Streets Ahead: Interview with Natali Prosvetova 

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This week, the Women’s Mobile Street Photography Collective (Streets Ahead) is extremely pleased and honored to feature Natali Prosvetova in our interview section.

Many of you will be familiar with Natali’s work in other genres of iPhoneography. Extremely prolific, Natali never ceases to surprise me with her work. Creatively, she seems to be able to successfully tap in to many aspects of mobile art, from very painterly, to surrealist to street photography. I first became aware of her work on the Hipstamatic Facebook page, and later in ‘Pixels, the art of the iPhone’. I was amazed at the work that she was producing with her first generation iPhone, the 2G, which just goes to show, its not about what camera you use – its about the gift of having the ‘eye’ and the sensitivity to know instinctively what do to with an image in terms of composition, texture and colour.

Natali has been featured in many exhibitions globally as well as publications. In 2012, she published a book with Blurb, Hide and Seek. The book represents her point of view of the city of Moscow and its inhabitants.

You can follow Natali on the following Social Media Platforms:

EyeEm
Flickr
Facebook
IPA
Instagram @naprosvet

She also has a personal website: www.naprosvet.com

Links to all apps mentioned are at the end of this post.

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© Natali Prosvetova

Please share a little bit about yourself…

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© Natali Prosvetova, “Descriptive geometry and drawing. A short course with practical exercises”

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where do you live? If you work outside the home… what is your profession/professional background? Have you always been interested in photography? Are you (or have you been) involved in any other art medium… such as painting, sculpture, writing, music?

I was born and currently live in Moscow, Russia. Being creatively inclined, I chose acting as a profession. Not surprisingly, photography has become one of my biggest passions. I don’t paint beautiful pictures and I’ve never studied fine arts or photography. I started shooting photos with my iPhone 2 in 2010. I was at a point in my life where I felt the need to look for happiness in small things and I began taking photos of things around me. It started off as something that I did to kill time and it became a creative outlet. It was addictive and almost changed my life.

When words are not your weapon, you do not need them to express yourself. You can say so many powerful and deep things to different people in one language which everyone can understand – a visual language, through images. Armed with my first generation iPhone, the 2G and my first photography apps, I began exploring the medium – developing my skills from just capturing images to moving into the art of iPhoneography.

Now, it makes my day and is what I really want to do. It breathes new life into me and gives me a reason to discover the gems of everyday life. I am curious about everything in photography and I am not afraid to experiment in this field.

Go straight ahead and be brave! It does wonders! Since last year, I have been one of the Resident Artists at Gallery G8 in Moscow. I am also a curator of the bogAround The World” column in the newest magazine for the iPad, ‘iPhotographer Magazine’, available in the Apple News stand. And I am sure that there will be a lot of new and interesting things ahead.

Which mobile device do you use?

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© Natali Prosvetova, “Let’s bike it. A day without a car” (exhibited at the exhibition ‘Strawberry Fields’ in Moscow in 2012, print sold and proceeds donated to charity)

Which mobile device do you use to take your photographs? Also, we’d be very interested in learning what camera apps you use (if any)… as well as post processing apps.

Currently I use the iPhone 4 and the iPad for post processing. What apps? That is a good question, despite the fact that my preferences constantly change. For taking photos I use the native iPhone camera, Hipstamatic, Pro Camera, 645 PRO Mk2, Classic PAN, Retro Cam, Slow Shutter – many different apps. For post processing, I use Snapseed, MonoVu, Filterstorm, Tangent, Halftone, Blender, Procreate, Decim8, Strut Type, Alt Photo, Retouch and Glaze. The list is actually quite endless. I usually use a bouquet of applications, depending on the desired process and effect.

Is Street Photography your main focus?

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© Natali Prosvetova, “To move along …”

Is Street Photography a genre that you predominately focus on in your work?

Oh no, I can’t say that street photography is my first direction. I just seek, spy and shoot some photos from time to time. There are so many really great photographers who focus on it, and I would like to aspire to reach their high level. I wish that I could travel more … who knows? But I must say, I really love this genre, because shots of street life freeze candid situations and have the ability to go deep in to the small dramas that take place in everyday life.

Does Street Photography intersect with the art world?

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© Natali Prosvetova, “Pass me by”

Do you see street photography mainly as photojournalism? Or do you think that this genre intersects with the art world?

Street photography and photojournalism are two very similar genres of photography that often overlap while having distinct individual qualities. For example, the language of street photography is subtle and not as loud and outspoken as photojournalism, however they are both from the art world.

Street Photography Ethics…

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© Natali Prosvetova, ” Street fashionista”

There is a general question among some people about the morals and ethics of taking pictures of strangers in a public environment. Many think that this is an infringement of an individual’s rights and privacy. What are your thoughts on this? Has the question about “privacy” been an issue for you in your work? Have you had any negative experiences taking street photographs in your home country or whilst traveling abroad? How did you handle them? Do you have any rules in place when you are on the street photographing? For example: are there certain “things” or situations that you personally feel are “off limits” in your photography? Can you explain why?

This is a good question which I find it difficult to answer. I will try to explain. On the one hand, most people today have a cell phone that has a camera, and taking photos has become an ordinary situation. But on the other hand, I do not like it when the camera is directed at me without my permission. It sounds selfish on my part, but my excuse is my profession of being an actor. From my own point of view, as long as I do street shots that are just for fun, I follow some simple rules (which are significant to me). Actually, the rules are nothing special – except some situations that I personally feel are “off limits”. For example, I don’t take photos when I see someone else’s private grief or death and I don’t take photos of homeless or destitute people. I guess you know what I mean. I would not want to relish in someone else’s misfortune.

