Merely two years ago, Stanislav picked up his first camera: a Lumix G3 for $600. From that point forward his inspirational journey began. The majority of his mind-blowing work was taken in his attic using friends as models. Now he is known as Sean Archer - a natural light photographer who specializes in female portraits. His work is proof that it’s not about gear. It’s about the photographer; it's about the vision of the artist.
Two years ago, I opened a 500px account and the first person I followed was Sean Archer. His work had a signature look that I instantly fell in love with. He used natural light, and all the photos were taken right there in his own home. The fact his gear cost half of mine at the time was in itself inspirational to me.
The first question everyone asks Stanislav is how he got the nickname Sean Archer. "Sean Archer is an agent from the movie Face Off. I took the nickname and created a 500px account when I wasn't sure if I was any good at photography."
Stanislav picked up a Lumix G3 after showing interest in photography at the end of 2011. He had just graduated from architecture school and knew nothing about photography. "I shot in auto mode every day just for fun, my first subject was my moms dog.I knew absolutely nothing about photography, absolutely nothing,” said Stanislav. At the beginning of 2012 a friend asked him to take portraits of her, “To my big surprise,” Stanislav said, the “result was better than her photo from some professional guy before. And I realized that I like the process a lot, from shooting to post processing. It’s like drawing, but much faster. I never had patience to be a serious artist, but just enough to be a photographer.”
"Everything I know now came from taking thousands of images, hours of processing and fooling around with every setting on the camera." Stanislav pointed out numerous times that everything he learned came from his own experiences and mistakes.
Living in Yekaterinburg, Russia, he doesn't have much of a choice other than to shoot indoors. "It's not the warmest place on Earth and I started shooting in winter. Indoors was a natural choice for me. I just use what I had - light from the window, wall as a background."
One of the first question that came to mind was the fact his photos have so many different color/textured backgrounds. Puchkovsky overlays textures in Photoshop to change up the backgrounds of his images.
In the beginning he started off just photographing friends but as time went one I branched out to their friends. some have modeled in the past but none of them do it professionally. “It’s fun. I never try to be dead serious or something like that. I don’t do preparations. It’s always improvisation. Just, “let’s start and see what we get.”
A trick Stansilav has taught me over the years to making people feel comfortable is simply by showing the really good shots every once in a while on the camera screen. "Everyone loves it, people see how great they look and they immediately want to take more."
He uses a single window without any reflectors. If the sunlight is too strong he has a few sets of window shades that he uses to control he light.
Do you retouch and how much retouching do you do?
"Of course I do retouching, I remove spots and any issues in skin tones. It's very important to keep skin texture, but making it clear and bright. Keeping it natural is the key. I don't like the "fashion" style retouch, that makes skin lifeless, like it was processed by sandblasting machine…In portraits you have to be an artist, too.”
What gear are you using?
"My first camera was Lumix G3 it really shines with the Olympus Zuiko 45mm. If you have good light condition it's very good. Now I'm using Canon 6D with two Canon lenses, 50mm 1.4 and 135mm L 2.0. This combo works very well in low light."
Aside from photography gear, Stanislav loves using a fan to add volume to the hair and trying it at different angles to add interesting looks to his subjects. He adds that playing music is a must for shoots like this.
"A lot of people thought my Lumix G3 wasn't a serious camera and that you can’t take good portrait with it, my goal was to prove them wrong."
Stanislav finally let me create a Facebook Page for him so you guys have an alternate place to follow him on social media - Sean Archer Photography