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In Conversation: Evgeniya Dovgalyuk, Echoes of Emotion in Every Frame

In a world where moments are captured in an instant, the art of photography transcends mere snapshots to tell stories that evoke deep emotions. Evgeniya Dovgalyuk, a self-taught photographer, found her passion at the age of 18 when she started shooting on film. Now working with digital photography, she continues to nurture her love for the medium through books and online courses. From her early days wandering the streets of her native city, capturing the silence and emptiness that spoke to her soul, to her recent works reflecting on the melancholy and loss experienced due to war and emigration, Evgeniya's photography is a poignant exploration of the human condition. In this article, we delve into the life and artistic journey of this talented photographer whose work showcases the power of imagery to convey deep, personal emotions.

Photographer Evgeniya Dovgalyuk

Q: First of all, can you take us through your journey as a photographer, from the moment you first picked up a film camera at 18, to your current practice with digital photography? What have been some pivotal moments in your growth as an artist?

The most important event was when my older brother gave me his old camera, which led me to discover my passion for photography. Prior to this moment, I had not considered photography as a hobby, but once I received the camera, I began taking pictures.

Years later, the most significant event occurred when I resigned from my job as a project manager in education at the beginning of 2020. This decision prompted me to reevaluate my life, and I realized that photography was much more than just a hobby for me.

At the time, my boyfriend, now my husband, fully supported me and gave me the gift of enrolling in a photography school for the New Year. This experience enabled me to grow tremendously as a photographer and approach image creation more consciously.

These events have been the most important in my life, and since then, I have been continuously learning and experimenting, expanding my knowledge and skill set.

Q: How has your relationship with your native city influenced your photography, particularly the themes of emptiness and melancholy? Can you share a specific experience or location that has inspired your work?

The time I began taking pictures coincided with a period of loneliness and self-exploration when I was 18 and unsure of my identity and aspirations. I was searching for like-minded individuals to connect with.

Feeling out of place, I eventually moved to a different city, but my hometown became the place where I found solace by exploring the streets. Growing up in a small town Velikij Novgorod, Russia where nothing much happened, I found myself drawn to the many unfinished and abandoned buildings that remained after the 90s. Taking my camera with me, I enjoyed capturing these spaces.

I appreciated the sense of emptiness these places evoked, as it mirrored the emptiness I felt within myself. One of my favorite locations to photograph was an abandoned glass factory where I produced a few 35mm film reels.

Images courtesy of Evgeniya Dovgalyuk

Q: As a self-taught photographer, how have you navigated the challenges of learning and developing your skills over time? What resources or mentors have been particularly helpful for you?

To be frank, I am not entirely self-taught in photography, as I attended a private school run by a professional photographer. Although this was not a formal academic institution or university.

In terms of my development, two things have been particularly valuable: observing a diverse range of photographers and taking numerous photographs myself. Without these, growth in photography would be impossible.

I actively follow the world of photography, including both commercial and artistic aspects. I analyze and deconstruct what makes a good photograph, learning from techniques and attempting to replicate them in my own shoots.

Q: Your work explores the topic of emigration and your personal experience of leaving your home country due to war. How has this difficult transition influenced the way you approach your photography and the subjects you choose to capture?

The war had a profound impact on me as an artist. During the first few months of the war, I was unable to take photographs. It felt as though nothing had any meaning, and there was no reason to create images while people were losing their lives.

Eventually, I realized that photography was a way for me to communicate with the world and to express my emotions and feelings. It also served as a means of documenting my life.

I began taking more photographs of everyday life, carrying my camera with me on walks and capturing my surroundings.

In addition, I started focusing on simpler shots that emphasized the human body and its emotions. Our bodies react to all events that occur, and they are more than just shells to me.

Currently, I am interested in exploring the theme of corporeality, and the diversity and imperfections of the human form.

Images courtesy of Evgeniya Dovgalyuk

Q: Can you describe the process of capturing and conveying the feeling of loss in your photographs? Are there any specific techniques or visual elements you employ to express these emotions?

It is difficult for me to express it in words, as it is a matter of feelings. When I view the photographs I have taken, I simply know "This is it".

