Alina Rudya is a Ukrainian-born photographer, currently living and working in Berlin, Germany. She was born 1985 in Ukraine and grew up in Kyiv after being evacuated from the infamous town of Prypyat, after the Chernobyl Nuclear Catastrophe of 1986. She is telling us about her art and how she started with photography and drones.
How did you get into drones and what do you like about them?
In the beginning, I was quite sceptical about drones. I am a professional photographer, and I somehow didn’t feel that with a drone you have full control over the image you’re creating. But that was before my first flight. I quickly saw the beauty and the art in aerial photography, especially when working with urban landscapes, geometry and colour from above. My first drone was a DJI Spark and I managed to capture some spectacular images with it. Now I have moved up to a Mavic 2 Pro and could not be happier with the image quality as well and flight time.
What’s your day to day like? How do you generate new ideas or plan out your next shoot?
I usually shoot when I am travelling – well, because I am a travel photographer. Sometimes the shot ideas, especially the drone ones, come spontaneously. I see something I like, try imagining it from the air. Sometimes I also use Google maps to see the area from above. I really like the top-down shots, since they are the ones that look the most unusual.
Do you have any stories about a crazy thing that happened while trying to capture aerial images?
I have a drone horror story, which probably every pilot has in their baggage – a couple of years ago I got a toy drone for Christmas and it was just a simple drone, not from DJI. I thought I could practice with it, but the moment I got it into the air – it just flew away and disappeared forever. That is when I realised that I need to get the real thing. Once, My DJI Spark went swimming in a lake and, while taking a portrait from above, it got tangled in the lake grass and fell down into the water; I dove in after it, and when I got it out it was still working. Three days in a rice bowl and it was as good as new. Working with drones is not only about fun, but also about responsibility and security. Every pilot should always be aware of their surroundings for the sake of their own safety and the safety of those around them.
What was your first job as a photographer? What was the most exciting moment in your career?
I studied at a photography school in Berlin. Some of my first jobs were photographing weddings. I actually quite liked it, though I don’t do it anymore. When it comes to my most exciting stories, it’s probably my book Prypyat mon Amour, which was shot entirely in the ghost town of Prypyat, Ukraine (in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone), that is the most personal and unusual project I’ve ever done.
How did you get into photography? What are your earliest memories of using a camera? When did it go from a hobby to a career?
I became excited about photography through my father. He was a nuclear physicist, but also an amateur photographer. We had a dark room in our bathroom and all the film cameras one could imagine. I got a real tingle about becoming a travel photographer at the age of 9, when my dad brought me an issue of National Geographic from the United States. I completed 2 Masters degrees, in Political Science and Journalism, before considering photography a career, and I am really happy I changed my mind and didn’t go into academia or a 9-5 Job.
How has your work evolved since you started?
At the beginning of my studies, I took a lot of analog black and white images and did fashion shoots and experimental portraits. I still divide my work into two categories – travel photography, where my drone shots also belong, and poetic storytelling, which is usually documentary or street photography, less for Instagram and more on an artistic side.
Do you have any tips for young creators that would also like to start creating with a drone to start a career in photography?
My first tip for everyone is to learn how to fly your drone. It might seem easy, but you are flying a small aircraft and you have a responsibility to do it safely and securely. I know lots of newbies who lost their drone within a week of getting it (including myself). It’s better to invest some hours in learning how to move, fly, and land. Better safe than sorry.
AlinHow do you get inspired? Who are some of your favorite creators these days?
I get my inspiration from other women photographers and creators. I love the drone work by Huda bin Rheda and Petra Leary, but also by the works of the pre- digital generation of photographers like Sarah Moon, Sabastiao Salgado, and Sally Mann.
What are your next projects? Or – What does the future hold for you?
I am a founder of @bellcollective – a collective of women travel-photographers that tries to change stereotypes about female creative choices. Right now we are working on a book together and I am planning several trips with some of these women, including trips to New Zealand, Madeira, and Iceland.
How would you describe your aesthetic these days? What do you do to try and stand out?
My aesthetic has always reflected my personality. I love bold colours, geometry, and light and shadow play. If you look at my Instagram feed, you’ll see a lot of yellow, blue, green, and orange – I guess some people see gloominess in this world, while I prefer to see vivid colours.
Discover more for Alina Rudya on her Instagram profile: https://www.instagram.com/rrrudya/
And on her website: https://www.alinarudya.com/