Yuliya is a Belarusian amateur photographer currently living and studying Multimedia in Prague, Czech Republic. She has been traveling and taking photographs since she was just 14 years old. She recently traveled her 36th country: Tanzania! She loved it so much she’s now made traveling to Africa her number one priority. GivePhotos sent her Instax film for her trip and she wrote, “Thank you for such a great opportunity, I’ve never been so close to local people during my trips and it was amazing to see a country from a different perspective. One of the best experiences in my life… I feel very inspired.” You can see more of her inspiring images on her Facebook page, TWINE photography.
When did you start giving photos?
I love taking photos of people and usually ask for e-mail addresses in order to send the photographs. I think the first time I did this was around 7-8 years ago. But these photos have been always digital. I believe digital images don’t evoke the emotions I saw when I was giving instant photos right after taking them. Many people from developing countries have no idea what instant photography is, and the process of «transfering» their image to a white film seems truly magical! Moreover, not everyone has Internet access, so giving digital photos becomes almost impossible. I’m glad that the GivePhotos project exists and makes these people’s days brighter!
What motivated you to do it?
Emotions of these people who got their photos…. This is what motivated me the most. I knew I would feel happy to give the photos away but didn’t expect that my own emotions would be so strong as well! Sometimes I couldn’t hold my tears of happiness when a person was smiling and crying at the same time. This feeling is really hard to describe! I was also motivated to learn more about the culture of these people and the way they live. I’ve never been so close to locals during my trips to developing countries. I had dozens of conversations with them and we shared a lot of great moments together.
What equipment do you use and why?
The GivePhotos project provided me with Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 camera + I used my Canon 60D together with Canon 20 mm f/2.8 lens. I like fixed lenses the most because they are really perfect for making portraits. I also think that a lens with short focal length is great if you ask permission to make a photo; there is no need to «hide» from a person you photograph and he/she doesn’t feel bad about being photographed.
Can you share one memorable story with us about your experience sharing photos?
It’s not easy to choose just one story, but in Stonetown (Zanzibar Island) there was one man who told me ‘I don’t want to be in a photo alone. Please sit down with me’. So I did. He is the only person who had his instant photo with me, a stranger, on it! He was smiling so much when our image finally appeared and showed the film to all his friends on the street.
Do you have any suggestions for people who would like to give photos?
If you like this idea, just do it! Smile more and learn some phrases in the local language, it helps a lot to make people trust a stranger. Sometimes I heard «no» just because people thought that I would photograph them and disappear. So I believe what made them give me one more chance was that I was doing my best in showing them that I was interested in their personalities and stories much more than in making a photo itself. Spend more time with people, be a good listener! And believe me, it will be one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life.