Interview: Anka Zhuravleva on Photography, Her Artistic Past, and Having a Varied Experience

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Today's interview is with the lovely Russian photographer Anka Zhuravleva, whose work contains such a variety of styles and emotions, I can't help but feel inspired by it. Her artistic background is unlike any other I've ever encountered, and it's been an absolute pleasure to find out more about her. I'm sure you'll be as entranced by her photographs as I am.

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Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Anka! First of all, for any readers who don’t know your background, will you tell me a little bit about yourself and where you are today?

Anka Zhuravleva:
Hello! Thank you for your questions. Hopefully I'll manage to answer! Well, I would say I am rather a visual artist. All my life I had been creating what they now call 'visual content'. I did a lot of things, and at the age of thirty I put all my visual experience into photography. Now I’m a full-time photographer, currently doing several personal creative projects. I’m also teaching creative photography in the form of individual lessons and group workshops all over the world. Photography is one of the forms of self-expression that suits me well. It’s quite fast in terms of realisation. It allows me to travel, to meet wonderful people, and to try new things. My husband and I are based in the beautiful Porto in Portugal. 

Magic & Musings:
If you could describe your photography in three words, what would they be?

Anka Zhuravleva:
They would be moment, vibe, and beauty.


Magic & Musings:
When did you first get into photography? Is this something you’ve been formally trained in?

Anka Zhuravleva:
I got into photography with my father at the age of 6 or 7. He had a good eye and did some home film photography 'for memories' and as many of children of my generation I often was sitting with him in a darkroom. I even got a personal LOMO camera (at the time they were not that fancy yet) and shot and developed some films by myself. Now I realise it was a very important piece of my life that influenced me a lot. I was never trained in photography. The only thing I studied officially is architecture. I believe that knowing of basics of painting, drawing, and history of art gives no less than studying at a photogtaphy school.


Magic & Musings:
Did you have to overcome any self-confidence barriers in order to get to that place where you could share your photographs?

Anka Zhuravleva:
No, with photography I never even thought about such things. 

Magic & Musings:
Of all of your projects, which are you the happiest with and why?

Anka Zhuravleva:
Depends of my mood. My 'Color Tales' gives me a lot joy, and the possibility to travel and connect with people. My black and white series makes me feel that 'real photography' mood. My analog experiments are something very fragile, intimate, and true that I appreciate so much. 'The Aquatic' is very personal; it reflects my relationships with water. And so on and so on.



Magic & Musings:
On Magic & Musings I love talking about female-identifying or non-binary artists and their work. Which photographers, if any, would you say have been influences on your work? Do you have any favourites to look at when you need a spark of inspiration? 

Anka Zhuravleva
I’m getting inspired by films, cartoons, and paintings rather than photography. Also, I really love modern book illustrators and pictorial photographs of the beginning of the twentieth century. I’m not searching for inspiration in photography and even try to distance myself from the huge photo stream we’re all involved in through social media. 

Magic & Musings:
This is a question I like to ask purely because of the variety of answers I get! I’m really interested in how people work and get things done. Do you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done, like a milky cup of tea or a particular album of music you listen to? 

Anka Zhuravleva:
This is a good question. Actually I suspect that the state of mind is the most important thing. But I love my vintage oak table I recovered with my husband. It’s very cosy and warm. It has a lot of cabinets to keep all the stuff I might need and an amazing, nice-to-touch surface. The best music is the music my husband makes with his bansuri flute and all the amazing instruments he plays. It’s always different, it’s live, and reflects the mood of the moment.


Magic & Musings:
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively? 

Anka Zhuravleva:
Take a rest. Reload myself. Read a book. Have a walk. Do something different, like stitching a new dress. Then get back to work. 

Magic & Musings:
What are some things you like to do in your spare time when you’re not working?

Anka Zhuravleva:
By coincidence I do all the same I’ve just mentioned above. Read a book, have a walk, cook a meal, sit under a tree. One day I’ll get back to painting. Clothes design and stitching are the things that I now consider a hobby.


Magic & Musings:
What tools do you use to keep yourself organised?

Anka Zhuravleva:
Last year I realised I need to schedule myself in order to not get lost in my plans, so I bought a beautiful paper planner and an ink pen and started writing down my to-do lists. I honestly tried to use some apps but without any result. So the old school way of planning turned out to be the best for me. 

Magic & Musings:
Have you ever explored working in a medium other than photography? Is this something you would consider in the future?

Anka Zhuravleva:
As I started to work in photography only at the age of thirty, I’ve already got a varied experience. I did some video post-production, some graphic design, also drew, painted, even tattooed. Now I’m thinking about a small clothes collection. We'll see...


Magic & Musings:
What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out as a photographer?

Anka Zhuravleva:
I do not even need to wonder about what could it be, because it was what my husband said to me: “Do what you want, do what you feel”. 

Magic & Musings:
Onto a fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading a book you've enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song? 

Anka Zhuravleva:
A book. After my trip to Venice I’m going to reread Fondamenta degli incurabili by Iosif Brodskij. The last films that impressed me a lot were Only Lovers Left Alive, I Am Love, and La Grande Beleza. The cartoon I’m enjoying like a child now is a funny and touching Japanese series Natsume’s Book of Friends.


Magic & Musings:
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work? What’s on the horizon for you in the next few months?

Anka Zhuravleva
I’m going to visit South America in September with a series of my workshops. It’s going to be my first experience with that part of the world. I’m so excited about it.

My favourite message for everyone is - be yourself, believe in yourself, keep your eyes wide open, and keep your inner child!

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