|BACK TO FRONT by Mila Nesterova|
Mila was born in Moscow. She travelled arounf the world from an early age performing with a troupe of young dancers in productions by her mother who was a ballet choreographer. However, lucky for me that she left Moscow for Paris at the age of 19 to pursue a passion for Photography. She now lives and works in London where she has exhibited her work as well as in Paris, Moscow St Petersburg and Kiev. I came across her work on the Saatchi site and had no hesitation in contacting her with my request that she photograph me. She said yes straightaway.
We were going to meet first and then arrange a shoot on another day but that never happened and we ended up arranging to go straight for the shoot. Interestingly, her studio in Hackney Wick was where the artist Melanie Blackwell lived and worked when she painted my portrait. I realised this when I turned up there on 15th May 2015 and I was greeted by the lovely Mila. You can see by her bearing that she was a dancer. Her studio, which she shares, is also very neat and she goes about her work with a certain poise and with firm direction. I relaxed immediately but I am sure that all her models do that because she clearly knows exactly what she is doing. She had two basic ideas and those were that, first, she would be painting me with light and secondly with glitter. But around these, I found that she was very interested in experimentation and improvisation. I felt that I could really suggest anything and she would try it.
She was very inclusive and often showed me how the images looked as we spent quite a few hours trying different poses and exposures. I loved it.
We had a break for lunch and then got the glitter on and did some close ups to begin with but again adopting the painting with light idea and then we went on to try images where clearly there were two separate Tims in the same photograph relating to each other in different ways. By then we were running well into the afternoon and Mila admitted that she was very tired. But we had had a great time playing with light and movement and composition.
Then, a few weeks later, I received these amazing images. They were all so good that I found it impossible to choose one favourite so I asked Mila and this was the one she chose. I find it very moving that she should have poured all her experience and talent into making these work so well. Why did she do that? Why do all my photographers give up their time so willingly? But not just that, they employ all their expertise and love of their art in producing such great pictures. It is because, like Mila, they are true artists who cannot just turn off what is in their blood. Their desire to express themselves artistically is burned deep into their soul and, as they are such nice, genuine, generous people, they are willing to share this with me. And I appreciate every moment I spend with them as I appreciated every moment I spent with Mila - a great artist and a beautiful person inside and out.