Self-proclaimed “art-addict” photographer, Ksenia Dolgorukova, immerses her fashion models in woodland whimsies and playful floral frolicking, revealing her deep connection with the natural world.
With early memories of visiting her dacha (country cottage), like many city dwellers in Russia, Dolgorukova’s family would find reprieve in their dacha on a regular basis, especially in the warmer seasons:
“When I was a little girl, I stayed in the village with my grandmother in Siberia. Early in the morning, I would wake up to freshly baked bread. I would look out the window and see a shepherd driving a herd of cows. The most beautiful cow was ours; she was crystal white and big. After breakfast, I would go with my cousins to the forest and we would collect wild berries and mushrooms. Later, we would go fishing, flanked by countless cats. Village cats would catch fish in the pond and were, by far, the better fishermen. In the evenings, we would go to a village disco or gather at a home to listen to the local musicians. Old men would play balalaika and accordion, adorned in costumes that were smoothly ironed, and for special occasions, they would also smoothly shave their beards.”
From her maternal Kazakh heritage, Dolgorukova was imbued by the vast, sun-kissed steppes and deep, dark pine forests. Dolgorukova’s picturesque upbringing infused her spirit with fresh air, playful wildlife and a joy of simple things, lending a refreshing vibrancy to her present-day perspective. Her aptitude for noticing the fine details of Life’s moments, and her instinct to look for them, has assisted her greatly in her artistic expression:
“I have always been interested in art. I wanted to express my thoughts and ideas. At first I drew pictures, and then I played the piano and guitar. Then I realized that photography resonated more strongly with me than music. For me, it is less interesting to create a moment on the canvas than it is to inspire your idea in a photoshoot – cooperating and working with other people to share their own feelings and life,” Dolgorukova shares.
With the utmost sensitivity and sincerity, she aims to capture not just the superficial charm of her models, but the person within as well. Taking her desire to relate to her models to an even higher level, Dolgorukova completed modeling school herself, which gave her the experience of knowing what it’s like to stand under the lights and in her models’ shoes. Now as a photographer, she works with several different modelling agencies, but always with the fundamental belief that beauty comes from within:
“When I plan projects, I think not only about wardrobe and types of faces, but I also find out what the models are about: What does she like? Is she active and cheerful or quiet and shy? Is she happy at this moment? Is her heart is broken? I can help to express their feelings in the photoshoot. That is why it is easy for them to express themselves in front of my lens. Models can dance, jump, cry, eat flowers and do crazy things. Moreover, I can do crazy things too and have fun.”
It seems that Dolgorukova serves a dual purpose as both photographer and spirit-lifter, for she works to help each of her models realize their own unique exquisiteness, delighting and celebrating their unique so-called imperfections that speak to her humanity.
In creating Light Inside, Dolgorukova had the clear intention of capturing the ability of dance to transcend language as “conversation between souls, showing the light and strength within.”
Dolgorukova’s appreciation of beauty is not limited to fashion. In her day-to-day life, she attempts to find inspiration whilst witnessing the special moments that Life brings.
“Every day I try to find things, moments or even people that inspire me. A man who helps a beggar. A street musician who performs a song. A loving couple walking under one umbrella. Children who play and laugh.”
Dolgorukova has many dreams and aspirations for her future career, but keeping her faith in people, continuing to see – and capture with her camera – the natural goodness in humanity is of paramount importance to her work.
Published in INSPADES Magazine, Issue Sette, October 2017
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