This Photography Series is a Summer Celebration of Women and Fashion Elena Iv-skaya is currently an international full-time photographer based in the French island of Réunion, but she’s got a chequered past that’s led to her current situation. It’s not without a wealth of worldly experience that you can come out with photo series as crisp and effortlessly elegant as her recent work: Dreamer Pool. Striking models, with Elena’s signature aesthetic elegance, poise themselves poolside on the corners of a space saturated in colour, and exude an unmistakeable air of ‘fashion’. Currently specialising in such style and beauty projects, it’s precisely this play with line, block colour and majestic women that add a kick of quirk to Elena’s work, and she’s travelled around to find this mature style. Elena was born and raised in the far Eastern Russian town of Khabarovsk and worked as an English teacher after graduating high school, balancing her studies with international work as a model in Russia and Asia. But it was her time on Réunion that lit her passion for photography. “I have always been passionate about art and painting, but never thought that I would become a professional photographer one day,” she shares with THE PLUS. Finding you professional artistic calling: just another one of the benefits of moving to Réunion. We caught up with her to see how she developed this signature style. THE PLUS: Your work celebrates women, as does fine art photography more generally; why do you think this is? Elena Iv-Skaya: Woman was made to be celebrated. This is a natural thing – the muse is of a feminine gender. I’ve often been told that my representation of woman is elegant. TP: Why do you think your muses are this elegant brand of woman? EI-S: I love the elegance, I do not want my models to look awkward in the photos. Looking awkward is a huge trend now in the post-modernist photography, and I am not sure I am ready to follow it. TP: Where does your inspiration come from? EI-S: From anything. It can be objects, colours, textures, clothes. And of course my muses – the models. I choose the style of my projects according to the model. TP: What do you look for in a model? EI-S: Apart from the physical aspect of beauty (and I confess it is really important to me) I look for the truth in their attitudes. I do not want the kind of models that have that fake “look how beautiful i am and I pose like a model” attitude. TP: Sounds difficult, to put people at their ease… EI-S: I want them to be able to be themselves in front of the camera, to remove the mask. And this is really difficult sometimes. TP: You often use inexperienced models though; any tips you’ve found useful in directing people new to the trade? EI-S: I don’t stop saying “relax” whilst shooting. Relax your shoulders, relax your mouth, relax your hands, relax your eyebrows, etc. The models who don’t have huge experience tend to have an unconscious tension in their bodies, so you have to keep reminding them. TP: Your work is full of colour – what do you think about the trend for minimalism? EI-S: Most of my projects are full of colour, but not all. I also love black&white or pastel tonalities. The project that I’m working on now is all pastel, beige and soft pink. Minimalism can be amazing, when it is aesthetic. TP: Where would you rather be, poolside or beach-side? EI-S: Poolside for a photoshoot, as I love the clean graphic lines, and beach-side for vacations. TP: What do you think is the future of photography? EI-S: In spite of all the new moving-image technology (which can be absolutely amazing), the still image will never cease to exist. There is an unspoken comfort and pleasure in contemplating a beautiful still image.