Today we are bringing you a whimsical world of Oleg Oprisco‘s fine art photography. The depth of Oleg’s work and the idea behind each, thoughtful shot prompted me to share his creations with you. I reached out to him with multiple questions and he gladly agreed to share his knowledge with the readers of Photography Life. Oleg teaches multiple workshops every year and is a great educator. He promised to appear in Photography Life more to share tips about his line of photography and if you have any questions for Oleg, leave them in the comment section below.
Tell me a little about yourself, your childhood, where you live and how you started in the craft of photography?
Hi there! Everything started when I was sixteen and got a job at a photolab in a little city called Lvov, located in western Ukraine. During my three years of working at the lab, I mastered all the stages of printing film and digital photography, and all the peculiarities of working with color.
As a lab operator, I got a chance to view and adjust the color of several thousand images a day. I can’t even count the number of weddings, house warming parties, birthdays and other holidays I have visited through sorting those images. Respectively, I started to gain an understanding of which images and poses were most liked by customers. By and large, I still use this information as a reference in my work.
When I outgrew the photo lab, I moved to Kiev, where through some friends I tried my hand on commercial photography. I found that I quickly got tired of the routine. Luckily, right about that time I got my hands on a medium format film camera called Kiev 6C. Perhaps it was then, in 2009, I found a direction, in which I work to this day.
What type of photography do you do and where do you get the inspiration for your work?
I am a fine art photographer and each of my photos is a scene from real life. That is the perfect source of inspiration for me as there is so much beauty in our everyday life. Perhaps, what inspires me is what you see on your way to work. Observing the world around me inspires my next photograph. Of course there are my own changes that I add to the reality, such as characters, props, location, and light… However, I am constantly involved in a search for inspiration and ideas.
We hear the challenges of not being able to earn enough money while being photographers. Is it easy to be a photographer in Russia? What kind of obstacles do you run into?
No one really helps you grow (as an artist) in Russia, no one teaches you, but at the same time no one interferes with you work :) The overall problem of artistic education of the populous exists, which makes it very hard to make a living as an artist. To my advantage, my main costumers are all abroad and I am not deeply effected by the above-mentioned constrain.
Although I believe that the situation is gradually improving. I’ve been witnessing that the bigger cities are attracting prominent authors/photographers with their workshops and those cities host the best musicians of the planet for the enjoyment of its citizens.
Right now though, I am more comfortable living in Odessa (Ukraine). I like this place, because it is warm and close to water. But regular trips to Russia are becoming the trend for me.
Do you think talent for photography is something a person is born with?
Innate talent is just a 5% of someone’s success rate. 95% of it is hard work. The main enemy of any photographer is laziness. Everyone finds a thousand excuses why things around them are not right, photos are not great, no customers, and if there are customers – they are very bad. It is very important to analyze everything all that has been done; note the successful moments, eliminate errors and shoot, shoot, shoot. Ongoing analysis, clear creative plans and regular practice will help one feel his/her strengths and gradually progress.
As soon as the feeling of progressing and belief in success develops, your mind will instantly sparkle with a unique recipe of how to make a complex and interesting frame.
What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing what you do?
In my line of work, it is often challenging to find something new. Be it new stories or new experiences. The viewer is very demanding and constantly wants to be surprised. In photography, this discovering process is the most difficult and at the same time the most interesting part of the craft.
How important is Photoshop in your final images?
Each frame has distractions like dust and scratches and each frame may need color correction and toning. But no amount of post-production will correct a failed idea, ridiculous posture, ugly style and a host of other errors. I am always surprised that instead of analyzing and re-shooting (attempting to correct) the failed shot, many photographers torture themselves, the frame and the viewer by trying to fix it in post-processing.
What type of gear do you shoot with and which one is your most favorite one?
I use Kiev 6C and Kiev 88 cameras with 90mm f/2.8, 180mm f/2.8, and 300mm f/4.0 lenses. My favorite lens of all time is 300mm f/4.0 by Meyer Optik Orestegor.
