interview with Evgeniy Shaman
by Alina Savin
A woman made Evgeniy Shaman discover
his talent and theatrical vision. And to women does he pay tribute
in his photographs. His camera focuses on them just some seconds
before they disappear into another reign. He manages to eternalize
their fugitive appearance into his imaginative citadel of “drama,
sentimentality, hard emotions”, as he says, keeping, in the same
time, a moist touch of humanity on their faces. A master of Dark
Art, he is in a hurry to create, to ascertain, to show us his
Where did you spend your childhood?
Up to 4-6 years I spend my childhood with
my grandmother in Moscow, she took care of me while my
parents were working. Then some years in different pioneer camps.
Where did you study?
I studied in typical Russian school (full
11 classes), then culinary technical school and after in
modern humanitarian academy.
Did any experience in your childhood
make you decide to take photographs?
Recollecting my earliest childhood,
I remember that my father had a portable developing case and two old
Zeniths (which are still stashed away somewhere in the depths of our
household debris). However, at the time, this was not important to
Since when do you make photographs?
How did you start?
In the autumn of 2001 I started as a model. One evening my
girlfriend (she was a Nude model) brought me to a studio, to get
acquainted - to watch the process, and then have some pictures taken
of me. At that photo sessions I understood that I found something
very important for me. I continued to be a model (even though I
prefer the word “actor” for what I did then), and after a while I
was confident that when I would buy my own camera and start to take
my own pictures that it would work! I couldn’t wait to try it out.
In my head I had a mountain of ideas
piling up... In February 2002, my girlfriend and I modeled for
Evgeniy Kozhevnikov, an art photographer in
Moscow. This session left a profound
impression on me. We were supposed to be something like Hitchcock
clowns: two women and me. This was the first time that I encountered
a photographer who had an excellent ability to work with people and
to capture their emotions on film. My conversations and work with
this artist were the strongest influence on my artistic development,
not only in Art Nude, but also in emotional art photography in
general. During the time of our weekly sessions I learned to
understand and feel the difference between staged emotions and
emotions that have been already experienced, those, which I could
remember and relive during the session.,
in the fall of 2002, I finally went with my photographer-friend to a
small shop to buy my first digital camera, a Minolta Dimage 7i.
Do you have any studies of
I am self taught. Everything came to me during the course of the
work. Actually, my observation is that, in general, many artistic
photographers never finished any photo academies…
When did you start to participate to
In june 2004 one my friend
photographer called me to take part in the exhibition project
at the Museum of the Modern
Art of Moscow. The same month the art-director of a cinema-theatre
the Pioneer offered to me to organize my first author's exhibition
which I named Art Insomnia.
the title of your exhibition “ART INSOMNIA” be taken as your
I guess so. I live in a state of creative insomnia. Nights I bring
my works to completion, alone with my thoughts and problems.
Creativity is, for me, an inseparable part of my daily life.
Actually it IS my life, my small, complete world, with its own rules
and regulations that intersect in space. In this world there is
almost no concept of SLEEP, there is only TIME to CREATE and
PRODUCE... My photographs are the carriers of pieces of people’s
lives, pieces of their histories, pieces of emotions... this is my
life, my insomnia. I’ll get enough sleep in my next one...
style of your pictures reminds me somehow of Tarkovsky’s
scenography: the gloomy background and surroundings turn to
something valuable and surprisingly beautiful. But also I see in
your pictures some kind of rift, similar to Tarkovsky’s.
there really is a similarity, for example, with Tarkovsky’s
“Stalker” world – a gloomy, unidentified world in which everything
is changed and displaced. This world has an essence (a mechanism),
and is mysterious at the same time. In that world, if you firmly
believe in something, then it will happen. Without a doubt,
Tarkovsky is a master of his style. My style is Dark Art (a rift
towards darkness). I think, it’s much harder to create an impression
of coldness, sadness, human pain than of joy and laughter. That’s
why I chose this path! That’s why all my backdrops are like a live
supplement to the live subjects, just like in Tarkovsky’s work; they
play a major role in the general atmosphere...
What means to you to be an artist in
Moscow? What means this town to you?
It means that I represent all Russian (not
particularly one Moscow) free
art-photography as others free art-photographers here, just like me.
Moscow is for me only the town where I’m living and working. In
Russia there are a lot of and other wonderful cities, for example
St. Petersburg, in which I often photograph.
How do you describe your artistic
evolution? Was it simple, linear?
There are so many thoughts in my head, there is so much...
Every photographer has his own style of
communicating with his model. Some find it easier to tell you what
he’d like to see, but leave the model room to improvise while they
just take pictures. Others, whom I call “reporters”, just take
pictures while they’re talking to the model, without having any
specific goal in mind. A third type of photographer has a fixed idea
for the shooting and carefully positions each model and each
detail. It smothers any initiative the models might have to add
something of their own. That’s what I learned during my modeling
experiences – I observed, I learned how other photographers work
with me, drew my conclusions. Something stayed with me.
