Interview By: Abi Koh | Photographs by: Daria Amaranth
Daria Amaranth is a fine art, fashion, and conceptual photographer from Saint Petersburg, Russia. Her eye-catching and beautifully uncanny work involves the use of animals such as snails, cockroaches, and lizards. Learn more about how Daria started photography, and her advice for how others can improve their photography skills!
How did you start learning photography?
At first, I liked taking pictures of everything that surrounded me in my daily life, but then I realized that staged photography is much more interesting to me. I mostly am self-taught, but I took some photography classes two years ago. They were not typical classes, but included conversations about master photographers and the emotional and magnetic side of photography. I also did a bit of practical work in a studio.
What do you enjoy the most about photography?
I like the fact that I can convey something that exists only in my head in a kind of an abstract form. It's very interesting to visualize this--to speak with this metaphorical language filled with unsolved symbols and mysteries.
How would you describe your photography style and aesthetic?
I like working on the intersection of genres but mostly I prefer some kind of sensual and emotional mixture of fine art and extravagant fashion.
I like the state of something alive in the mood of the photograph (but here I don't mean documentary photography, I prefer staged ones), something breathtaking and dramatic. It's very necessary to me to put emotion inside a photograph - not obvious and loudly expressive one, but very deep, thrilling and disturbing.
We love your collection featuring animals! What made you decide to use animals as props? How did you get the animals to stay still during the photoshoot? Have there been any mishaps?
It's always not easy to work with animals but at the same time it's much more interesting than difficult. They help me to convey something silent but completely important; something hidden but absolutely essential. They don't actually stay still but I like that as well because their movement provides a necessary mood :). All the animals are treated well during photoshoot and after it. I prefer working with real and alive animals, but a couple of times I used fish and octopus which I bought from the market.
What's your favorite photo that you've taken? Why is it your favorite?
I put so much of me in every photograph so it's always difficult to answer this question and to explain why. For instance, right now without thinking twice, I can recall photographing with red cloth (Seventh sense series) and with snails (I Know, I Knew series).
How do you prepare for photoshoots? How do you make decisions with regards to the concept, props, models, and lighting?
As a rule, I don't make thorough plans; I follow my intuition but I would really like to learn this skill of detailed planning. Spontaneity is a good thing in a lot of cases, but sometimes I really need a plan.
Why are the subjects of your photos all women?
All the images that appear in my imagination are always of feminine nature or they have some androgynous traits. I find a lot of inspiration in these images.
What camera and lenses do you use?
I use a very simple camera, Canon 1000d and Pentacon f1.8 50 mm.
What advice would you give to women looking to improve their photography skills?
I highly recommend watching more movies created by masters of cinematography. Also, look more at the works of great photographers and pay a lot of attention to painting - these are my biggest visual fields of inspiration. Of course, photography, cinematography and painting have different rules but they are very linked with each other. Frankly speaking, I don't believe in strict rules in art in a general sense. I don't believe in photography classes as a technical thing; I think it's more about seeing and feeling everything aesthetic, strange and beautiful around you.
What do you hope to be doing 3 years from now?
I hope to develop my work, to make my photographs better, to be more satisfied with everything I create, and to reach some new important goals.
Stay up to date with Daria's work by following her on social media!