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Inspiration

All Women Are Witches: Yunona Prud Portfolio

Usually, the Ukrainian photographer Yunona Prud depicts women in her photos. Those women who have realized their inner strength and are not afraid to be themselves.
Yunona Prud

Ukrainian photographer.

— I took up photography in 2010, as soon as I finished school. I picked up the old Zenit and the film, because I wanted to know what would come out of it. I photographed everything that seemed beautiful and interesting, so, as many beginners do, I took photos of cats, dogs, tree branches. After seeing the first scans, I fell in love with the sentimental depth of the film, and photography became my passion. But I did not think that one day I would make it a part of my life, so I never studied purposefully – I did everything by trial and error, experimenting, just goofing around.

It seems to me that if I had started taking pictures not with film, but with a digital camera, I would most likely have abandoned it soon. Film is my first photographic love, it is unpredictable, definitely magical, more energetically charged, deeper in every way.

I divide photographers into artisans and creators. For me, photography is a tool of self-expression, so I see myself more as a creator. Although I tried to make money in photography as an artisan, strictly following the technical task, and I even was successful in it, but it did not bring me satisfaction. Therefore, I respect the work of professional craftsmen in photography, their ability to do everything clearly and of high quality, but it is not for me.

Previously, I did not seriously consider creating separate projects, so I lost a lot of precious time. And it basically took me long to finally admit to myself that I was doing something worthwhile.

I created the ‘Freedom is human nature’ project in 2021. During the time of Covid, there was growing a tension of comprehensive control, restrictions and human oppression in the air, which greatly affected my freedom-loving spirit. Internal resistance spurred this project, a kind of manifesto of freedom, where you are a free person and all nature is your home, you are an integral part of it, and you can be anyone, because you are accepted and already loved. You no longer need to hide your body, your entity from society, you don’t need to conform to something or someone, but yourself.

You are an integral part of nature, and you can be anyone, because you are accepted and already loved.

At the moment, a new large-scale and voluminous photo project is taking shape in my head, but I won’t tell you about it until I take the first steps.

Women are the main subject of my work because they are my muses. I often say that all women are witches, that is, those who apprehend, know. And the greatest witches among them are those who realized and found their inner strength and learned to use it.

I am inspired by the knowledge of what a woman can reveal when she gets to know herself, touches her inner self. This sense of self impresses me the most, and I try to help everyone discover it, show it, or at least to give a guide for finding it. When a woman has learned her own strength, her fear, insecurity and shame are replaced by courage and self-belief. It’s so good it gives me goosebumps.

I am inspired by the knowledge of what a woman can reveal when she gets to know herself.

Personal photography session for me is somewhat similar to phototherapy, the process of living a certain scenario and patterns of behavior, releasing internal blocks, motives and fears. This is a great energetic work, the red line of which is the synergy of two people — the photographer and the model. It is an interaction in the flow, when what was “before” and what will be “after” cease to exist. There is only “here and now”.

For me, a personal photography session is somewhat similar to phototherapy.

When working with people, it is important for me to look into their eyes, catch their gaze, watch how it transforms during the shooting process. Eyes never lie, although they can “play”. It is in the eyes, to my mind, that the greatest nakedness there could ever be is hidden. The first minutes, sometimes even hours, are spent on getting to know each other, “navigating the waters” (especially when this is the model’s first professional shooting experience). Then comes my favourite moment — the release of inner tension and the willingness to trust, surrendering to the process. Then the real art begins – with eager eyes and the desire to show more and more, when the model wants to test herself. It is in these moments that the best shots take place.

The war divided my life, as well as the lives of all Ukrainians. I recently returned from Berlin to Ukraine, and a few months ago I moved from my hometown Dnipro to Kyiv, determined to start anew. My entire life and my entire work has been devoted to finding something beautiful, inspiring, life-affirming, sexy, and soul-warming. Searching for love in myself, in people, in nature and in life in general. But when it comes to war, I don’t see anything beautiful, nothing warms me up.

That is why it is so difficult for me to somehow synchronize my view of the world with the hell that russia has brought to our land. For now, I decided for myself to carry on doing what I do best – to show the beauty of life, even if it comes from my fictional worlds.

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