What is style? How would you define
The style of a photograher is a
look at the world which is real and not real in the same time, an
echo of his soul through visual art. In February 2002, my girlfriend
and I modeled for Evgeniy Kozhevnikov, an art photographer in
Moscow. This session left a profound impression on me. We were
supposed to be something like Hitchcock clowns: two women and me.
This was the first time that I encountered a photographer who had an
excellent ability to work with people and to capture their emotions
on film. My conversations and work with this artist were the
strongest influence on my artistic development, not only in Art
Nude, but also in emotional art photography in general. During the
time of our weekly sessions I learned to understand and feel the
difference between staged emotions and emotions that have been
already experienced, those, which I could remember and relive during
I myself discovered my own style immediately.
Because for me as for any art-photographer it is much harder
to create an impression of coldness, sadness, human pain than of joy
and laughter. That’s why I chose this path!
What is the origin of your
Intuitive perception of people to me interesting and carry of the
invented and real worlds (histories) to the shots.
Your photographs look like paintings.
Why? What means painting to you?
My method is to touch up
photographs on the computer and using digital photographic
manipulation (DPM), or to do this manually on the raw prints. Of
course the artistry itself is an inseparable part of the scenario,
of the creation of the images during the shoot. I mean the clothes,
the decorations, the make-up, etc. It’s good that now DPM art
photography is enjoying an improving reputation, and that it doesn’t
matter whether the picture is manipulated on a computer or manually,
whether it’s a film or a digital file.
The important thing is that the artist has put his soul into
his work, his emotions, and that they are seen and valued.
Did you ever try to paint? Are your
photographs a sort of painting?
I have been connected to the
visual arts pretty much all my life. It started when
I was about thirteen years old, at a Young Pioneers’ camp: there
there was an art circle, in which we painted on wood and on metal. I
usually painted flowers. My early photoworks are
a mix of a photo and hand / digital paintings.
What are your favorite themes?
All without landscapes and macro.
The dream-like images are very
important to you. Do you get inspiration from your dreams, visions?
Certainly, in fact
imaginations and dreams – are the basic components of my creativity.
You seem to prefer the black-and-white
photographs. Why? Is the contrast more evident?
Because BW photo has no borders in
time and space, it’s more interesting for many photographers and
What is the human body for you? What
do you discover in it? Is the human body more beautiful when naked?
Basically I work in all existing genres using techniques of
manipulation of digital photography: Nude, portrait, genre,
cityscape, sometimes still life. But mostly I work in Art Nude - the
combination of nude figures with everything that exists in nature
and with everything that our fantasies can generate. Just a
beautiful body is not a sufficient indicator for me. For me, a very
important and non-negligible factor is a deep inner world of a
person, his inner artistic spirit, emotionality, sensitivity, and,
of course, understanding my own self as an art photographer,
understanding what I want to create.
Describe the process that gives birth
to your images.
Sun is my light, clouds are my soft box,
streets and destroyed buildings are my photo scene, emotional
and deep people are the process…
Regarde la mer
Late Angel 5
in Head - Memories
What does it mean to you to use
digital techniques? What does the modern techniques mean to you?
Good camera and lenses are just a
transfer of the image in the shots, though quality of the image
certainly plays a greater role for me.
What camera do you use? What lens?
For 1,5 years now, I shoot with a Nikon D70 with two lenses: a Sigma
AF 17-35 mm f/2.8-4 EX ASPHERICAL and a
Nikkor 50 f/1.8D. For processing the image I use Photo Shop
In Romania, it is quite difficult to
be a photographer (and an artist, in general). What is the situation
so there was also I consider it as the truth that the Russian
artists and photographers one of the best all over the world.
It is connected with our history, with political and
economic conditions of a life in our country. Therefore we feel all
at differently other level, more deeply, more sensually. About be or
not to be a photographer it is a choice personally everyone but the
truth in that in other countries in difference from Russia is more
hard to communicate to photographers with potential models to search
for them.. All people different, business in ethnic mentality..
Whose photographic works do you like?
of all: Evgeniy Kozhevnikov, Lena Sergeeva, Igor Amel’kovich,
Dmitrii Provotorov, Emil Schildt and others
What was your biggest success until
Life as a whole and my art for the people in it..
What future plans do you have?
Uuu, a lot to do…
Born 12.01.1982 in Moscow
06.06. – 21.06. - Participant in the exhibit project
“Mezhdu” (“In Between”) – a collection of works of various
photographers and artists, Moscow Museum of Contemporary Art.
Awarded a laureate for the exhibit “Masterskaya
20,04” (“Workshop 20,04”) for a series of photographs.
26.06 – 16.07. - ART INSOMNIA (solo exhibit), Film
04.12. - 18.12. - Co-organizer of the second exhibit
of Evgeniy Kozhevnikov’s art photography project – Studium.
Winner of several photography competitions.
Several works are in private collections in Russia and abroad.
contributions to various photographic and
youth-oriented magazines in Russia: Hard&Soft, Huligan, ProFoto.
Anticipated publications: FotoDelo and
Times Journal of Photography.
Virtual exhibitions and
represented in more than ten