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Originally from Kurgan in Russia, Dasha Pears is an award-winning fine art photographer currently based in Helsinki, Finland. She carefully composes every shot to teach the viewer the meaning of creating space, tranquillity and peace. We had a chance to chat with Dasha about her creation, process and her journey that took her to where she is today.
But Dasha wasn’t always a fine-art photographer. Before she became an independent artist, Pears was a marketing manager who enjoyed photography as a hobby. “I became an artist from first taking photography on as a hobby and then exploring it more.” Her love of art and photography had steamed from her childhood home. Dasha reminisces of her first encounter with the world of art. Her home was full of fine art books that her mother used to collect. Books filled with reproductions of the great masters from all the best museums that Dasha would pore over when she was young.
Other than completing a short photography course, Dasha is fully self-taught in her practice: “everything I learned about photography, I learned on my own. I didn’t go to photography or ‘serious’ art school, where they teach you how to be an artist and present your art to the world. I just did what I felt like was important to do and it got me here.”
ENCOUNTERING SURREALIST PHOTOGRAPHY
Dasha’s first encounter with surreal photography was when she visited the Guggenheim museum in New York. The museum was presenting an exhibition of surrealist photographer Anna Gaskell where she explored the theme of Alice in Wonderland. “That kind of photography was completely different to what I was used to, which was street photography and black and white reportage.” Gaskell’s work gave Dasha a new perspective on photography, “I was really inspired and excited by it.” However, it would be another 10 years before Dasha moved in the direction of this style of photography.
It was when Dasha joined the Flickr community that she had a new wave of inspiration. “I think many photographers of this genre came out of that.” Dasha was still taking inspiration from street photography and portraiture, where she came across some photographers that really inspired her, such as the Russian photographer, Anka Zhuravleva. “At that time, Flickr was full of photographers from the US and Canada. I was back in Russia and it felt as if those people could do it and I’m here in Russia and it’s just not possible. But when I saw Anka’s work, I was just mind-blown. It was so fascinating. And when I looked at the location, she was in the same city as me. I thought, ‘If she can do it in this city, I can probably do it as well.”
Dasha’s work is purely a creation of her own through the means of photography and digital manipulation. “I never use stock images to create my works, I shoot everything myself at the same time at the same location, because that allows me to capture the right light, which in turn makes the final image so realistic while being surreal and surprising.”
However, producing imagery like Dasha’s requires collaborating with professionals. While some photographers choose to use themselves as the subject, producing self-portraits to the likes of Cindy Sherman, Dasha opts to work with models. At times, she would invite makeup artists to work on a project. Other times, she would collaborate with stylists, working on creating a vision together, “stylists, they come as almost an equal collaborator.” Her past projects also included collaborating with decorators who would create props for the scenes, “I’m not really good with my hands when it comes to creating something really complex.” Joining forces with decorators meant that Dasha’s vision of a scene would come to life.
DASHA PEARS AND HER UNIQUE CREATIONS
So, what makes Dasha and her creations unique? “Every human being is unique, and this is what makes my art unique – it’s mine. It’s a unique combination of my observations, likes, hopes, memories, perceptions, my cultural background, life experiences and so on. I don’t invent anything new, but I mix the already existing ingredients in my own very unique way.”
“I believe that photography is much more than gear and technical perfection. It’s a means of making an impact on the world around me however big or small. For me, there are 3 main components to photography as art: meaning, feeling, and aesthetics. This is why I emphasize all of them in my work.”
THE INSPIRATION BEHIND DASHA’S CREATIONS
Dasha’s interest in psychology is very much evident in her artwork by choosing to focus more on each individual’s inner world than on the outside world. “It always expresses my new findings and realisations of how things work between people and relationships. Or how psychological trauma can affect how you act today.” Dasha’s work is her own interpretation of the mind. But as Dasha points out, “practically everyone can relate to that because we all have some thoughts, feelings and relationships. It’s relevant to basically everyone.”
Her ability to capture scenes and moments in her creations allow you to bring emotions into your home. “I think that when you feel a positive emotion that you want to last when looking at an artwork, this when you want to acquire my work. Also when you feel connected to it and to the artist’s points of view of the world and life philosophy. Or if collectors see my art as a reflection of their own story or fantasy. Only then it will be a cherished and loved addition to an art collection.”