Where are you from and how did you get into photography?
I’m Ukrainian currently living in Tallinn, Estonia.
I believe an initial fascination to photography came when I was a kid from flipping the pages of Father’s huge album with the black and white military photographs (he was an Aviation Engineer and Army is a big part of his Life). I still remember the scent of the leather cover of his film camera. Since then I always had a passion for photography. In school and university, friends of mine lent me cameras until I finally bought my own in 2013. In a year and a half, I’ve bumped into works of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Josef Koudelka and Sergio Larrain. From this point, the real journey into photography began…
Your website is great! I love how you’ve curated your images and separated them into specific galleries. Do you have any tips for curating your own work? What’s your process?
Thanks, dear. It’s a pleasure to hear you love it. I believe the body of work just shaped itself.
There is always a big temptation to photograph everything. You could select the particular photograph either before making the shot or afterwards. Either way, you’ll come up with whatever resonates with you in a certain place at a certain time. So, basically all your life experiences and ability to be open define what you tend to photograph.
I really enjoyed your series on the Ukraine. What’s the story behind the series?
Thank you. When I emigrated to Estonia the feeling of Identity become very explicit. It’s a departure point from most photographs made in Ukraine. For example, in “National Colours” the idea is very simple, the combination of Yellow and Blue which are the colours of the Ukrainian flag, remind me where I’m from when I’m abroad and at the same time emphasize some social aspects when I’m in Ukraine. Unexposed yet “Rural turf” series is full of the signs of decay which are the fragments of my memories, yet not part of my life anymore. Even single street photographs made in Ukraine contain some grain of nostalgia in it.
Where is your favorite place to do street photography and why?
I like to photograph where I live, it ends up with the deeper meaning. But my favorite place for street photography is Lviv (Ukraine). I like many things about this city: the light, the architecture, the people, the signs of life and so on and so on. I just enjoy being there – that’s why.
What have been the biggest challenges for you in street photography and how have you overcome them?
The first challenge is, “How to not repeat yourself?”
When you do photograph every day, of course, you’ll repeat yourself, either because of the similarity of the environment or your perspective. But there is nothing bad in it, as long as you realize it and keep going. Do not think too much. Enriching your cultural knowledge and life experience changes your mental models, which eventually be reflected in whatever you do.
The second challenge is motivational “Why are you doing that?”
You have something to say, right? But the challenge of street photography is that the single photographs could stand on its own, even without an explicit statement. So, here are multiple answers. Anyway, it’s all right to not be obsessed with the search for the logical reasons to do what you really love to do.
You say in your bio you want to present something simple and real to your viewers, how do you achieve that?
It’s the easiest and the hardest thing at the same time. First of all, the photograph should be Candid, otherwise to me, it’s just hypocrisy. Then, you just have to be as open as possible. Everyone has certain baggage of memories, knowledge and feelings. If the certain thing resonates with what you feel, most probably it would resonate with someone else as well. That’s why I could say I’m not interested in Street photography too much – I’m interested in Candid photography, whatever it is.
What is Streetsroll? I see you contribute to this site pretty frequently?
To me, Streetsroll is like a digital sketchbook on photography. The frequency does not matter in this case. What is important to me is to write things worth reading again. I have no fears that somebody would know what I know. The writing helps me to structure the knowledge and to evolve too. That’s exciting if Streetsroll is helpful or interesting for others as well.
Last question, what has street photography taught you?
I believe, photography became the radical part of my Life. To me, it is a kind of meditation. When you’re with the camera, you are always opened, ready to talk to strangers, present in the moment, aware. That’s why I’m chasing the goal to photograph every single day this year (at the time I’m writing this text, it’s day #292).
We run through our lives mostly on autopilot in a superficially polite manner with nothing human required of us.
The constant repetition loops of the same obligatory actions and same thoughts make us blind and insensible for the possible alternative paths. “Cash or Card”, “Thank you, Bye”, Work-Eat-Sleep-Repeat.
Wake Up, we will look into each other’s Eyes!
Editor’s Note: To learn more about Andrii and see more of his work, be sure to visit his Flickr photostream and website. Andrii was selected from our Flickr group (Street Photography Magazine), where we regularly choose photographers’ work to be published in our magazine.