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Interview with Advertising Photographer Alexander Varvarin

Digital cameras and retouching software opened a whole new era in photography. But the passion for analog cameras will never be lost, and photographers will continue to work with both. I talked with Alexander Varvarin, a photographer who keeps this passion.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Alexander Varvarin

Alexander Varvarin


by Melisa Kaya

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Alexander Varvarin makes his commercial photography works with digital cameras and completes final arrangements through photo editing software. However, in fine art photography, even though the costs are higher and it takes much more time to reach the final result, he prefers to work with analog cameras to create his artworks. It is not important whether the camera is digital or analog, every photo he shots reflects his experience from the very first day. I talked with Advertising Photographer Alexander Varvarin about the importance of photography in business.

Alexander, before talking about photography, could you tell us about yourself? Who is Alexander Varvarin?

From childhood fascinated by the fine arts. When I was a teenager I studied drawing and painting at the Astrakhan Art School. I started photography as a profession after I stopped my career in the advertising business. Since 2004, engaged in a professional photography studio. Certified Professional Photographer, a member of the Professional Photographers of America and Russian NAPP. I have participated in international photography competitions like IPA (Los Angeles), Spider Awards (Los Angeles), MIFA (Moscow), PX3 (Paris), TIFA (Tokyo), etc.

I work mainly in Moscow, but at the client's request - worldwide.

Dancing Butterfly III - Photo by Alexander Varvarin

Dancing Butterfly III - Photo by Alexander Varvarin

When did you get your first camera? Do you remember what did you photograph first?

My father gave me his rangefinder camera when I was a teenager. I shot friends.

How did you decide to pursue a career in photography and establish your own studio? Could you tell us about Alexander Varvarin Photography?

During my work in an advertising agency (I was a production director), I often organized photo shoots, castings, chose make-up artists and retouchers. Soon, realized that I wanted to do photography.

How would you describe your photographic approach?

Work planning is the key to a successful photo shoot.

What type of services do you offer to your clients?

Studio and location photography, cooperation with makeup and digital artists, color correction and retouching, printing if necessary.

Smoothies - Photo by Alexander Varvarin

Smoothies - Photo by Alexander Varvarin

What is the difference between commercial and advertising photography? Are they same or not?

I think advertising photography is part of commercial photography. Commercial photography actually includes a wide range of photography niches: fashion, product, and food photography, headshots and portrait of people in their work environment.

Could you tell us about the awards that you won? What are the advantages of being an Award-Winning photographer?

There are two advantages of being an Award-Winning photographer. First - the victory itself is an additional advertisement for your photography business. Second - you can more freely express your opinion to the client.

I’m proud to be an owner of international professional awards of such prestigious competitions as IPA, ICA, PX3, MIFA, and others.

Lightness - Photo by Alexander Varvarin

Lightness - Photo by Alexander Varvarin

Composition with Leather Bag and Scarf by Pineda Covalin and Butterfly «Lightness» won the Gold Medal in PX3 competition in Paris in Advertising / Product category and the 1-st place in MIFA (Moscow).

What was the first commercial product that you photographed? If you were shooting the same photo right now, would the result be very different?

I did my first commercial photos for Style4Dog company. It was dog’s clothing and accessories of a talented Russian designer Svetlana Abramova (now lives in Florida, USA). During the photo shoot, I realized that I'm allergic to dogs. :-) Nevertheless, Mrs. Abramova became my regular client and later we became friends.

Would the result be different, if I’m shooting the same again? I don’t know.

As a photographer, you are a key creative collaborator on a photographic process. But not the only one. Your client or art/creative director (if you cooperate with an advertising agency) decide what result they want to get, and photographer’s job to make it look good. This is the difference between commercial and art photography.

Paris Wedding - Photo by Alexander Varvarin

Paris Wedding - Photo by Alexander Varvarin

You have been worked in numerous campaigns for many brands. What kind of projects do you prefer to work on?

I prefer to work with a team of real professionals and there is enough time for the implementation of our plans. Too short deadlines complicate the work of the photographer.

In your projects, do you work in a previously defined concept or are you creating your own concept?

It depends on the wishes of clients. I am always ready for both options.

