The desire to shoot nature is the desire to get out of the box, see the horizon, stop watching the wall in front of you, I am sure the famous landscape and travel photographer Anton Agarkov. He told our magazine about himself.
By my first education I am an engineer-technologist of aircraft engines, by the second – a linguist-translator. And it was the second profession that helped me come to photography, and in a very winding way. The desire to travel came much earlier than the desire to shoot. And I decided that if I work as a simultaneous interpreter with foreign delegations, then sooner or later I’ll definitely go on a business trip. “A trip for which they also pay you? Ideally!” – so I thought then.
Then work began at the institute, where aircraft engines were tested, and there I simultaneously became a test engineer and translator on projects with India, but not in India, but in Russia. There was a lot of work, but it increasingly led me away from transfers and travel to aviation. I even became the head of the testing laboratory, but I realized that this was not mine.
And then I was offered to work as a photographer for one portal – a guide to Russia. I said goodbye to engineering and completely switched to photography and journalism.
About learning photography
In the family, as far as I can remember, there was a Zenit camera. My father even taught me to shoot, but at that moment it did not catch me. Then, in the third institute, I bought my first digital soap box and started to click. Friends praised, critics on photosites scolded, and I decided that I needed to grow. The first photos that I’m not ashamed to show, I got ten years ago.
I studied everything on my own, tried to watch a lot of photos of other authors, bought albums. I was looking for pictures from which something was trembling inside. And vice versa, I was looking for work in which something annoys me in order to understand what exactly. Shaped visual taste.
About landscape photography
Strange, but I never asked myself the question of why the landscape. Somehow, from my very birth, I sharply felt nature, I was interested in wandering through the woods, watching the sun shine through the leaves … Then I started going to relatives in North Ossetia, and this connection with nature only intensified – it’s hard not to penetrate when Kazbek is visible from your garden! And then this question came by itself. In 2010, I went on my first winter trip to the Southern Urals, to Taganay National Park. I thoroughly tried there, but I brought some good photos. I posted it on the blog, and someone left me a comment: “How beautiful! And all my life I look at Taganay from the window and still can’t get there. ” And then I realized that from my window you can only see the wall of the opposite house! And the desire to take pictures of nature is the desire to get out of the box,stop observing the wall in front of you and see the horizon and mountains somewhere in the distance!
About photo tours
I will organize photo tours, and this whole year I have already been scheduled. Travel geography – North Ossetia, Georgia, Armenia, Ingushetia, Kyrgyzstan, Kamchatka, Baikal. I am constantly looking for new interesting directions and formats of presentation.
It seems to me that photo tours are a very interesting travel format. You leave with a good guide who knows the place and points where you need to be at dawn and sunset, can give advice on shooting and share some interesting processing techniques. And in the photo tour you travel in the company of like-minded people, which is especially important. In ordinary tourist groups, the photographer is an annoyance. He constantly disrupts the campaign schedule, demands to stop and set up camp where he would like to shoot at sunrise and sunset, and asks to wait for him. Well, or vice versa – somewhere pulls people who came just to relax. In short, for ordinary tourists, a photographer is a grief. Therefore, a person with a camera has two options: either travel alone, or look for like-minded people.
But at the same time, I always say that my tours are suitable not only for photographers. We always see the most beautiful places at the most favorable time and from any trip we get more impressions. For an ordinary person, being in a group of photographers means gaining access to all this beauty, and not only. I try to combine every tour with adventure. Trekking in the canyons, talking with shepherds, spending the night in yurts, playing nomads are all very vivid impressions that will be remembered even if you don’t take anything off.
I really like to shoot in the Caucasus, in North Ossetia – for me it is almost home, my grandmother lives there. I love the glaciers and rocky mountains of Digorsky Gorge, the ruins of houses and clan towers in the Gorge Uallagkom. And the people there are absolutely amazing! Last year, Dagestan discovered for itself – spent a month there in the summer and autumn – and this year I will continue to explore it. He struck me with a variety of landscapes – dunes, liana forests, canyons, the sea … And in addition, as if this were not enough, Dagestan has a very interesting life, vibrant ethnography and various crafts – a treasure for a travel photographer. That is why I will organize a tour there this year.
I love Kyrgyzstan, I have been there since 2013 every year and every time I discover something new for myself. I really like how this region combines nomadic life and incredible beauty of nature. If you’ve ever seen a nomad lead his herd through highland meadows amid snow-capped mountains, you will understand me.
As for the weather, I like it to change. At the junction of good and bad weather, you can catch the most interesting light, the most spectacular clouds. It’s interesting to shoot in the rain. I once did a project for the tourist office of the island of Guam – we shot the reenactors of the traditional costume of the Chimorra people, and I used to shoot the flash. Here the tropical downpour began, and with a flash we lit this wall of rain and the native with a spear standing knee-deep in sea water – it turned out very cool!
I also like taking pictures in fog and low clouds – this weather allows you to work with minimalistic scenes. Clouds hide part of the picture and create a special mystical atmosphere. True, they can even hide everything, and then you have to remove the gray square, but this is the weather, you can’t order it. I love the fog. I like to watch the mountains open and close, how the fog transforms the landscape, turns it into something else, sculpts some unexpected plots out of it. In the fog you can always see something incredible. And then you must certainly remove it, because after a second the fog will absorb the plot.
