interview by Shristi Jaiswal
The smell of freshly baked croissants, charming hidden alleys and the glimmering sea of light that is the city as seen from rooftops at night… These are only some of the reasons why Paris is considered as the most romantic city in the world. A city full of muses, starting from the colourful flowers found down cobbled streets to gourmet cafes present at every turn to most importantly, the presence of beautiful people steered by the spirit of freedom and celebrations. These are the reasons why artists be it poets, photographers or painters find themselves drawn towards the city synonymous with the word magnifique.
Anna Yakovleva is a Paris based photographer whose pictures carrying hints of raw and natural colours never fails to appeal the eye. During our call, we learnt about her professional journey along with some intriguing facts about her life and of course, her long held affair with the gorgeous city.
What made you choose photography as a profession?
Basically, my Dad is a photographer, so I grew up around a lot of cameras and films at home. When I was seventeen I had started to take my first steps as a photographer but as it wasn’t a lucrative profession at the time instead I started attending university with the intent of becoming a criminal lawyer! However it didn’t last long as at nineteen, I realised that my true passion lay within photography. Therefore I put in all my efforts and started practising it full time.
How long have you lived in Paris?
It has been close to five years now. I originally moved here from Serbia, Russia.
Why do you believe Paris is the best place for a photographer?
I think Paris like New York is one of the best places for a photographer owing to the fact that here, there are ample opportunities for artists like us to grow in their career. The presence of events like fashion weeks and at the same time the existence of a huge market of people who love to get filmed for various projects be it look books or couple photo shoots makes the job really interesting and rewarding.
How would you say Paris has influenced your photography style?
Paris has greatly influenced my style as here I have learnt to play with more natural lightings and have thus developed my aesthetic in general. Furthermore while I worked for the Paris Fashion Week, it made me achieve certain important skills required from a photographer. For example, I can click pictures at a swift pace in order to capture the fleeting instances and thereby catch the precise perfect moments on camera.
Your pictures mostly focus on soft and natural colours. Is there a particular reason why?
Well, I have been practising photography for over eleven years now. During that time I had experimented with a lot of colours and it made me believe that we portray through our art what we feel within us. Earlier I used to shoot very dark and dramatic tones because I felt stressed, however, now I like shooting with natural and pastel colours as at this point in my life, I feel content, at peace and in harmony with myself.
“Earlier I used to shoot very dark and dramatic tones because I felt stressed, however, now I like shooting with natural and pastel colours as at this point in my life, I feel content, at peace and in harmony with myself.”
What is the best thing about being a photographer?
The best thing about my profession is that I have the full freedom to bring my imagination to life. Besides, being a photographer has its own challenges that I love to engage with. Like whenever I am shooting with individuals or couples, I only have a few hours to make them feel comfortable so that they can fully express themselves. So for me photography isn’t only about clicking beautiful pictures but rather establishing deep rooted human connections with complete strangers.
What camera do you use for your pictures on Instagram?
For clicking pictures of lifestyles in general I use my iPhone XS Max and for professional shoots I use Nikon D800.
What is your favourite season to shoot pictures in Paris?
My favourite season is autumn as there are fresh colours budding at every corner in Paris making way for a vibrant and a lovely atmosphere.
Who or what would be your dream subject to shoot?
Honestly, I don’t have a dream to shoot one particular place or a person. I really enjoy shooting with simple people who don’t really have an experience with professional photo shoots as it is more interesting and challenging. Bloggers and models are really comfortable in front of cameras and thus know perfectly well their best angles and how to pose. However working with people with no such prior experience comes as a challenge for me as now I have to find the best angles and guide them every step of the way thereby providing for me an opportunity for growth.
Books that you think everyone must read?
How to Stop Worrying and Start Living and How to Win Friends and Influence People both by Dale Carnegie is a definite must read.
If you could live anywhere in the world except Paris, where would it be?
I think it would be Amsterdam. I find the city really cosy and charming.
“For me photography isn’t only about clicking beautiful pictures but rather establishing deep rooted human connections with complete strangers.”
What is your favourite travel destination and why?
It is a beautiful little village called Étretat in Normandy. It is around two hundred kilometres from Paris. It is very peaceful and picturesque.
Where would you like to see yourself in five years?
I hope that I’m still in Paris after five years and continue to create beautiful content. In addition I would like to mentor young photographers and share my experiences with them. I think I’d be ready to teach a few students about photography by then.
Croissants or macaroons?
Pain au chocolat! It’s a chocolate filled croissant.
What is the biggest goal in your bucket list?
For the moment it is to visit Iceland.
What does photography personally mean to you?
For me it is about making connections with people and help them express themselves.
What do you like to do in your time alone?
I like to edit pictures, learn something new about photography or hangout with my dog.
Do you have any advice to give to new photographers?
Keep on practising and study pictures by other photographers to gain a broader idea about photography. The more you see the better it is for you to discover your own new styles. Moreover it is important to analyse pictures and differentiate between the good and the bad. It helps to learn new techniques and thereby improve.
Any quote you want to leave us with?
Never say never. Everything is possible in your life and I’m a living proof of it. I came from a very little village in the middle of Russia and now I live in Paris, meeting beautiful people and creating beautiful memories. So never give up and keep working hard!