Alexander Khokhlov / Member Interview

Alexander Khokhlov was born in Calcutta, India, on 9th of May 1982. Now he is based in Moscow and work with his wife Veronica. Alexander had started photography in 2008 as a studio commercial photographer. The result of his experiments with beauty portraits and art was most talked-about series Weird Beauty and 2D or not 2D made in 2012 and 2013. 
 The art-photography that he creates is always based on people transformation. In Alexander’s works the human identity takes a back seat, and the models are used as canvases for the well-known shapes to trick your eyes. Each photographer’s project is a huge team work, a great game with words, imagination, illusions. And, of course, it is a game with the audience.

In 2015 and 2016 Alexander has got several photography awards: 25th Trierenberg Super Circuit (Gold Medal, Weird Beauty series), One Eyeland Photography Awards (Silver Medal, Shapes and Illusions series), Neutral Density Photography Awards 2015 (Bronze Medal, Shapes and Illusions series), International Photography Awards 2015 (Honorable Mention, Shapes and Illusions series).


Moscow, Russia

What inspired you to become a photographer?

Actually music was my hobby, I played drums in a rock band. One day one of our fans came to the concert with his new DSLR camera. I saw the photos that he made and was shocked by the quality, the light, composition, captured emotions. I decided that I want to try the same photography experience and started to shoot concerts. This genre was really helpful as a start because it was a great challenge to make pictures in dark clubs, with musicians in motion, with white balance changing, etc. So this year helped me to understand exposition, composition, camera work, light and to catch the right moments in the right time.

A year after I decided that I want something more and came to photo studio where I discovered portrait photography. I was impressed that photo studio gives you opportunity to control all the process of shooting. It was exactly what I’ve looked for.

Tell us about your first photo that really validated your interest as a photographer.

My photo called “Milk Chocolate” was made in 2009. That was my first studio shooting that had been held exactly the way that I wanted and my first experience with face-art. And it brought first success - the photo had been taken for the cover of photography magazine in Netherlands.

Back when you were just starting out, what was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome that?

Every photography project has a challenge. For example, during the creation of 2D or not 2D series my main challenge was to make models’ faces absolutely flat as posters. It was achieved with make-up, camera angle, light and post-production. In our award-winning series Shapes and Illusions, the challenge was to mix textures and make-up to trick viewer’s eye with illusions and to make shapes absolutely perfect.

What do you enjoy photographing the most?

In my works human identity takes a back seat and the models are used as a canvas or a basis for the well-known shapes to trick your eyes. Each photo project is a huge team work a great game with words, imagination, illusions. And, of course, it is a game with the audience.

What has been your proudest moment as a photographer?

I think my photography career has just begun, so the proudest moments are in future. But for now I am really happy and proud for my upcoming exhibition in Chicago. Five works of mine will be exhibited in Catherine Edelman Gallery (Chicago) on 2017, January 5.

Tell us about time in your photographic journey where you failed at something and how did you pivot to overcome this?

I don’t like to talk about fails. That’s why I don’t believe in “artist crisis”. In my humble opinion, that is just an evasion to stop thinking. Because thinking is the first step of creation. Everything starts with an idea. So, do not stop thinking and you won’t ever fail.

We all have weaknesses, what is yours relating to photography?

I have too much ideas that I want to put into life. But unfortunately I don’t have enough time and resources to make all the projects and concepts that come to mind in time. And sometimes I am get upset when see that my ideas were already brought to life by another artist.

Finding time to get out and shoot is another challenge for many. How do you find the time in your busy schedule to get out there behind your camera?

Photography is my primary occupation and I cannot imagine my life without that. I write articles about photo industry, do tests of new cameras and lenses that comes to market, do photo and video shootings for clients. Maybe somebody will call it routine but not me - I think photography is a huge field for your fantasy.

Nailing a composite right can be a challenge. What do you think the trick is to mastering composition?

The main trick is your brainwork. And the main trick to stimulate brainwork except studying is to analyze your favorite photographer works and to practice every day.

There are many photographers starting out, who don't have the money to buy the camera gear they want. What advice can you give to them?

Camera is just a tool in your hands. My first DSLR camera was Canon EOS 400D with the cheapest primary lens Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 and I made a lot of good photos with this gear. Technologies are changing every day and today you can find cameras for every taste and wallet. And be sure - they are good at most. So don’t shy to start with something simple: your smartphone, any compact or simple mirrorless camera.

How do you feel photography has impacted the way you see the world?

Honestly. My problem is that I think a lot. And I found that photography is the best way to illustrate my ideas and thoughts. We are always in resonance)

What do you see photographers doing today, that if done differently tomorrow would improve their success?

I think you should do different work at the start of your career and it will help you to find the style that you like. And that is the clue - you should be great in the style that you’ve chosen for yourself. If you are good in what you do and clients like your work there is no reason to change. But it is important to keep the style, improve it and innovate.

To get your creative eye focused, where do you draw your inspiration from?

Everything can inspire me. Of course, I have a muse - my wife Veronica, she is my main inspiration. But I cannot point out some specific inspirational things) I am sure that the whole world is totally inspiring!

What is your best photography related tip?

To be always focused

What would you like for people take away from your work?

Every art (music, literature, photography, video, etc.) is an author’s ideas and emotions shared with people. I like if somebody can find inspiration in my works because every inspiration is the first step to something new and unique.

What are some ‘must have’ items in your camera bag?

I always have my Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R lens in the bag - this gear is perfect for everyday photography. But in studio I prefer to use Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 70-200 f/4L USM lens.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what is the ONE photography book you would want to have with you?

Nick Brandt’s album - the perfect book to read in desert.

Final question, and it’s a fun one: Life has been found on another planet and none-other than Sir Richard Branson is piloting Virgin Galactic and has put together a team of engineers, scientist, doctors and has asked you to come along to document the journey. The challenge is you can only bring two lenses and one camera body and two other items. What would you bring?

I would prefer Sony Alpha A7R Mark II with Sony 24-70 f/2.8 GM and ZEISS Distagon 35mm f/1.4 lens with a notebook and hard drive.

We want you to be in the middle of the conversation.

Do you want to share your story