Anya Anti is a New York-based fine art photographer who creates dreamy, surreal photographs using vintage lenses and Lomography's very own Petzval lenses. Here, she shares a bit about her process and compares both the Petzval 85 and the Petzval 58 lenses.
Welcome to Lomography Magazine, Anya! Can you please introduce yourself to the community, tell us who you are and what you do?
Hi Lomography Magazine! I'm a New York-based photo artist who specializes in on-location fine art and conceptual female portraiture. Originally I'm from Ukraine and moved to United States in 2014. I've been into photography since 2009 and as a self-taught, I gained all my knowledge and inspiration through social media and online photography communities. A year-and-a-half later, I started creating fine art surrealistic female portraits, which became my preferable genre and a hallmark of my work. Installations, costumes, and Photoshop manipulation help me to embody my fantasies into a finished piece of art.
Each of your photographs tell such a magical story in just a single frame. What inspires you?
My favorite artists and all kind of visual art. I always say - inspiration comes to an inspired person. An artist should always try to find beauty and unusual things in everyday usual life. And to achieve that you need to give your brain food and information. It is a visual experience. The more you search, observe and look over different kinds of art the more chances you have to come up with an idea.
Can you give a little bit of insight into the process of making your works, from start to finish?
Almost every artwork starts from the idea. Very rarely I go out not knowing what to shoot and I don't usually do tests. So, idea comes from inspiration. It may come after some research, brainstorming or seeing something that I like and find interesting. After that, I develop my idea. I find photo references, draw sketches and create mood boards. Then I plan my photoshoot. I look for models, buy or build props and do location scouting. I implement the photoshoot and then do all the post-production in graphic software like Photoshop.
Before we chat about the Petzvals, can you also speak a bit about the other vintages lenses you've used?
Most of the time I shoot with vintage manual lenses. Pretty much all of my portfolio was made with them. Yes, they can be quite challenging to manage or use, most of them are sharp only in the center of the frame, have a lot of chromatic aberrations and other defects. But I love the distinct character of vintage lenses, "swirly" bokeh effect to the out-of-focus background and the soft focus. Their imperfections help me be more creative and achieve that dreamy effect of my photographs.
Some of the lenses that I own are Helios lenses. Helios is a brand of camera lenses, made in the USSR. They were usually supplied with Zenit cameras and thus usable with other M42 lens mount cameras
How did the Petzval lenses compare to those other vintage lenses?
I've had a chance to test both Petzval 85 and 58 bokeh control. They give you beautiful swirly bokeh backgrounds. I loved the no-aperture ring feature and instead, there's a hole in the lens body where you insert aperture plates of different size and shape! Most modern lenses are designed to have the whole image in focus. However, Petzval lenses are sharp in the middle and fall out of focus on the sides which gives portraits soft edge halo effect. And I found that very fascinating!
How did the two Petzval lenses, the 85 and the 58, compare to one another? Which was your favorite? Would an artist want to have both?
They have different focal lengths, so if you prefer to shoot portraits with a classic focal length I'd go for Petzval 85. But I personally loved Petzval 58 bokeh control. I often shoot full length portraits so I prefer using 50mm lenses. And being able to choose the level of bokeh swirliness is a big plus! You can experiment much more and achieve different interesting effects.
Finally, I would love to learn your advice to another photographer.
Follow your passion no matter what, just keep on going and you will make it.
You can learn more about Anya's process and equipment in this video: