Andrej Russkovskij is a long-standing Lomography collaborator who invariably shoots with film and always surprises us with his unique and wonderful analogue approach. We sent him the New Petzval 80.5 mm f/1.9 MKII Art Lens just as lockdown kicked in, but this didn't stop him producing some truly impressive results.
Hello Andrej, we haven't heard from you in a while, how have you been?
Riding the highs and lows of my constant emotional rollercoaster! But currently enjoying some very deserved highs.
When we sent you the New Petzval 80.5 mm f/1.9 MKII Art Lens, the world was just entering a global lockdown. How did this impact your shootings and the artistic vision you had envisioned to use this lens?
It was a bit of a bummer in the first place because I really wanted to deliver some great shots but at the same time, I didn’t feel like compromising with my aesthetics. So, after briefly contemplating to shoot details of the plants in my room or portraits of my cat, I decided that it was worth waiting for the lockdown to get loose and use this lens for the upcoming sessions of my Berlin Kids project.
Tell us about your photo series – is there a title and story behind it?
Sure, I started the B L N K D Z #meettheberlinkids series in October 2017 and, after more than 60 photoshoots, a book, an exhibition, and coverage from several online magazines, it has turned into an extremely rewarding ongoing project. It’s basically aimed at showing the multitude of faces Berlin gives home to, capturing their uniqueness on film and giving them the chance to inspire others by dealing with topics they hold dear.
You’re used to photographing with Lomography Art Lenses. How was your experience with the Petzval 80.5 Art Lens? Did it suit your style of analogue photography?
Very much! As you said I’m pretty familiar with the Petzval system (I guess I’ve shot with most of the lenses Lomography has launched on Kickstarter!). Each of them has its great feature: the Daguerrotype Achromat is great for cinematographic shots, the Lomogon is the perfect solution when you travel and need flexibility… Here I felt a little bit like going back to the splendour of the Petzval 85, probably one of my favourites for portraiture, but in a slightly simplified and user-friendly way. And the outcome really blew me away.
Throughout the years, we’ve seen you work with a wide amount of models. What is your process here – do you only work with people you have met before or do you sometimes shoot with people you’re seeing IRL for the first time? What are you looking for, in a model?
I used to shoot mostly with friends, probably because I didn’t feel so comfortable asking strangers and/or wasn’t confident enough about my skills as an analogue photographer. Turning thirty (three years ago) proved to be a game-changer: I literally stopped caring about a lot of things that have held me back and just learned to go for it and make the most of every situation, especially those out of my comfort zone. This changed me as a human and as a photographer and translated in having no issues asking people to collaborate or model for me. The shooting process is so familiar and intimate though that most of these models actually end up becoming pretty close friends.
What did you think of the combination Petzval 80.5 Art Lens and LomoChrome Purple Film?
pure M A G I C!
What tips or advice would you give to anyone using the Petzval 80.5 Art Lens ?
Not to hold themselves back and enjoy the ride. It’s a fairly simple lens to use and it’s probably one of the best ones in the market to take glorious portraits
Even though we are all in a rather complex situation at the moment, do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
Will definitely keep on going with the B L N K D Z, which has lately taken a slightly queerer, bolder, and less prude direction. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!