By David König
Andrey Popov specializes in advertising, lifestyle, portraiture and editorial photography. He uses dramatic lightning to create strong and thought provoking illustrations. His pictures are always a little bit different. Some of his illustrations seem to be out of the world because of the well thought out use of CGI Elements.
His photography is a vehicle to tell good stories. Great storytelling allows him and his clients to communicate differently.
Production Paradise: How did you get started in photography?
Andrey: Back in 2003, when I was still living in Russia, I went to Norway on a bicycle trip. And I was so amazed with what I saw, that I came back next summer, and that time I decided to bring a camera. And so I went back to Norway, and I brought back a lot of photos. They turned out great! Now, this isn’t anything that I did, it’s just Norway is so amazing that it was hard to take a bad picture. Friends started telling me that I have a great talent, and that I should really look into selling those, perhaps National Geographics?
I discovered Microstock and started selling my landscapes. I made something like 1.60$ in three months, and that got me excited! I started looking into what sells, and started researching how to shoot that. Soon, I was shooting smiling people on white background, making decent money, and growing increasingly bored with all of that.
Production Paradise: How has living in Canada influenced your work?
Andrey: Moving to Canada changed my mentality. Growing up in Russia, many things that seem common sense now seemed like a pretty alien concept at the time. I discovered that not wanting to do something is often a good enough reason to actually not do it. And so moving to Canada actually made me stop doing photography, because I haven’t enjoyed it anymore. I still occasionally picked up the camera here and there, but it was because I wanted to, not because I had to. I (re)discovered that I love outdoors, nature, much more than I love city life. Vancouver is pretty much the perfect place on this planet for this – it is a big enough city so that it doesn’t seem like you’re alone somewhere remote, and at the same time you’re no more than 30 minutes away from mountains and the ocean.
After 2-3 years of not shooting, I started shooting again, but this time I decided to shoot what I like, without looking for money. And I shot a variety of styles over the course of the year, trying my hand in fashion, portraiture, you name it. To sum up, I’d say living in Canada helped me find what “my work” is. Without the big shift in mentality I would have never even tried what I’m doing right now.
Production Paradise: If you had to choose one of your images or campaigns to represent your work, which would it be?
Andrey: Oh no, that’s like choosing your favourite child! My favourite series is “Chasing Dreams”. It’s an ongoing personal project that I started a year ago, essentially trying to show that chasing your dreams, no matter how wild, is never stupid or foolish and that it can lead to something beautiful. There are currently three pictures in the series, and I’m working on two more, hopefully they’ll be ready soon!
Production Paradise: You put a lot of emphasis on storytelling through your work. How do you get your ideas? Where are you drawing your inspiration from?
Andrey: I get inspired by books, stories, movies, nature. I try to read a lot. I’m a sucker for good sci-fi and fantasy. Lately I’ve been finding myself gravitating towards TV rather than movies – it seems that all the good writing went to TV, while movies are devoid of great characters and plot, so that it doesn’t distract you from special effects. One of my favourite ways to get inspired is to go on a road trip. There’s something about being on the road, not knowing where you’re going, and not caring about what you’re going to be doing tomorrow. All of my landscape work has been shot on roadtrips.
As to how I get my ideas… I’ve struggled with ideas for so long I can’t even remember about it without cringing. Just like anything else, your creativity can be trained. You can train your memory by learning new language, and you can train creativity by trying and being creative. If you make a goal of coming up with 5-10 different ideas every week, and take time to do it – it can be one of the best things you do for yourself as a creative. And they don’t have to be complicated, or absolutely unique – just different. And no matter how silly or unrealistic they are – write them down. Periodically go through all of them and weed out bad ones and leave the good ones. The more you do it, the easier it gets actually. A year ago I was struggling to come up with ideas. Today, I have this deck of study cards, each of them has an idea written down. And for personal work I’m always drawn to something new, challenging, complicated. I don’t want to repeat what I did yesterday.
Production Paradise: I have seen that you have worked on 3D illustrations lately. Do you want to incorporate 3D elements into your work?
Andery: Absolutely! I am by no means a purist when it comes to post production – whatever means necessary to get the result I want. I began to see limitations of using just photography and photoshop combination. Some of my ideas would require pretty elaborate set, or good CGI. And the technology these days enables very photorealistic results; some of the stuff that I’ve seen is completely out of this world. If I can create believable elements or environments it’s going to be a whole other game level for me. I will no longer be limited by what’s available at a local prop rental place. I’m really excited about this!
Production Paradise: What have you found most useful about being a Production Paradise member?
Andrey: Website clicks. I know this is a very materialistic answer, but that’s the end goal – to get people to go to your website and check you out, isn’t it? And then those visits transform into quote requests and jobs. And Production Paradise does a pretty great job at it. I actually did not expect to see so many people converting from your website. On top of that, I’m very impressed with your customer support. When I initially talked with you, I never felt like I was talking to a salesperson – and that is a very rare scenario these days. I’ve talked to quite a few other companies that work in similar vein as Production Paradise, and everybody else’s customer support was just not good compared to yours. And after I signed up with you guys – the customer support didn’t go away.
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