Dazed Digital

Moscow / Русский

Ivan Pustovalov

March 23, 2012

A local spotlight on the Russian photographer aspiring to create a new wave photography community in Moscow

  • Text by Kristina Voytovich

The Moscow-based photographer Ivan Pustovalov, renowned for his works for Afisha, Bolshoi Gorod, Vogue Russia and Tatler, professionally took a camera in his hands only in his late 20s. After his experiments with the genres in the beginning of his career, today he is mainly focused on the landscapes, portraits and social photography. Satellite Voices talks to Ivan about what it takes to become a photographer.  

SV: What brought into photography?
Ivan Pustovalov:
I've always loved to watch the world around me. At some point, I started more clearly to fix certain still frames in my head. I thought that, perhaps, the photography was the closest instrument that would pull this feeling out. I accidentally got a camera from a friend who had been interested in photography for a long time, and I began shooting. I experimented a lot as every aspiring photographer. I was attracted to this or to that. It was superficial but it was a sort of self-education.

Then I was lucky to find someone who I can call my teacher - Zhenya Nesterov. However, our studies were not formal. I usually came to  him, we listened to music, drunk wine. Sometimes, at the end of the evening, we started speaking about photography. He was giving me some books, telling me something, showing the pictures, asking what attracted me in this or that image. So, these meeting took place for a couple of years. I made a pile of photos, and friends began saying that I needed to show them to someone. As the only magazine in which I saw an opportunity to work, was Afisha, I went there. And, as it is turned out, that was the beginning of my new career.

SV: Do you have favorite genres of photography?
Ivan Pustovalov:
It has always been very difficult to talk about genres because they are quite relative. The images can be the illustrations in the magazines and newspapers, accompany the criminal records, and be put in the gallery or on the wall at home. I have never set a clear distinction between different genres, and I was always curious about the combination of different forms of photography.

 SV: How much is the choice of a camera model important?
Ivan Pustovalov:
The main thing is to understand for what reason you use your camera, because sometimes it’s enough to have the simplest camera, and sometimes a large format one. It all depends on what your goal is. It is important to be able to navigate around the paint palette and know when and what brush to use.

SV: Do you think a professional education is necessary for a photographer?
Ivan Pustovalov:
I only know few photographers who would not be self-educated. Someone had a mentor like I did. But nobody went to any photography school. Anyway, I believe that a person needs to study art history. Next step is a workshop, and the third one, which is so lacking in Moscow, is a "guild image." Unfortunately, it became instinct here.

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