Who-Is-She: Sonya Khegay

— Sonya, how did photography come into your life? What was your job before?
— I think I’ve always been a creative person. I can’t say photography came into my life suddenly, I’ve always had my Canon. I began with a simple camera, not a reflex one, and with its help I tried to create something beautiful. Then I grew out of it, and my mother bought me a reflex camera, a Canon 400d or 450d, I don’t actually remember. At first I failed in taking photos, I simply took the camera in my hands and began shooting. I remember how much I liked the sound of the shutter! Nothing good came out, but what a sound it was! (Laughs) At first photography was only a hobby, and only some time later I realized I liked to take photos of people.

I graduated from Novosibirsk State University, the faculty of economics. My first working place was the Coca-Cola company in the same city. I worked in the department of business information and led my own project within which I had to deal with lots of figures, reports and people. Then there came a moment when I had to think of moving to another city, a bigger one. I thought I’ve always been a home body, and all these talks about leaving Novosibirsk scared me a lot. Once I went to Moscow with my boyfriend, Nikita, and he was so thrilled with this city that he began speaking of his wish to move there. And then, you know, something changed inside of me, and I decided to leave. Maybe my graduation or desire to move forward influenced this decision, I don’t actually know.
In Moscow I also went to work in Coca-Cola, but this time I had to make business forecasts, simultaneously working as a photographer outside the company. Some time later I understood it was very difficult combining these two things, besides many people told me I had to leave my present job and start the photography business, because I was good at it. And then, you know, it worked out that way that Nikta had to move to Montenegro, I went with him. I realized it was that very moment when I was given a chance of turning over a fresh leaf. It all went so smoothly, logically... Maybe someone guided me?

— Is photography business developed in Montenegro? Are many people into it there?
— Montenegro is a small developing country, and surely there are fewer photographers there than in Moscow, the choice is not so great. I can’t render you the percentage of people of this profession among local citizens, but can surely say that many Russian photographers live there all summer long and work at the same time.

— Do you like living in Montenegro?
— Yes, I do. I like that rhythm in which I’m living right now. I come to Moscow for photoshoots, to this city with crazy energy, where you give a lot to people and get twice more in return. I like to arrive here in snatches, to complete many tasks and then return to my small cozy Montenegro to be filled with harmony again. What do I like most in this country? My window view. My followers and those who know me have seen it many times, for I usually take photos of it. This is the view of the Bay of Kotor, the place with amazing sunsets. You can observe the most beautiful ones every autumn — they are especially golden. You sit in your room working, look in the window and see this breathtaking beauty; you begin to take photos of it, but in most cases photos can’t reproduce all this stunning grandeur. I also call Nikita at that moment, crying loudly: “Nikita, come over, hurry! Look at this wonderful sunset!” (Laughs) Many things happen around every day, good or not, but there is still this view, looking at which you realize there’s nothing that could harm you, and that everything’s OK.
— So wonderful to hear this! Let’s speak about photography. Do you like shooting people most of all?
— No, not only people. I have a mix of works in my portfolio. I like shooting various details, people and their emotions, weddings and people who are in love. Speaking of photography, I enjoy the whole process most of all. By this I mean everything from discussing the shoot with the client to sending the edited photos to him. I love to discuss the future shoot, to see how my clients dive into it, to see their positive energy coming back to me. I love to work with people, to reveal something unknown to them, and to see their gratitude for this. For many people the shoot includes not only beautiful pictures, but a great psychological step forward. It is also important for me to see that people are at ease with me and that they enjoy the process as much as I do. A photoshoot should be the way to relax, especially for those living in large cities. And surely positive feedback is also important.

— Do preparations for a shoot take long? What do they comprise?
— I spend a lot of time getting ready for a shoot, that’s why I feel upset if it’s cancelled. If we are speaking of personal photoshoots, not of the weddings, where there’s nothing I have to do except getting to know the couple, first of all I ask the person to send me some pictures of him and to tell something about him or her for me to understand with whom I’m going to work. After this some ideas appear in my mind, I tell my clients about them and we begin the discussion. As I imagine things with the help of pictures, I make sets of pics with clothes and accessories in them, which my client could find or buy. For me clothes are very important in the shoot, because they complete the image, create specific atmosphere and mood in the photos.
— Do you create these images of your clients yourself or do stylists and make-up artists help you?
— I can’t say I cooperate with someone. If the girl or woman is ready to bring a make-up artist or a stylist to our photoshoot, she does it. But I often do everything myself, or my clients do. Perhaps, two heads are better than one — to my mind, if you have an idea in your mind, there’s no one who can bring it to life better than you.
— Do you think that cameras and lenses are the main factor of the photographer’s success, or is it a thing of talent?
— They are important but not crucial. If you see photography on, for example, flickr, you are going to notice what amazing things people make with the help of cameras like Canon 450d. Looking at these you realize that the main things are desire, fantasy and awareness of what you want to reach. It all depends on the person, of course. Your camera and new lens can give you variety but not talent. Maybe, I’m going to say nothing new, but if you bought a cool camera it doesn’t mean you’re going to be a cool photographer.

