Photographer Dina Belenko casts a spell with every new image. Her moody, lush universes are built resourcefully and modestly in a corner of her tiny Russian apartment and have captivated me since first glance. Her lettering is marvelously dynamic and thoughtful, a treat to share.
When I graduated from high school, I wanted to be a book publisher. I received a humanitarian education (Publishing and Editing). Oddly enough, this education was useful to me as a photographer, both in the technical part (the basics of image processing and prepress) and in the creative part (inspirational courses literature, aesthetics and cultural studies). I think it's my dream to do book illustrations and this work is a kind of desire to combine these two specialties together.
Experience in the field
Describe your designated workspace, if one exists.
I live in an apartment with one room and kitchen, so half of my living room is taken by trestle, which serves both as a shooting table and a rack for some props, and lighting stands. My objects tend to be quite small, so I can work with them using little space I have.
Preferred materials and why? Does the message dictate the material, or vice versa?
Sweets definitely. Just because they are my favourite objects to photograph. Coffee beans, cookies, chocolates - everything for a Mad Tea Party! Simple, mundane, relatable objects with a twist. As a photographer I have to consider the material first. Would I be able to work with it? Would it melt? Would it wait for me to finish the composition? Obviously, ice cream, isn't my first choice. Cookies unlike other foods don't melt or lose their shape with time. You can work with them for many hours, and they still stay crisp and attractive. Besides that, well, I'm quite a sweet tooth. Any other props must somehow be stored, but there is no problems with the storage of cookies in my case. :)
Do you use special tools to build letterforms? Do these vary and why?
My materials are quite simple, so there's no need for any special tools. Paper shapes, tweezers and kitchen knife will suffice.
List 3 Adjectives describing your work.
Concept vs. execution
What challenges do you combat during the ideation/building process? How do you overcome these obstacles?
My biggest challenge is coping with my location, I guess. Since I live in a small provincial town at the outskirts of my unnecessary big country, where I have to check at least four flower shops to get simple white flowers and where there's only one place selling blackboard paint. That counts as the biggest challenge for me. But I hope I can cheat it, turn it to my advantage and force myself to be creative. So, you don't have UFO models? Make them from toffee package and metallic paper!
Solo vs. Social? How do you operate now, and do you plan to Change Direction in the future?
Right now I work alone, but I would really love to work with a team! Especially if I could delegate parts like shooting or post-processing and concentrate on drawing sketches and organizing the scene.
View more of Dina's work on Instagram.