Ustina Green: Still Life Photographer

by Editor  Yvette Depaepe

UstinaGreen masters Still Life photography at its best.  She loves to tell new stories with the help of daylight and “long forgotten” items often are neglected in our modern society giving them a second life through her images.  She sees light and calls herself a “Light catcher”.  Enjoy this interview with Ustina, learn more about the person behind her photographs and most of all, admire her beautiful work...

Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs.
I grew up in Southern Kazakhstan, a former republic of the USSR. I received a degree in law at Tomsk State University. I worked as a lawyer for a long time. I am a mother of two adult daughters. At the present time I am retired. In different years I had different hobbies, including literary creativity under the pseudonym of Justina Green.

How has your history and life experiences affected your photography? Which are your most important experiences that has influenced your art?
In 2007, for family reasons, I moved to Uzbekistan, the city of Fergana. New environment, different people, language and mentality, cultural and religious differences, all this made me be engaged in creativity: at the beginning, it was literature and then photography. But the main thing that I found in this place was “light”, wonderful light finding its way through the dense curtains to the home cupboard early in the morning, playing on the crystal and coloured glass. Of course, I wanted to own it photographically ...


What first attracted you to photography?
I began to take pictures way back in high school with a Smena photo camera. I even practised in the photo studio. In those days, photo cameras were a rarity. I wanted to stand out among friends, but when finishing school, my passion faded. After the birth of my children, I came back to photography again. With the use of a Zenit-E camera, I took pictures of children, acquaintances, Siberian landscapes. The last ones turned out especially well: I presented my works to friends: photos were praised, and I was happy. In 2005, I switch to “digital photography".  I bought a Canon 20 D.  And since then, photography has become my favourite hobby.

Describe your overall photographic vision.
I see light, I am a Light catcher ...

Why are you so drawn by Still Life Photography?
Firstly,I love to tell new stories with the help of daylight and "long forgotten" items that are neglected by modern society. This way those items get a "second life." Beauty can be found in any thing: in an antique chair as well as in an antique porcelain plate or a battered hat ...

During the weekends, I visit "flea markets", looking for items with a soul and character. I have already a whole collection of them at home. For instance, about a dozen woven baskets and pollen baskets.


Secondly, shooting a still life is an exciting activity! I like create composites, making a fine compatibility of items in the frame, both in form and colour, constantly practising light, linear and tonal frame construction ...

Thirdly, I like a still life, because as a rule, it causes, positive emotions. Nowadays, there is much of evil and violence in the world, but a person needs positive emotions.


What is more important to you, the mood,/story behind your images or the technical perfection?
Undoubtedly, a successful still-life makes the taste of a photographer, the ability to tell a story, create a mood. For me, everything is important!!!


Do you prepare carefully the settings when you are photographing?
When shooting still life, you need to fully control the light. To do that, you have to carefully prepare the place, use blinds, screens and reflectors.



What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
Camera Canon 60D. I like Canon technique, you can put additional lenses on it using an adapter. For shooting still life I use Canon EF50/1,8 and Canon EF28/1,8. Lenses in my work: There are several tripods: they quickly "lose their legs" :-) I have a bag, racks, flashes, but I rarely use them.



What software do you use to process your images?
I use Lightroom and Photoshop. Lightroom is the best tool for post-processing, in my opinion.



Can you tell us something more about your work flow?
I use filters, mostly self-made, gradient. I always shoot at the maximum shutter speed possible. I pay much attention to the background. I like them home-made, made of polystyrene, painted with acrylic. I always use screens and reflectors!


What is your most important advice to a beginner in Still Life Photography and how do you get started?
Practisingthe composition of the frame is an absolute necessity for all photographers starting Still Life Photography.  Try to search and develop your own style. It is important to find topics that are close to your spirit. Collect still-life props. Also, go to exhibitions, look and learn from the work of successful photographers, find interesting portfolios in social networks, learn from other people's mistakes and correct yours...



Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
There are many photographers whose works I admire. Among the contemporaries; Steve McCurry, Joey Lawrence, Annie Leibovitz. In the Still Life genre, I admire a lot Josef Sudek with his series of works "Still Life in the Style of Caravaggio". In the classic Still Life genre, I like a lot Kevin Best. When I first saw his work, I was excited by the accurate frame structure, the careful selection of the props and the compositions. Influenced by all these works, I began to pay a huge attention to the property and the multiplicity of my own compositions...



Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a lot and why?
About five years ago, I saw several photos of flowers by Mandy Disher (mandydisher) in a ladies' magazine. They made a great impression on me and inspired me to my own experiments. Unfortunately, I didn't succeed with flowers.



Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
I have a lot of plans: it would be nice to go for food photography.  Portrait shooting too with my beautiful granddaughter growing up!  But I have a main goal for the future: organizing an exhibition with my works in a local art museum, and even publishing an album with my best works.

Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
My very first photo published 1x.



I was happy as a child, because my work found recognition on the best website for photographers! Thanks to the Founder of 1x, Mr. Ralf Stelander, who noticed my work.

And the image taken for the exhibition in the photography gallery at Ovar Museum, Portugal. Thanks to the museum curator,  Sir. Rui Pires.


Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
For me, the undeniable truth is that 1х is an invaluable platform for learning and promoting great works!

I wish you all a peaceful sky and good light,

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