Critical Research Journal - Entry 2 - Methods and Meaning


Fig. 1: Chacon 2022. High-Concept Portrait Sketch

This week has been challenging, surprising, and an education on the methods and methodologies that I actively employ in my current photographic practice. While there have been some amazing discussions with other students this week around the works of Helmut Newton as the ‘King of Kink,’ Michael Kenna’s mesmerizing landscape photography, and the historically jarring works of Gordon Parks, I’d have to say that my biggest learnings this week came from the high-concept portraiture of Andrei Kovalev.


Andrei Kovalev is a photographer and visual artist from Tbilisi, Georgia whose celebrity portraits have graced the covers of global publications in entertainment and business (Kovalev ca. 2022). His methodology of “shoot, curate, share,” and “don’t just fail, but fail magnificently,” (Kovalev 2022) inspires me to embrace the practice of a professional visual artist. His application of research, capturing, output, and dissemination methods are where he shines as an artist. Andrei sketches his ideas on paper and uses them as a base when developing his digital mood board, after which he builds a formal production packet that includes the visual style, wardrobe, special effects, lighting, and other activities of a professional portrait photographer (Kovalev 2022). I’ve embraced his low-tech-to-high-tech methodology in my own photographic practice, first sketching my ideas with pen and paper, then using those to develop digital mood boards that evolve into my own highly visual production packets. Whether I’m out ‘running and gunning’ to get the shot as a conflict photographer, or working in-studio as a portrait photographer, I’ve come to adopt Andrei’s methods and methodologies in my daily photographic practice.

“Surround yourself by those who inspire you most. It’s never too late to become the person you want to be (Kovalev 2022).”

While I did learn from my discussions this week with my MA Cohort peers to follow my instincts, interests, and intuition, I find myself regularly referencing Andrei’s photography, and studying his methodology of ‘shoot, curate, and share.’ The application of Andrei’s methods can be seen in his portraits of the winner of a global mixologist competition. From this type of workflow, I’ve been able to interpret Andrei’s artistic vision as one of a risk taker, and consummate professional - a bar which I regularly stretch to reach.


Fig. 2: Andrei Kovalev. 2018. No title [mixologist competition winner]

Fig. 3: Andrei Kovalev. 2018. No title [mixologist portrait set design sketch]

Fig. 4: Andrei Kovalev. 2018. No title [mixologist set design]

Andrei’s methodology pushes his practice beyond photography into new formats, and visual effects that enable him to take risks and explore the world as a visual artist. But the biggest learning I’ve taken away from studying his work is in Andrei’s personal ethos: “Surround yourself by those who inspire you most. It’s never too late to become the person you want to be (Kovalev 2022).”



References:


KOVALEV, Andrei. ca. 2022. ‘Andrei Kovalev, Visual Artist: Bio And Vision’. Andrei Kovalev

[online]. Available at: https://ckovalev.com/biovision [accessed 9 June 2022].


KOVALEV, Andrei. 2022. ‘Lesson 15. World Building | Commercial + Fine-Art Portrait Photography’ [online lecture]. Speos Photography School, Paris.

Available at: https://vimeo.com/596492105/ec2576f06f [accessed 9 June 2022].


KOVALEV, Andrei. 2022. ‘Lesson 7. Production Management | Commercial + Fine-Art Portrait Photography’ [online lecture]. Speos Photography School, Paris.

Available at: https://portrait.speos-photo.com/production-management [accessed 9 June 2022].


KOVALEV, Andrei. 2022. ‘Case Study: A Perfect Project. Spéos 2022/1 Session 13’ [online lecture]. Speos Photography School, Paris.

Available at: https://youtu.be/hV3TuT2jhk4 [accessed 9 June 2022].



List of Figures:


Figure 1: Mat CHACON. 2022. High Concept Portrait Sketch. Private collection: Mat Chacon


Figure 2. Andrei Kovalev. 2018. No title [mixologist competition winner]. Instagram [online]. Available at: https://www.instagram.com/p/BhEtUr9Dty6/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link [accessed 9 June 2022].


Figure 3. Andrei Kovalev. 2018. No title [mixologist portrait set design sketch]. Instagram [online]. Available at: https://www.instagram.com/p/BhEtUr9Dty6/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link [accessed 9 June 2022].


Figure 4. Andrei Kovalev. 2018. No title [mixologist set design]. Instagram [online]. Available at: https://www.instagram.com/p/BhEtUr9Dty6/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link [accessed 9 June 2022].


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