A Trip to Modern Wonderland: Surrealistic Story-Portraits of Oleg Oprisco
To recreate imagination into physical works of art takes a persevering heart and patient spirit. Artist and story-teller Oleg Oprisco’s photographic, visual literature of contemporary phantasms did not take an instant to be manifested in reality.
Hi Oleg! Let’s start off with something different. How would you distinguish your film photography from others?
Personally, I think I have a good sense of balance: idea — composition — color.
Why use film? How has film helped you grow as a photographer?
It’s hard to tell in a few words. Firstly, the difference in the process of shooting: I am shooting for 12 frames and I enjoy it. Each frame is important to me. You press the shutter button but do not know what happens because you see the scene before pushing the button and after, but not at the time of the shot. It’s crazy mix of luck, calculation, planning and luck again.
Secondly, it is the properties of the film and optics which is available for medium format. The film gives unique color, and long-focus lenses give a unique depth. I regularly tested modern digital medium format camera, but I can’t find a platform which guarantees the same quality. Also, like the situation when on my workshops, my students come with a set of equipment to 3–5 thousand dollars; but there, I use the my old Kiev 6C (about $ 50 at a flea market in Kiev). It just makes us think that technique is just a tool, like a pen or a brush.
We noticed that the color blue is often seen in your photographic palette. Do you have any aesthetic reasons for this?
I only have a single reason: I like the combination of blue with warm colors.
Speaking of palettes, your color preferences are subdued yet in a way romantic and nostalgic. How do you pick the colors for your palette?
Color is the first thing that fixes the viewer’s brain. Then comes the perception of the composition and content in general. I worked for several years at a photo lab and I was looking and adjusting the color of a thousand photos every day. I think it was then that I had understood what colors I like, and the combination of colors the viewers like.
Warmer, richer, brighter images always had better success. So, that dictated my choice. Before shooting, I plan the overall color scheme. According to the chosen palette, I select clothes, props, location, etc, making sure that all of it plays within a single color range. Do not forget about stories in my pictures. stories like these need to be calm and delicate colors.
May you share more us about this ‘story-telling’ aspect of your photography?
The foundation of all there is the concept/story. Starting from the story, I’m working on the other parts. I try to strike a balance that no element stands out and not distract from the image. this applies to the choice of hairstyles, dresses and props. Everything must be harmonious.
What is it about photographic storytelling that draws you so??
I like that Photography makes it possible to transfer my thoughts to others. What is important is that each viewer sees his own version and understanding in each photo; and they all depend on the place where he lives or from his education and other moments that are in his life. It’s amazing. My mission is, that after viewing, I want the perceiver to feel like he was just finished reading a book or watched a movie.
Who are your creative muses?
All of my muses are in my photos.
What are the difficulties you face when you’re in your creative process?
From year to year my ideas become more widespread and this creates a lot of problems. I’m used to doing everything yourself. I don’t have assistants, so sometimes the preparation for shooting takes several days and accompanied by many experiments and test shootings.
All the props and objects in the photos are real, creating them mostly takes a day or two. Also, preparing one frame can take several weeks. But I love this process, even when I realize that some effects are easier draw in Photoshop. This is an important part for me, from which I never give up.
In film photography, there are limited chances of creating shots. How do you discipline yourself with the practice?
All comes with experience. Even before shooting, I already know the result I will get in the end. Careful preparation helps a lot.
May you share us your favorite work/series? Why does it stand out among the rest?
I hope these pictures here and my series in future would be my best. I’m very critical to my work, so constantly I wanted more and better. Each frame has a heavy history of creation. For example, the frame with a burning umbrella was shot on the sixth day of shooting. I spent more than 50 umbrellas, because I could not choose a combination of materials with the umbrella that at the same time beautifully burned and was safe for the model.
What’s the best experience you’ve had in your career as a photographer so far?
At age of 19, I moved to Kiev, where I became an assistant to a well-known advertising photographer. We worked together for three years, but that work did not bring me pleasure. There was no creativity, only commerce. It was then that I understood how important for me freedom is in creativity and how I love to control every moment in photography.
Unfortunately, this is not possible in commercial photography. So I turned the process upside down, and now I’m free create the results I want; then me and my managers would look for a buyer. At the time of transformation, it is very important to believe in yourself and not wait for instant results. This is the way to achieve the perfect format — when you create something that you love and you receive maximum pleasure. Automatically this product that I do serves as a magnet of opportunities and offers.
Apart from photography, what else do you do? What are your hobbies during your downtime?
All my hobbies are very close to photography — taking trips, going to the cinema, learning about art history, reading literature. They’re all very standard.
What’s next for you? Any on-going project you are currently working on now?
I don’t like to think beforehand, but I can promise it will be interesting.