Wednesday, December 23, 2009

happy holidays!

art vs. commerce

my kindle not only let me read triple the amount of books i used to read, it also - as you might know - allow me to do clippings and share those with you. today on the subway, while running christmas errands, i read a beautiful fable "hunger artist" by kafka, the ending of which metaphorically juxtaposes fine art and commercial art. (or at least it was the way i understood it - which is exactly the way i feel about the subject)

"Forgive me everything," whispered the hunger artist. Only the supervisor, who was pressing his ear up against the cage, understood him. "Certainly," said the supervisor, tapping his forehead with his finger in order to indicate to the spectators the state the hunger artist was in, "we forgive you." "I always wanted you to admire my fasting," said the hunger artist. "But we do admire it," said the supervisor obligingly. "But you shouldn't admire it," said the hunger artist. "Well then, we don't admire it," said the supervisor, "but why shouldn't we admire it?" "Because I had to fast. I can't do anything else," said the hunger artist. "Just look at you," said the supervisor, "why can't you do anything else?" "Because," said the hunger artist, lifting his head a little and, with his lips pursed as if for a kiss, speaking right into the supervisor's ear so that he wouldn't miss anything, "because I couldn't find a food which I enjoyed. If had found that, believe me, I would not have made a spectacle of myself and would have eaten to my heart's content, like you and everyone else." Those were his last words, but in his failing eyes there was the firm, if no longer proud, conviction that he was continuing to fast. "All right, tidy this up now," said the supervisor. And they buried the hunger artist along with the straw. But in his cage they put a young panther. Even for a person with the dullest mind it was clearly refreshing to see this wild animal throwing itself around in this cage, which had been dreary for such a long time. It lacked nothing. Without thinking about it for any length of time, the guards brought the animal food. It enjoyed the taste and never seemed to miss its freedom. This noble body, equipped with everything necessary, almost to the point of bursting, also appeared to carry freedom around with it. That seem to be located somewhere or other in its teeth, and its joy in living came with such strong passion from its throat that it was not easy for spectators to keep watching. But they controlled themselves, kept pressing around the cage, and had no desire to move on.

Friday, December 18, 2009


what a great surprise to see yourself featured (again) on one of my most favorite blogs! this time in connection with kate cusack's zipper jewelry shoot i did together with my team (dina yassin, aldys minaya, jamal hodges) a year ago.

this shoot occurred to be very controversial and raised lots of discussion on photoforums after images have been published. for many people it was shocking to see a model of a mature age in a otherwise typical jewelry advertising shoot. however, for me the idea was not to shock but to be honest in the first place and send a certain message to the audience.

kate's jewelry is sophisticated. it requires certain experience and confidence of the one who will be wearing it, otherwise it will overpower the owner. put it on a 18y.o. beauty and it'll clash. kate doesn't aim her jewelry for teenage audience. instead, her jewelry compliments a beauty of an elegant age. 
candace woodward, kate's close family friend, seemed to be our perfect model. it was an amazing experience working with her.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

dream catcher

our coat story in december "holiday" issue of ROUGE magazine:

stylist: ursula agurto
make-up: anetta klemens
hair: daniel santos
photo assistants: aric gutnick and zoe roman
fashion assistant: evan narvaez
models: zenia sevastianova & caroline de marqui @ major model management NYC

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

project "christmas tree"

this year our christmas tree is a found object (it is technically just half of the christmas tree my boyfriend found on the street last year) and its ornaments are polaroids of real christmas tree ornaments and toys, mixed with some pictures we took last christmas during our fairy trip to vermont.

happy winter holidays! stay cozy and warm!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

mortal engine

i was completely mesmerized by mortal engine. this dance-video-music-laser performance creates a surreal ever-shifting world in which the limits of the human body are an illusion. crackling light and staining shadows represent the most perfect or sinister of soulds.

mortal engine looks at relationships, connection and disconnection, isolation and togetherness, in a state of continuous flux. conflicts between the self and shadowy other, struggle to escape inner darkness - mortality, sexuality, desire.