— True. How much attention do you pay to the post-production of your photos?
— Adobe Photoshop allows you doing anything you want, but speaking of portraits, I believe that first of all a man should look like a man, that’s what I’m striving for. The post-production of my photos is individual: you don’t actually need much of it in photos capturing details or landscapes. I surely retouch portraits a bit, but not much. Sometimes you meet a person, speak to him, and see how beautiful, lovely and almost ideal he is concerning his skin and appearance. But when you take photos of him, you sometimes notice some mimic riffles or things like that. It happens because of bad light or other factors, that’s why you have to conceal them with Photoshop.

— Tell us about your hobbies besides photography, please. What things inspire you in daily life?
— Photography is not only my work, but also a hobby. I can’t say there’s something else that attracts me besides it.

— I saw on Instagram once how you drew over a table or a drawer — don’t remember which of them exactly. Aren’t you into painting?
— It was my sudden desire, that thing. When you have some weddings on the list of post-production and you don’t practically leave your computer, you get very tired of this monotonous work. And at that very time that impulse to draw emerged. The main thing in my life is photography, all the others are a sudden hobby. I can draw something over, plant some flowers and cook something tasty if I have a wish. When it turns into a routine, it becomes boring. I think there should be no boredom or bad mood in anything you do, for nothing good comes out of it then.
— Have you ever experienced any unpleasant situations concerning photoshoots?
— It’s not so easy to remember. There were cases when people cancelled the shoot, but if they did it properly and politely, I simply put myself into their place and went along. But the other case is when people tell you nothing and just disappear — it is very impolite. I think that there should always be mutual respect in every work, in every business. Speaking of people being discontented with the photographs — there were no such cases.

— What’s your attitude towards the so-called iPhoneography? Could you call it the new direction in photography or is it just a toy? Your own Instagram page is very beautiful.
— Thanks! When it all began I thought it to be another kind of nonsense! (Laughs) And then, like all those millions of people using this social network, I got so much attached to it! At first I took photos of everything I saw and then became more selective in posting my photos, trying to make my page look prettier. I don’t know whether this service has future as a photography site, but I already see how friendly it is. It’s so easy to get to know people there, living all around the world! I’m never shy to comment the photos of people I don’t know: if the work inspires me, why should I keep quiet? Surely, Instagram can give you tons of inspiration every day.

I can’t call iPhoneography the new direction in photography for you cannot have a full photoshoot made of iPhone photos. Still I can’t call it nonsense too. There are many inspiring and beautiful works made with its help. Sometimes I see a stunning photo and can’t believe that it was taken with iPhone. Again, it all comes to the question you’ve asked me before — camera is of no matter in the hands of a talented person.

— I see. I just wanted to know your opinion, as I often stumble upon bookshelves in various shops with books called ’iPhoneography for dummies’.
— Really? Didn’t know about it! (Laughs)
— And the last question in the main part of the interview: due to the fact that photography has become more available to people and many of them are seriously into taking photos, what advice could you give to a beginner in this field?
— The main thing is to listen to yourself. Never turn back, do what you want to, if you have such opportunity. I wish every beginner to experience the entire happiness and passion for what he’s doing. And also — never give up! If this is really your thing in life, you will never turn off your path.


The happiest moment in your life?
— There were so many moments of happiness in my life... One of the recent ones was during our trip to Rome, on the last day of it. It was cloudy then, and Nikita decided to visit the neighboring town and spend some time on the seaside. It was so amazing! Only he and I, on the sea shore, with a bottle of wine and some McDonald’s hamburgers. (Laughs) I will never forget that feeling of happiness and freedom. Amazing.

— What would you like to change in yourself?
— I would like to learn to control my emotions because they usually harm me. I’d like to have a turn-off button.

What do you like in yourself?
—Diligence and the ability not to step back.

— The place where you feel best?
— By Nikita’s side.

— With whom of the living people you would like to get acquainted?
— What a difficult question. I’m so shy, you know... Perhaps, I’d like to get acquainted with some of those creative people I’m following on Instagram. Sometimes when I visit their page, I feel like we’re old buddies. Still I don’t know what I would do if I ran into them in the street — I mean whether I could say ‘Hello’ to them or not!

 The country you’ve never been to, but would like to visit?
—There are so many of them! I’d like to visit USA most of all. Nikita is of the same opinion.

—When a child, what did you want your future profession to be?
— I wanted to be an accountant! Like my mother. I think many children want to resemble their parents this way. Surely, when they grow up they choose their own way. For instance I never liked writing essays and I always knew I’d never enter the faculty where I had to pass an essay test! (Laughs)

—Your favourite photographers?
— I can’t say I have favourite photographers — I have favourite photographs.

— Which qualities do you appreciate in men?
— The desire to make his woman happy.

—Tea or chicory?
— I don’t even know what chicory is! (Laughs) I’m for tea.

Sonya Khegay


  1. She is so amazing, beautiful and inspiring! Love all of her photos!


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