Julia Kuzmenko, who is judging the Beauty Photo Contest, is professional photographer, digital artist and retoucher temporarily based in Omaha. Julia has been working with various modeling agencies, recording studios, musicians, web designers and marketing firms in Australia and Russia since 2006. She has photographed around the world including Moscow, Melbourne, Sydney and Los Angeles.
Julia shared with us very awesome thoughts and insights on her photography.
Hi Julia – tell us about yourself
I’m a photographer, retoucher, digital artist and educator and I love visual arts, music and traveling. I think I am a very lucky person – my job is to do what I love doing full-time.
What got you started in photography?
Before I got completely swept away by photography, I spent many years in the financial industry. I’ve got a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and I was a Senior Accountant in a multi-million dollar company in Moscow, Russia in 2006, when I bought my first camera. I first started taking pictures of my friends and family, but within a few months I fell completely in love with photography. In 2007 I decided to quit my job and follow my passion, and went to Australia to study Commercial Photography in the beginning of 2008. Since then I have been fortunate enough to live and breath photography and visual arts. I have photographed around the world including Russia, Australia and the USA and my work has been published in countless magazines all over the world.
Do you have any favorite subjects or models to shoot?
I love working with people and my most favorite subjects are beautiful girls – I think if I was a painter, not a photographer, I would still be painting beautiful girls J I just love beauty and the endless creativity of the professionals I get to work with: models, hairstylists, makeup artists and fashion designers.
Do you prefer indoor our outdoor shoots and why?
I love both, and I am equally as skilled in natural and studio lighting. I prefer shooting beauty and hairstyling photography in studio and everything else outdoors. When I shoot with natural light I usually use wider apertures to get shallower depth of field in my images.
What is your favorite camera and equipment?
I shoot with Canon camera and lenses, and my lights are all Paul C Buff’s strobes. I used to shoot with Profoto lighting equipment, but, honestly, you don’t have to pay a fortune for your lights – Einsteins and AlienBees are very affordable, yet reliable, and there are very few things that you cannot do with these lights.
My current camera is Canon 5D mark II, and I am hoping to start shooting with medium format sometime soon.
As for my lenses – I used to have a whole bunch, but after a few years in photography I sold everything I wasn’t using and I only shot with my Canon 24-70mm L F/2.8 and 50mm F/1.4 for the past few years. I also bought another prime lens in 2012 – Canon 100mm F/2.8 Macro for close up beauty images. I am amazed as to how reliable Canon equipment is – my two main lenses are both over 6 years old and traveled the world with me.
Can you remember one of your favorite photo shoots?
All my personal photo shoots are creative collaborations with fellow-artists: fashion designers, makeup artists and hairstylists. They are always very fun, I could talk forever about any of them.
I think the most memorable ones are those when we did not expect to get anything outstanding and ended up shooting our best work. For example, my Flames series (http://www.behance.net/gallery/-FLAMES-/4458449) we shot in my basement, and we did not plan anything special that day. We got together with the model, Tori Tracy, and my lighting assistant Shelby to play around.
I used my Einstein strobe as a main light and a Canon 580EX Speedlite. I wrapped a piece of green colored cellophane around the flash and duct taped red color gel to the beauty dish on the Einstein, and we photographed the whole series with that lighting.
Later a couple of the shots from this collection were published on Vogue.it. Something we definitely did not plan for when we were shooting them.
Can you share a tip with aspiring photographers
I think Vince Lombardi said it best: “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”
Keep educating yourself, never give up and keep shooting regularly if you want to be a better photographer and artist!