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Saturday, 28 September 2013

Introducing Miss Zharko...

Hello my dearest ones,

Here I am back to my editing nights,
comfy cosy when outside it's raining and there's just me, some good music playing in the background, my sketches for the next project and thousands of pictures to edit...

It might not sound like the perfect Saturday night and it's not the first neither the last time that'll happen to me to rather stay home and work instead of going out, but I must confess I missed this so much!
Especially where two of my best friends are available for a way too long and chatty brake in between...

Despite the ridiculous amount of things to do before to go to bed (it's gonna be a long night...) I decided to take one extra brake in order to introduce something to you,
or I should say someone...

Antonina Zharko is a fashion photographer.
Despite her degree in translation from Russian to English and Spanish and despite her first love with black and white photography and film cameras, she is now positive that fashion will be her last destination.
Currently about to graduate at Griffith College Dublin, she cannot wait to get her BA in Photography in order to go out in the world and do what she loves the most: create strong, beautiful, fashion forward scenarios where there’s only her and her camera and everyone else works in function of that to create some incredible images.

Antonina’s photographs are the kind of images you would cut out of a fashion magazine and stick on the wall or keep inside of a book to remember. They are beautiful, even if she is not a big fan of editing and Photoshop. Which also means that these photographs are good by themselves, without the need to modifying them too much, which sometimes happens in fashion photography.

Very strong, she likes attitude because she has one, but positive.
Very simple, because everything you need is a bit of good taste to create something special and memorable.
A bit crazy sometimes which tells a lot about her courage: she is not afraid of experimentation and that’s why she will probably keep getting better and better. 

I have been interviewing Antonina for one of the magazines I'm contributing to (it's a great one, you should all check it out:  and I would like to share with you the questions she has been giving me,
hopefully you'll be as inspired from her as I have been!

Your first project, last project and future project: how would you describe them?
My first projects were mostly single-photograph-projects, as it was difficult for me to make series of images of one theme or subject. I carefully selected good images and worked on them. I thought that one strong single image could well worth a series of ten. I started with black and white film photography. My first images were pretty dark and moody. And I used to work in the darkroom a lot. Then I moved to colour and when I started my second year in college I thought I had to move on to make series of images and I did a lot of street photography at that time. Although I switched to colour completely, almost all images had the same poetic mood. Most of those projects were a reflection of me, very self-oriented. So I don’t know if they were of any interest to other viewers, rather than myself, if you know what I mean. Than after I finished my second year in college I decided to try fashion photography and I liked it very much. I started to shoot for beginning designers and then moved on collaborating with model agencies. No my projects are more commercial oriented but I think I managed to keep the same style as I had from when I just started. Every project for me, whether it is a single image or a series, is like a music piece, if you know what I mean.

What do you find inspiring and how would you describe your lifestyle?
I am inspired by movies quite a bit.  But generally it is random things that inspire me. Sometimes I don’t know where the inspiration comes from, I never think of it. People that surround me can be quite inspiring sometimes. I am quite an introvert but I never avoid talking to people and I am more of a listener rather than talker. Everyday is quite busy in planning the shoots and new projects. I don’t like spontaneity, everything has to be carefully planned at least by 80 percent, the rest 20 I leave for a sudden inspiration. I think of photography every day, I do it every day. Basically, looking at life, people, places through the viewfinder is my lifestyle, if you know what I mean.

What would you be today if you hadn’t followed your dreams of being a photographer?
I would probably translate literature. That is what I wanted to do before I started photography.

Artists and events: could you tell us the most interesting that you’ve found in your career until now?
Unfortunately in the place where I live now there are not many things happening in the art world that I could be interested in. That is why when I travel to other countries I always try to find a chance to visit as many events as possible. Well, maybe the exhibition of Tom Wood’s work in the National Media Museum in Bradford… I loved it and was inspired by his work at some point. Yes, that is the one I can remember of.

The place where you were born, the place where you live, the best place where you travelled with your work: can you tell us something that only you know to describe them?
I was born in Omsk, a city in Western Siberia. And I would say if I were a model scout I would go to Omsk for the most beautiful female models. Yes, it describes everything. Now I live and study in Dublin. It is a special city for me probably because Dubliners remind me of Russians, same attitude, lots of similarities. My favourite place I travelled to is Manchester. I think it completely suits my personality, very cold, very industrial, very ‘button-down’, if you know what I mean.

Pictures: Antonina Zharko All Rights Reserved.

Another reason why I'd like you to get interested about Antonina (aka Toni) is the upcoming photo shoot that we are going to do together next Tuesday, and that I am going to style.
I guess it's going to be quite an easy challenge as we are going to feature some truly amazing designers such as Honor Fitzsimons, Louise Rawlins, Maria Lola Roche, Rebecca Kenny and Sookyoung Song...

Of course, much more coming up on that!
Therefor, this time is a must: stay tuned!

Snapshots of the week!

