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Mitchell Kanashkevich Interview - Top travel photographer Mitchell Kanashkevich tells us a bit about himself and shares his top tips.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Belarus, former USSR. When the USSR broke up my parents and I had a chance to immigrate to Australia. Life was hard and the future uncertain, so, my parents took the chance to start a new life in a new country.
As they started working and earning enough money to visit family and friends back in Belarus, my parents and I started making visits back. I think these visits gave me the first taste of what it was like to travel.
How did you get into photography?
I had no idea what I wanted to do after high school, so I enrolled into the faculty of Arts at University of Sydney. There I fell in love with cinema and majored in film studies. I made a couple of documentary films, but, eventually realized that what I really loved about cinema were the visuals, I loved the image, and, I yearned for things to be simpler than they were with film.
One day I sort of spontaneously decided to dedicate myself entirely to photography (I had been taking photos before then). I went to India for 5 weeks and there my love for photography really grew and my skills began to develop.
Who inspired you?
I don't know if any one person inspired me, though I do still look up to photography legends such as Steve Mccurry, Sebastio Salgado and Davin Alan Harvey. For most part though, I am simply inspired by what I see on my journeys. There are a lot of incredible visuals, so, it is hard not to be inspired by them as a photographer.
What drew you to travel photography?
I think those visits to Belarus and the little side trips my family took were what inspired me to explore more of the world. The desire to explore is what came first, documenting my travels in some way was the next step which happened fairly naturally.
Do you have a favourite destination/ photographic location?
I think I'd have to say Rajasthan, India, but, this might be changing soon. I am traveling a lot around Africa and find it absolutely fascinating and visually captivating.
Is there a particular message that you try to portray through your images?
I want people to see what's beautiful in our world. I want to communicate that ancient traditions and cultures are worth saving. I also want to portray the toughness of the human spirit, to show some of the world's hardest workers, people who aren't necessarily appreciated, I want to, in a sense embrace them with my images.
Does it take long for the people you photograph to trust/get used to you so you can take natural portraits?
It really depends. I don't think there's a set formula here. Some people are so natural and so photogenic that in minutes you're able to make great photos of them. With others, it feels like it's never possible, even if they look very interesting in real life.
Also, getting a person to really trust you and to make a natural looking portrait are not necessarily the same thing. There are techniques to make natural looking portraits. Trust is obviously not always easy to gain, however, it does often help one produce stronger, more consistent images.
Have you got any advice for budding photographers wanting to get into travel photography?
Don't think too much about photography as a profession. Live life first, make great images and, when your work is truly worthwhile, start showing it as much as you can to anyone you can. The professional side of things will start to fall into place if all the mentioned components already are.
For more information on Mitchell and his work, visit his travel and photography blog.