Alisa is a Russian-born photographer who is inspired by the grandeur of natural light in every day life. We chat about her inspirations as well as her unconventional upbringing to art in a modern day Russia.
How did you get into photography?
– I have been taking photos since childhood. Initially, my father took all the family photos, but I took away that duty from him. Later, I moved from shooting with an amateur camera to a more professional. Photography in Russia is not considered a profession – it is rather a hobby or used for entertainment. So, I am not formally educated in this field. I studied journalism thinking it was close enough to photography.
What fascinates you about light?
– I love to shoot in direct sunlight, it gives monumentality and grandeur to the objects. It is like a wonderful moment in a movie when everything is illuminated by the bright sun.
You are focused on shooting female models only. How does working as a woman with female models influence the mood and the photograph, in your opinion?
– Female models are more expressive and flexible, thus allowing for a larger range of images and emotions. I find it easier to introduce female characters, passing them through myself and trying it out on a model. The perception of men in Russia is very restrained, so retreating from the “standard” may shock. The male character is limited by rigid frameworks such as boys don’t cry, don’t smile, don’t make unnecessary movements, don’t feel any emotion. Of course, this prohibition is unspoken, but ignoring them can cause a variety of effects – from confusion to shock. And that’s not my goal.
Where do you live, and how do your surroundings influence your work?
– I live in Novosibirsk, the third most populous city in Russia. It’s often called the capital of Siberia. It is cold most of the year, and the surrounding reality is reminiscent of the “Silent Hill” movie. Also, it is very dirty and the city can be called “grey”. Most of the time I’ll try to shoot on sunny days only, and not in typical places, opposing to all they greyness. It is like “catching the moment”, but instead applied to the time and place.
Is your photography celestial?
– Yes, definitely. I love using skies as backgrounds and the light that is available only on a very bright day.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
– For me, an idea for a shooting starts from a place or any object. I’m beginning to think about how the model may interact with it: what she would do, how she could act, what is her mood, etc. I am usually attracted to big, clean spaces, for example, a white cyclorama could be such a place.
All images courtesy of Alisa Aiv.
The interview is an outtake from Sucre #4 “Celestial” which you can purchase here.