Women’s perspective in street photography…

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© Natali Prosvetova, “Darling I call you later”

Do you think that women bring to photography, especially street photography, a certain perspective that is not necessarily shared by many male photographers? If so, can you elaborate on your thoughts?

Hmmm… I am not sure. Each photographer has his own individual style and technique. It seems these features are not related to gender.

Women street photographers who have influenced you…

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© Natali Prosvetova, “Through the gap”

Are there any women street photographers/photo journalists who have inspired you in your work? If so, who are they? And what inspires you about their work?

Because of the fact that I’ve never studied photography, all my knowledge and skills are mostly based on self-study (in theory and in practice). So I can’t boast of an extensive knowledge in this field. But I must say that I am inspired by the works of the various great masters of street photography and photojournalism regardless of their gender and life time. Speaking of icons, I would single out these names: Elliott Erwitt with his wonderful black and white pictures taken in an ironic manner; the legendary Henri Cartier-Bresson with his fantastic compositions; John Thomson with his classic instance of social documentary which laid the foundations for photojournalism; Yevgeny Chaldei best known for his work as a World War II photojournalist; William Eugene Smith who was also known as a World War II photojournalist; Dorothea Lange with her great documentary photographs; Alfred Eisenstaedt with his truly candid photographs; Leonard Freed who was known not only as a photographer but also as a film maker and Steve McCurry who is best known for his evocative colour photography and his most recognized portraits for National Geographic.

However, I would like to focus a bit on one of the most popular photographers in recent years and the most mysterious – American photographer Vivian Maier. An exhibition of Maier’s work is currently on show at the Lumiere Brothers Centre for Photography in Moscow. A few days ago I had the pleasure of viewing her simple, sensual and elegant street photos. The exhibition includes 50 black and white prints of street life in Chicago and New York.

Role that mobile devices play with women and photography…

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© Natali Prosvetova, “Strangers”

Do you think that more women are getting involved in this genre because of the democracy and immediacy of mobile devices? What are your thoughts on this?

No.

Post processing images…

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© Natali Prosvetova, “March of Millions, June 12, 2012”

What are your thoughts on post-processing mobile street images? Do you post process your images? Can you share with us an example of your workflow process?

Sure, I do from time to time if it is necessary. My skills are not so great that I am able to get the absolutely perfect shot. Plus of course the iPhone still has some limitations. So I do post-process to crop or fix contrast or brightness and tones. However, some of my street shots have be turned into the art works. It depends on my mood and feelings.

Please share some images and what your thoughts about them are…

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© Natali Prosvetova, “What’s his deal?”

Can you share with us a few of your images that you feel give us good overview of your work… we’d love to hear what you were thinking or felt when you took these photographs. What moved you?

One of the four main images included in the final version was an ordinary photograph of a man passing by. It is not a great shot, but I really love how he looks, as well as his free attitude. I decided to turn this image in to an avant-garde piece of art, adding a bit of geometry and other things. This work was produced in a limited edition of 5 and is presented at Gallery G8 in Moscow.

Apps used: Slow Shutter, Camera +, addLib, Blender, ScratchCam.

Artistic goals and inspirations…

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© Natali Prosvetova “Run away little princess, this is no fairy tale”
(Usually I prefer black and white for my street photos. This is because for me, things look more prominent and important – more powerful and more dramatic in black and white. At the same time, black and white can also be a forgiving colour – it allows you to make mistakes. For example, I think blur and grain look much better in black and white. But for this image, I decided to place the accent on the colour – it seemed to work best in this instance. Apps used: Snapseed, Color manager)

What are your personal artistic goals and aspirations? Are there any artistic aspirations that you have for the mobile street photography genre overall?

Hmm…Don’t use the pause button and never stand still! That’s my main artistic goal and aspiration! Change is the law of life. I would like to have more time to keep up everywhere and always keep abreast of all news. I am seriously thinking of cloning myself!

Social Media platforms…

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© Natali Prosvetova, “Don’t lie to make me fee better’ and ‘Let the Rain Pass”
(Sometimes I like to “paint” my street shots. Apps used: Hipstamatic, Glaze, Blender, Halftone)

Where do you show your work? What social networks are you on? On which platforms are you most involved?

I have a personal website where I publish some of my work, some news, events, tutorials, reviews and publications. I also use EyeEm, Flickr, Facebook, IPA, Pixels, Twitter, Pinterest and for the shameful PR posts I use Instagram. I always use @naprosvet

Personal tips…

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© Natali Prosvetova, “An ordinary life”

Do you have any mobile street photography tips or tricks that you’d like to share with us?

1. Be fast and invisible
2. Spy and seek
3. Have fun!
4. Practice makes perfect!

Anything else?

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© Natali Prosvetova, “Summer pleasures” (exhibited at the exhibition ‘Strawberry Fields’ in Moscow in 2012, print sold and proceeds donated to charity)

Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?

Some words of gratitude. I would like to thank for inviting me to do this interview, the kindest, talented and most responsive person Cara Gallardo Weil. She was one of first people I ‘met’ in the iPhone community (amongst others). I would also like to thank JQ Gaines and of course Joanne Carter for her great, important and hard job, and for this wonderful opportunity to share my thoughts, experience and photos.

Apps discussed in the article…

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© Natali Prosvetova, “Just one look, March of Millions”, June 12, 2012 (won 3rd place in the News/Events category at the 6th iPhone Photography Awards™ (2013)

Hipstamatic
Glaze
Image Blender
Halftone
Snapseed
ColorManager
Slow Shutter
Camera+
AddLib
ScratchCam
Pro Camera
645 PRO Mk II
Classic PAN
Retro Cam
MonoVu
Filterstorm
Tangent
Procreate
Decim8
Strut Type
Alt Photo
TouchRetouch

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© Natali Prosvetova, “Let the rain pass”

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