apart from concept, what also amazed me is the harmony of human and technical parts of the performance. interactive projections were meticulously designed to respond to dancers' fine movements. both were at the top level but without competing and overpowering each other.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

art basel miami 2009

this year it was my first time going to miami art basel, and i am already anticipating the next one.
inspiring to say the least, 3 days at the fair left me art overdosed and with an immense urge to create something (outside of photography) myself.

definitely, it was fun gallery hopping in design district but yet selection of art and its level at convention center was hard to beat. ironically, most of the galleries bared "NY" prefix in it's name and were coming from chelsea neighborhood where i spend most of my working time freelancing. however, it was worth the trip to see everything under one roof, as well as i believe that curators' selection of pieces was being tightened up according to the high-standards of basel fair. lots of striking conceptual art from well-known as well as emerging artists. to name a few of my favorites artists and categories:

- black wireless map of NY done with graphite on metal (way more impressive than a camera could capture)

- photorealistic  paintings of urban landscape on used cardboard

- evan penny's distorted "4D" wax portraits

- witty light signs 

- distorted mirror installations

- series of abstract paintings and sculptures using simple play of color, texture and shape

generally speaking, i think most of the exhibits could go under the tag "smart art" - something that looks simple at first sight, but has a double-meaning, something between the lines, with lots of cultural, social, political, historial references only an experienced viewer will be able to decipher if he takes a closer look at it. going through gallery to gallery you feel like you are solving riddles created by artists to entertain and inspire.

p.s. i appologize for the poor quality of the snapshots taken on my blackberry since my "big" camera was not allowed inside the pavilion without press-pass

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

bill viola "bodies of light"

one of the highlights of the thanksgiving weekend was attending bill viola "bodies of light" at james cohan gallery.

four dark rooms with tall, rectangular plasma hi-def screens; ghost-like milky nude bodies emerging through the other side of the water.  slow motion, ethereal mood; voyeuristic, ambiguous feelings. beautiful, deep, inspiring.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


in continuance of a very successful collaboration with hair stylist linh ngyen (look for our "dreamers" story in november issue of ROUGE magazine) we got together again this month to do another ethereal hair story.
this time it was about movement. our model was pernilla from NY models. linh created beautiful airy textures on pernilla's strawberry blond hair while anetta klemens did magic to make model's skin glow.
some shots look like as if they were done underwater. the colors are muted and soft - milk and honey.
sneak preview of the 9-pages story below.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

lie sang bong

today i've attended press show of lie sang bong at blank space. his 2010 S/S collection is literally out of this world: something between neo-romantic star-wars and alice in wonderland; with dominating colors of shimmering silver and black, sheer white and quasi-translucede nude; strong geometric shapes with over-sized romantic ornaments.

my favorite pieces from the collection:

linhardt design

i was walking along 3rd avenue up towards 14th street when something unusual in a shop window attracted my attention. it was a vintage gas mask, and a silver a-la freddy krueger glove next to it. it made me stop and cling to the window trying to desipher what kind of store it could be. only then i start noticing pieces of beautiful extravagant yet modern looking jewelry.

lisa linhardt's jewelry design boutique is a must-see  and yet another reason to love new york. lisa designs jewelry herself, as well as she features in her store other artists whose work is in the same direction as hers which means using recycled metals, eco-friendly materials, and ethically sourced gemstones. i fell in love at first sight and couldn't resist a temptation to buy on the spot lisa's signature "bullet" ring which you can see on alicia keys for the cover of "billboard" at as well as on gisele bundchen at numero magazine#101.

 visit at: 156 First Ave., New York, NY 10003

Thursday, November 5, 2009

dreamers @ ROUGE magazine (november issue)

8 pages spread with "dreamers" (jae, samantha, tianna @ major models) in ROUGE magazine november issue:


