Apr 05, 2019
Interview with Lisa Lyashenko (cover)
  • Lisa, first of all, how did you decide to become a photographer? What did you start with? What are doing now?
There was no question like “shall I become a photographer?”) while I was choosing a profession, I had to make up my mind on a pedagogical education which I was not able to finish due to military actions in my home city. I like taking photos since childhood. After moving to Kharkov, I kept on shooting, as a result my first clients appeared. Thus, I started making a living out of a hobby. Right now I am engaged in directing and I want to do something more than just taking photos. I am desirous to tell stories, interact with my viewer through visual art.
  • You have started shooting Photo Stories long ago: how did you come to that? What do you think is more important in this genre - photography, direction or storytelling? What new sides of photography will a photographer be able to discover while working in this genre, - what difficulties may they face?
I came to shooting Photo Stories more than one year ago, after I had visited the workshop of a photographer and director Sergey Spirin. I like his style of narration and I started doing something similar but using my screenplays. Everything is important in doing this: the ability to create a story and tell it with the help of a camera, therefore the directing within static frame with chosen characters, stylization, location and all the acts of the main characters have to be thought over in advance. This task is quite hard but exciting. The problems while creating the project are arising one after another because it is impossible to plan everything for 100% but this struggling for the quality of your creation is inspiring you having already driven you mad. I am sure only the strongest can survive dealing with this 
  • “With love August” – is a story with two parallel storylines. As we can see, according to your Photo Stories you use this director’s method quite often. What other “tricks” did you discover for yourself from cinematography? Which films do you watch?
Before you asked me this question I haven’t ever thought that I am already using some tricks) Actually, all of these parallel storylines are coming out my subconsciousness. While developing the project I feel that this should be shot in this or that way. However, of course, I learn from literature and cinematography. I'm head over heels in love with the films about World War I and World War II. Not Ukrainian or Russian but by Hollywood production.I am seeking them everywhere and when I finally manage to find I am happy like a child because I get a great portion of inspiration. Thus, for example, some of my favourite films are “Redemption”, “Testament of Youth”, “Black Book”, “Changeling” and other films with similar style.
  • Tell us, how did the idea of “With love August” appear? What inspired you? What appeared first - characters’ images or the idea to confront the imagination about love and stark reality? Are the worries of the main character close for you?
I would like to escape from answering this question but, probably, it will be dishonest towards myself and my work. The idea of creating a project came up to my mind at night. Back to the time when I didn’t have it, I’ve been enduring very hard time in my relationship. We lost our close connection and I let myself feel in love with another person. Before going to sleep I was thinking of him and was dreaming to find myself somewhere in the fields, far away from the city fuss. First, I had written a prose and after I decided that it is a good idea for a screenplay. Especially I believed that it would help me to overcome this situation. That is why all the feelings of the main character of “With love, August” - were my emotions. The project is devoted to a person who actually inspired me. I don’t regret that I have shown my cards. Let him show off in front of grandchildren.
  • Tell us how were you getting ready for the shooting and how was the casting held? What did you start with, and what was considered at the last very moment? Did you follow the storyboard or were there improvisation moments? What was the most difficult about the preparation?
I wasn’t holding a special casting. The only thing I want to find in my actors - is the smallest similarity with the real characters. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to do this with the main female character but there are some similar features in appearance, that is why I chose the actors almost at once. Next steps for me were: the fields, a bike, and a silk dress. All of those were in the prose - my fundamental screenplay, as I may say so. I took a bicycle and were seeking fields not far from the city, then I was chatting with bikers and looking for a one who will drive to that godforsaken place, then I found a dress and it looks exactly the same what I was dreaming of. We were working with the storyboard, but there were moments of improvisation. For example, we accidentally found goats that were grazing not far from us and I screamed: “come here, we need a couple of shots with animals”. Cause I know that the main female character is a prototype of myself I cannot but include those shots to the story. If this story happened to me I would hug each of them. The actress was afraid to touch them but we managed to make several shots)
The preparation wasn’t easy because I made everything for this project from writing the screenplay to looking for a china cup. The most difficult thing of this - is the understanding that you are filming something exactly yours, intimate. And it should look at least 30% similar to the things that are in my head. I think we managed to do this.
  • The shooting of “With love August” took place in several locations. How was your shooting day look like? What was the most difficult?
We were shooting in two days. First, shooting in the fields, then after some time at home. The most difficult thing was to catch a cold. That is why for shooting at home I invited guys to my apartment. However, it wasn’t something new for me)
  • What did you like most about the shooting?
The most remarkable was the thing that I wanted the most - to take a ride to the fields with cool guys who without knowing each other were able to depict love within the frame. We had a great time spending the last day of summer together. This is the greatest part of shooting. To be surrounded by creative people.
  • As we know, you not only shoot stories by yourself but also hold workshops, execute photo projects with other photographers. Tell us, please about such a format - who usually comes to you, are photographers beginners interested in a genre of Photo Story?
While shooting my projects I am a director and I don’t like to share the film set with the colleagues. The actor should interact only with me (not taking into account actors within the frame). But I had an intention to organise the project but doesn’t have financial basis for its implementation. I can do nothing but arrange a photo meeting and cover the expenses. I have used this method for several times. Different photographers starting from amateurs to professionals visited those meetings. I saw their results before and after - it was amazing! But it wasn’t cinematic photography, fashion photography. I noticed that few colleagues are interested in this genre in Ukraine. This genre is popular abroad, and people even ask me to hold a workshop on this theme:)
However, I also taught in our city but I cannot show off with a great number of students. Although, the main thing is the quality of their works, isn’t it? I am proud of them)

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