Our friend, traveler, and talented photographer Maria Orlova cannot imagine her life without a camera in her hands. Her job is her hobby as well as the source of permanent inspiration and internal balance. In this interview, Masha told us about her favorite cameras, the trip to Oregon and other states, plans to move to the other country, and, of course, her favorite jewelry.
Aloha, Masha! For the beginning, tell us a little bit about yourself. How long have you been studying photography?
Hello! Photography is actually a big part of me, and I had a lot of chances in my life only thanks to my profession. I have been taking pictures since I was 16. Approximately at the same time, I became financially independent of my parents, and photography was my only source of income. Although, stability in terms of earnings came to me definitely not before I turned nineteen.
If my interview is read by a person who wants to become a photographer and devote their lives to it, then I will take my chance and give only one piece of advice: do not look for the exact place to study. Take your camera and try to spend every day taking at least one photo that you are happy with.
Where do you live?
Since I try to travel as much as possible, it is already difficult to say where I live. Most of the time I spend in Budapest, Paris, and the USA. But in Moscow is the house of my family. The concept of “home” became a bit blurred for me, but the main thing has remained: home is the place where I can go when I'm mentally and physically tired. Even if no one waits for me, my family is always close by.
What kind of equipment do you shoot with?
Canon 5d Mark II is my friend in war, and he never fails. Together we went through fire and water. He even broke my tooth with the metal part, and somehow I managed to break my nose in Seville when I was shooting while sitting on a horse. My favorite lens is Carl Zeiss 50mm 1.4.
I also like Canon EOS 55, which I once bought on Avito for 2000 roubles (35 USD). I go along with it very easily: it makes me happy like an obedient child. Also, I have very light, sharp and fast mirrorless Fujifilm X100T.
And I love and hate at the same time the medium-format "Amateur". It chews and tears an expensive film, on which there are only 6 or 12 frames. It does not have an exposure meter (that means that I can adjust the settings only by guessing, and this does not always work as it should). And the coil is jamming in it. But all this is offset by the photos I receive by it: it's impossible to repeat with another camera.
Are there any photographers whose works inspire you?
Kolya Bondarev! He takes a very heartfelt live travel, true stories about the world and people around. Another Russian photographer is Yura Treskov. In my opinion, no one else can take pictures of women as cool as he does. And I also like Petros Kuoblis and Eva Kosmas Flores. And if we talk about the classics, Richard Avedon and Peter Lindbergh.
On your website there are many categories: beginning with portrait shootings, ending with travels. Do you have main photography style or do you like to shoot different things?
Previously, my main focus was on commercial portrait photography. Then, from portrait I switched to fashion industry: I made portfolios for models who planned to work in large markets (Asia, USA, France). Last year, most of the time I took pictures of restaurants and hotels, so I was more into interiors and food. And now, more often I shoot nature, food, and interiors while I am traveling. I will devote more time to the development in this sphere.
The website is a working tool that allows me to monetize my experience and knowledge. Though some sections are not matching the others. But soon, my website will be dedicated only to my travel photos. There, I will write city-guides about my favorite cities. By the end of the summer, it should have already been completed.
Do you have your own favorite shoot?
I did not manage to choose only one among these photos:
They do not show any philosophy, in terms of composition they are not unique, they do not have emotions. But each of them is a reflection of me, a kind of movement in silence.
Which place among the ones you have ever taken pictures you cannot forget?
Marrakech, Morocco. Sights on the same street can be very beautiful and at the same time completely disgusting. So many details, the contrast between aesthetically attractive and disgusting. It takes a lot of energy just for noticing every detail and overall picture and does not allow you to forget the city.
Have you ever had extreme shooting?
Relatively extreme was the shooting with Leonid Agutin and Elina Chaga (from the “Voice” TV-show) in Seville, Spain. The temperature in the shadow was around 48°C, and we shot in the sun for 5 days in a row, from 5 am till the dark. The whole team got sunburns, and I also had a strong allergy to the sunburns. Before, I did not know that this even exists.
In general, I think I'm far from extreme. I know that behind the scenes, many would have climbed into a dangerous cliff or hung from a pine tree standing over an abyss. But I would not do it: I still have many plans and such a risk is not my path.
