Table of contents:
- Accidental photo became fate
- How to make a fairy tale come true
- Beauty in personality
- How magical photo shoots go
- The most difficult and most interesting thing in working with animals
- Are photo sessions harmful to animals?
- The most memorable photo session
- Social media success
A talented photographer from Moscow, Anastasia Dobrovolskaya, is not at all like a typical representative of this profession. Her signature shots look like fairy tale illustrations. Nevertheless, they are completely and completely real. Unique, in their own way beautiful people with beautiful animals against the backdrop of breathtaking landscapes, fascinate the viewer and grab attention. Foxes, owls, snakes, bears, horses, deer, llamas - everything you can imagine - in Anastasia's incredible portfolio.
Accidental photo became fate
Anastasia started taking photographs three years ago, in the summer. Random pictures of nature were so beautiful that it predetermined her future destiny. After that there were failures, refusal of new attempts and a new creative search.
Once Dobrovolskaya received an order from a certain woman who wanted to do a photo shoot with a tiny pig and a rooster. Before that, the photographer did not take pictures of animals with people. Although she had no experience at all, she still agreed. It was a kind of challenge for Anastasia.
The result exceeded all the wildest expectations! A week later, she photographed an owl and a fox, then a horse. The photos went viral on the internet. Dobrovolskaya quit her main job, deciding to devote herself entirely to commercial photography.
How to make a fairy tale come true
Anastasia takes truly fabulous photos. She is able to capture that subtle and simply magical connection between animals and people, which shows how much they are similar to each other. The pictures contain some special magic of nature.
“In my work, I want to show how beautiful animals are, how much they are similar to us. I try to find those common features that bring our two worlds together. My goal is to encourage people to treat nature and animals much more respectfully. We must minimize as much as possible the harm that we have already done to the world around us. In addition, my photo sessions highlight the unique natural beauty of a person, even if this beauty does not fit into the existing stereotypes,”says Anastasia.
The photographer is endlessly inspired by people and animals. Anastasia considers her mission to show the full depth of the uniqueness of each person and animal, to emphasize their external and internal beauty, individuality. The photographer achieves this by means of comparison. She selects people and animals that are similar to each other. Dobrovolskaya likes to photograph, for example, albino people with white animals, red-haired people with animals whose fur is sobbing, and so on.
Beauty in personality
With his beautiful aesthetic images, the photographer tries to draw people's attention to what they have in common with animals. If people and animals are so similar, it means that both are part of nature. They cannot be rated or described as less attractive due to some of their unique characteristics.
“You would never think of calling, for example, a fox ugly because of the spots on its face. So why should a girl with vitiligo be considered ugly? " - says Anastasia.
Another important aspect that the photographer wants to highlight is animal welfare.“If an animal can be so much like a person, then its life, desires and interests should be valued no less than human ones,” she said.
How magical photo shoots go
Each Anastasia photo session includes three stages: planning, shooting and editing the best photos. The planning can take anywhere from 20 minutes to several months.
First you need to come up with an idea, then choose a model, clothes, venue, discuss everything with pet owners, a designer, and a make-up artist. It happens that literally 5-10 minutes pass between the idea of shooting and its implementation. Usually the duration of the photo session itself does not exceed 20-30 minutes.
There are also exceptional cases when it takes a couple of hours. More often than not, even the trip to the place takes much longer. Many do not believe, but the most famous photo shoots of Anastasia Dobrovolskaya took no more than a quarter of an hour. After all, in fact, all that needs to be done is to place the models, animals and choose the appropriate angle. The only problems that can arise are weather conditions. After all, proper lighting is extremely important for photographs. Sometimes you have to wait for the animal to take the correct posture.
The final stage is editing, which allows you to bring the photo to the desired result. Typically, work on one shot takes from 20 minutes to several hours.
The most difficult and most interesting thing in working with animals
Animals fill your life with something very warm, kind and very real. All their actions and emotions are sincere. Anastasia admits that before she started her career, she had no idea that there could be such a close connection between humans and animals. It never ceases to amaze the photographer.
Dobrovolskaya believes that "wild" animals (bears, wolves, deer, foxes, tigers, etc.) are capable of experiencing incredibly strong affection and trust in people. Many accuse Anastasia of exploiting animals, of suffering during photo shoots … People have no idea how far from the truth they are. Thanks to his work, the photographer lives in a special world. Absolutely sincere and incredibly touching things are happening here. Perhaps, if everyone saw what Anastasia sees in her works, the world would become much kinder.
Naturally, when animals are photographed in unnatural habitats, people are very concerned about their safety. The photographer clarifies that in the process of her work, not a single animal was harmed in any way. Often animals saved by people participate in photo sessions. They trust them and feel absolutely calm next to a person.
Since only animals with a certain character participate in photo sessions, the process is almost always very comfortable for all participants.
