JRP: I became aware of this resourceful photographer via a post on the Fred Miranda website. Alex Koloskov’s work is first rate! One is quickly impressed with his desire to share knowledge which is only rivaled by his attention to detail and careful execution. I am pleased to present Alex’s interview on JRP Blog.
JRP: Alex where do you call home?
Alex Koloskov: Home for me is the place where I live with my family. It is not really associated with any specific place, but with the people, my wife Genia and our lovely twin daughters, Sonia and Lilia. Wherever we stay together, I feel like home. 🙂
JRP: How did you get started in photography? Is there any formal training in your background?
Alex Koloskov: I have no photography-related schooling or training at all, everything I know I’ve got form the internet or invented myself. I’ve got my first camera being 13 years old, my first digital in 2004. This is when I started to work with the strobe lights, slowly moving away from landscapes/nature/portraits to a studio environment.
JRP: What is it about photography that drives your creativity?
Alex Koloskov: Challenges! The new, technically challenging projects is what I love to do, something which requires me to experiment with new lighting techniques, new equipment, something which I never have done before.
JRP: When it comes to equipment what would I find in your camera bag and or studio for a typical shoot? What lighting equipment do you favor?
Alex Koloskov: I use Canon cameras, at least for now. Currently looking for a medium DSLR: it looks like I have to have it by the end of this year.
The Canon 1Ds Mark III is my work horse, old 5D is a backup. Have variety of lenses, but my favorites are:
70-200mm F2.8 L IS as a portrait lens, 24-70mm F2.8 L as an everyday prime, 180mm F3.5 L Macro for close-ups in studio, 14mm F2.8 L and 17-40 F4.0 L for architecture. Occasionally I use MP-E 65mm for extreme macro shots like this one: http://www.akelstudio.com/blog/lens-and-lights-for-super-macro-photography-surgery-on-a-shooting-table/
I have 4 Canon speedlites for simple on-location shoots, in studio I use Paul C. Buff stuff: WhiteLightning and AlienBees with CyberCommander and all the accessories.
JRP: Could you please describe your digital workflow and the software you use?
Alex Koloskov: I prefer to shoot tethered, where it is possible. Adobe Lightroom 3 is currently used for this. All our post production is done in Adobe Photoshop: I do not manipulate with the photos in Lightroom.
After each photo shoot I create a proofs galley in Lightroom (minimum adjustments, selecting not all but only a good ones) and upload it to our web server (We do own dedicated server where we run all out web projects: currently it is more than 10 photography-related web-sites) and send a client a link with the proofs.
After we receive a client’s selection of the “finals”, our retoucher Genia Larionova (she runs a blog at www.perfectphotoblog.com) starts to work on them: in most cases we do not provide client with a camera RAW, always making sure we do a post-production ourselves: only this way we can ensure that our quality standards will be preserved.
JRP: Do you print your images?
Alex Koloskov: No, there is no printing facility at AKELstudio at this time. Working only with commercial clients gives us this advantage: they only need a hi-res uncompressed files from us, we never were asked to do prints. I rarely see my work on a paper other then tear sheets. 🙂
JRP: Please break down one of your images, explain the lighting and any special concerns you had during the shoot?
Alex Koloskov: Almost for every of our photo-sessions I do a post explaining a lighting setup with how-to on the blog, describing all the technical challenges I was dealing with during the shot. The latest, most interesting how-to it can be found here: http://www.akelstudio.com/blog/water-in-still-life-and-advertisement-photography-episode-one/
JRP: What are some new directions being taken by you in your photography?
Alex Koloskov: After we decided in 2006 (I always say we, as we do everything together with my wife, she is an art director and retoucher at AKELstudio Inc) what type of photography we would be doing, we just started digging deeper and deeper into it.
Recently I start working on a jewelry: it requires a completely different lighting and cameras from what I did before, here is an example: To get desired sharpness for the whole object while still maintaining a shallow DOF, tilt-shift lens or adapter on a life-size macro is needed, so I built a view-camera based tilt-shift adapter for my Canon (http://www.akelstudio.com/blog/how-to-developing-a-tiltshift-system-for-35mm-digital-camera-based-on-4×5-view-camera/).
It works amazingly good for the jewelry. Now I am working on a LED – based lighting set which should help me to work with small jewelry objects. Focusing one light on something smaller then 1 square centimeters is not what my current lighting can help me with.
High-speed photography for a liquid splashes is another direction I am exploring now as well.
JRP: Would you share some of the best advice given to you by another photographer?
Alex Koloskov: No productive advices were given to me so far, probably because I do not communicate with photographer’s community a lot. I would rather develop my own “bicycle” than to ask for a help from more experienced guys. Not the optimal way, but it works for me so far as I build my own style. 🙂
JRP: What advice would you like to share with other photographers?
Alex Koloskov: Guys, do not be afraid to do things your own crazy way! Nothing is more boring for me to see a row of 50 photographer portfolio’s with almost indistinguishable photos: this is not how you can be found in the crowd.
Forget what you have learned in the school. It will help your hands to do a job, but your mind should be free from any “right way to get it done” patterns.
JRP: Thank you Alex for sharing with us your thoughts and images. It has been a real pleasure.
Alex Koloskov: Thank you James, it was an interesting experience to write about myself, not something I do often. 🙂 Hope it will be an interesting addition for your blog.
JRP: To view more of Alex Koloskov’s photography please follow these links:
photographer’s blog: www.akelstudio.com/blog
post-production blog: www.perfectphotoblog.com
Stock collection: www.akelphoto.com
youtube channel: www.youtube.com/user/AKELstudio