Monday, October 26, 2009

with a little delay caused by my recent move from one studio space to another i am happy to announce a long-anticipated switch from using "nymfea" (aka nymfea photography studio,,, etc.) as my professional alias to my own name where applicable (that is: julia pogodina studio,,, etc.) it will be followed by redesign of my website, business cards, and promo materials which is currently work in progress. is working as a forward domain for next couple months (same with emails) and will cease to exist in 2010. i will be sending official newsletter with new contact information later this month.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

united nude

absolutely in love with this "lo-res" shoes by united nude

Monday, September 28, 2009

interview for ROUGE magazine (september issue)

one of the best gifts for my 30th birthday this september was a 4-pages long interview for ROUGE magazine.
i have a long-term relationship with ROUGE, and i dearly love this glossy bulgarian publication for its quality and very personal, warm attitude of people who work there.

for about an hour i talked to natalia georgieva, one of ROUGE's editor, over the phone. she was curious to know about my childhood back in russia, about my experience being a lawyer, and how i became a fashion photographer at the end, about my vision, goals, and dreams. for me this interview (one of the most deep and detailed interviews i ever gave) became sort of journey into myself. answering natalia's questions i came to understanding of many events and coincidences in my life.

i won't bore you with translation of all 4 pages (alas for my english-speaking readers even though given originally in english my interview was translated into bulgarian which i myself hardly understand) but give you just a little tease consisting of first 3 questions (which is something i never publicized before):

1. Let’s start with your childhood. You grew up in St Petersburg. What was your childhood in Russia?
Actually, my childhood was split between St.Petersburg (where my parents moved shortly after I was born) and Nerekhta, small town in the province of Kostroma, 4 hours by train north-east from Moscow where all my family, both mom’s and dad’s side, still lives. Most of the time I lived with my parents in St.Pete but in summer it was always time to go to my grandparents. It was like living 2 different lives – in St.Pete my childhood was filled with weekly visits to children’s theaters and museums, art school where I was taught to draw since I was 6, my father’s restoring workshop where I was allowed to stamp on little round metal plates, my mom’s sewing machine and hand-made toys and clothes she was making for me since I was little, my parents’ extensive library with art books my dad used to collect. While at my grandparents life was more simple and close to nature: they had a house and little garden, as well as chickens, rabbits, and a goat, and I enjoyed spending time there taking care of animals, or riding my bike, or going fishing with my grandpa, or spending time at the clinic where my grandma used to work.

2. Tell us more about your parents? What do they do?
My dad is an antique restorer, he works with metal; He used to work for both private antique stores and museums, including restoration of the Peter&Paul’s chiming clock. He is also a jeweler (but he only makes jewelry for me and my Mom) and a very good photographer himself. (Since early childhood I vividly I remember his Zenith camera he took with him everywhere and spending nights with him printing pictures in our blacked-out living room)
My mom got her degree in nuclear engineering but since I was a sickish child and could barely attend kindergarten she quit her job and stayed with me at home. Thanks to her I learnt to read and write before going to school, as well as for years she used to be our home fashion designer making beautiful, perfectly fitting clothes for all our family. Later on when I was already going to high-school she got herself a job as a secretary in St.Peterbsurg State University, and couple years ago she, being 52 y.o., undertook a degree program in accounting and changed her career drastically. I am very proud of my parents, they have always been my role models and most important people in my life.

3. Do you come back to Russia nowadays? Has it changed? Would you like to live there?
I usually go to visit my family once a year. For the past 5 years since I am in United States the country has definitely changed but so did I, and my perspective of the world. It’s hard to say which is more. I was happy there and never intended to leave but it happened so, and I have neither regrets nor plans to come back to Russia anytime soon. I started new life here, and for what I do right now it is better to be in New York. It was a conscious and very reasonable decision. In couple years it might change and I might move to Europe or somewhere else– I don’t know. I guess I am a rolling stone, I’ve always been, for me it’s hard to settle in one place, doing just one thing. But no matter where I live and what I do I am proud to be Russian.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

interview with mitch de leon [SlashMaraud]

excerpt from my interview with mitch de leon


That’s my favorite question! It’s also the most difficult one *)

Hmm, three things.. Let me see!

