Siberian born photographer Anna Rakhvalova creates dreamlike portraits that are drenched in mystery and glamour. She plays on using soft lighting and short depth of field to produce pieces that enhance the subtle elements of the subjects surrounding environment. We sent her the New Petzval 80.5 mm f/1.9 MKII Art Lens to test out and she talked to us about using this lens for photos and video and explained the process she uses to create that perfect picture.
Hello Anna, tell us a bit about yourself?
Hey guys, I'm Anna, I lived the first half of my life in Siberia where I was born and raised and the second part I spent in France where I moved with my parents when I was a teenager. I currently live in London, it's already my 3rd year here and I love it so much! I started photography when I was 18 years old and never stopped since then. I also love writing and making short movies and music videos.
On your website you talk about the relationship you build with your models and how your mission is to bring out their secrets through your photos. Could you explain this a bit more to our readers?
I think taking pictures it's sort of like dancing with a couple, when the dancing partners are perfect for each other they open up their souls. As a photographer I'm trying to do my best so the models will show me their secret inner world, I make them forget about the camera and that's when the magic happens. It also works the other way around of course, when I have a deep connection with a model I tend to forget about my camera and we both become just dancers.
Tell us about these photos, what were you trying to convey with this series?
The Petzval lenses have naturally this dreamy outcome that I like a lot, so I wanted to make pictures that look like dreams with beautiful fairies in them! Do you know that feeling that you can experience when you are in between dream and reality? It is what I wanted to obtain for my series.
How did you find shooting with the New Petzval 80.5 mm f/1.9 MKII Art Lens and did it help you achieve the look you were after?
Oh, I loved shooting with the new Petzval 80.5 mm lens, I think it's my favorite one with all that swirly beautiful bokeh on the sides! And it definitely helped me to give that dreamy look I was going for!
How did it compare to the other Lomography lenses you have tested (Daguerreotype and Neptune and Petzval 85)
I really enjoyed shooting with all the three lenses but for some reason, I think I prefer the Petzval one, it's the easiest to use and maybe a bit less artsy than the Daguerreotype, depending on the settings it can look like a regular lens, which is also nice because you can use it in both ways: very creative and quite neutral. But maybe it is also because the Petzval 85 lens was the first one I have ever tried, so it has that "first love" quality for me.
If you were, to sum up, these photos in 5 words what would they be?
I would say: dreamy, poetic, melancholic, ethereal, and autumnal.
How did you find shooting video with the Petzval 80 compared to taking photos? Did the effects of the lens determine how you shot certain scenes?
Filming with the Petzval lens was an amazing experience! Quite similar to taking pictures actually, apart from the night scenes. Because I rarely take pictures during the night time but filming during the dark hours was very interesting and I don't think that taking pictures would have the same result. The effects of the lens are more visible with all the bokeh you can catch at night; that's why I filmed half of the music video during the night. I filmed the music video for the talented artist Ultra Veloci, who I always wanted to work with and when I listened to her song Existence I immediately thought about filming it with an art lens from Lomography, to underline the beauty and melancholy of lyrics and voice with the magic of the Petzval lens effect.
What tips or advice would you give to anyone using the Petzval 80.5 Art Lens?
The best way to use the Petzval lens in my opinion is not thinking too much! In the beginning, I was concentrating a lot on the sharpness but then I just decided to let go and move along with my models and experimenting on the blurriness and I think it's the best way to use this magical lens because blurry pictures look very magical too.
Do you have any exciting projects planned for 2021 that you would like to share with us?
So I am working a lot on the different video projects lately and hopefully 2021 will bring even more of these so I can share them with you all.