Russian-born KristinaVaraksina has resided in the USA since 2010 and currently lives and works in New York.
Varaksina’s focus is to capture human emotion and the psychological impressions of her subjects’ mind – permitting the characters to project their internal reality. Works undertaken are keen to explore a female and child perspective, evoking their thoughts, dreams and hopes.
Recently, Aesthetica magazine suggests ‘Varaksina’s personal works are etherial, projecting the psyche onto the corners of a room…Through a conscientious attention to light and a soft palette these allegories come to life and absorb the viewer into their microcosm’.
Hi Kristina! When did you start photographing?
I’ve been photographing for the past 16 years, but only 6 years ago Photography became my official profession.
You were born in Russia but you live in NYC. How does your Russian background influence your work?
Growing up in Russia, or Soviet Union back then, I read a lot of books because we didn’t have much happening on TV. So I think that developed my imagination a lot, as images were appearing in my head as opposed to appearing on the screen. I also think Russian women are incredibly strong, and I have several series in my personal work exploring female subjects.
Kids and women are a constant subject in your work. Could you tell us why this is important to you?
For centuries our world has been male centred. I think in the 20th and the 21st century the perception of what a woman is, and what role she plays has undergone unprecedented changes. However, there’s still a big presence of male gaze in modern visual culture, my goal is to offer an alternative view. Kids stories to me are a way to create imaginary worlds, and bring childhood dreams to life.
“For centuries our world has been male centred. I think in the 20th and the 21st century the perception of what a woman is, and what role she plays has undergone unprecedented changes.”
We see that you have worked with The Hunger Games Mockingjay costume designer Elena Slivnyak. What was it like working with her? How did you develop the idea behind this couture fashion film?
Elena and I have had a complete understanding from the first time we met. She is incredibly talented and hard working person, and it was a great pleasure collaborating with her, bouncing ideas off each other. The idea behind the fashion film was based on her collection. Elena showed be her pieces, explained the ideas behind them and I came up with the story I believed would translate those ideas.
Your style is really defined. Who’s the photographer or the artist that inspires you the most?
I’m immensely inspired by Swedish and French films. And my two favourite artists are Balthus and Hammershoi.
Where do you get the ideas for your projects? Do you sketch something of what you have in mind before shooting?
Eight times out of then, I draw sketches while preparing for the shoot. Ideas come from many sources: sometimes it is something I’ve been dreaming about for years, other times it is inspired by my client’s personality or a product.
How important is post production in your work?
Post production is a crucial part of my work, it helps achieving my personal style.
What’s your favourite photo you’ve shot? Why?
I have many favourites, but there’s one that is special. Many years ago, when I just started my Photography MFA program I shot a self-portrait with a typewriter. It won a 1st prize in Academy Of Arts yearly competition. It gave me a great confidence, helped me to find my style.