Could you tell us about some of your previous works?

Last year I was lucky to work on several projects for the Moscow Yoga Federation. The projects were aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle and yoga among the urban population. It was cool.

Moscow Yoga Union - Photo by Alexander Varvarin

Moscow Yoga Union - Photo by Alexander Varvarin

What do you think about the effect of a good photograph in the buyer's decision?

High-quality, beautiful product photography can go a long way towards driving sales for any business. People often judge value of products and the trustworthiness of brands on the quality of visual content. A good photograph is eye-catching and helps the buyer visualize what it would be like to own and use the product in their personal lives.

Is it possible for abroad clients to work with you for their commercial photo shoots?

Of course! I am always open to cooperation around the world!

Business owners want to solve their problems with the lowest possible costs. Despite this, could you explain to them that why they have to work with a professional photographer for a satisfactory result?

A professional photographer, unlike a good amateur, always gives a predictable result. It may not be a masterpiece, but it will be good quality shots. A professional photographer knows how to work with expensive professional photographic and lighting equipment. He/she owns this equipment or knows where to rent it. A professional can plan a photo shoot. He/she knows how to communicate with models, stylists and other team members. An amateur don’t. That makes all the difference. Predictable result vs unpredictable result.

Sergey - Photo by Alexander Varvarin

Sergey - Photo by Alexander Varvarin

Which factors determine the project budget?

The project budget is determined by the financial opportunities and desires of the client. Considering these factors, we can plan: the number of shooting days, which models, stylists we can invite, shooting on location or in a studio, etc.

What are your expectations from your clients for a successful collaboration?

Photographer can develop effective visual images only if he/she gets to know the client's ideas very well. In this way, the professional photographer needs experience and a high degree of flexibility.

And in your portfolio, there are limited edition fine art prints. Could you tell us about them? What makes them special?

For my limited edition fine art prints I use medium format film cameras.

I shoot my film work predominantly with the LinhofTechnorama 617s III for panoramic prints and Rolleiflex 6008 for square. Although shooting on medium format film is more time consuming and costly than digital it allows the capture of 6x17cm or 6x6cm transparencies which results in high-quality photographs. The best possible quality materials are used and all prints are mounted on Aluminium and Museum-Grade Acrylic is used to cover print.

Many photographers now prefer to use digital cameras in their art projects. I think the film adds a bit of magic to the photos.

Fire in the Sky - Photo by Alexander Varvarin

Fire in the Sky - Photo by Alexander Varvarin

How do you protect the rights of your photographs in this online era?

It’s a big problem for professional photographers and models. Everyone can download any photo from the Internet. I think a solution to this issue will be found in the future, with the advent of new technologies.

This photo is most often used illegally. I usually try to solve this problem by sending emails. While it works.

Red Hot Chili Burger - Photo by Alexander Varvarin

Red Hot Chili Burger - Photo by Alexander Varvarin

Could your clients use the photographs in any publication, catalog, website, ad or other platforms in the future?

Usually - yes, but it all depends on the contract.

What advice would you give to photographers who want to pursue a career in commercial photography?

Career photographer is not as easy as it seems. Think seriously about your decision. Being an IT expert is much easier. ;-)

What is your favorite photograph that you have ever taken?

Difficult choice. I can tell what works I would like to see at my place. One of them is"Early Morning in Paradise»(IPA CIS 2017 2nd Place inTravel category). Someone will say that this is a very simple picture. I will agree. I live in a big city and for me - this photo is like a window into another world. You can even meditate looking at the clear water, blue sky and sleeping yachts in the distance.

IPA CIS 2017 2nd Place in Travel for - Early Morning in Paradise - Photo by Alexander Varvarin

IPA CIS 2017 2nd Place in Travel for - Early Morning in Paradise - Photo by Alexander Varvarin

What do you think about social media? How does it affect competition in the photography industry?

It’s a new way to interact with potential clients. But I think the value of social networks is overestimated.

How can our readers follow you?

On Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, my website.





What is next for you?

God works in mysterious ways. ;-)

Thank you Alexander for your time.

For more information, please click here to visit the website of Alexander Varvarin

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