Photographer / Irina Orwald / @irinaorwald
Based / Moscow, Russia
Can you tell us something about yourself?
Hello! My name is Irina Bunyatyan and my creative name is Irina Orwald. I photograph on film, most of all I like to work in the genre of art portraiture and fashion. I was born and raised in Moscow. In my main profession, I am a classical musician, I have been playing the piano since childhood, so I am in every sense a man of the “creative profession” and have never worked in an office. I’ve been photographing people for about 5 years, the last year I’ve been shooting mainly on film.
Have you dreamt of being something else when you (were grown up)? How did everthing start?
In fact, I never dreamt of being a photographer. As a child, I dreamed of being a doctor, and then an archaeologist, but in the end I devoted most of my life to music, I studied at a music school, after that at college and then following at the Moscow Conservatory. Photography must have found me. My friend once lent me his film camera, and for the just out of curiosity I tried to it. It was a very unusual experience for me. I liked it, but it seemed that photographing with film was too difficult, and I got excited about buying my first digital camera. Who would have thought that in the end I would still return to the film...
What is the meaning of the word PASSION to you?
Passion in my profession I can compare it to passion for a person. You light up inside, with an idea, fall in love with it, it captures all your thoughts, attracts you. You give all of yourself to your work, forgetting to eat or losing track of time. This is a wonderful feeling.
What in your opinion, is most important to consider while shooting portrait pictures?
This is a good question! When photographing people, it is very, very important to love people. It often happens that I am not familiar with the model personally until the shoot. We see each other for the first time, sometimes we are shy, we worry how everything will go, and this is absolutely normal. And the photographer always has a difficult task: you need to be a subtle psychologist to make the model comfortable with you, to make her feel free and cozy. Without trust, contact and mutual understanding, it won’t work, and without love for people it is impossible to achieve real trust and convey their beauty.
Since photography techniques and equipment change so quickly, it is important to stay up-to-date. What do you do to always keep up with the times?
I do not chase technology. I consider myself to those people who believe that a good shot can be shot on a soap dish. If a person does not know how to see beauty, does not feel how the frame is “breathing”, top-end equipment will not help him in any way. I can say the same about post-processing: I don’t try to be in a trend, I don’t know what tinting is in fashion now, but it seems to me that does not make my frames less interesting or less relevant.
What do people that starting out need to know? What camera did you start with?
I believe beginners greatly overestimate the importance of technology. Every day, I get messages with questions about what I'm shooting with. Sometimes I get messages like: "I like your work, I want to shoot the same, tell me what camera I should buy?" And the camera I’m using far from the last “top” models. My digital camera is the Canon 7d (first model, 2010), and the film camera is the Canon EOS 500, generally from the 90s. When you start making images, it is very important that you like what you are photographing and that it brings you pleasure. And one should not forget that photography is not only fancy expensive lens, it is about vision, composition, emotions, mood, atmosphere, captured moment, beauty or truth - everyone should find something in it. Nowadays, when everyone has smartphones with cool cameras, photography is more accessible than ever. There is an incredible amount of content and it is very difficult to stand out from the crowd. There are a lot of similar photos, same type of tinting and if a person has nothing to say, then his work will eventually be lost among many clones. You need to express yourself, talk about yourself or the world around you and get involved in the process!
What is a good day for you?
Let me see. Hmmm ... it would be great to wake up and see a box full of film next to the bed! But, getting back to reality, a good day is when I can lay in bed until noon, walk with friends, laugh, drink a little coffee and watch my favorite shows.
What was the first camera that you’ve gotten?
The first camera I bought myself was the Canon 50d. We went through fire and water, I still remember her with love. I set aside half a year of my scholarship for a whole year to buy it.
How much do you research your subjects before photographing them?
I always prepare for the shoot in advance. I’m sure to carefully look at the model’s page, which I choose to shoot, notice which camera angles suit her, rethink the image, the lighting and the poses. If I’m shooting on the street, I try to go to the location in advance and find out what kind of light there is at the right time of the day / evening. I also pay special attention to matching the style of clothes with the location. I discuss with makeup artists the direction we are going with for the makeup / hairstyle that suits the model we will be working with.
What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
I would have liked knowing how exciting it is! - creating new frames, coming up with fresh ideas, finding like-minded individuals to team up with and bringing my photos to life! Then, perhaps, I would have started photography earlier. On the other hand, I believe that there is a time for everything, and I am grateful for photography coming into my life.