If you were to given an opportunity to warn your readers of potential pitfalls of photography, what would they be?
Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. What else to say? Drop what you are doing and pick up your camera to shoot some more… if you feel that’s what you want, of course. Freedom, happiness, money… all will come, after you let go and just shoot.
To see more of Oleg Oprisco’s work visit:
Romanas, on a parting note, since you are still in full academic mode, I suggest you read a book written by Herbert Gans, Professor of Sociology at Columbia University entitled: Popular Culture and High Culture-An Analysis and Evaluation of Taste.
I’m not a professional photographer so I can’t say much about that. But I believe you should read one of the all-time very well know author Dale Carnegie. Any book by Carnegie will be a huge benefit to you!.
Best of luck to you!
Thank you very much for your suggestion. It has convinced me, finally, that engaging in blog discussions like this are a complete waste of time and a great source of personal frustration.
Your antiquated Dale Carnegie recommendation said it all. In the final analysis, it’s my fault for even trying to voice a differing opinion.
It seems that if you disagree with the main flow of the opinions in a blog like this you are not welcome.
So, thanks to you Diana, I have been convinced I am wasting my time here and I’ll let you carry the ball.
Remember, go along with the general flow of the comments or you too may be asked to leave.
As you said, best of luck to you. If not, reread Dale’s 1950’s book on how to have people like you.
Sorry …almost forgot to mention. Great article as well!! Thank you Oleg, Lola and the rest of the team!
The photos are breath-taking. I don’t know if I have the right words to describe the beauty of them all. Thank you for sharing!!. Could you plase gide us as to how the photographs were done? Thank you, Diana
Marvelous work,I am astonished how you can do this? So much beautiful photography. Thank you for sharing your views and idea.
The pictures are really amazing. I mean WOW..
It would be great if you can direct me to a post processing link/video explaining how to get this dreamy kind of post-processing for the images.
I wonder what Ansel Adams would have thought?
One thing I can’t figure out: What’s the women with toilet paper wrapped around her wrists all about?
Peter, every time I read a comment like that, an arts student inside me screams in disbelief. If one doesn’t understand something, it’s not the author’s fault at all, but rather a question of viewer’s sophistication and ignorance. I’ve been following Oleg’s work for at least a couple of years now, he is very, very good at what he does and the fact you are comparing Ansel’s landscapes to conceptual portrait photography just proves my point. It’s like comparing La Joconde to Malevich’s Black Square or one of Marina Abramovich’s performances. I know you are a long-time reader of our blog and have seen quite a share of life, and that’s why remarks like that make me want to literally scratch my head even more that they would coming from someone else. Completely missing the point.
Have a very good day. Please, if you don’t understand something, at least try to be respectful.
Satire, Romanas, satire. I was comparing the artistic vision of Ansel Adams with Olegs – not landscape with portrait. Also, the comparison between classic photography with “popular” photography. Oleg’s photography will pass it time because it lacks the depth of understanding in the subject matter being portrayed; therefore, the “toilet paper” comment. It is superficial in my opinion and designed to titillate the viewer.
However, I appreciate your comments. At least you speak your mind.
Both authors have entirely different artistic visions, but neither is better than the other. Oleg’s work is far from “popular”. Quite the contrary. Ansel’s work gave way to what is now popular. He shot landscapes, simple, undeniable, thought-free beauty. His work is lightweight. It carries no need for thought. His landscapes effect emotions and basic feelings of happiness or admiration or whatever else, not a specific message. There’s no code. By all means, he was a genius and understandably his work is a classic, no worse for what it is. But it’s different. Oleg’s work can be viewed on both emotional and thought-provoking levels. A viewer can either admire the color, shapes and light, or he can dive deeper and search for meaning, either personal or that the author himself may have wanted to show. It’s full of symbols and riddles. It’s full of depth that you did not see. That is why I was so surprised you would compare Oleg to Ansel. They are completely different in their approach to photography as a form of expression.
