Someone asked me the other day about how it all started for me, what was the turning point when I knew I wanted to become a portrait photographer, and I thought I would share the story here as well…

I got my first little Russian film camera (Smena Symbol for the tech-y ones) when I was 7 and (of course) I absolutely loved it. But my enthusiasm faded, I was more interested in other and all kinds of creative endeavours while growing up. I *was* taking photos, I always had a camera (mostly simple point-and-shoots) but didn’t think much of it or about it. It was purely means to capture memories.

Something changed when I moved to the UK. I had this HUGE desire to capture everything. I’m not sure what it was, the experience of a new country and culture or the light (oh the light *is* definitely different here btw)… but I simply had to take photographs. So I started with landscapes and flowers and architecture and all the other pretty things I laid my eyes on (you can check out my old stream over here on Flickr if you’re curious). It was a hobby, of course, but I was *obsessed*. I spent hours and hours and hours researching images, camera settings, various techniques and photoshop skills on the internet… then spent hours and hours and hours trying them all and practicing all my new skills. I *always* had a camera on me (film or digital) and pretty soon I started to annoy all my friends and family so for a long time I haven’t actually managed to get a lot of images of people.

Then… in 2011 I went travelling in Vietnam and that changed everything for me.
It might have been just my curiosity, or simply finally taking the courage to point the camera not just on things, but faces… but something changed in me and I wanted more of it.
These two images – the old lady and her great-grandson in Danang were the catalyst.

vietnam portraits

No, they are not perfect. Yes, (thankfully) I improved a lot both in my photography and posing skills as long as my editing.
But they are both dear to my heart and they were essential for me to get to where (and WHO!) I am now.