Meeting a group of truly lovely people,

Celebrations for Arthur's day in Dublin, 

Volunteering at the National Ploughing Competition for the Irish Youth Foundation,

Choosing some pieces from Honor Fitzsimons' collection for the shooting,

The hair monster...

Taking photographs at Holly's interview with the Fan Lights in the Loop Studios in Dublin.

Next week is going to be quite intense as we will have the photo shoot Antonina and I have been planning for two weeks now and I'll also be off to Italy on Thursday!

More coming up indeed...

Stay tuned!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Tres bien, ma cherie...

Bonjour again!

This is probably going to be the last time I say hello to you using the beautiful French way because here we are with the very last update from my french trip!

I left you on my way to Pays Basque after an unbelievable morning at the Dune du Pilat, a coffee in the very beautiful house of Nico's grand parents and a lovely walk in Arcachon.
Today, I'm going to show you something completely different.

When we were living together in Dublin, Pauline used to tell me stories about Pays Basque and how it's  a complete different country not only from a cultural point of view, but also because of the feeling you have when you are there and what you see around you.

It's very close to the South West of France, pretty close to Bordeaux, but when you cross the border with it, suddenly everything seems different.

Green trees start growing, big heavy clouds glance at you from above, which reminded me of my beloved Ireland, the wind blows with no stops and the sea it's such a strong presence you cannot avoid but feel it, smell it, hear it whenever you are.

This said, if going to Pays Basque you'd probably be staying in one of the three main towns there: they are three, Bayonne, Biarritz and Aglet.
The third one being in the middle, they are almost attached one to the other, so close that sometimes you can go from one to another walking.

They are very close, almost too close for comfort,
but at the same time extremely different.

Aglet, with its amazing beach, it's a place that transmitted me a sense of piece and quiet that I've experienced before only being at the beach.
But here it's even more peaceful, despite the strength of the sea and its waves and despite the excitement that comes from all the ones who come here to surf and cannot wait to get into the water and fight some of these very high, very powerful waves...

Apart the absolutely beautiful beach and the wonderful house of Erika where we spent a relaxing afternoon, the highlight of Anglet was the bbq we had with Pauline's friends on the beach one night.
I've never seen such a fire and so many stars in my entire life...

Also, it was one of the most beautiful sunsets ever...

The one among the tree towns which I probably fell in love the most was Bayonne.
Somewhere you can really breathe the proud of the Basque culture, which is simply everywhere: in the houses and architectures, the colours all around, the writings in the local language which is completely different from the Spanish Basque as well.
This is definitely something that made me reflect as I was in the Spanish side of Basque Country just one year ago: there's almost nothing in common between the two.

The only thing they really share is that feeling of proud and identification that makes Basque Country so special.
As I told you already speaking of the Turkish protest I attended earlier this summer in Izmir, I am always surprise when people express their feeling of belonging to a particular culture and spirit and that's probably one of the reasons why I love both sides of Pays Basque.

And then there's Biarritz, 
so famous for its casino and the elegance of the visitors who looks for a bit of private quiet and beauty all around them when they come here.
It is posh, of course, but being Pays Basque it adds something more and different to the usual luxurious locations that made it more appreciable at my eyes...

I really liked it, of course, and it was probably the prettiest one among the three town, even if gorgeous buildings such ad Napoleon Mother's Palace are right beside horrible buildings which are the heritage of the lack of restrictions in the past.
It was not my favourite, but it's somewhere I enjoyed being a lot, maybe because I was there during the day shopping and wondering around in the sun with Pau 

and because int he night I was there to finally attend what was the biggest reason of my French trip: Paulin's graduation in civil engineering at the BTP of Anglet.

(Her sister Camille, Pauline and I before the graduation ceremony in Biarritz)

The ceremony took place in the old casino of Biarritz, where we also attended the champagne reception afterword, in the gorgeous Grand Salon. 

(The most beautiful person I had the chance to meet at the reception...)

Then we moved to the new one for a great dinner and the party that followed it...
The Salon where we had dinner soon became a dance floor where parents, graduates, relatives and friends all together were celebrating the efforts of these great people and student in the past five years...
The terrace was so amazingly beautiful and the view of the lighthouse of Anglet made it look like a dream.
The champagne was so delicious and refreshing that everyone lost the count of how many glasses they have had.
The band was playing a great mix of songs and basque music which made us all remember where we were: somewhere special.

I think that the fact that they attended University in Basque Country will accompany these guys for all their life, and not only the ones among them who are actually Basque.
Have been here, living and studying is something more to be proud of, more than the simple achievement that the graduation itself means.

I'm going to say it just one more time: this trip was an amazing experience.
It was the very perfect end to this summer which brought me so many incredible things and which I will never forget.
Sometimes you are so happy because of something that happens to you that you think it will never be better.
Then it gets better, new memories, new people, new feelings you didn't know you could feel and it's such a surprise at the beginning.
You almost cannot believe it but then you just live and go with the flow and that's the first step into building something so precious but which doesn't always come spontaneously: happiness.

See you soon everybody!

Enjoy the week end and... stay tuned!