Known as @benerotto, Evgeniy Ivanov is 29 years old and was born and grew up in a small satellite town of Moscow, Russia. Working as a Graphic Designer, he never leaves home without his camera capturing the streets of Moscow. Evgeniy is interested in personal space of a person and urban environment. His notable compositions and colors will remind you of Saul Leiter’s work.
What got you into photography and what did you capture in your first pictures?
Thank you for the interview and for your interest in my work. I graduated from graphic design department of the oldest art university in Moscow. Every big task of the main discipline -design- always started with discovery part which was made with photography. Actually, it was favorite part of my education and I felt confident in it. I believe that we develop faster when we are confident in what what we do.
Also, I grew up in a small town and I didn’t like the place my family lived and what surrounded me and the camera has represented the way out, the possibility of escaping from reality and create another one, more pleasant. I tried to capture the place I lived in and this helped me to look at it from another other side.
How have you evolved from those and why do you photograph today?
The main thing that has changed in my photos is that I started working more with colours and I really feel that this skill is what makes my photos more remarkable.
I have a favorite novel, ‘The Beauties’ by Anton Chekhov. There is nothing in the plot, the narrator tells two similar stories how he met two beautiful girls. Though the essence of the novel is not in the plot, but in a way the author shows a very complex emotion narrator gets from seeing beauty. These are vivid impressions with a sense of melancholy. That’s what I personally feel and I’m trying to capture those emotions and sensations of seeing beauty by making my photos.
What are you looking for in photography, is it rather an end result or a reason to go out and shoot the city…?
I have enough reasons to go out every day, but in a rare case I will leave the house without a camera. From one hand, I try to catch what I see everyday and what is happening to me in the most artistic way. From another hand, It is a sort of game for me to create something unusual from ordinary life, so you want to create more and capture more moments.
A lot of your shots were made using an Iphone, what does it bring you compared to another camera?
I shoot with different cameras and always love to try something new and of course I shoot a lot with an iPhone. I think every camera has at least one disadvantage comparing to the iPhone. It is always less intuitive.
“It is a sort of game for me to create something unusual from ordinary life, so you want to create more and capture more moments”.
To use a camera you always have to care about the settings, the particular light and film, the focus and etc. But the iPhone doesn’t require this,and it’s super easy and fast and you can more sneaky and I love it. The bad side is a terrible quality of Iphone pictures still.
As a graphic designer, your images pay particular attention to composition and colors. Do you draw your inspirations from different fields other than photography?
Two fields which I work in — graphic design and illustration — require same tools as photography like composition or color. I can be inspired by photography and use it in graphic design and vice versa. Also, I get inspiration from the cinema, from professional camera work. I love Cohen brothers movies. Still, I can be inspired by non-visual art like music or literature.
Can you tell us about the photographic scene in Moscow?
There are some events and projects in Moscow that I personally love. One of those projects is Photobookfest, a festival and competition of photographic books ran by The Lumiere Brothers Gallery based in Moscow. Many talented photographers take part in the festival and present really good books, the festival also has a good educational programme.
I really love one recent projects made in collaboration by a group of photographers mostly they are based in Moscow. The project is called ‘The New Landscape’ and it is dedicated to the survey of the post-Soviet environment. The exhibition now travels through the exhibition spaces of Russia and I hope it will go to other countries one day.
Sergey Novikov, one of participants from ‘The New Landscape’ projects has finished his personal project dedicated to grassroots football in Russia called ‘Grassroots’ and now presents it in different exhibition spaces in Russia and Europe.
Another photographer from the collaboration I’m talking about, Peter Antonov is in the process of shooting a new project called ‘Ruins’. It is a series that reflect the role and place of the ruined church in contemporary Russian landscape.
Anastasia Tsaider is another great photographer who worked on the same projects. She has just returned from art residence in Vladivostok called ‘ZARYA’ which means dawn and I’m really looking forward to see the result of this work soon.
Your work is based on a continuous flow, have you ever had the desire to create a corpus on a specific theme?
Sure, you can’t only shoot things that happen in front of you and not concentrate on a specific theme. I’ve got a feeling that it’s time for me to work on a specific theme and specific project and I’ve already started. This is a documentary project on an important issue, but still it’s very personal. I’m shooting it outside of Russia, but that’s all that I can say for now.
Do you have any advice to keep a fresh eye?
Recently I’ve faced this problem myself, but I never had it before. What really helps me are frequent and short trips, it’s very refreshing to change things around you.
A trip to Armenia
What is the tie you have with your photographs once taken: you take one and move to another or do you often come back to them? How do you store them?
Some of them I forget immediately after taking, some of them stay with me. Now I have lots of images and I need to come back to them and to think about their future. But it’s not easy for me and making archive is a real challenge. Now I’m just trying to work on a system of storing pictures.
With almost 3000 images, Instagram is your main gallery. Would you like to feature them in another support, such as a book or an exhibition?
I would definitely love to, but the thing is that good contemporary exhibition or book requires an idea and a concept, that’s what I’m working at right now.
Being now days one of the main platforms to discover new talents, what are your favorite photographers that you have found via this network ?
Yes, being one of the main platform to discover new talents it’s difficult to remember whom you’ve found on Instagram first and whom you’ve found somewhere else and followed in Instagram so as not to lose them. Another problem with Instagram is that you can find lots of accounts with photos which are really perfect but you will forget about them 10 minutes later, because it looks like photos from some collective account. Of course, this is not a problem specific to Instagram, it comes from the fact that there are too many similar photographs, but Instagram reflects it very well. Nevertheless, here are some of my favorites:
- @bandini3000, I really love his photographs, he has his own strong style and stays true to it. His work is outstanding in my opinion.
- @manvisual who experiments a lot with color and b/w, also interested in the space around him and have remarkable artistic findings.
- @yourducky is much interested in her own life and people around her. I often look at things with same approach, despite the fact that our photos are not similar visually.
- @Irishumm, Barcelona and Milan based photographer who is surrounded with beauty of places she lives, of nature, her friends and family. Her feed is very colorful and bright.
- @sashafoto is a great artist, great professional and a good friend of mine. Her work with light and shadows is very remarkable in her pictures.
Enjoy all his photographs on instagram.