that in mind, I am excited to see where photography will take me next.

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