F-Stop Magazine: How did you first become involved in photography and what led to you working in this medium as an artist?
Stanislava Novgorodtseva: Like most photographers, I didn’t start out making my own projects. My first steps in photography were standalone images, portraits of my friends, some landscapes, and then there were commercial pictures and event photo coverage. At some point I realized that I’d reached a dead end and started looking for deeper ways of understanding photography. I started taking courses and attending workshops. A major breakthrough in my work was studying at The School of Modern Photography Docdocdoc where I learned to work with photo series. Photography as a medium gives me a wide range of tools and sometimes a total unpredictability of the process. Whenever I start working on a new project, I never know where it will lead me. It challenges my expectations every time.
F-Stop: The Portfolio 2019 issue of F-Stop Magazine features your project “The Island of Crimea,” can you tell us about this project? What led to this work?
SN: In Crimea I saw the sea for the first time. I was eight, and the sight of big water became one of my brightest childhood memories. The cultural eclecticism of the place and the remnants of ancient civilizations helped my imagination to create the magical image of Crimea. Until 2014, the peninsula had been apolitical to me; the invasion of politics hurt my perception. I felt alienated and disillusioned. In 2018 I decided to come back and capture the changes in my relationship with the place.
F-Stop: Can you discuss your process for making these images, or your creative process more generally?
SN: At first, I just wandered around, trying to formulate the particular area of work for myself. It took me a month to choose a visual language. There were a few key words that helped me: childhood, mythology, absurdity, metaphor, and politics. Nevertheless, I didn’t have a clear understanding of where to find what I was looking for, so I tried to visit as many places as possible, from nursery homes to breakdance classes for teenagers. My day planner was full of events taking place in the town, contacts of various local communities and indigenous ethnic groups. Throughout the whole period of active work on the project, which lasted 8 months, I stayed with local people, and living with them was another important step to understanding the place.
F-Stop: Do you have a favorite image in this series? If so, which one and why is it the image that speaks to you most?
SN: The shot of a woman coming out of water is especially dear to me. It was the first shot to match my visual expectations completely. It was made by accident, too. I saw a woman getting into the sea. It was mid-April, a cold and windy evening. Everyone around was wearing coats while she had nothing but a swimsuit on. I asked for permission to take her portrait, and she agreed. We said our goodbyes and I was about to leave, but decided to take one last photo – and it turned out to be the best of them all.
F-Stop: Are you working on any other projects currently?
SN: At the moment I’m interested in more personal themes: one of them, for instance, is connected to my family. I’m in research mode now, studying the material. The main source of inspiration for me is literature, so I’m searching for ideas first and foremost in books and then I’m looking for references in visual arts. Unlike my Crimea project, where I was an observer and looked for images in everyday life, in my new project I’d like to experiment with staged photography, designing and arranging the images myself.
Also published on Medium.