My passion for photography started when I was a little girl. I’m from country that doesn’t exist anymore, the USSR. More specifically, I am from Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. My native language is Russian although I’m familiar with the local Azeri language, which belongs to the Turkish group of languages, and I speak English and Italian as well.
Sun Trapped in the Pond – Image accepted for the Visual Art Exhibition 2015
My father was a keen amateur photographer and he used to lock himself in the bathroom to develop film. I suppose I was intrigued by the magic that was cooked behind the closed door. But life went on, I grew up, went to university and graduated as an electrical engineer. Photography was forgotten for some time because of the many dramatic changes that took place due to the collapse of the Soviet empire, my life was rather tough at times. Eventually there was an unforeseen and unexpected twist, I met my Irish husband, Paul, while we were both working in Romania and we ended up living in Brighton with Baxter, our Japanese chin.
Dreams of an Angel Hanging on the Tree
Time went by and I finally decided to do something that I always wanted to do but had never had the chance: Photography. I got my first DSLR in 2009. I am a self-taught, keen amateur photographer; although eventually I wouldn’t mind earning some money from my craft. I would describe myself as a fine-art photographer: I like to create pictures from photographic images. Along with my DSLRs, I also have a Holga, but I don’t use it often enough as I don’t have facilities for film developing at home and don’t like to rely on somebody else to do this. I would love to get into film development in the future; let’s wait and see, things often happen accidentally if the grounds for them were carefully set up. That’s my theory anyway!
I gained my RPS Licentiateship in July 2012 and my Associateship in July 2014. My A-panel did not begin as a project aimed at gaining a distinction. I like to photograph flowers but they have been done so many times by so many people that I thought that I needed to try something different. I really enjoy everything connected with the Asian culture: paintings, food, everything! I admire their ability to enjoy simple things, simplicity that is created by meticulous attention to detail. Before starting my Japanese-style flowers project I did a lot of research, I looked through many books about Japanese and Chinese paintings on silk and rice paper. Only when I had a clear idea of what I wanted my images to look like did I start to take photographs. When I had 10 images I thought that this project could become my A-panel, even though it didn’t quite fit with the usual A-panel specification. When I had enough images and had arranged them into a panel, some advisors expressed doubts because of its unusual nature, but I stuck with it and did not change anything. After six month of hesitation, I decided to book an assessment date, and was delighted when I passed (see panel here). My only regret is that the digital versions of my flowers that are now on the web don’t convey the full effect, because the paper is an essential part of the images, giving them the look of paintings on silk.
During the six-month period when I put my panel on hold – literally in the box – I started working on another project “Angels and More” (see gallery here). This time I had a clear idea of camera settings that I was going to use but not of the final look. It was only when I had a few images downloaded on my computer and had looked at them side by side, that I thought of a unified treatment to help to convey my idea. This is an ongoing project and I don’t know how long it’s going to take before I decide to stop working on it. At the same time, I am working on another project called “Kaleidoscopic Sky Bonanza”, and in my mind I have an idea or two that I can’t wait to start working on!
This article is based on conversations with Chelin Miller
This interview first appeared on 02 December 2014 in the Royal Photographic Society’s blog.
Feature photograph: Undisturbed Sleep, by Yuliana Mulvany; all photographs by Yuliana Mulvany