Career of photographer Anastasia Abramova-Guendel started in 2007 and even now after every shoot she rushes home to edit the photos. There is nothing more exciting for her than to capture the gift memories that the children of her clients and children of their children will get to keep. Anastasia told us about her lifelong love for photography, working in the fashion industry, weddings in different countries and searching for artistic style.
Beginning of the path and searching for distinctive style
Professionally I started doing photography in 2007 in Vienna, Austria, where I lived for 6 years. That is if we are talking about first paid commissions, otherwise, photography was always a part of my life. My granddad was a photographer and my childhood was spent in his photolab — we developed black and white film together. Later, when I studied in school in Italy, I choose photography as one of my subjects. In 2013 I’ve moved to Paris together with my husband, left my main job and dedicated my life to photography fully.
I left home to go study in Europe when I was 17 and since then I haven’t lived in Russia, so my style was developing mainly under the influence of European and American photographers. Only in the past 3 years or so I discovered the works by Russian artists and fell in love with their style — I get inspired by the works of Ralina Gazizova, Ksenia Antonova, Tatiana Sozonova. I realized that this aesthetic, natural colors, my geographic location and love for fashion photography complete the puzzle. That’s how I found my style. My photography is about love, love for family, love for yourself, love for the aesthetic and beauty, style and fashion, love for Paris.
Pros of life in Paris
Living in Italy, Germany, Austria, Costa Rica and France, I was able to get used to the specifics of working in those locations more, than photographers who come over for individual jobs. For example, in Paris, I have a list of trusted vendors that I recommend to my clients. The fact that I speak several languages helps a lot too. If a couple from Russia or the United States wants to do a small photoshoot in the style of a destination wedding or elopement for just a couple of hours without using the services of a wedding planner, then I can help with a french speaking florist or decorator for example, which makes planning very comfortable for my clients.
How varied wedding traditions in different countries are
I left Russia so early, that I’ve never gotten a chance to be even invited to a wedding as a guest. That’s why I can only tell you about the differences between American and European weddings. In the US it’s customary to select a rather large group of friends to be bridesmaids and groomsmen for the co-called bridal party. They are either dressed completely the same or in the same color palette as the overall wedding theme, and their traditional group portraits are an important part of the wedding album. Classic set-up portraits of this group may feel boring, but after those must-have shots the photographer gets to spend the whole day photographing a whole group of people who love each other, joke and have a blast naturally — seems like a dream reportage scenario to me.
In France, it’s allowed to have 2 witnesses at a wedding, but their role in the celebration is small and often brothers and sisters of the wedding couple are selected as witnesses. In Austria it’s important to thank all the guests personally — they make a line and a part of a wedding day the couple receives gifts and thanks each guest personally. Costa Rica is incredibly hot during the day, so most local weddings start after 16:00, more often at 18:00. Church ceremony and reception happen when it’s dark outside, so the whole wedding is photographed with flash. Americans love to do Costa Rica destination weddings at sunset on a beach, but mostly they bring over their own photographer for that because local photographers don’t have natural light photos in their portfolios.
Shooting runway during Paris Fashion Week for me is similar to meditating. For 10 minutes your mind concentrates only on clicking the shutter to match the pace of the walking model — click, click, click, full body, detail, repeat. This reminds me of the moment when the bride walks down the aisle — you’ve just got 2 minutes to capture it and you don’t get a do-over. Runway helped me to learn to work fast and tunnel my attention on a goal at hand. Streetstyle shoots are alike my work with bloggers to create content. Model tests are similar to the individual tourist shoots. No matter how much I get peer pressured to select only one thing — fashion, weddings or lifestyle — I never perceived them as something separate or different. My bride is stylish, she wants to feel like a model from a Dior ad and I’m here to help her do just that.
Getting ready for a wedding and interacting with couples
I always schedule a meeting in person or a video call with all my wedding couples. Even before signing the contract, it’s important for me to have a friendly and open rapport with the couple, so that on their wedding day they felt at ease with me because I’m one of the people who will live through this day by their side more than anyone else. Sometimes we plan a love story shoot before the wedding, and last year I’ve finished a stylist course to even help my clients selecting the looks for their shoots. I always share information about my trusted vendors, get to know my couple, their theme for the wedding, their decor, I prepare moodboards of the wedding portraits together with the bride.
Year 2020 and plans for 2021
2020 was a difficult year for the whole wedding and tourist industries. But it also helped me to slow down and to find the time for creative work that I never had the time for before. Between my husband and I, we used to average 25 shoots per month before. This is a crazy work tempo that didn’t leave room for any personal projects, especially since we put in a lot of planning for our clients too. Until 2020 I wasn’t even aware of how much I miss doing personal creative projects and how important they are for personal and professional growth.
In 2020 I shot 5 editorials published in fashion magazines, and only 10 weddings, but we also became parents for a second time and I could spend more time with the family. 2021 season is still far from the usual schedule like it was before quarantine, but the weddings are being booked throughout France and if we don’t get locked up again, then my portfolio will grow by a few chateau weddings, a wedding in Paris with a boat reception, and several intimate civil ceremonies. I also would love to do a creative collaboration with Russian wedding planners and vendors in contemporary style in Paris. In France, the main wedding styles are still fine art and boho. My goal is to develop my fashion-forward contemporary wedding photography to offer a new alternative to a stylish bride.
Photographer: Anastasia Abramova-Guendel
Clothes: @hm, @madame_sensuelle
Bunny ears: @maison_close