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Evgeniy Popov: modern still life photography

by Yvette Depaepe
Published the 1st of August 2022


Evgeniy Popov has developed his very own style in the category 'Modern still life'.
His work is well composed, well lit, original and renewing.  He has many interesting hobbies beside photography, which is very important to him. Let's go on a journey with him and learn more about the personality behind his work.

'From the series: Light and Shadows'


I was born and always lived in Stalingrad, a big beautiful city on the banks of the Volga. I have a wonderful family, a beautiful wife, a daughter who is an illustrator by profession, and a grandson (a charming robber of ten). I design residential interiors and bring these projects to life. Besides work, I have many hobbies. I really love dance music from the 80s and have a large collection of 'disco' style music. I also collect scale models of cars. My collection contains about 500 models of Russian equipment – cars and trucks, tractors, tanks and combat vehicles, all on a scale of 1:43. Sometimes I use my collection to shoot subject compositions.


 'I brought you spring!'


In addition to all this, I am fond of military archaeology and are engaged in excavations at the battlefields of the Second World War. I think everyone knows the heroic history of Stalingrad. There is no person who has not heard about the Battle of Stalingrad. In this colossal battle, about two million people, both Germans and Russians, died. Many soldiers still lay unburied in fields and ravines. I am a member of an organisation engaged to search for remains of soldiers and for transporting them to have a decent burial at the soldiers' cemetery. Over time, I gathered a whole collection from objects related to the wartime: buckles, awards, buttons, weapons elements. I also sometimes use these items in my compositions.


 'I'm in charge here now'


Sometimes, when inspiration comes, I write small mystical stories on military-archaeological topics.

Along with the others, photography is an important hobby for me. I started a long time ago, back in 1976. My uncle gave me an inexpensive camera and taught me the basics of photography. At that time, photography was a very complex and fascinating process. Films, photo paper, various chemical reagents – it was all so interesting… Of course, I had no idea about composition, about the principles of frame layout, about light schemes and other tricks of professional photography. I just was shooting as well as I could and what I liked. And this situation lasted for quite a long time. In 2015,  I decided to buy a good camera. Before that, I was free to use a simple miniature digital camera. I bought a decent SLR camera! As soon as I got it, it became clear that in order to use the rich potential of my new camera, I needed to learn a lot about the theory of photography. It was such an obvious thought: “I really need to go to study”. So, I went as an apprentice to one of the most well-known photographers of our city – Leonid Toprover. He didn't only taught me how to take high-quality photos, but also explained the rules of composition, and how artistic photography differs from a simple picture. I am very grateful to him, as my first teacher in the world of photography. I mastered a complex SLR camera.

Now the question arose: what to shoot?
There are many genres in photography, so which one should I choose? Or try everything in a row? It's time to experiment. I started with macro photography, but I quickly got tired of chasing agile insects. Then I tried self-portraits and I liked it more and it began to turn out well. But still, portrait has not become my main genre. Then I tried architecture and that was really what I liked as my wife and I travel a lot. I also tried still life quite by accident. I made my first compositions with the archaeological objects I found. It was unusual, and my images with helmets and grenades received positive reviews on different photo sites. I quickly realized that still life is the most comfortable style of photography. You can shoot without leaving home, the main thing is to collect the necessary and original props and to purchase at least a minimum set of lighting equipment.
This genre is not only comfortable, but also quite difficult. My second teacher, Eduard Kraft, helped me a lot in mastering it. He taught me how to exhibit complex light schemes, taught me many tricks that subject photographers successfully use.
Along with technical perfection, I was constantly improving my own style. It was not interesting for me to shoot, like everyone else, jugs and vases with flowers, I wanted to do something unusual. So I have two main directions: compositions made up of glass objects, and compositions of solid opaque objects with complex lighting. I do not seek to have some deep hidden meaning embedded in the composition, it is enough for me to harmoniously arrange my "models" and beautifully illuminate them. I carefully select objects for my works, usually 10-15 variants of the same composition with different objects are obtained, until in the end there is one, the only true, most aesthetic option. So I can say without any doubt, that to me, the technical perfection, the composition and the aesthetics are the most important. However, sometimes I have jobs in which I try to put some feelings.