1) So why “nymfea?” Despite of numerous associations you might have with this word, originally Nymfea was a boy – the main character of Sasha Sokolov’s novel “School for fools”; this boy suffered from split personality and irrevocable daydreaming, and every time he wanted to escape the harsh reality he “dissolved into Nymfea, a water lily with long brown stems” to travel along Leta river to the neverland where Leonardo was drawing his Mona Lisa and pearl-like dragonflies were circling above the water. I fell in love with the story when I was 14, and I wrote my own one inspired by Nymfea. That story won 1st place at the city literature contest, and during the time along with many coincidences, mysterious signs, and romantic stories “nymfea” became my intimate nickname and second self.

2) When I was 21, I was a managing director of Nabokov museum in St.Petersburg. It was the most romantic job one could have! Museum is located in Nabokov’s family house on Bolshaya Morskaya street where Vladimir Nabokov was born and his family lived before revolution. One of the most precious exhibits there were: his father’s encyclopedia on butterflies with young Vladmir Nabokov’s color pencil drawings; his pince-nez he wore later in life for occasions of picture taking (in reality he had a perfect eyesight!), and first edition of “Lolita” with his handwriting on the front page. It was magical to hold these things in your hands, to be so close to the life story of his amazing talent.

3) I don’t like chocolate! Unless it is a white one *)

full version of the interview can be read here

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


well, now i know that the main advantage of local fashion week (in comparison to the ones in far away cities/countries) is that you get invited to many shows since you know lots of people, but the main disadvantage of it is that since you are "at home" and fashion shows are not part of your job (we won't put a tag "job" on networking, even though sometimes it feels this way), it is really hard to find time in your working schedule to attend all the shows you've been invited too. ah, sweet vicious circle and recurring dreams about cloning myself!

from the shows and events i managed to attend nevertheless, i wanted to mention beloved PORTS 1961 (can't wait to see this japanese inspired nude-colored collection in stores and on my stylist's racks! i especially liked the shoes and back details on dresses and jackets) and custo barcelona (while not being too crazy about patterns and cuts of the women's collection i find men's collection to be very photogenic and sleek), and to applaud to the great idea of fashion night out which finally brought high fashion out to the streets - literally! for the first time fashion week felt not like a private event for the selected group of people from the industry, but as an all-city festival celebrating fashion in style.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


as some of you may know that i am crazy about pop-up books, and consider them to be collectibles. (at least on my book shelves!)
one of the most delightful and smartly done one with an outstanding design is ABC 3D pop-up alphabet i bought in hirshhorn museum in washington DC

i planned to doing some still shots of the pop-up letters to share with you, but then realized that the bext part of the book is actually the motion. that's why here is the video for you to enjoy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

belk print

after 5 days of shooting for belk print tuesday feels like friday, and i am taking a little break in the middle of the week to catch up on my personal things before new project begins.

it was a challenge this time - from last minute changes of set, lighting, and even models, to working remotely with 2 art directors on 3 different catalogues. but great team as always made it easy and fun.
of course, sometimes we felt tired,
but most of the time we were having fun,
and loving what we do.
i wanted to thank: my indispensable assistants michael & brian, tina (stylist), jae (make-up), kevin (hair), arika (prep), jose (prep), jarda (producer), beloved studio W26, and all beautiful models who helped me to make it happen!

Monday, August 17, 2009

storm king

this weekend i finally accomplished a long-planned trip to storm king park (2 hours drive upstate) and had a chance to see its beautiful open-air sculptures.
storm king art center is a magical place where conceptual art meets nature, and i could not help but thinking about ayn rand's hero howard roark and his approach towards making architectural constructions to merge seamlessly with the landscape as opposed to competing or taking over it.

my favorite "exhibits" there are maya lin's "body of water" (waves of green grass creating an illusion of a stormy emerald-color sea ):
andy goldsworthy's "stormy king wall" that reminds a snake going across the river and up the hill in a beautiful zigzag:
and breathtaking " a moment in time" by chakaia booker - a black "broken" obelisk a la "space odyssey 2001" that floats in the air:
while there, on my special request my boyfriend took couple portraits of me and one of them will be featured as part of my exclusive interview for ROUGE magazine in their september issue. (mark di suvero's graphic bright red "mother piece" sculpture created a perfect background for the portrait since it brought association with of russian constructivism as well as matched the colors of my corporate design)

by the way, all the pictures you see above are also taken by my boyfriend (i should admit that he is way better than me with still life and landscape photography), while i was playing with polaroids 600 creating soft-focus washed-out square frames, trying to capture the magic and the mood of the place.

