From banking to photography and shoe fetishism
Ekaterina Kokhanova, a talented photographer working in Vienna, tells us her most special moments behind the camera and explains why one photoshoot involved scrubbing the floor of a wagon.
It’s not just about the click of a button, it’s about the right equipment, perfect teamwork and getting to know the person in front of the camera. That is what I’ve learned from this conversation with Ekaterina, but I’d better let her tell you her favourite stories, the tiny details she notices when browsing fashion magazines, the stylish things to do in Vienna and some tips on looking great in front of the camera – I’m sure you’ll want to read those!
Tell us three things we need to know about you:
I come from Siberia, I love traveling, and I am a shoes fetishist.
What is the best thing about being a photographer in Vienna? Why did you choose this city?
I moved to Vienna for private reasons, during the first two years I didn’t think about becoming a photographer. I finished my studies in “Banking and Finance” in Russia, and found a good job in a bank in Vienna. I had one analog professional camera at home, and I just took a lot of pictures with it on vacation (flowers, architecture etc.). Once it came to my mind – why don’t you do a photo course? I found the idea good. When I came back from one vacation, I bought my first Canon 7D, and decided to deepen my know-how.
You capture a lot of love stories on camera. How well do you need to know a couple before finding the perfect story for their photoshoot?
I try to meet couples at least one time before shooting. We go for tea or coffee and, I just ask them how they met, how he proposed, what is the funniest thing they have experienced together. And I tell a lot of myself, about my life too. If the photographer and the couple trust each other, the couple is not afraid of the camera, and they even forget that they are on shooting and being photographed. I try to do all, so my couple just forget about me and my camera, and enjoy each other. And then the story develops itself.
Portraits are a big part of your portfolio, which one has the most interesting story behind it?
My first portrait. I had to do 5 photos, it was a homework at photography school, the theme was «Lights of the big city». And it was Christmas Market time, so I decided to go to Rathaus Market. There were many people, laughing, talking, drinking punch, eating Hot dogs, buying toys for the Christmas Tree. Life was so concentrated there, and there were many lights.
And then I’ve seen an old lonesome man, who was staying with his back to me, watching this market, the people, and smoking. I prepared my camera, and started to look at him through my lens. I wanted him to turn with his profile to me, and was waiting for it. He smoked and smoked all the time and I almost lost my hope that I can take the picture I had fancied. But then, he turned, smoking the end of the cigarette, and I did my shot. He went away, and I was so happy, that I had my real first SHOOT. The concept behind of this photo was: even in a big city, where there is so much light and life, where so many people enjoy themselves, there are persons, who stay in the middle of all that and are maybe alone.
What defines a good shoot: a well-organized team or a charismatic model?
I would say a good mix of both, and, what is the most important thing – all persons must look in the same direction, and feel trust, get comfortable and really enjoy the shooting. I trust my team 100% and never disturb them in their work, we just choose the theme of shooting, and then every person is like a puzzle, does his job freely, without any comments from my side. So, 100% Trust is the most important thing.
Which type of project do you enjoy most: photographing real people in real life situations (like weddings, pregnancy), or perfect professional editorials? Is emotion more photogenic than a perfect model face?
I don’t like reportage shootings, where you can only take a picture, I like when models (professional, or private clients) are shown on a photo as I see them, with my eyes. I like bringing up ideas, no matter if it’s a wedding or professional model shooting. And of course, emotions are more important than just a beautiful face.
Is there a special photoshoot that you’ll always remember for being very emotional, funny or just different?
Every shooting is different, and every shooting has its small adventure behind. But the craziest shooting was when me and my team wanted to make a shooting with pigments (colors). We found a location, it was an old wagon with graffiti, and it rained a lot, but it didn’t stop us.
And there it was – our model stays under the rain in a body, with high heels on this old metallic wagon, my team left and right all wet throwing pigments towards her, I stay with my camera in a plastic bag, and we take nice pictures. And then after 20 minutes one man comes out of this wagon and says (the wagon itself was really dirty at this time already). «But what are you doing, this is my property, my hobby room». So, after the photoshoot we were all wet, dirty and under heavy rain, but had to clean up the floor of this wagon.
Do you enjoy being in front of a camera or do you prefer to stay behind the lens?
I have more experience behind the camera than in front, and feel more comfortable behind it.
Is fashion an important thing in your personal life? And is fashion photography something that inspires you?
I love fashion, beautiful clothes, I am a shoes fetishist. I like beautiful dresses. And of course fashion photography. When looking through magazines, I always look into the models’ eyes; there one can see where the light comes from, what kind of light it is, sometimes you can even see the studio and the photographer inside the model’s eyes!
Can you give us some tips on how to prepare for a photo shoot, and how to look good in front of the camera?
It’s very simple – the day before shooting: sleep at least 9 hours, don’t drink alcohol, don’t eat salty food. Before shooting – wear only things you feel beautiful in, take a make-up artist and a hair stylist. And at the shooting – trust your photographer 100%.
If you enjoyed these little photography secrets, you can see more of Ekaterina’s portfolio on her website. And if you’re heading to Vienna, check out her tips for a perfect city trip in this Vienna Guide.