'Van Helsing's Arsenal'


What inspires me the most are Artists, masters of suprematism.  And of course, paintings by Kazimir Malevich: he had a huge influence on my work.


'Subject suprematism'


Ideas for compositions come suddenly. Sometimes it happens that nothing comes to my mind for two or even three weeks in a row, and it happens that several ideas appear at once in one evening. Then I run to my office, and on a piece of paper I quickly make sketches of the future composition. It happens that both the lighting scheme and the colour scheme are immediately coming up. Then these sheets are lying on my desk, waiting to be executed. I don't have much free time, so I only do photography on days completely off, and free from other duties. Those days are like holidays to me!  And those days - I already can feel it in the morning – have that kind of feverish premonition: 'today I will do something interesting, unusual, maybe something  that no one has done before me!'
And then, a large room in my apartment turns into a dump, tripods with lighting equipment, light-scattering and light-reflecting screens are everywhere, piles of various objects are lying in the corners, from which I create compositions. I turn on my favourite music, usually it's Modern Talking, BoneyM, or Dtschinghis Khan, and start working. At these moments, I completely forget about the time, very often I even forget to have lunch. Methodically, I put into practice all my sketches, trying to make all the compositions, leaving nothing for the next time. And then comes the inevitable moment when you have to put things in order in the room, put everything in its place, put my "models" in the closet. And after a week or two, everything starts all over…


Although I have a lot of work, subject photography is a whole world with a never-ending learning process for a lifetime. This is what I plan to do in the next eternity :) In addition, I really want to finish my project "Ancient fortresses of Russia". Russia has a little more than 50 ancient stone fortresses which are preserved. My wife's task and mine too is to see everything. Of course, these ancient walls are incredibly photogenic, and after visiting these monuments of antiquity, good photographic works remain.
So far we have seen a little less than half of all the ancient fortresses of Russia. If everything goes according to plan, in 2-3 years we will have visited all the places where the old walls and towers have been preserved. Perhaps the audience will be interested in my photos from these trips. Maybe some of them will be published even on 1X.


At the end of the story, I want to show you some of my works that I think are the most successful.





'From the series: Experiments with glass'



'Beautiful and lonely'



'Simple composition' 



'From the series: Experiments with glass'



'White and grapes'



'From the series: Smoke and ceramics'



'White on black'



'From the series: Experiments with glass'



'From the series: Angle of reflection'



'The Corrugated Poem'



'From the series: Experiments with glass'


Great and clean shape Photography.. especially the still life one! Well done !!
Beautiful and creative, well done!
Stunning images/photography. Congrats!
Absolutely beautiful work, congratulations
Fantastic work! Learning. Congrats!!!
Рад был снова увидеть статью с Вами, Евгений! Очень интересный рассказ! даже вспомнил и свою молодость :)) Творческих успехов!
When Photography mixes with Creativity it becomes Art. Congratulations
Evgeniy, you are an inspiration and a door open to realms where only a prolific imagination can dare venture. What an amazing work, what perfectionism in technical details... I am really in awe, Evgeniy! Love your work! Thank you , Yvette, for this most inspiring and amazing Magazine article!
Beautiful work , congratulations
Great story and great work Evgenij, I followed your work on several platforms already, simply love it. It is very nice to hear more about the artist behind this art. Excuse me but I had to laugh a little as I read the way you enjoy in your hobby ( one room, light, props, music from the 80s…) because it was like I wrote this. I am doing this exactly the same way, we even got a radio station here in Germany called 80s 80s radio…and I am permanently tuned in. Your work inspired me to try similar things, please keep on doing like you do, nice greetings to Stalingrad from Frankfurt Germany 🤗🤗
Beautiful story and photos!!
A great series! Very pleasing to the eye. Thanks to Yvette Depaepe for publishing it. Congratulations Evgeniy Popov, you are amazing and inspiring!!
Thanks for your appreciation, dear friend!