018 / 17 October 2014 / Features
Photography by Ira Chernova
In Conversation with Sabrina Tamar
There are photographers that hide behind the lens--and then there is Ira Chernova. Now based in NYC, the Russian photographer is also known for her work as a model. Ira is full of paradoxes and contradictions in the best way: her portraits are classic yet provocative, her disctinctive beauty, natural and badass (complete with her signature tattoos) and her approach, intuitive yet highly-skilled. It's no surprise she captures elements of contrast in her editorial "50/50," a series of striking diptychs following the transformation of women into superheroes. Here Ira gives the scoop on how she views her work and what she would do if she had superhero powers herself.
Sabrina Tamar: You're a Moscowite born and bred now based in Brooklyn. Where do you feel most at home? What does it mean to be a true "New Yorker"?
Ira Chernova: I like traveling, road feels good but with a base in NYC, of course. I wouldn’t had moved here if it didn’t feel like home. I don’t have an answer for what it means to be a “true New Yorker,” but all people raised in big cities have matching energy and are generally easy-going.
S: You've spent a lot of time in front of the lens as well. Has your experience as a model helped you as a photographer? Do you find it makes you a better subject to shoot or does your own knowledge make it more difficult?
I: Yes, it keeps a good balance of things, teaches you of angles, light and many other things.
S: You've described photography not as a job or hobby, but a "lifestyle." What does this lifestyle mean to you? Do you have any daily rituals, superstitions, habits?
I: Not really, all "jobs and hobbies" are somehow connected to photography though. It creates a sort of “bubble world” where you don’t see separation between any of those things.
S: If you had to define your work using three non-visual references, which would they be?
I: Raw, charismatic, memorable.
S: Music that inspires you on a rainy Sunday?
I: Anything by Jack White, Dust Brothers, or 2pac.
S: An image by another photographer that speaks to you so much you feel you could have captured it yourself?
I: I love portraits done by Paolo Roversi.
S: If you had a secret superpower, which would it be?
I: Being an alien who knows way more about the structure of universe and time traveling.
S: Who wins: 1. Muse vs superhero? 2. Analog vs digital?
I: 1. Muse, 2. Analog.
S: A photographer should: A. express emotion, B. evoke an atmosphere or c. create a world?
I: d. Combine special atmosphere with expressed emotions in own world.
S: The best art: A. tells the truth, B. tells a story?
I: The real story will be told when the truth is showing.
S: The future makes me... A. hopeful, B. anxious, or c. nostalgic?
I: Definitely not anxious or nostalgic (there is not much point in future if you look at it that way), but I wouldn't say hopeful either - I'm expecting great things to happen, but I'm working towards them instead of hoping.