The Love Project
An Interview with Alla Ponomareva
We’re here today to bring the beautiful Love Project. We at Talk Photography love hearing the stories and projects our fellow photographers have been working hard on. If you’re like us, you’ll fall in LOVE with Alla Ponomareva’s ‘LOVE Project’. She’s a fellow Korean based photographer and we have had the pleasure of talking with her on her beautiful project. Let’s dive right in and hear from her about the project!
Thanks for joining us for a chat today Alla. Could you first tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started in photography?
“Hello! My name is Alla Ponomareva and I’m a photographer, based in Daejeon, South Korea. I’m originally from Odessa, Ukraine, but grew up in Smyrna, Delaware. When I was little, I remember helping my father in our bathroom – his Darkroom – with his analog photography. Later, my mom picked up digital photography and would show me a thing or two, while I modeled for her or acted as her assistant. Only when I moved to South Korea and started to frequently travel, did I realize that it would be a shame to visit all these exciting places and return with mediocre photographs. So, I started learning slowly, then got an opportunity to intern at a Korean Wedding Studio and my love and passion for people photography was born. I’ve been hooked for the past six years and have dabbled in all different kinds of photography.
I’ve shot most genres that involve people (wedding photography, headshots, engagements, babies, family, etc). I experimented and still do with self portraiture (don’t get it confused with selfies, haha). Sometimes I shoot product photography, events, landscapes, macro, travel or abstract. Even after six years, I still enjoy playing around and experimenting. I definitely love photographing people, but I’m just as likely to bring my camera on a trip or to a beautiful spot, where I know the light will be complimentary.”
Great, it’s definitely common for photographers to enjoy different kinds. There are definitely an array of different styles that you enjoy. It seems that photographing people in one way or another is your favourite, is that fair to say? If you had to pick a favourite genre what would you say?
“My favorite would have to be Couples Photography, be it an Engagement shoot, Anniversary or just because. There is a noticeable level of comfort between two lovers, as opposed to when I photograph people alone. When anyone is alone in front of the camera, it can be quite intimidating and nerve wracking, but together, a couple can use each other as a shield -haha just kidding -well in a way, I can use their bodies to pose with and hide certain imperfections they think they may have. Also, typically two people in love have a chemistry, which frequently translates into natural poses, looks and smiles towards each other. That makes it easy for me. I love capturing their connection, what they love to do and of course, those intimate moments such as nuzzling, hugging and kissing.“
It’s surely a great joy to share in those happy moments with the couples that you shoot. Now you’ve worked on a very interesting project, one that you’ve completed not too long ago. Could you tell us what that project is and what it’s all about?
“The LOVE Project started in March of this year with the drive to document Love and it’s manifestations all around us. I feel that it showcases itself in the things we eat or drink, our habits, pets, pleasurable experiences, the people we encounter and in the places we visit. It is always present, letting us know of it’s existence through ceremonies, photographs, letters, blogs, repeated actions, diaries, books, melodies and smiles. Love is present at birth and hopefully… at death. It is the one thing that we all want to achieve from others, but also strive to truly love ourselves from inside out. It knows no boundaries, no language barriers or regulations. No matter who we love, how, or why – love is a part of our lives.
Taking the concept of LOVE and creating a project, I focus on capturing the things that people love doing or are passionate about, such as a Belly Dancer, a designer or a man with a passion for the costumes and era of the 1880s. There were also couples in love, with an interview highlighting how they met, what they enjoy doing together and other details about their lives. I also documented pets, a festival, a family of three generations and my personal love for photography, which I make available in garment form (you can purchase totes, pillow cases, leggings, scarves and more with my photographic designs).”
How did you come up with the main idea behind this project? As you’ve previously mentioned you enjoy most shooting couples in love, thus we can imagine you always ready to do shoots with those passionate couples. This project also emcompasses other LOVE, in general. Love for a hobby, a pet, or other passions your subjects had. What inspired you to set out in your search for such love to document?
“Over my vacation last winter, I came across Noah Scalin’s book “365: A Daily Creativity Journal,” which prompts to kick start your own creativity through a 365 day project. The author also uses samples of his own year long project – Skull-a-day (video of all the skulls in 1 minute can be seen here), where he created skulls out of acorns, light bulbs, bubble gum and other materials. If anyone is interested in seeing other projects, which were inspired by Scalin, you may visit the Makesomething365 website.
Being inspired by his work and this book, I, too, wanted to utilize photography to capture more of what I love, but to unify it into one theme. After some thinking on how I can photograph not just portraits, I decided that LOVE is a theme that is present in most areas of our lives – from our furry friends, to our hobbies and places where we live.”
How did you come up with the concept and the ideas behind each of the pieces that went into the project?
“The ideas were mostly from my subjects. With each post, I encouraged others to contact me if they were interested in a photography session with me and together, we pin-pointed which area they wanted to highlight in their shoot. It was always exciting to get a new lead and to hear their story and what is important to them.”
We’d love for you to share with us a couple of you favorite shoots from this project! Could you tell us what those are, and about the story behind the subjects included as well as capturing it through your lens?
“It’s challenging to pick a favorite, but based on the amount of work and planning that went into a shoot, photographing Christopher as the 1880s character was probably the biggest treat. Since most of my portraits are typically modern-looking with a dabble of classical posing and lighting, photographing Christopher put me outside of my comfort zone. Luckily for me, he came in prepared with ideas, props (we had a cane, a top hat, a ring, suspenders, gloves, and more to work with) and was wonderful at posing and creating various facial expressions (a rare find especially with older male subjects).
I similarly enjoyed photographing a friend of mine with her daughter and mother, in our three generations family shoot. We rented a beautiful pension near a river in Cheongju and entire session felt like a super fun family get together. They were so easy to work with and had complete trust in my vision, despite me never having been at that location. I loved capturing their smiles and giving them a keepsake that hopefully is treasured as the years go by.
Overall, I truly hope that people (clients or not) always remember the importance of capturing fleeting moments with the people/pets/hobbies they love and adore. Don’t wait for a special occasion to bring a camera or hire a photographer. Don’t shy away from a picture being taken because you don’t feel at “your best”. Your friends and family love you unconditionally!”
Thank you for coming on with us today Alla. It was a pleasure to chat with you and about you’re beautiful LOVE project.
Alla Ponomareva is a photographer, based in Daejeon South Korea. She has been perfecting her craft for the past 6 years. Being recently graduated from the New York Institute of Photography program, specifically their Professional Photography Course. She has been involved with Daejeon’s Artist Collective since their first show. She has also exhibited her photographs in various Korean cities in solo as well as collective shows. More of her work can be found on her site at Alla Ponomareva.
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