My name is Irina Sokolova, I live in Saint Petersburg , Russia. I am a graduate philologist, travel manager and photographer. I started shooting pictures ten years ago with my son’s Nikon, and I became an absolutely addicted image maker very soon. There was not a serious photography institution in St Petersburg at that time, so I devoted myself to self education in art and visual practice. I attended several workshops, including workshops with Magnum (Gueorgui Pinkhassov) and NOOR (Stanley Green). I was always a cinema fan and saw many films shot by extraordinary cameramen —Christopher Doyle, Darius Khondji, Jacob Ihre, etc. It somehow helps me to find my visual language. I’m not a social photographer and not interested in documentary representation.
Ten years ago I was strongly assured that photography should tell stories with plot and dramatisation. And I had a lot of practice shooting a circus, factories, and social events. Later I came to the conclusion that it’s more interesting for me to frame pictures which could not be verbalised. These pictures, gain extra value and deliver new senses. Lines, colours, shadows and unexpected angles of view can create a new visual statement. Since I started this experience I treat every space — my room, a café, train station or garden — as my laboratory, where I can juggle with objects. The most important requirements to reach my goal: light, catchy composition and memorable context.
I have my camera with me 24 hours a day. I live in northern Russia where we have very dark and snowy winters, but spring and summer are bright and magical. So I should say that my favourite photography hours are in Saint Petersburg — a spring afternoon with a honey sun and long blue shadows. I travel a lot and adore different light manifestations in Asia or South America. I’m sure that it’s very important for a photographer to have experience with various colour palettes while travelling. I adore the changing seasons especially when the weather differs each hour. Rainy and snowy days are invaluable for shooting, and I make special trips to capture weather phenomena.
I think that there should not be any boundary with rules or special spots for taking pictures. I never plan particular routes and I’m always armed with a mobile phone, or digital camera. I know that I can might see something very unusual, in which case prefer my huge Nikon. People take me for a reporter, but it gives me sufficient freedom to choose any observation point. I like cafes and markets where people are busy and pay no attention to a photographer. A beloved places for shooting is train stations, where passengers always move and bustle. Together with lots of light, stairs and glass, irregular surfaces and intricate architecture. Another passion is the sea and rivers, the water cycle and its forms. During Covid restrictions I have made many pictures from the car, the car window gives such an unusual and peculiar angle to view.
Since I started shooting with a camera I recognise myself as a kind of visual messenger, I have the found possibility to communicate with people with no words. This process of taking pictures feels like hunting in a jungle upon unpredictable prey, also like finding rhymes and giving new names to familiar objects. Now I’m so engaged in photography that I cannot stop gazing and framing. By the way, I have found that taking pictures during the Covid era to be a very strong therapy against stress.