Nevertheless, certain patterns have emerged in my photography. For instance, I often depict emotions of loss and loneliness through body language: a downward gaze or looking beyond the frame, in search of hope. Alternatively, a closed-eyed expression with an inward focus in search of inner support. Lastly, portraying a subject with their back turned to us, suggesting a closed-off or distant persona.

However, this only scratches the surface of what I feel. Most of the time, I rely on intuition and feelings to guide my photography.

Image courtesy of Evgeniya Dovgalyuk

Q: In your photography, you aim to strike a balance between rebellion and tenderness, strength and vulnerability. How do you achieve this balance, and how do you ensure your models feel like "little rebels" during your shoots?

It is a delicate balance, and while some might think certain elements do not mesh well, that is not necessarily the case.

For instance, a soft and vulnerable half-naked woman seated on the floor can still exude a sense of defiance in her gaze. Similarly, a woman in a business suit may appear confident, but the position of her hands may betray a hint of apprehension.

I enjoy observing the subtle nuances of expressions and body language to convey a specific feeling in my photographs. I give my subjects room to breathe and exist within the frame.

Rather than manipulating them like puppets, I allow them to make their own decisions and movements. My photography serves as a space where people can be themselves, free to express however they want.

Q: How do you approach color and composition in your work to create striking visuals that emphasize emotions and mood? Can you provide examples of how you have used color and composition to enhance the impact of your images?

I am guided by the basic principles and techniques of composition. When I want to convey melancholy, I utilize the compositional technique of negative space. If I need to emphasize a daring mood, I might use a bold color like red.

Itten's book, The Art of Color, has been very helpful to me in my work with color. It describes which colors are complementary and what emotions they can evoke.

Image courtesy of Evgeniya Dovgalyuk

Q: What are some of your most memorable commercial projects, such as lookbooks, editorials, or portraits? How do you adapt your artistic style to fit the specific needs of these projects while staying true to your vision?

In the past year, my photography has undergone changes due to the war. Capturing people's emotions has become my passion, and as a result, my favorite genre is models tests.

I enjoy bringing out the sincerity and authenticity of models. Often, they are accustomed to playing roles in front of the camera, but for me, it's like an interesting game to uncover their true selves and reveal something that lies deep within.

When it comes to adapting my vision to projects, I believe it's important to choose only those projects that align with your values. With so many photographers out there, working only with your own team can eliminate the need to constantly adjust your approach.

Images courtesy of Evgeniya Dovgalyuk

Q: In your opinion, what makes a photograph truly powerful or memorable? Are there any specific qualities or elements that you believe are essential for creating impactful images?

Thank you for such an interesting question. I don't believe this applies only to photography, but to all art forms. However, let's focus on the image.

Without a doubt, a good image should elicit emotions in the viewer, regardless of which ones. It could range from love to anger.

Emotions and feelings define us as humans. Thus, if an image can make us feel something, then it has done its job. The techniques or methods used to create the art are not relevant.

Q: Looking forward, what themes or subjects do you hope to explore in your photography? Are there any specific projects or collaborations you would like to pursue to continue evolving as an artist?

Recently, my mother passed away from cancer, and this topic is currently a significant concern for me. I wish to explore the theme of death in my art to assist individuals in coming to terms with the fact that it is just as much a part of life as everything else.

Additionally, I would like to utilize photography to support cancer patients. While I have not yet figured out exactly how to do this, I have a rough idea: to photograph girls undergoing chemotherapy and losing their hair so that they do not forget that they are beautiful. When you are ill, your body is weakened, and you may appear sickly. I would like to offer these individuals a moment of happiness and help them recognize that they are still beautiful.

Q: What role do you think photography plays in today's increasingly visual and digital world? How do you see the medium evolving in the future, and how do you plan to adapt to these changes?

I believe that photography has firmly entrenched itself in our lives. Everyone has a camera on their phone, so every person in the world can be a creator. And that's great.

Nowadays, the main topic is AI. With its emergence and development, photography will definitely change. Any technological advancement changes art, and it is inevitable. I'm very excited about this.

And no, I don't think AI will take jobs away from photographers. As long as we are human and can feel, we will convey emotions in our images. Machines can't do that.

Love is the key to everything.

Images courtesy of Evgeniya Dovgalyuk


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