Get to Know the Photographer: Dasha Askenova

Get to Know the Photographer: Dasha Askenova

Hi! My name is Dasha, I come from cold Russia and I like to shoot stuff on film. I have no idea what I'm going to major in, but I definitely want to keep doing photography - hopefully all these Marx readings won't stop me from doing that. Other things I like are dogs and cats, strange music, old movies and good food - let me know if you want to share any of those for a photoshoot!

How did you first get into photography?

It is actually a criminal story. My friends and I wanted to go to a concert by our favorite band that prohibited photography, but of course we wanted to break the rules and keep some memories. I knew that my photography-inspired uncle had some disposable film cameras that looked like strange half-broken boxes; nothing like a camera. So, I took one of those and successfully snuck the contraband into the concert hall.

Most of the pictures where extremely blurry or just black because of the quality of the falling-apart-camera (it probably dated back to the USSR), but a few good ones were such a big surprise for me that I decided to proceed with the film photography and ever since it has been bringing me gifts with each roll of film developed.

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What do you like to shoot with?

Right now I’m only shooting on film. I tend to experiment with different films, but I always use my Leica CL, a point-and-shoot camera that is great for street photography and for portraits–the stuff I’m most interested in. It’s small enough to not scare the interesting strangers that become subjects of my street photography. It’s good enough for a portrait series for an exhibition. Everything I need!

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What inspires your work?

Everything can become an inspiration: movies, people around me, stories or even music. Most of the times it is either a wild idea that seems fun to execute or something unexpected that grasps my attention. The thing that drives my work the most is the fact that I’m shooting on film. A roll of film usually has 36 exposures, and you can’t see the photos until you shoot all of those 36 shots and then develop the film. As soon as I make the first picture, I feel the urge to see it and finish the roll and see what magic happened on those 36 pictures. Getting to see your film is like getting a small birthday present; you never know what you’re getting, but it’s always exciting. 

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Describe some of your most memorable shoots.

All of my pre-planned shoots are special to me. Last year was full of them: I was making a project for my first solo-exhibition about Russian teenagers that live on the periphery and go to the center of Moscow to waste their time every day. I would meet with my subjects and follow them on their way from home to the center, and all of those trips ended up in an adventure.

Still, my most memorable roll of film was not one of those I shot for the exhibition. It was a roll I took with me to a countryside weekend with my family and friends. The weekends passed, I shot it and completely forgot about it in the fuss of preparing for my exhibition. I remembered it again in four months; I couldn’t even recall what I shot on it. The moment I saw the photos was extremely rewarding–the forgotten photos filled me with the warmth of the moments I captured on my film–and they were actually really good.

How would you describe your personal style of photography?

My style is keeping my eyes open in the streets, my ideas open to experiments and my models out of their comfort zone!

Here are some of Dasha’s other works, click to change slides!

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