Maria Kotylevskaja was born in Russia and moved to Germany at an early age. She studied Media and Communication Science in Hamburg where she’s currently based and working as a freelance photographer. Analogue photography became her biggest passion after her mother gave her an old lomo camera. This is Maria’s second story for herbeautymag, check the first one here.
How did the idea for the series come about?
We started our shoot in a café just across the street from my apartment. I’d always wanted to shoot there one day, so I was really happy when the owner allowed me to take some pictures there with a model. I am so in love with their big windows and the light is just perfect there. The retro style with their big lamps and cozy sofas make it a perfect location for natural portraits. It was my first shoot with Emilja, so I just wanted to get to know her, to let her move in front of my camera in her own way. I had several shoots with her twin sister Alina before, so it was interesting for me to shoot with models who look very similar, but have characters of their own. I was curious what the outcome would be and I think it turned out well!
How do you approach these intimate shoots?
I like to get to know my models first! To talk about their lives and dreams. But also I want to tell them something about myself, so they understand my motivation, the way I see my work and what is important for me. I think it is essential to get along with your models, only then you can capture real emotions. And this is what I always try, to create an atmosphere where you can let go and just enjoy the moment.
What was behind your decision to shoot this story on film?
Film is quite expensive to shoot with, so I am shooting analogue only with models that appreciate it! The aesthetic is very different, imperfect in a lot of ways. This set was shot with an old Pentax K1000, everything is mechanical and you have to be able to set everything manually. But I love the process of shooting with that camera. It slows you down, but in a good way. It gives you time to think about what you are really doing, to talk things through. And the sound of the shutter is just so satisfying – I love these moments! So I try to shoot analogue on my free projects as often as possible.
Is Hamburg a place to be for budding photographers/artists?
Hamburg is a great city to live in as a creative mind. It is beautiful in its architecture and landscapes and definitely has a special atmosphere. In winter it is dark and moody, so you have to be able to get along with this nordic weather. But in summer everyone is out in the streets, enjoying the warm days. It is a very vivid city for me! You can get inspired just by taking a walk. There are a lot of spots here, that can look so different. I’ve lived in Hamburg for 7 years now and still have so many locations where I never get tired of shooting.
What’s next for you?
I would really love to work abroad, to shoot in different countries and meet new people! I think it is important to develop on a personal level to improve your style as a photographer. As much as I love my hometown, I feel the need to escape it sometimes.