Monday, August 3, 2009

"lines solitaire" in ocean style, september 2009

just got a confirmation from "ocean style" magazine about publication of "lines solitaire" story with lisa jackson in their september issue. excited to see in print!

model as muse

i probably was one of the last highly interested but late attending visitors of "model as muse" exhibition in metropolitan. it has been up for several months by now, and it will be over next sunday, august 9th, so if you are like me postponing it to the last minute - last minute it is!
it's definitely worth going through skillfully and thoughtfully organized labyrinth lit by softboxes hanging downside from the ceiling and seeing the history of fashion in making: from early b&w pictures of avedon and ritz to recent campaigns by klein and meisel. but this time the focus is shifted - you look at the famous image of sunny harnett leaning gracefully over a casino table, and you are so absorbed by the image itself, the beautiful lighting, its depth of field, sunny's mysterious smile, and the beautiful dress she's wearing almost goes unnoticed since we are taking every element of the image for granted. then next to this 8 by 10 image in a black wooden frame you see a live-size installation - a mannequin leaning over a casino table, and lamp next to it, and the dress, exactly the same like sunny is wearing on that picture.. but something is different. the magic is gone. because the magic is in the art of a photographer to make a timeless image out of a standard fashion picture - and of a model to breathe life into the latter.

so as we go from room to room, from one fashion era to another, we are shifting the focus and seeing how models changed the way we see fashion. it's almost like a story of womens emancipation - from nameless "mannequins cabinet" to strong personalities and world-known faces of linda evangelista, naomi campbell, claudia shiffer, kristy terlington..

and of course there are dresses. giorgio armani, balenciaga, pierre cardin, chanel, louis vuitton, donna karan, calvin klein, ralph lauren, prada, paco rabanne, YSL, versace... i was astounded to see in real extravagant metallic constructions from "qui etes-vous, polly magoo?" and masterpieces of john galliano's haute couture. all these spiced up with music (wide stylist range - from french "chansons" to "beautiful people" by marylin manson) makes the experience unique and very inspiring.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

steven klein

it's not accidental for me to start the series on my favorite photographers from steven klein. for me his name stands for "fashion photography" itself, as for many people was helmut newton, or richard avedon, or irving penn. he is the reason for me to do what i am doing, and i often say that when i grow up i want to be steven klein, implying the quality and quantity of the work he does. (yes, i know how ambitious it sounds)

there is not much information about him out there. in fact, from people who worked with him, as well as from very few articles and interviews, i heard that he is reserved and not too verbose. he is in his late 40s but looks young and fit, he is close friend of brad pitt & madonna, he is well known for his provocative D&G and Dsquared campaigns.

steven klein's pictures are ambiguous, openly sexual, perverse, yet polished, and chic, and high class. their is a fleeting feeling of restrain in each of them - no matter how candid and suggestive are the poses of the models. klein loves color and sophisticated sets; he is a master of double-page storytelling. his images are surreal and yet up-to-date with the real world. he is not afraid to make a statement about politics, global warming, religion, and model mania.

“the thing that gets frustrating about fashion,” klein says, “is that as a photographer you always want to grab on to something that reflects what’s happening in the world, what’s in the street. you don’t want to just fabricate these dream lives of these idealistic barbie dolls that don’t even exist anymore.”

one of the most prolific and influential fashion photographer of nowdays steven klein is the one who keeps many of us on our toes. as they put it in NY times: "mindlessly glam fashion photography is a dead or dying form, and steven klein, the anti-fashion fashion photographer, helped strangle it."

for more of his work please visit: