“Be obsessed of what you do. The world we love is made of obsessed people. Musicians, directors, artists – all who inspire us. They are really crazy. And this is good start for making all around interesting for us and others”– Roma Khleb
Who doesn’t dream to go to Iceland? There are probably some serious answers for that. Some may want to visit the super-big tourist draw Blue Lagoon, a silky, warm, aquamarine blanket set on an other-worldly, lunar-esque landscape. Some other probably think of the majestic show of our sun and earth particles’ collision, the Northern Lights. Or maybe there are still few among us who wants to see if Viking legacy is still there. Well, Iceland is probably one of the most beautiful place on earth that people dream of visiting, like New Zealand or Canada.
It then led us to this wonderful account on Instagram, owned by Roma Khleb (Рома Хлеб). His captures of this unspoilt nature, breathtaking landscape of Iceland and other places on @roma.khleb is staggeringly beautiful and otherworldly. His feed contains series of wonderful shots – vibrant, subtle and imaginative. We soon have our little conversation with him after his return from Iceland. Below is our session with him.
Tell us about yourself, where did you grow up and what do you do?
I grew up in Far East Russia, near Taiga. I work as a copywriter, but love music, nature and space more. I collect weird vinyl records, make music as RJB and Roma Khleb, play percussion and sampler. I love aesthetics of the end of the 60s until the begining of 70s, all these spy and suspense atmospheres. Learned photography by myself, I am not a professional photographer. Earlier I shot on old soviet film camera Zenit E, and now on iPhone 5 and Fujifilm x100s. I don’t make a living this way, just try to take some piece of things seen by me and share them with people. Sharing music, which brings you to wonder, or something you see in interesting places, no matter what it is – it is always pleasing.
What kind of photography do you do?
Mostly I take photos of nature, beautiful corners of our incredible planet. Me and my wife (@whatisdelirium) spend all our money for records and adventures, every time exploring places where there is something wonderful. Last year it was Iceland, this summer we will have honeymoon trip to Alps.
Besides I love building symmetrical compositions, creating naive and almost fairy heroes-travelers – all of which is inspired by Wes Anderson. Everybody love him, doesn’t it?
When did you start to derive an interest in photography?
Oh, it is hard to remember, to be honest. During my childhood (13-14 years old), we had B-boying/rap crew and I took photos of us for handmade posters. (laugh). Besides, at the age of 7-8 I joined young photographers’ group in which we shot on film cameras (Zenit, again) posters with Bruce Lee, Stallone and Schwarzenegger, and then developed films by ourselves but I don’t remember this time. I got truly involved in photography approximately 8 years a go but periodically left this passion: sometimes life force, sometimes I switched to music. Instagram helps to be “in a shape”, always looking for beautiful landscapes and this is great incentive for exploring distant places (just check where Russian Far East is!) and your local places. Each week we can make a little discovery. It is wonderful!
Why did you choose Instagram to be the platform to showcase your creative work?
Oh, already don’t remember. First, it was an interesting platform for me, more as a blog than the instrument for photo development. And remains, I think. This is a good place for sharing photos, making friends and finding inspiration.
How did you find your inspiration?
Nature, wife, films and music – all that I love. You don’t need to be a good photographer to shoot beautiful scenery. It is already perfect and you just press the shutter. Occasionally, I even don’t look into the lens so I won’t miss something. It is very important not to rush, the point is to have fun, not (solely) to produce good photo.
How do you define your style of photography?
Oh, difficult question. Don’t like all this terminology and classification. I just take photos of what I fell in love with and share them with people. You know better, which style it is.
Mainly photos are your great assistants which help you to come back to all beautiful places you have visited. Assistants for the memory and fantasy – photos help you remind all to pieces so sometimes you can even remind sounds and smells. I am melancholic probably and love nostalgia – photos help with this again. Music is such a time-machine for your mind and combination of picture and music is real teleport to favorite moments and places.
When traveling, what are things you can’t live without?
(laugh) Great question! Coffee, food and wife. Even if we will run out of money and camera will be broken, we can play handmade musical instruments earning for transport, food and coffee. And will shoot on DIY pinhole camera. Seriously!
Give us 3 things you’ve learned since you joined Instagram?
- Keep camera always with you. Now phones have relatively good cameras so it is not a problem.
- The world is full of interesting places: you should just look for them. Checking your newsfeed and wondering all the time – you wanna visit all corners of the world.
- Unfortunately, people are not always honest, many popular Instagramers are quite canting but people believe them and thus often miss lots of interesting but not so popular account. As Dr House said: everybody lies. But let’s not talk about the bad.
Does Instagram impact you in real life such as widen your opportunity to channeling your creative work?
Yes, of course. But I try not to change myself and post what I like. Though over few years I understood which photos collect more “likes” and could use this knowledge. But this is footle – all these “likes”. The most important – enjoy every moment in your life. Hardly in old age we will count followers and likes. Haha. Of course, it is damn nice when thousand people are satisfied with what you share. But I am glad more if 2-3 persons will be inspired of my photos and will go for looking for adventures.
Your creativity depends on what sense you keep it in. I think you should always be in searching of: place, composition, light – all of these are huge field to experiment. No matter what you shoot – food or mountains, you can always turn it into an interesting process involving fantasy and technology. Otherwise every action goes to a routine, doesn’t it?
Do you think community is important and why?
Of course, important! Friendship always helps and knits people together. But it is important to save your own individuality, if we talk about creativity. The most interesting things are born in the collaboration of interesting but different people: actors and directors, musicians and experimenters, photographers and models. Besides if each one in community shares his experience and skill, together, you can create more incredible output.
Can you give us tips for grabbing the perfect shots?
Actually not, I haven’t got my own perfect shot. Seriously. If you reach your ideal it will be the end of your way. Remember “Perfume: Story of a murderer”? Wanna be torn to pieces by the crowd of excited followers? Haha. Perhaps, it’s better to make good photos and always try to make your next shot even better. Can advise you to make exposition and composition so that even without any photo development you will like result. If you shoot on iphone, turn HDR function on, if you shoot on camera, shoot it in RAW quality. Be inspired of different people’s photos, but try to add your own creativity. You can find inspiration everywhere: cinema, music, literature. Surround yourself with everything force you to create. Be self-critical, find your mistakes and their solution using this experience for your next shots. Hope these tips are useful for you.
Which is more challenging portrait photography or landscape photography? Any memorable story during the photo shoot?
Both. Landscapes are like documentary. You just shoot what you see and share it. And portraits are more creative experience:; you should find good composition and catch people’s emotions. I like both. Probably if you choose one, you can be more professional photographer. But you will quickly get bored – bad variant. It is better to shoot a little bit of everything.
Story? Hm. Once there was very powerful storm in Iceland, our camera lens fogged up and I heat them with all available materials and the wind was so strong, it tore our raincoats! But standing on a steep break and watching the ocean I understood all problems was not important. In the morning we both caught a sick but were damn satisfied.
What application do you use to edit your photo? Do you always try to maintain your tone on your feed? If yes, why is it important?
Oh, yes! I am damn pedant, honestly. Perhaps it’s good if your photos don’t suffer. If I like the shot and it “doesn’t match the style”, I will post it. Style should be form by itself. If you force yourself to follow one style – you limit yourself in some frames, and frames in creativity – unnecessary. It’s my opinion, not the rule. You can combine photos saving your one unified profile. Sometimes I like post “triptychs” (3-photos panoramas) but I try all of these photos will be good separately too. It’s harder so it’s more interesting. Everything is good in moderation, probably. Then you change places, interests, seasons, so your feed will change with you. It’s stupid to sacrifice all these for one style, isn’t it?
I use Snapseed for color and light correction and filters of VSCO to make colors more interesting, it’s simple.
Is it important to have technical skill in photography to be globally recognised on Instagram?
Of course, not. Tarantino learned to film working in video rental, became talented and famous. Haha, For example, the Earth is full of so much incredible landscapes, you just can’t shoot them awful. Iceland – good example, If you accomplish this with something unusual and will keep your account interesting, then you will certainly noticed by community.
Do you have any advice to say to starting photographers out there?
Always be in searching and in progress. There are so many lessons and literature in the internet, read all, pay attention to details, cause we often miss details. Try to learn not only standard theory, but always try to use your knowledge unusually, it is true creativity.
Any parting words for our readers?
Be obsessed of what you do. The world we love is made of obsessed people. Musicians, directors, artists – all who inspire us. They are really crazy. And this is good start for making all around interesting for us and others.