Whenever we ask photographers about what are the things that inspire them or how would they describe their work, we can only imagine what's going on in their minds as they try to answer it. They may seem like easy questions but what we've found out is that there's almost always no easy answer. However, it's another case for portrait photographer Julia Bright. She answers them with so much eagerness and honesty that it's easy to see where she's coming from.
Julia appreciates things that life has to offer—even the little things and she considers them all to be beautiful. This appreciation is beautiful in itself, very much like the portraits she captures. Things may not always be perfect but they are worthy of capturing and she believes that loving these things is the quintessence of life. That belief manifests in her photography. Julia's love for her work and the many different and even flawed things makes her and her images beautiful. It's the kind of beauty that makes you want to appreciate and love other things more, too. Thank you for the inspiration, Julia.
Hello, Julia, and welcome to the Magazine! What do you do and what got you started with film photography?
Hello, my name is Julia Yarko (Bright). I am a portrait and fashion photographer. I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in photography at the Polish National Film School in Lodz. I started taking pictures when I was 11 years old—it was necessary for me to be able to talk to the world without using words; to express my feelings and emotions.
Photography became a way of living for me, and a special way to see and perceive the world around me. When I was 13 years old, I went to take up photography classes in Saint-Petersburg after a few years of taking pictures on a Sony Cybershot with only four megapixels. It was there that I learned about film photography. I spent about seven years in that place, developing my black-and-white films and making prints in the darkroom by myself. This was how I got into digital and film photography.
What is your favorite thing about it?
I guess the magic of the whole process is my favorite part. It starts with loading the film into the camera. When I am taking pictures with an analogue camera, I don’t take 1000 pictures per hour but I look for the moment slowly and patiently. I believe that a slower process gives more space and time to take better pictures and portraits. For me, it’s also about the way it looks in the viewfinder in analogue cameras, especially now when modern digital cameras have a digital viewfinder. The process after is really special too, when you develop the film in the darkroom and spend 7.5 minutes counting 45-15-45 seconds and waiting to see if everything is good.
What makes you stay with film photography?
The quality, texture, colors, and visual aesthetic of film photography. Personally, I see a huge difference in colors between film and digital pictures. The same can be said about esthetics—I could try to “fake” it on digital pictures but I will always see the difference.
Despite the fact that I am young, I believe that the physical storage of photos is more reliable. A few months ago, one of my hard drives burned out and I lost a big amount of my pictures. I still have all my films and printed pictures though, so I can just scan them again.
How does it fit into your life and career as a creative?
I take pictures very often in my daily life, especially when I am traveling. It helps me to live through my emotions. I take my analogue camera even during hikes over mountains. For my personal projects, I use only analogue cameras. In my career, I try to use analogue cameras mostly. I am always happy when I receive orders for film portrait shoots or clients accepting analogue for commercial shoots.
We love the way you do portraits. They look so natural and sensual. How did you develop your style?
Thank you very much. I don’t feel that I have my style. I guess you can say that I am still working on it. Developing a style was a problem for me for years—it wasn’t something that came naturally because I was taking a lot of very different pictures. I had to decide what I really want to do in photography. I had a moment when I asked myself what I wanted to show through the pictures and portraits that I do.
For me, it is how I see the world, life, what is important to me, and lots of small things. It is a quintessence of life that I am trying to show through my pictures. I think that one’s photography style is really influenced by what their personal values are—it shows in what they choose to pay attention to in the subjects of their photographs. Also, my taste in art, design and visual styles helps a lot to figure out my style.
What goes on in your mind when you're on a shoot?
It is really difficult for me to explain. First of all, I am very concentrated on the process and feelings. It’s something between meditation, being absolutely turned out of the external world, and being in the moment.
What is it that you like to capture when you're shooting portraits?
Beauty, the way I see it. When I look at faces, I see the lines and I know how I want to show them. I see it in everyday life when I look at people around me. I believe that a good dynamic and dialogue are very important to make a good portrait. We are all different and it’s necessary to understand a person before shooting if you want to show more than just a face. I took portraits of my close friends for years, which also helped me a lot to develop my style in portraiture.
What inspires you to create such beautiful images?
Love and beauty. I think there are no perfect things, people, places, or anything, but there are things, people, and places that we love. This love makes us see the beauty. It is my idea of the quintessence of life. Appreciating the small things inspires me to take pictures it could be a stream of light, or a moment that I want to capture, a smile; whatever. People, places, light—a lot of things inspire me and gives me ideas.
What would you be doing if you weren't a photographer?
When I was a kid, I dreamt of being an interior designer! Now I’d say that I would like to be an art collector or run an art gallery.
Which matters more—talent or skill?
For me, talent is not enough without skill, just as skill is not enough without talent.
What does a perfect day look like for Julia Bright/Yarko?
It always starts with water, breakfast, and coffee with a croissant. I am really not able to start my day without breakfast. The perfect next step for me is to go on a trip and find somewhere beautiful to shoot!