Olya Matvieieva has been submitting photos to us since we started What Youth and they’ve always especially caught our eye. They are calm, still, rich in color and always shot on film — all rare and charming qualities in a world gone completely mad and hurried and digital. Her photos silently shout. And appear to exist in a quiet and beautiful world of their own. They’ve now appeared in almost every print issue of What Youth, setting pages off with their relentless nostalgia and unique color palettes.
What Youth: Where did you come from?
Olya Matvieieva: I am from Ukraine. There is no story really, I turned 21, got lucky with my visa, borrowed $600 from my mom and moved to New York. Five years later I am still here. Alive.
When did you first pick up a camera?
Probably a disposable? I don’t really remember but only started buying them when I was 22 I think. And then a friend gave me her Pentax.
Were you formally taught to shoot and work with film?
Not really. I bought a book to learn about the technical part but I didn’t go further than 20 pages. Just had to learn from my mistakes and still learning.
Why do you take pictures?
I like it. I tried to work in the music and fashion industries, but so far film photography interests me the most and makes me the happiest. Ideally, I would like to be a travel photographer and take pictures for postcard companies.
How do you define your style?
I don’t really know if I have a style, but nature is and always will be my favorite subject of photography.
Why do you shoot film as opposed to digital?
Digital photography is so different — totally different colors and feeling. I never understood people who call themselves professional photographers and shoot digital only because it’s easier, cheaper and because they can always add film filter in Photoshop later. Just sounds fake. If you can do it well, then great, but not so many photographers are able to pull it off without it looking like it’s “too much.”
Who’s photography has influenced you?
Sisters Posternak, Collier Schorr and William Eggleston.
What do you love about living in New York?
That I can pretty much walk anywhere.
What kind of landscapes are your favorite to shoot?
Probably the beach.
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