We are very happy to have a chance to speak today with a man who participated in B&W CHILD Photo Competition for the first time, and who took it by the storm! He won both 1st and 2nd places in the Fine Art Category in the First Half of B&W CHILD 2017 , his photographs left the judges out of breath. We introduce you to the Evgeny Matveev – the master of timeless child photography!
Q: First of all, we want to congratulate you on winning the 1ST and 2ND place in Fine Art Category at B&W CHILD 2017, First Half! You participated for the first time in our competition. Did you expect to achieve such a great result?
A: Thank you for your congratulations! No, I did not expect such a result. I hoped to enter the short-list, but to be a winner did not expect!
Q: Can you introduce us to Matveev Evgeny? What is your background? Where do you live? How old are you? Do you do photography as a full-time job?
A: I am 46 years old. I live in St. Petersburg, Russia. I’m engaged in photography for about 20 years (as a hobby). In last three years, photography has been my main profession. I’m currently working as a photographer at the Boris Eifman Ballet Theater.
Q: Can you tell us the story about Sasha series?
A: In Sasha, I was attracted to model’s hair, fragility, and her eyes. I arranged the shooting with the girl’s mother. A lot of photos were taken, both portraits and general plans, with the idea to show her fragility. Photo, where she lies in the grass (1 place in the category Fine Art), is just about that. A small fragile person in the big world. Subsequently, I did a few more shootings with Sasha and all of them resulted in good shots.
Q: Who is Lera?
A: Lera is a gymnast. I spotted her at the sports competitions. I liked her look: a serious look of intelligent eyes. I also manage to organize the shooting together with her parents, and as far as I can tell – the shooting was a success!
Q: Do you have an official education in photography?
A: I do not have a special “photographic” education. I graduated from the St. Petersburg Academy of Film and Television as an expert in the processing of photographic materials. Also, as a teenager, I graduated from art school in the class of drawing.
Q: Where and how do you learn photography?
A: As I said, I did not get a “special” education. But I’ve watched a lot of photos of classics photography, such as Avedon, Saudek, Horst P Horst, Sally Mann, etc. I read books, I try to understand why their photos are so good. What makes them so good? How do they differ from other photos I see? It doesn’t have to do anything with copying, I’d rather call it an attempt to understand what makes photographs amazing.
Q: How did you get your start in photography? What were some of the most important things you found along the way in relation to the development of your photography?
A: I tried to shoot nature, still life… Eventually, I realized that the most interesting thing for me was to take photographs of people. It seemed interesting to show a person in the photo the way I see them. I tend to shoot different people. But for the last few years, I have been taking photographs of mostly young girls. Perhaps because I’m familiar with this subject in photography. I have been shooting rhythmic gymnastics and ballet for many years. I see the girls not only as they’re on stage or when they’re performing, but I also accompany them on long and exhausting training and rehearsals. In addition, they are still natural, they do not perform the roles that the “adult” world decides to give them. They are fragile. Some of them are looking at my lens with caution, some with a very free and artistic point of view. Some of them are trying to get close, someone – feels like on stage. Their fragility, prickliness … their beauty. In a few years they will become just “like everybody else”. Until then I’m trying to show that they are alive: without plastic glamour. Girl just as they are.
Q: How would you describe your photography in a few words?
A: Sight, Eyes, Fragility, Angularity, Elbows, Knees, Teenager, Alertness, Sincerity. Own world. An alien world.
Q: What caught the eye of the judges is your classical, almost painterly approach to photography. What are your favorite art periods and movements?
A: All that can be defined as “classic.” For example, Irving Penn to me is much closer and clearer than Andy Warhol. I like to look at the picturesque portraits of Repin, Serov, Surikov. But at the same time, I really like theatricality and pretentiousness of “art nouveau” and “art deco” style.
Q: Who are your favorite photographers?
A: Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Sally Mann, Jock Sturges, Jan Saudek.
Q: What inspires you?
A: I can be inspired by the models – their eyes, hair, their motion. Sometimes the atmosphere of places inspires me. And of course, inspires me and motivate me to work – photographs and pictures of the classic era.
Q: What is in your camera bag? What camera body and lenses do you use?
A: When I go to shoot, what can always be found inside my bag, except for the camera is:
– Trash bag;
– Paper tape;
– Dresses for the model;
– An umbrella (yes, this is St. Petersburg! :))
A little explanation about the dresses: most of the models are photographed in dresses I buy in the “second hand” markets, in flea markets. When it comes down to wardrobe I always try to achieve timeless feeling, so modern clothes are mostly not suitable for my photos. And the models simply do not have the clothes that I need.
Q: What about the lightning?
A: If it is possible, I try to use natural light. I love it very much, I love the sun – light, and shadow. But unfortunately St. Petersburg is not the best place to shoot in an open air and direct sunlight. For example, this summer the average temperature is + 16C, and for 25 days a month it rains and it’s cloudy. So I have to use studio flashes. But even when I am using them, I try to get the effect of natural lighting.
Q: What is your proudest moment as a photographer/artist?
A: For me, as for any artist, any attention from the viewer or the jury of the competitions is valuable. Especially if the jury pays attention to my work among other participants. That shows me that I and my models achieved something, so I’m going in the right direction. I also really love the moment when I get to tell the models that photographs we did together caught the eye of the jury. It’s a great pleasure to see them happy!
Q: Do you have any advice to offer us fellow photographers and artists about photography?
A: Councils are simple: see the work of classics (not only photos but also painting, movies). Analyze what you see, think about it. Try to understand why they are good and interesting. Communicate with colleagues. (In case your colleagues praise you all the time – find other colleagues!) Take pictures by yourself. Do not try to make one hundred different photos from one shot/angle, make three or five frames, but very well done. Pay attention to errors, reject and throw out the unsuccessful shots.
You can see more of Mateev’s work on 500px!