Ilya Varlamov, known as varlamov here on Flickr, takes inspiring travel and news photographs that immediately caught our eye and inspired us to talk to him.
During the last weeks, Ilya documented people and places in his hometown Moscow in Russia, painting an unbiased picture of the events leading up to the Russian elections that took place last weekend.
Varlamov has been interested in photography all his life, but five years ago, in 2007, he realized that he can turn his hobby into a business that could pay his bills. He tells us that he uses a lot of the money he earns for his photography and for traveling.
He enjoys combining his travel with documenting the world around him from as many different angles as possible: "Documentary photography is my passion because I love to travel and to get to know the ordinary lives of people. I visit different places around the world, trying to shoot what is typical for the location I am at."
"Most travelers spend money to take part in guided tours, visit museums or other symbolic places. When they return home, they tell their friends and families about the cool places they have visited. Most of them don’t realize that this is not authentic life. Residents live the real life and don’t visit museums or do sightseeing every day. I delete this ‘fog’ with my pictures, I show the real life — the good and the bad — and I’m also interested in architecture because it is part of people’s lives and my passion! You wouldn’t believe it, but I buy flight tickets even if it’s just for one complex of buildings, for example the City of Arts & Science in Valencia."
Varlamov gained experience with both Canon and Nikon gear
"For many years I used Canon equipment. I began with cheap mirror cameras, but over the years upgraded the bodys and the lenses I use. This summer, I changed all my gear to Nikon: It is made of my Nikon D3s body and several zoom lenses, the 14-24mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8, as well as two primes, a 24mm f/1.4 and a 50mm f/1.4. There are no special settings I use to get my photos, as they ultimately depend on the conditions, but I’m always trying as much as possible to avoid using flash."
"One special piece of equipment is my photo helicopter. I bought it for my agency “28-300” and use it for commercial photoshooting. It’s a traditional manual radio helicopter with an attached camera underneath it. I made the purchase because flights over Moscow are prohibited, but some owners of industry or buildings want to have pictures from above. You can find out more in my set ‘We fly!’"
"Although I am usually low on time, I enjoy watching the simple photostreams of Porter Yates, Marc, be my model !!!, and cookiesound in particular. I am also inspired by Photofreaks‘ pictures, as they take fantastic shots of usualy things and — of course — architecture.
Given Varlamov’s passion, he enjoys visiting architecture and interior design groups here on Flickr: "There I can find pictures of different interesting buildings sometimes taken from interesting locations. I also love groups which are dedicated to countries. Before visiting new places I often watch such communities to plan what to shoot."
Lastly, Ilya’s final words of advice are: "Feel free, be yourself and be open to the world."
Thank you, Ilya, for taking the time to talk to us.