Interviews

Photographer Andrei Shliakhau

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Interview

Q: In the fifteen years of photography as a hobby when did you realize it would lead to more?
When I moved to the US four years ago (2005) I became friends with several nature photographers. I was very surprised to learn that they not only enjoyed their hobby of photography, but also were able to sell their work. It was almost impossible for me to do this back in Russia and Belarus due to harsh laws and government regulations for private businesses. The US is a country of many possibilities and opportunities. So when I received my first big order – 7 large format mounted and framed photographs – I realized that this is also additional income for my family. Well, right now almost all that I make with my photography goes right back into it.

Q: Do you find yourself being more or less satisfied with photography than your degree in microelectronics?
It is funny. I never really worked in the field of microelectronics except when I was in college. Right after graduation I join a Christian organization to work as a missionary. My first two years I primarily worked with college students that were in the same major. I do find photography very satisfying. It is one of few ways to slow down in our fast-paced world. It helps me to actually SEE the world around me, enjoy it, and a lot of times help others see and enjoy it as well.

Q: When you moved to the United States did you feel like you stepped into another world in relation to culture shock?
I didn’t have much of a cultural shock. I worked with American missionaries in Belarus since 1995. I can say I was somewhat prepared when I moved to the US. My wife is from Eastern Kentucky. So that is still sometimes a cultural shock for me. I love the area and the people though. Matter of fact, it is similar to Russian culture in many ways. When I came to the US on my first visit in 2001 the biggest change for me was freedom. I could feel freedom here, which I couldn’t in my country.

Q: What is your favorite subject to shoot and why?
I love to shoot landscapes and macro. I love outdoors and travelling. It brings me a lot of satisfaction if I am able to capture the beauty of nature. I also like to notice small things and that’s why I like to shoot macro as well. To be a little bit more specific I like shooting scenes with water-ocean, stream, creek, lake.

Q: Looking ahead five years what would you like to accomplish with your photography?
I would like to continue enjoying photography. Sometimes when something becomes your job it gets less enjoyable. Also I would like to get better in taking portraits.

Q: Looking back over the past five years what has been the most beneficial lesson?
Never stop. You will always fail unless you try.

Q: Do you feel you still have other worlds to conquer in photography or do you feel like you’ve hit your peak?
Wow! Great question. As soon as I hit a peak I see a much bigger one in front of me. I still have a lot to learn. I feel like I have gone a long way in photography, but there is a much longer one ahead of me.

Q: Is there anything you would like to say to encourage growth among new photographers?
I would have to say, just keep trying. Read, ask questions, try it, mess it up, try again, get better. It’s not too early or too late to start taking great photos. You don’t have to have the best camera and lenses in the world to take great shots. Show your personality through your photographs. More than anything enjoy and have fun with it!