The 2022 500px Global Photography Awards serves creatives working with photography and provides them a chance to showcase their skill and be rewarded for it. The second edition of the competition consisted of six categories: Technical, Storytelling, Commercial Content, Documentary, Fine Art, and Landscape. Today on the blog we’re talking with the winner of the Commercial Content category, Halyna Vitiuk, as she walks us through the BTS of her winning image and more.
Hi Halyna, please introduce yourself.
I am a photographer from Odesa, Ukraine who came to photography at the age of 35 from the IT sphere and the world of online sales.
At first, I started as a commercial photographer and went to Artworks after the start of the war in my country, Ukraine.
“Focus on good thoughts and all will be good.” This old Jewish wisdom is my main motivation in life.
I feel that right now is the time to share my creativity, support Ukrainians, show the people’s faith in the goodness and beauty of our world, and hope for the best.
My images are carefully prepared and always have a surprise element. My style is clear and bright, with accents and contrasts at the same time. Familiar objects captivated with unusual presentation. This leads to slight confusion and creates space for imagination. These pop-art tools help to entertain a viewer, create a positive rhythm, and grab attention. My art tells people about joy, hope, faith, and dreams, the simplicity of beautiful things, and a world in which nothing is impossible.
The winning image: “Sweets sweets sweets”
Commercial photography has some rigid requirements. For instance, if there is a recognizable place and no model release the image won’t make the cut. What are things that you keep in mind when creating licensing content?
Commercial photography is a blend of artistry and legal compliance. While creativity is essential to crafting images that capture a viewer’s attention, ensuring that the final product is legally compliant is equally important.
I approach licensing content creation as a balancing act between these two factors. I must be attentive to the rules and regulations governing commercial photography, while still pushing my creativity to the edge to produce an image that stands out.
Do you approach your photography practice differently when creating images that are for licensing purposes versus your own personal portfolio?
Yes, I do approach my photography practice differently when creating images for licensing purposes versus my personal portfolio.
When creating images for licensing, I focus more on creating images that are marketable and have a broad appeal to potential clients. This may involve incorporating specific themes or concepts that are in high demand, or shooting in a style that is popular among clients.
In contrast, when creating images for my art portfolio, I am more focused on my own artistic vision and creating images that are meaningful to me. This may involve experimenting with different techniques or subjects that may not necessarily be marketable but are important to me as an artist.
All photographers have their preferred gear. What is yours, and what gear did you use to create “Sweets sweets sweets”?
I still have my first Canon 800d camera. It seems to me, that for the last four years, I can shoot with my eyes closed on it. For food photography, in my opinion it is more important to shoot with lenses with a fixed focal length, as they provide excellent image quality.
For “Sweets sweets sweets”, I used a Canon EOS 800d with a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens, a tripod for stability, and two Godox Ad 200 pro flashes. I also used frost film and a bit of backlight to make the chocolate and honey sparkle and taste delicious.
Framing and taking the shot is only a sliver of what it takes to make a strong image. The other equally important part is editing, how did you use editing tools to elevate your image?
Editing is of course an integral part of my creative process.
Since the summer of 2022, I have been using an iPad for photo editing, Lightroom (for color correction), and Affinity Photo for work with layers or retouching.
For “Sweets sweets sweets” I used my phone Apple Xs. in the Lightroom application, I made color corrections and tweaked the texture and highlights on the candies. And in the Photoleap application, I connected three frames on which the honey over the candies was more beautiful.
Using a phone for editing, or an iPad, was my conscious choice— I had reasons for this. I love the process of photography itself, and I am ready to spend more time shooting a clean picture so that there is a minimum of editing later, and just a phone is enough. But I can’t recommend this way to everyone.
I maybe agree that, if you have the opportunity, learn Photoshop.
Your work feels very inspired by color. How do you use color and other props so effortlessly? Keeping the images high contrast and fun while not feeling too busy?
Color is a key part of my photography style and I love to play with bright colors, or only one color, to create images that are visually striking and memorable. In my previous profession, before photography, I never worked with visual art, so I studied color and color combinations. It’s only with practice that I’ve developed an intuitive sense, and some feelings of how to use color and props to create compelling and memorable images.
To keep the images from appearing too busy, I pay close attention to the composition and placement of the props and the subject in the frame. I often use negative space to provide a visual break and draw attention to the main subject.
What are the perks you’ve experienced through submitting your work to licensing, and how have you finessed your portfolio to have more success when submitting commercial content?
The licensing of my work has opened up a whole new world of opportunities to earn income from my creative pursuits. The market for my photos is now the whole world and not just the brands I work with.
Having a defined style can be key to thriving as a photographer and makes your work easy to identify. How have you been able to cultivate your own style over the years, and what do you suggest to other photographers who might feel overwhelmed and not know where to start?
Developing my photography style was a gradual process that evolved with practice. To find your own style, start by experimenting with different techniques and styles that resonate with you. Start with an exploration of your passions and interests. What inspires you? What do you care about? Let your curiosity guide you, and experiment with different techniques and approaches. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or take risks. It’s through trial and error that we learn and grow as artists.
Look at the work of other artists for inspiration, but avoid copying them too closely. Developing a personal style takes time and practice, but stay true to your vision and keep pushing yourself creatively.
I’m the type of person who didn’t have a hobby of photography and a connection with visual arts. And, in four years, I managed to find myself in the world of photography, winning the competition for 500px, and others. Therefore, from my experience, I believe that if you have a goal, work hard, and believe in yourself, everything will work out.
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