Is your trip to Oregon work-related or is it just a vacation kind of journey?
This is more vacation but an investment in the future at the same time. When I'm going anywhere, I always think whether there is a chance for my development and whether I can be useful there.
Tell us about your impressions. Was everything in your trip exactly as you imagined, or were the places completely different?
Everything was much better than imagined. Each city in which we stayed, was not much like the previous one. Each forest that we passed was different from the others. The weather, nature, food, people – everything constantly changed. No matter how carefully I plan the trip, the country either gives me pleasant surprises or not. And in this case, the States gave me all I needed!
What is the first association that comes to your mind when you think of the trip?
I walked down the cliff to a black beach in Mendocino, and while I was picking up the seashells, the ocean and fog quickly moved on me. It is very majestic, scary and exciting. I could not leave until the tide blocked my access to the dry land, and there were only a few minutes to climb the wet sand on the high cliff.
Have you been to many US states? Do you have any favorite places in the country?
In fact, not in many – I have been to New York, California, Nevada, and Oregon. In urgent plans, there is Washington, Montana, and Wyoming. And now about my favorite places. Since I like to make city guides, I will try to not get carried away.
- New York
All of Williamsburg. I'm afraid to blink there so that I won’t miss anything! The districts of Greenwich and East Village, City College (this is Harlem, which may sound a bit odd). For food places, I can recommend Little Collins, and for coffee – Black Fox.
- Los Angeles
Only Santa Monica and Venice Beach, especially Abbot Kinney Boulevard. That place is so beautiful, especially at sunset!
Sunnyside and Richmond districts. Food on the food courts, which Portland is known for. For Coffee – Coava. Multnomah Falls (only 30 minutes from the center of Portland). The city of Seaside early in the morning, when there are not so many tourists.
- San Diego
Which country would you go to if you could go anywhere?
I'm inclined to say "USA" again, but if we talk about new countries for me, then New Zealand, Tasmania, and Australia. Almost every day I watch the official Instagram of Tasmania and save tons of photos.
What is the most difficult thing for you when you travel?
Get into the right mood and not give organizational moments (three-hour queues, car rental, problems with hotels or apartments, fines, blocked routes or illness) distract me or spoil my mood. Also, to be flexible enough to change my plans depending on the circumstances, but nevertheless have time to complete everything I have planned.
Which things you never leave home when you go on a trip?
Without a camera and everything that is necessary for its smooth operation.
Which countries did you manage to visit this year? Are you already planning your next trip?
If we count exactly one year from now, the route was as follows: Hungary, Austria, Latvia, France, Spain, Croatia, Montenegro, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Ukraine, Portugal, England, Morocco, USA, and Italy.
Almost all trips were related to work, I had not yet learned to rest in beautiful places. I have a great plan, and everything I'm doing now is for turning it into reality. Sometimes I also work, in breaks. The first part of the plan is moving to the US this year!
Do you have your place of power?
And not only one! My room with an attic ceiling at my parents' country house, Lovcen, and Djenovici, which are in Montenegro, the whole state of Oregon at any time of the year and day. It is very important that in times of weakness and decay I can be in physical contact with nature, bury my hands in the sand or touch the leaves. Maybe that's why I never managed to find such a place in Moscow. It seems to me that I pay with my energy for the time spent here.
Do you have a talisman that is always with you?
I found it only this year. This is a small wooden cat with a very serious muzzle, which makes it a hundred times more amusing.
What are your favorite jewelry and why?
Athena ring by Aloha Gaia is absolutely my piece of jewelry, although I cannot explain why. I can never take it off and look at the moonstone endlessly.
And I also love La Clavicule from Voda Jewelry. This is a thin strip of silver, which repeats the outlines of the clavicles. Asymmetric long earrings with pink pearls from the “Saharok” store. This is a gift from Sveta Efremova, the founder of the store. And I love them because of Sveta most of all. Tiffany bracelet with the infinity sign. It's very trivial, I guess, but it has been with me for years and it is always about love.
What do you associate Aloha Gaia with?
With the foggy Mendocino in California and its black beach, where recently I have taken some photos for Aloha Gaia. With internal balance. And, of course, with the founder of the company – Denis Terekhin.