This Photographer Makes Fashion a Stunning Sensory Experience

“Colour is my most important means of expression.”
– Elena Iv-Skaya

We’re familiar with Elena Iv-Skaya’s love of bold colours and beautiful women from her series Dreamer Pool, but her signature style has never been more apparent than in her new series: BoKaap. Clean lines, sharp contrasts, saturated hues, and crisp, colour-blocked outfits make BoKaap a stunning sensory experience.


The Russian-born photographer has long been an artist and a painter, but discovered her love of photography after relocating to her new home, the French island Réunion.

We got back in touch with Elena to chat about her latest series.

THE PLUS: You feature many vibrant colours and strong contrasts in your pictures. What do you like about these?
Elena Iv-Skaya: The colour is my most important means of expression. As my photography has a strong “art for art’s sake” aesthetic approach and is not meant to convey any moral or social messages, I prefer to focus on exploring colour, contrast, form and composition in the pursuit of beauty.


TP: Did the colours and contrasts influence your choice of Tobi as the model?
EIS: Actually, it’s Tobi that influenced my choice of location with its colours and contrasts, and not vice versa. This is how it happens most of the time for personal work. I feel like shooting with this or that model, and then I ask myself what type of surroundings will work best to bring out their beauty. I felt like making her beautiful dark skin stand out against colourful bright backgrounds.

TP: For BoKaap, you decided only to work with one model. Why?
EIS: I felt like doing something minimalistic, with simple graphic lines, concentrating on the contrast of the bright solid colours with a feeling of solitude and reserved emotions.


TP: As in Dreamer Pool, you let your subject interact with fruit during the shoot. Why?
EIS: There is no hidden message in it. I love to explore colour and form, and fruit is a perfect thing that combines both.

TP: Where was the shooting location, and why did you choose it?
EIS: I decided to shoot in Bo-Kaap, a historic neighbourhood of Cape Town that I chose for its brightly painted houses. It has natural light and many options of different coloured walls, so inspiring!


TP: You opted for a variety of brands in the outfits. What were you looking for in the styles?
EIS: I worked with the stylist Carla Vermaak. We decided to go for colour-blocking the outfits and shooting them on the complementary coloured backgrounds. The make-up artist, Suaad Jeppie, has wonderfully implemented the colourful graphic concept in make-up. At the very end of the shoot I decided to go for complete colour-blocking with red clothes on red background and it became one of my favourite images. The only clothing brands we used to style this shoot are H&M and Zara! The stylist complemented these mass-market outfits with a local designer hat and a vintage beret.

TP: What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?
EIS: I don’t know yet where my inspiration will bring me!

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