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Meet Santa Monica Photographer: Elena Petrova

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elena Petrova.

Elena, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was always into art, perhaps because I grew up in Saint-Petersburg, Russia and was always surrounded by beautiful sights and architecture, and went to plays and ballet, and visited museums and galleries with incredible paintings and photography.

I graduated from Saint-Petersburg State University with a Masters Degree in journalism where I also took photography classes. When I moved to LA in 2009 I was wondering what I can do here, in the creative capital of the world. I was always interested in photography as it was both my grandpas’ hobby. They developed their film in their homemade darkroom in the bathroom and I remember my grandpa projecting his slide photos of the time we spent together in summertime and how magical it was. So, I decided to study photography and start my career in that field. I got my photography certificate from UCLA Extension.

Photography includes so many branches that sometimes I have a hard time deciding which one to focus on as I enjoy many. I love storytelling and have a passion for editorial, photojournalism, portraits and fashion photography. I’ve shot several personal and assigned editorial projects and have covered events such as the LA Fashion Week in a photojournalistic approach.

Here in LA, there are many talented photographers that I follow and get inspired by. I need to do so much more and push myself harder to become a better photographer than I was yesterday and to make my dreams come true for shooting editorials for my favorite magazines and campaign for my favorite brands.

Has it been a smooth road?
The biggest challenge is to be different, find your style, and create interesting stories. That takes observation, inspiration, time, patience and a putting together the right team for execution. After all that work, sometimes you submit your work to magazines but don’t hear back from them, which makes you feel upset, and sometimes you get published which makes it all worthwhile.

What are some of the influences that have played the biggest role in your journey so far?
When I was a photography student at UCLA Extension, I was lucky to have a great photographer, Michael Powers, as my professor and mentor. He’s been working with Helmut Newton, Mario Testino, and would tell us interesting stories about his experience working on big photo shoots. He was always telling us how an idea is most important and also teaching us about understanding the light, how to create a beautiful photo with just light from Home Depot and China balls from Ikea. Now I’m blessed and thankful to have an amazing person in my life — my best friend, guru, and love — who is a cinematographer and knows about light, generous with his knowledge, and just want me to grow as a professional photographer. We have a lot of discussions about my projects. I’m very blessed to meet very creative and talented people in my life.

Do you have a favorite type of client or project?
I love shooting for clothing companies. I was recently approached to shoot for a kids clothing line and love working with kids and teenagers because of their energy, sincerity, and creativity. I’d love to shoot for Zara, Gap, Guess, Diesel, and Benetton because their campaigns are really amazing. There are also a few magazines that I’d love to work with such as the “W” and “La Petite.” I’d also love to be a part of the Girlgaze Project, which now has an exhibition at the Annenberg Space of Photography here in LA. Besides editorial and advertising photography, I’d love to continue my personal projects “Mother and Daughter” (I started it in 2013 as my final assignment for my Photographic Portraiture class) and “Viva La Vida” about people of 75 years and older who are still passionate about life, are full of adventures, and have interesting hobbies.

What have been some of the most important lessons you’ve learned over the course of your career?
I would have tried to intern with some of my favorite photographers. But I also believe everything happens with a purpose and on its time.

Contact Info:

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Image Credits:

Photographer Elena Petrova
Producer Saman Yaghmai- Aledavoud
“In Her Element” editorial for Mini-Maven Magazine with artist Elisabeth Anisimow
Editorial “4 elements” MUA and Hair Stylist T. Justine Reilly,  Wardrobe Stylist BK Phillips
“Marie-Antoinette” MUA Lu Leah, Hair Stylist T. Justine Reilly, Wardrobe Stylist Allissa Cargile, Models Anya, Kristen (Wunder Management), Talita
“City Shoot” MUA Sydney Hunt, Hair Stylist T. Justine Reilly, Wardrobe Stylist Allissa Cargile, Models (Wunder Management) Maya Zohrabian and Abigail Cain
“1920’s” MUA and Hair Stylist T. Justine Reilly, Wardrobe Stylist Milah Renee, Models (Wunder Management) Cora and Kristen
“The Lady with a pink feather hat” MUA and Hair Mai Kato, Stylist Elena Petrova, Model Fiona.

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