You see toilet paper as a toilet paper, and that may be where your mistake lies. In all fairness, those photographs have a lot of room for interpretation and deserve a proper, long conversation with a glass of wine and free time on hands. In such circumstances, you could start to see the “toilet paper” as a tool in a photo shoot, nothing more. In that particular photograph, it may not be toilet paper at all. What if it’s a string? Bonds made of paper. Perhaps the woman is a puppet? The bonds are fragile, they flap around in the wind, but the woman does not break them. Why? What do those strings represent? You could see personal associations, you could see yourself in that woman tied to something you are not happy with, but have all the capability you need to break those ties. Perhaps a job you do not like? Or something deeper, less apparent?
In no way am I suggesting this is how one should interpret the photograph. It’s the first thing that came to my mind when I glanced at it, and for someone else the message may be entirely different. It may bring out very specific thoughts or memories, connection between which would be far from apparent to an outsider. Someone might be happy just looking at the image and admiring it for what it is, for how it is. What I am saying is that one should keep an open mind. Oleg’s work is not your average self-portrait made with an iPhone for your Facebook profile. It’s fine art, it’s conceptual portrait photography. Conceptual is the keyword here. How you see it, again, strongly depends on your ability to interpret and analyse. It depends on viewer’s sophistication and ignorance, as I’ve said before. Oleg’s work rises questions, one’s the viewer will try to answer to himself. Does Ansel’s work rise any questions other than perhaps ones related to beauty of nature? If it does, I did not find them. This may be the case of my sophistication and ignorance, perhaps.
One can see a deep meaning in Oprisco’s work, and that’s fine. One can see it as a collaboration of color, light and shapes. As simple beauty. And that is fine, too. But if you see nothing but toilet paper, with all due respect that’s your loss, Peter.
– You are standing in front of an original Monet and an original Warhol. You are told that you can take only one painting home…free! Which one would you take home?
-You have a choice of listening to the Beetles or Tosca. Which one would you listen to?
Learning to appreciate art is one thing, but separating and understanding classical works from ephemeral pop-art is what I’m talking about. Look at Adam’s work a little harder. I really think you’re missing the point.
From an Art history major who has traveled widely and visited many museums. Ever stood in front of Michelangelo’s Pieta or Chartres cathedral? Those are some of my reference points for classical beauty/art.
it’s not bottom line. It’s one’s personal preference, taste. It has nothing to do with which is “better”. “Better” is a very subjective definition. As an Art history major, I’m surprised your understanding of what art is is so… narrow. You take the obvious beauty rather than questions. That, on it’s own, would be alright. But you also don’t seem to realize the importance of raising questions, nor how art can be about something else than beauty. That is superficial.
What’s more, in today’s world, Michelangelo’s Pieta is more an example of craftsmanship. It, too, carries no thought. One could say it serves the old, Latin meaning (“skill”, “craft”). Today, definition of “art” has a much broader meaning. That’s from an Multimedia Art bachelor who hasn’t traveled all that much and hasn’t seen Pieta’s and all the big, nice Cathedrals, but who’s studied Art Philosophy, authors of conceptual and contemporary art alongside the artists you mentioned yourself. Our opinion is as good as our knowledge of the subject, Peter. Perhaps you are quite familiar with classic art. Don’t disregard the kind you don’t understand simply because you don’t understand it.
Best of luck,
Peter est trop limité pour vous comprendre. Pardonnez lui.
Thanks for sharing this article Lola, it was a very nice read. This artist is very talented and it was especially enjoyable to read from my perspective because I really love fine art photography.
C’mon, now… give us at least a few “how’d I do that?” explanations! These are amazing, from top to bottom.
What a surprise ! I love you work. It is beautiful, interesting and very creative.
All the best Stefan Lundgren
Nice Article lola, have to say that Oleg Oprisco is work reminds of Anka is work to