About favorite places
There are few such places, but there is one that I especially love. It is located in North Ossetia in the upper reaches of the Urukh River. This is one of the most dangerous rivers in the republic, with waterfalls and narrow canyons. Sometimes it’s even scary to look at her. At the very top of the gorge, Urukh falls from a glacier and lands on a plain, where it splits into dozens of branches. This is a relic swamp Chifandzar. In the summer there is a continuous flowering carpet of all possible colors of the rainbow! Simply impossible beautiful! In autumn, Chifandzar turns into a yellow rocky wasteland cut by rare blue streams. I return there twice every year and do not intend to end this tradition.
I love nature in any of its manifestations – steppes, deserts, hills, rivers and seas … Mountains are just another plot that I try to convey as beautifully as possible. It is very important for me in my work to reflect the very essence of the object that I am shooting, the mood, the feeling from it. Deserts are heat and sand in the face, textures and contrast of lines. Steppes – infinity. Mountains – impregnability. It is important that the viewer immediately has a feeling: they are huge and inaccessible, their appearance alone is amazing. And for this it is important to look at them from the bottom up, to be at their foot – so the mountains look much more spectacular.
I don’t try to climb somewhere, walk kilometers or climb passes. In photography, this is secondary, the primary road to the frame. And if there are passes and mountain trails on it, then I will overcome and storm them.
However, I will not hide that the pictures that were given with great difficulty, then you look with some special trepidation: a deeper layer is turned on – memory. If I managed to convey this trembling to the viewer, then I coped with my task.
About vivid impressions
There were many bright moments. From each trip I bring one, no less. You can recall how I was almost beaten by the Karakalpak gopniks while I was shooting skeletons of ships in the Aral. I was taken from the scene to Daewoo Matiz, the most absurd police car you can imagine. Or how I was dragging to the top of the Sarykum dune in Dagestan without any hope of taking something off, but in the evening it blazed so that I remembered this sunset for a very long time. However, the best thing was to fly to the erupting Flat Tolbachik volcano, spend the night a kilometer away from it and watch how the tent falls on you from every volcanic shot. There I had to climb the icy slopes and catch handfuls of ash in my face. But it was worth it – I will never forget how lava slowly falls along a steep channel and creeps into the forest,and a huge column of red ash rises above the valley. And thanks to that trip, I met my future wife – that certainly has something to remember.
About risk for a good shot
Once, for the sake of the frame, I went for everything. But then Veronica appeared in my life, I realized: I have something to lose, and slightly tempered the ardor. Although sometimes it puts me on steep ledges and dangerous paths, I think it’s better not to take risks. If you fall into the abyss, you will not remove anything else in your life, because you have destroyed yourself.
If you recall … There was something. In North Ossetia, we were offered to climb the Gebi Pass. They said: it is very beautiful there, and the path is simple, and we went. And on this “uncomplicated” path, a horse fell from a steep slope, from a height of seven meters. Fortunately, nothing happened. But here you are watching how, flipping his legs, he flies down, turns over, drops his backpacks and falls on stones, and you think: “But I rode astride five minutes ago …”
At that time, I took amazing photos on Gebi, but I sworn to go up there. And of course, the next year he returned with a small group from the Ministry of Emergencies. The guys wanted to go along a beautiful and difficult route at the same time, I suggested Gebi, and they agreed. On a steep climb, the loaded horses became stubborn, stood up firmly, and I went to check what was there, to help move them forward. Then something went wrong, and one of the horses fell on me. Then the second one fell, I was pinched between them and dragged into the abyss … I don’t remember how I got out, but it was scary. Not sure if I will return to Gebi after this; Yes, most likely…
About the same frame
When a frame comes to my mind, this is a revelation. And I will look for the right place for its implementation and return there until I get the right weather. Something like this I shot my “Explorer” in Baikal grottoes – before my eyes this image of a little man appeared, standing at night at the entrance to the ice cave, something in the spirit of the “Something” poster. At first I made a mistake with the grotto, and then for several more days I waited for the sky to clear and stars to appear. When everything turned out, I went out into the cold and took pictures for several hours until I got the desired result.
About the vision
I really hope that the vision can still be developed. Probably, not everyone is given the opportunity to reveal their absolute instinct, but the sense of beauty can be trained exactly. Of course, if you ask yourself the correct coordinate system in which the beautiful will be truly beautiful.
About the criteria for a good photo
I consider emotions to be the criterion of good photography. If they are in the frame, then the picture was a success.
About photographic equipment
I shoot with a Nikon camera and Nikon and Tamron lenses. The latter opened a window for me into the world of telephoto optics, and now I am not laying out a 150-600 mm wardrobe trunk. It turned out that the world is simply filled with landscape scenes for these focal lengths! On trips, I carry a Gitzo Explorer tripod, a Hoya polarizing and some neutral gray filters, and a Nissin flash kit with a radio synchronizer. Sometimes when traveling I want to shoot a series of portraits with staged light, and for such tasks this set of light is the best solution.
About character traits
The photographer should first of all be inherent in attentiveness to what is happening around. Ability to stop talking and start listening. The desire to understand and accept the world around as it is.