Many people who look at the work of Dobrovolskaya believe that the animals are drugged, that their teeth are pulled out, and so on. Of course, the world of frequencies can be cruel and such thoughts are born for a reason. Many people find it hard to believe that when animals are adopted by humans, they become part of their families and their lives.
Absolutely all animals live in the countryside. They have extensive spacious territories at their service. They have specially equipped aviaries. Animals take regular walks in the area. Each animal eats well in full accordance with the needs of its species. For example, owls are fed with mice, tigers - with raw meat, Stepan the bear simply loves condensed milk.
In most cases, the animals were rescued from poor conditions. For example, Stepan the bear was redeemed at the zoo. Foxes, polar foxes, lynxes were bought from fur factories. Some were abandoned by their owners. The most important thing is that absolutely all animals were born in captivity and under no circumstances will be able to survive in the wild without human help.
“Not all animals are allowed to come into contact with humans.If the animal is not in contact, has health problems, and so on, it will in no case be allowed to the photo session. For example, Stepan is a unique bear with an amazing character, who in his 28 years of life has never even growled at people. All animals participate in photo sessions without sedation. Leashes are necessary for safety, because any loud sound can provoke stress in the animal."
During filming, animals almost always eat. Food is the main way to show them that the photo shoot is a safe process, and also to praise them for doing certain things. Foxes are taught to kiss people in this way: after each kiss, they get a piece of chicken.
Are photo sessions harmful to animals?
The socialization process is extremely important for any pet. The less an animal living in captivity is afraid of people, the more comfortable its life will be. After all, sometimes even a banal visit to the veterinarian can cause terrible stress. It will be much easier and safer for animals if they are not afraid of people.
That is why photo shoots are very often used as a socialization tool. In addition, during the shooting, the animal just stands somewhere in the forest and eats. Besides, not for long.
The most memorable photo session
The most famous photo session of Anastasia was a photo session of three girls holding three multi-colored foxes. The photographer explained the idea, process and meaning of the shoot.
“Initially, the idea of this work was not so 'global'. This was the period of my creative growth, when I especially enjoyed playing with color. So I decided to photograph a blonde holding a black fox and a brunette holding a white fox. But it seemed boring to me, and I decided to add a red model and a red fox. Dresses of similar colors. I don’t remember how long the planning took, but the idea was finally formed when I went down the subway on the escalator. The photo session itself took about 15 minutes."
There is a misconception that the main purpose of this photo shoot is to promote the ban on the use of fur. Actually this is not true. Of course, there is a similar meaning. But it runs like a red thread through all of Anastasia's works, where fur animals are involved. Specifically, this photo session has a completely different meaning. Everything is much more complicated and deeper. These shootings are designed to demonstrate the impeccable harmony of the personality of each person. The work shows how all people are equal, regardless of their appearance, environment, tastes and preferences.
Each girl carries three different colors: hair color, dress color and fox color. Hair color characterizes her appearance. The dress reveals the inner filling of the soul - the system of life values, beliefs, thoughts. The animal in her hands symbolizes her environment - relatives, friends, family. All these such different colors on one person indicate that each person's personality combines completely different, sometimes diametrically opposite things.
Such dissimilar people next to each other personify not only harmony and beauty, but also demonstrate their equality, despite all the differences. Different colors overlap. This means that even the most diverse people always have something in common. And in conclusion, the uniform color of the surrounding nature shows that no matter how different we are, we, in any case, exist in the same world.
Social media success
Now the photographer has 179 thousand followers on Instagram. The audience became for Anastasia a source of endless support, energy and inspiration.
“I have been actively involved in portrait photography since spring 2018. Until the end of 2019, I had a fairly small audience on Instagram - about 4 thousand people, but everything changed literally in the blink of an eye when the photo with three foxes went viral. In the morning I woke up and saw that a huge number of people followed me on Facebook and Instagram.In 5 months I already had about 130 thousand subscribers, and a year later this figure exceeded 200 thousand people."
The audience is growing rapidly. Dobrovolskaya is even frightened by this, she is not used to being in the spotlight. Anastasia is very shy, so she rarely appears in public.
People from all over the world follow Anastasia Dobrovolskaya's work. She has fans and even followers in the USA, Argentina, Italy, Iraq, Australia, South Africa and many other countries. It's just incredible. Every day the photographer receives a huge amount of very kind and sincere reviews from all over the world.
People write that they dream of meeting Anastasia personally, they dream of taking part in her filming, they invite them to visit their countries. The photographer says that she often begins to think that everything that happens is just a dream. After all, just two years ago, she was an ordinary employee of a research institute and was engaged in photography only on weekends.
Anastasia is insanely grateful to all the fans of her work, even though it confuses her. She believes that nothing deserves such attention. But for her, it's an endless source of inspiration. It charges the photographer with that incredible energy, without which it is impossible to live and create.
Love for animals is manifested in all different ways. Read our article on how one the couple were held captive in Mexico for a year because of the cat they rescued.
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