Everybody Likes it Hot: Valeriia Dopirchuk’s Portfolio
A Ukrainian photographer hailing from Chernihiv.
— I started photographing as a kid. I was about ten years old at the time, and I had a point-and-shoot camera. I shot nature at first and switched to people later, as a teenager. When I got my first DSLR, I took pictures of all my friends and everyone I could in my native Chernihiv. I enjoyed the process so much that I offered photoshoots free of charge to anyone willing. My foster father worked in advertising, so I started learning Photoshop roughly at the same time. I don’t have a photography education — I only completed one experienced photographer’s week-long course once to better understand the light and the craft’s technical aspects. Otherwise, I’m as self-taught as it gets. I kept posting my photos on social media, and some even went viral. Because of that, it was easier for me to find clients in Kyiv when I moved there.
Looking at my photos, you can tell I draw inspiration from Helmut Newton. Once, I watched a documentary about him and decided to make a photoshoot in his style to show a combination of male and female personality traits. At that moment, I remembered Dasha Astafieva mentioning on the TV that she loved fishing. So I wrote to her, ‘Let’s go take some pictures’. As it turned out, Dasha had already known me through my work, and she was totally on board with the idea of a lakeside photoshoot. So, we met with her and shot everything over just half an hour because the weather was freezing. In fact, water is my element, so many of my photos are taken either near a body of water or even underwater.
At that moment, I remembered Dasha Astafieva mentioning on the TV that she loved fishing. So I wrote to her, ‘Let’s go take some pictures’.
I have no specific projects or series. Instead, I just shoot the characters I’m curious about. Initially, I mainly photographed the people I knew, and at a later stage, perfect strangers started approaching me. Personally, I can come up to anyone on the street, too, if I find them intriguing. I love second-hand clothes shops and know how to find exciting things there, so I’m often a stylist on my photoshoots, too. You can often see tights in my photos. It might be because my mum used to work in a hosiery shop, but I also enjoy the way they look at girls.
I am a choreographer by education, and you can tell it by whatever I do in photography. Working with many people at once and arranging them for a group photo is not a problem for me. I can generally strike the right note with people and help them find an interesting pose. Usually, about 50% of my photos are posed, and the rest are people behaving as they feel. I’ve never made it my goal to do documentary photography — I’m more of an art and fashion photographer.
I am a choreographer by education, and you can tell it by whatever I do in photography. Working with many people at once and arranging them for a group photo is not a problem for me.
Ideally, I’d like to take on commercial projects — to make a living from photography while shooting how I see fit — the way I do it now. I love it when photos show beauty. The line between beauty and vulgarity lies in many details: angles, poses, make-up, setting — it all determines whether there is some mystery in the look.
I found large white wings in a second-hand shop. I wanted to write ‘No War’ on them and would have made a photoshoot with them on the 26th of February if not for the Russian invasion. Eventually, I did take photos of a girl wearing them near the destroyed houses. However, the meaning was entirely different, with the angel standing for the souls of those who died. People were not that enthusiastic about those pictures. Some commenters said my work is not as exciting as it used to be. I remember thinking to myself, damn, it’s hard to wrap my head around all this and do something as it is, and now they don’t like something, too. It was a challenge of sorts for me, so I decided to do a provocative photoshoot with two girls as if they were betrothed. They are indeed friends, but they also put on an excellent performance.
Overall, I like to show the aesthetic and let people think to themselves what kind of stories might be behind it.