Maxim Guselnikov is an exceptional photographer from Russia who likes to create “storytelling environmental portraits” as he describes his own work. He finds his inspiration in movies and digital art. A renowned ambassador of Tamron besides shooting, Maxim runs workshops, lectures & master-classes in Russia and Europe.
Can you tell me a little about you?
My name’s Maxim, I’ m 36, I live in Moscow. I love hanging out with my friends, good movies, travel (I’ ve visited 25 countries – not so much but already something), football (as a fan), ping-pong, some good burger & my cat Button.
How and when did you get into your profession?
It was more than 11 years ago when I’ ve first seen some photos made with DSLR on a birthday of my friend and I was shocked how easy it was to get that kind of look. I’ ve dived deep into photography & gear, got my first camera & something clicked in my head. First it was a hobby, couple of years after it turned out to be my side-job but around that time I ‘ve decided to go full-time into photography and since 2013 I’ m a freelance photographer.
What does photography mean to you?
I just reflect myself through photography – the way I see things, aesthetics & people. Plain & simple. Yes there’ s additional layer of my own thoughts and feelings I put into my work but the viewer don’t have to share them. It’s just my interpretation of reality I see.
Could you describe your style in three words?
Storytelling environmental portraits.
Where do you get inspiration from?
Mostly from the movies and digital art. I like the way cinematographers’ approach to building up the scene – even the tiniest detail matters. Not to mention light, composition, colors and all other stuff. Also, I like digital artists for their crazy imagination. This is actually a very overlooked source of ideas and inspiration – photographers should learn and accommodate the stuff that digital artists do. Just think about it – they know so much about light they can drew it from scratch, they can draw any kind of location – not the one that looks like the most lookalike – EXACTLY what they need. So, I think the biggest part I ‘ve learned from both of those inspiration sources is that you don’t have to catch the moment, you NEED to create it.
Do you think in advance what you want in the picture ?
Coming from previous question – of course I do. Usually I plan my shootings months (or at least weeks) ahead – I have to be sure that everything is set & ready. I pick a model, I scout for a location, I take care about styling, I work on all kinds of props & since I work with natural light exclusively I have to plan the shooting in terms of weather.
Studio, on location or both?
Location mostly. It ‘s usually looks more believable and more versatile to work with most of the times.
What has been your most memorable session and why?
I think the one called Writer’s Block since the idea was literally IN THE AIR because I wasn’t able to shoot anything worthy for like 8 or 9 months. I`ve tried to picture the state I`ve been into and it was very personal at the moment. Also because Ivan Petkov, great movie actor & my model on that shoot, was in super talkative mood and since our shoot lasted around 8 hours I was extremely exhausted by our vapid conversation.
Nikon, Canon or something else? Favorite lens?
I ‘m a Nikon shooter but I can’t call myself hardcore gear-head or one-brand fan. I just used to Nikon cameras so I am pretty sure I ‘d get pretty similar results with any camera brand. In terms of lenses, as a Tamron ambassador I use their stuff exclusively for past 5 or 6 years and I ‘m pretty happy with it. My favorite lens is Tamron SP 35/1.4 Di USD – one of the best (if not the best) 35mm lens ever made. A perfect choice for environmental portraiture.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?
Never consider it a business – you have to be passionate about your photography, put your soul into it and this is the way to be. Also, never stop believing that you`re able to take pictures you`re dreaming of – I was really close to quit couple of times and every time I`ve become better and took better images after I`ve decided to stay for a little while.
“You don’t have to catch the moment, you NEED to create it. ”