12th grade, lots of exams that i didn't really care about. i was skipping classes and spending all of my free time sketching and writing about pictures i was going to take. most of these ideas never came to life, but it helped me evolve. it was the only crazy thing that didn't let me drown in the messy high school issues and teenage relationships. an idea -- a single thought that became more important than anything else, crashing like a wave, pushing me deeper into the world of lenses and cameras.
i had been working on photomanipulations since i was fourteen but felt quite trapped with the limited resources, so i started shooting my own stuff. at first i didn't even have any equipment and i borrowed a friend's camera for my first shoots. however, it took only a few months and then i purchased my first nikon d90, pretty much all i could afford back then, with the kit lens, the 18-105mm.
|some of my photography equipment - have added much more in 3 years|
dreaming is often hard when you've got no place to fall, nobody to support your mind.
my first models were friends and girls from my high school. sometimes i asked strangers on the street. sometimes random people on facebook. it didn't take that much courage.
and apparently, it worked. i sold images to publishing houses, cd covers and advertisements. i could hardly believe that they were my photographs. my images. my creation.
i learned with my half-broken zenit-b the technical part of photography when i shot through about ten rolls of 35mm film and fell in love with the colours, and started creating my own photoshop curves and actions, to achieve the digital film look of faded shadows and dull highlights that became my colour grading style.
|color grading example, all post processing done in camera raw and photoshop|
my very first clients were musicians and i truly enjoyed shooting with them. everyone was surprised at my young age, maybe it was sort of an advantage at that time. other famous photographers knew about me and it was the scariest thing ever. i wasn't ready yet (or so i kept telling myself).
but sometimes all it takes is one single person who believes in what you do. they broke the pattern and let the old me go. the girl who only had illusions in her heart became the magician. they were the fire and i was the phoenix. their darkness became my home.
i met my make up artist in the beginning of 2013 and our collaborations were madly intense. she caught my ideas precisely and helped me bring to life even the craziest ones. she became my second brain, the logical thinker. we were and still are invincible.
we entered our very first photography contest in july and our team won first place plus best makeup.
then i realized we could do anything.
i promised myself i wouldn't be scared anymore.
|1st place winner of iluguru magazine's fashion photography contest|
it was perhaps in the beginning of 2014 when i decided that i no longer wanted to shoot simple portraits. i wanted to shoot fantastical, surreal, temperamental images. i needed something extraordinary and out of this world, so i got my team together and we started raiding local costume rentals and fashion designers, brainstorming ideas and setting things on fire. we quickly succeeded in creating our very own niche of mystical fine art photography and that is what i'm currently working on. it keeps me motivated and inspired, and i am incredibly grateful for my brain that is capable of creating such ideas.
simply -- i don't want to shoot boring pictures. i want something conceptual and different, i want something that makes the viewer stare for a while...
2014 was also the year of my first fantasy photo workshops. it has been an amazing opportunity for all of us, and i discovered how much i loved teaching and sharing my passion. there is nothing more rewarding than seeing the work of your students after a long day of training and seeing how much they have learned from you.
i have learned more about pyrotechnics than i ever thought i would. i have set myself on fire. i have set my favourite model on fire. i have learned about artificial lighting, posing and directing.
i have gained invaluable skills in leadership and organizing, and finally feel like i am 100% on the right path, doing something that i'm passionate about, and working for love, not for money.
|3rd fantasy photo workshop in kolga manor // photo by mairi sõelsepp|
|lunch dates are totally a thing.|
for me, success is no longer about money and being buried in work. i want to be able to photograph only the kind of things that i really like, to make contemporary art that breathes life. i want the subjects to experience the same kind of magic that i feel when i pick up the camera and frame them through the lens.
success is love. success is passion. success is sharing the knowledge. success is making mistakes and learning from them. success is happiness, growth and appreciation. success is giving and receiving inspiration. success is teamwork and friendships that we have formed over time.
|to everyone who has been a part of this journey ♥|