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Interview with photographer Shamil Khairtdinov

By März 29, 2022 No Comments

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I r i n a  R u s i n o v i c h

Interview with photographer Shamil Khairtdinov

Shamil Khairtdinov was born in Podolsk, Russia, but now lives and works in Moscow. He has been involved in photography since 2014, however, he never studied it. Qualified as a specialist in the oil and gas industry, Shamil graduated from the faculties ‘Creative Video’ and ‘Directing’ at the Wordshop Academy of Communications in 2015. 

The blooming talent of the photographer was soon recognized: his accomplishments were awarded by many professional institutions such as Hamdan International Photography Award (Dubai) where Shamil reached the final in 2016 and Trierenberg Super Circuit contest for photographic art (Austria). Shamil Khairtdinov also participated in various exhibitions for young artists and photographers, including those held in the museums for modern art in Moscow and Austria. He had several personal exhibitions: e.g. at Winzavod Center for Contemporary Art (Moscow). 

I wanted to become better acquainted with Shamil, so I asked him some questions about his approach and artistic path.  

How would you describe your style and your approach to photography? 

I always follow the feelings: the instincts are in the first place for me. You know, sometimes thinking gets in the way. While shooting, I try not to think at all, just taking pictures of the interesting things that wander into my sight. At that moment, all prejudices are turned off, they simply die. Following the feeling, following the instinct: you open up to the outside world, to what is in front of you at that very moment, and start noticing beautiful things. 

In fact, it’s similar to the behavior of a cat. I observed the behavior of my cat for a long time and realized that if something catches her attention, she goes there immediately, without hesitation. So we can compare it to the state of instinct in photography: you move where your eyes lead you without any doubt. Next is the selection of photos. This process resembles a counselling session. It’s important to analyze all images, while making choices, asking some questions like: ‘Why did I choose this stone or this pavement or this person? What attracted me to this? Why am I interested in this at all? Does it maybe have something to do with my past?’. 

As for people, I try to connect with them. The main thing is to read the person’s mind and state in the process of photo shooting. 

Did you always know you wanted to be a photographer? 

No, it happened by accident. Before filming, I worked in advertising. I ran my own little commercial agency. One day I decided to study strategy at the Wordshop Academy of Communications, so I entered the faculty of Creative video and later the faculty of Directing. At the faculties, there were some photography tasks. It all started there. I was just wrapped up. I began taking photos of virtually everything: I took around 1,500 pictures every day and 2 months later, I won a photo competition at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. On March 6, 2014, I quit advertising and decided to dive completely into photo and video shooting. It was like falling in love with a woman at first sight. True unconditional love… That’s how it was here: I knew for sure that I wanted it. In addition to photography, I also work as a cameraman and director.

The topic for the current Purplehaze print issue is WOMEN. What do you think of when hearing this word?

Women are the love. In fact, Al Pacino’s monologue from the film The Scent of a Woman immediately came to my mind! I completely agree with it! ☺

Do you have a different approach to women in your work? 

The main thing is to love. That’s my only approach! ☺

Please tell us about your creative process. Do you tend to follow the same process in each project? 

No, I’m constantly exploring new approaches and applying some of them in my work. However, the approach of instincts that I described at the beginning, I always use it because it allows me to see and feel what’s happening in front of the eyes from a new perspective.

What are the fundamental messages you want to get across with your work? 

Talking about reportage and street photography, I seek to transmit what I feel for the place where I am. I try to show everything with no assessment.

But as for the project series or movies that are in the process of being created, then it’s more interesting for me to show the strength of a person’s spirit, demonstrate what a person is capable of. I love to highlight the stories of the people, who even while finding themselves in the most terrible conditions, retain a piece of soul. Whatever happens, some hope should always stay there. In my opinion, art should encourage people to create and inspire others after all.

What’s the latest project you are working on? 

I’m currently working on a short film, the story of which is based on real events from the distant 2000s. The script and all other things are ready for the project. The budget just leaves to be found!