It's a talent to be able to see the world in a different light, to be open to new possibilities and to live with an unrestricted perspective. Rarer still is the person who can make others feel this way. But that's the power of art, and that is what sets Violetta Markelou apart. She is primarily a portrait photographer who has mastered the ability to convey depth and personality through her work . The key? "It's all in the eyes," she says.
I first met Violetta on a magazine fashion shoot where she was assisting the photographer. But you could see her head was buzzing with her own artistic ideas for the shoot, as she'd coax the model into a new pose, or see the perfect lighting setup moments before the photographer did. She was a talent. I worked with Violetta on numerous shoots following, where she was calling the shots and my favorite moments were when she would try a shot that looked absolutely insane to me, and that would wind up being my favorite photo of the whole shoot. I quickly learned to never doubt her as she was clearly seeing something else entirely through her lens.
So without further ado, let's turn it over to Violetta!
What first inspired your interest in photography?
I opened my first Vogue in middle school. I think it was around 4th grade. I had a sketch book where I would sketch the fashions I saw in the magazines. But only a few years later I grew frustrated because I didn’t feel I could draw well. My fascination with photography was ignited by continuously seeing the powerful images in fashion magazines. Particularly the images of Herb Ritts and Richard Avedon. The photo ‘Fred with Tires’ was the image that made me want to pick up a camera.
When did you pick up your first camera and what was it?
I started getting serious about photography in high school. I loved being in the dark room seeing the images appear, photo paper immersed in the chemical baths! My first camera was a Canon Rebel G.
What is your camera of choice today?
I use a Canon 5D Mark III
What’s your favorite type of photography?
My favorite type of photography is elegant portraiture with an emphasis on style. Think Irving Penn !
What photo are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my Women Of Colour series which highlights women in our city who fully express themselves without dumbing themselves down. I am also proud of my F Cancer series which captures a dark time of cancer treatment for my friend Tara Papanicolas through fashion portraiture. We made art through some tough times !
Coolest or most memorable experience while shooting?
My camera has given me access to some incredible and historic moments! I would say my favorite so far was during Obama’s first inauguration, being at Debra Lee’s home shooting for DC Modern Luxury Magazine. I had “a moment” with legendary R&B songstress Anita Baker who after turning me down for a photo opp (because she hadn’t had her makeup professionally done) invited me to be her personal guest at a performance the day before the inauguration.
What’s at the top of your photography bucket list?
Shooting a campaign that inspires a sea change in thinking for young girls and women. Linda Evangelista and Italian Vogue is a close second!
Where are your five favorite places to photograph in the DMV area?
The National Arboretum, Dumbarton Oaks, The Hirshorn Sculpture Garden
Any advice for aspiring photographers?
Find a mentor! Find a photographer you want to learn from and learn as much as you can.
Don’t place too much emphasis on “likes” on social media and things like that. Focus on what inspires you and keep honing your craft. Through that you find yourself.
What’s one of your hobbies outside of photography?
I DJ occasionally and I make my own music podcasts under the name “Dino Beats&BeautifulMusic." Music is therapy for me and it gives me great happiness to share music with others.
What’s your motto to live by?
Never compare yourself to anyone else. You are on your own journey and path intended just for you.
Pretty great answers, right? Now scroll back up to the top to peep the pics. You can also catch her work in person at the opening of "SUPERFIERCE" at The National Museum of Women In The Arts on October 19.