- Can you tell us something about yourself and how did you first get into photography?
My name is Volodya, I’m action & adventure sports photographer from Latvia and also parkour athlete. It all started when I was about 13 – 14 years old. That moment when you’re a kid and always search for a problems by exploring abandoned buildings. So we started to explore one in my area. I know it sounds weird but that building was like my second home. We went there with friends after school to play tag, train, meet sunsets on the rooftop and of course take photos of them. After all, what could be better than taking parent’s old camera, climb onto the roof and take a picture, heroically standing on the edge of a thin bar with a sunset on the background?! It was then when I started learning about photography step by step. I’m still that kid with a camera now who loves to explore cities and who can’t resist sunsets.
- How did you decide to focus on action photography?
There wasn’t any special moment or time period when I decided to shoot only action. Since I was engaged in parkour – partly I was already taking action photos and videos. At the beginning, I was also gaining experience in other genres and trying to shoot different kind of stuff, but in photography there’s no specific direction in my opinion , everything is interconnected. A man with vision who knows the basics of camera, compositon and light will be able to create some cool action shots too. I think that it’s important to get experience in other type of photography and develop your own vision. As in action photography there’s subgenres like football, skate, bmx, dance, parkour, rally and etc… Of course you will have a favorite sport but you need to learn to photograph another sports too. So you need to progress – and that is the key.
- Professionally speaking, what’s an accomplishment that you’re most proud of?
Probably there will be two achievements.
First one is of course to be one of the top55 Red Bull Illume 2016 finalists – I can’t describe by words that feeling when you realize that you’ll be standing with top world action photographers who was inspiring you to get to this stage. Probably that was that start point, when I fully believed in myself as in photographer and began hard work to improve my skills.
And second one is to shoot bigest bicycle race in the world – Red Bull Trans-Siberian extreme. Cut long story short, It’s bicycle race for 24 days in Russia, from Moscow to Vladivostok, with distance 9156 km. And just imagine the workflow of photographers who constantly take photos no matter what the weather is like or what time it is – night, day, sun, rain or strong wind. You have to go through it all even if it means crossing fields of dirt or swamps under those weather conditions. Plus you can forget about normal sleeping. That’s why such a job was like a challange to me. But the worst part is that I liked it all – 24/7 of working mode, constant search of new angles, experiments, travel, new experience and new people. That was hard but awesome event! And I would like to thank Denis Klero for the opportunity to be a part of this project.
- What’s your favorite shoot location? Why?
I don’t have any special location in my mind. Sometimes you can make an awesome shot even in a place that looks completely terrible from the first sight. As I said before – It all depends on the skill of the photographer. If a photographer has a task to take a picture right here and right now, he or she will make the most of the location to take a great photo. And also there are situations where the action is about 90% of the photo, so it is not as important to have some specific location. Probably the best way to put this is to say that any new location will be my favorite one, because It’s a new scene with new opportunities to shoot. The problem is that over all these years I almost fully explored the Riga city and was shooting on same spots for about 15+ times. That’s why this city is a little bit boring for me. But of course this will not stop me. Always need to think about new ideas, new travels and take all from your imagination!
- Can you show us a shot you’re proud of and describe how you’ve taken it?
Well It’s hard to say, because I have many photos with rich story behind them and of course I’m proud of all of them. I’ll probably tell a story about a photo where I’m diving, because this photo comes to my mind first.
All the summer 2015 I was training to dive into water from heights. There is a lake near Riga where you can train diving into water from different heights. The very maximum height is about 7-8m high which is the top of a tree that grow just above the water. And it was my aim to jump from there during the summer. I was lucky enough to overcome my fear and do that jump. That’s when I understood that I have to take a photo sequence. But there were 3 problems. It was getting cold because It’s almost was September, there were no other athletes who could jump from that height and I also needed to catch a moment with a nice looking sky. So I decided that it’s going to be me performing the jump. Me and friends had to wait for a beautiful evening to take the shot and then we did the following: I used the Manfrotto 290xtra tripod which was partly put in the water and mounted my camera to it. One of my friends stood by the camera and the other was close to the edge where I was jumping from to hold a camera flash. That way we needed to take photos at the exact moments while I was in air. I dived so many times that day ( about 20 times ) that I didn’t want to dive anymore for another year. And after each time I had to go and check how the photo looked like to make sure that we were doing it right. I’ll be honest with you, training was great, but it was so cold that I couldn’t feel my body after all the attempts. But I was more than happy with the result. Shout out to my friends for helping me with this achievment.
And also goes on mind the night photo that I made not so long ago. I’ve been planning to do some night shots from one spot in Riga for quite a while. What I didn’t expect is that I would have to do this in October when there’s ice cold wind outside, alone, on a very high and slippery surface. When doing something like this, equipment plays an important role. Because you need to do all quick and of course all needs to be stable. Thanks to Manfrotto 290xtra tripod and Bumblebee-220 backpack – I can rely on their products under any extreme conditions even being on the edge of a tower.
- What do you think the next five years will hold for you? Are there any specific goals that you’d like to accomplish?
Continue hard work and improve my skills. I want to gain experience in sports that I never shot before, also I got a couple of projects on my mind, pretty huge projects, which i would really want to bring to reality in these nearby years. And for sure try to get into RedBull Illume in 2019, how can I skip this…