Spotlight Feature: Exclusive Interview with Fashion Photographer and Retoucher 'Daria Valiguras'.

by - 22:18:00

Daria Valiguras is a fashion photographer and retoucher with an intriguing backstory, a distinct photographic style, and a wide portfolio. She attempts to capture the essence of femininity by showing her models in sensuous and inspiring ways. She works with passionate women that aren't afraid to show their sensuality, thus her photographs exude confidence and strength, and accentuate the unique beauty of each individual model. She makes photos that uniquely celebrate femininity by blending sensual aspects with a forceful, assertive attitude. We admire her work and believed it was time to have a chat with her.
Read her insightful interview with Linda.O.Bella below;
Exclusive Interview with Fashion Photographer and Retoucher Daria Valiguras.
Hi Daria, Please fully tell us about yourself and your personal background.
Thank you for inviting me to be a part of this interview, with OTS Magazine. First of all, let me introduce myself. My name is Daria Valiguras and I'm a professional fashion photographer and retoucher. I was born and raised in Russia, where I spent most of my life studying music. However, my true passion for photography began only 3 years ago when I decided to pursue it as a career. In the past three years, I've built an impressive portfolio by collaborating with top modeling agencies in Russia, Italy, France, and the United States. My photos have been featured in over 50 magazines like QP, PhotoVogue, Selin, Flanelle, Pump, and many others. My works have been selected for exhibitions in America and Mexico. I've had the opportunity to retouch images for well-known photographers and brands, which have been displayed on billboards, in stores, and even on iTunes album covers.
Recently, I've been participating in photography contests on platforms like Photocrowd, Gurushots, Viewbug, etc. It's a great way to challenge myself, showcase my work, and connect with other photographers. Moreover, I’m working as a judge on the Photocrowd platform. It's been an amazing experience!
In 2022, I moved outside of Russia and have already had the chance to explore life in countries like Italy, France, and the United States. And I’m currently staying in Miami, Florida. I'm excited to talk more about my journey and share some of the lessons I've learned along the way.
I’d love to start off by asking what motivated you to pick up a camera and shoot originally.
Well, it all started when I was searching for a new challenge after completing my music education in 2020. I remembered my interest in Adobe Photoshop as a teenager, so I decided to take online beauty retouching courses. But during the first month, something amazing happened—I fell in love with fashion photography. I wanted to create and edit my own images, so I invested in the necessary equipment and pursued my newfound passion. To learn quickly and from the best, I enrolled in a fashion photography course at White Photo School, the top photography school in Russia. And that's when I realized I had discovered my true calling in life.
In your own words please describe your style as a photographer? 
In my photography, I aim to capture the beauty of femininity and masculinity powerfully and sensually. I focus on capturing the unique beauty of each model and creating images that exude confidence and inner strength. My models embrace their sensuality without hesitation, resulting in captivating and intense photographs. Through my work, I celebrate the power and attractiveness that comes from embracing one's individuality and unique self-expression.
Exclusive Interview with Fashion Photographer and Retoucher Daria Valiguras.
Have you always been a visual person with a form of creative expression?
Oh, absolutely! Ever since I was a kid, I've always been a visual person. I've always wanted to express myself creatively through different art forms. Whether it was drawing, dancing, or music, I just had to find a way to bring my ideas to life visually. There's something incredibly powerful about using images to show emotions and tell stories. It's like a language that goes beyond words. Being a visual person is a big part of who I am and photography naturally became a way for me to explore and expand on my visual creativity.
Do you remember your first experience with the Camera?
Of course! I still remember my first experience with a camera like it was yesterday. It was a simple Kodak film camera we had at home, and I must have been around eight years old. Whenever my parents let me use it, I would get super excited and snap photos of anything and everything. It was an incredible moment, like magic for me, being able to freeze moments in time with the camera.
In middle school, I got a Samsung digital camera, and it opened up a whole new world for me. My classmates and my friends quickly caught on to my passion for photography, and we started doing fun photo shoots together. We'd come up with cool ideas, and find interesting spots. It was such a great time! Those experiences definitely boosted my passion for photography and made me realize how much happiness it brings to everyone involved.
Absolutely! So, how big a role does photography play in your life?
Photography plays a huge role in my life. It has always brought me so much joy and pleasure. Ever since I was a kid, I've loved taking pictures of my loved ones. And as I got older, I started capturing special moments and amazing travels along my life's journey. But about three years ago, photography became my everything. I turned it into my full-time job as a photographer and retoucher. Every day goes by with me thinking about pictures and how to improve my skills. It's become such a big part of who I am now.
Exclusive Interview with Fashion Photographer and Retoucher 'Daria Valiguras'.
How do you get inspired? And what inspires you the most? Movies, books, or magazines? Or is it just what’s around you?
I find inspiration in many ways, simply by observing everything around me. It could be the beauty of nature, interesting locations, stunning models, impressive makeup or hairstyles, fashionable clothing, or the latest trends in the fashion world. Even visually captivating movies or paintings can inspire me. However, the biggest source of inspiration for me comes from the works of photographers I actively seek out. I explore archives and find inspiration from great photographers like Peter Lindbergh, Bruce Weber, Helmut Newton, Mario Testino, Patrick Demarchelier, etc. I also follow a wide range of contemporary photographers, such as Chris Colls, Greg Swales, Yulia Gorbachenko, Lachlan Bailey, Mert Alas, and many others. Seeing their incredible creations and unique perspectives motivates and inspires me to push my own boundaries and strive for greatness in my photography journey. Their talent and dedication inspire me to continuously learn and improve my skills.
Spotlight Feature: Exclusive Interview with Fashion Photographer and Retoucher 'Daria Valiguras'.
In your own words, what does the term “Women Empowerment” mean to you?
To me, "Women Empowerment" means giving women equal rights, opportunities, and the power to make their own choices. It's about breaking down barriers and biases that hold women back and creating a society where women can thrive and succeed. It's about ensuring that women have access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities. Women empowerment is about recognizing and celebrating women's achievements and promoting gender equality in all aspects of life.
What are the qualities of an empowered woman? And how can women be empowered while maintaining their femininity? 
An empowered woman possesses self-confidence, independence, resilience, self-care, and authenticity. She defines her femininity on her own terms, challenges stereotypes, supports other women and embraces her individuality. Maintaining femininity while being empowered involves embracing personal values and goals, breaking free from societal expectations, and celebrating one's uniqueness. It's about living authentically and supporting other women to collectively empower each other.
Personally, I love photography and creating unusual concepts, I see it as an escape, a way to express what and how I am feeling at that very time. So, in a few words, what does photography mean to you?
Photography is a way for me to express myself and capture moments that evoke strong feelings. It's like turning what I see and feel into pictures. When I take photos, I can find beauty in every place and every person I come across. It's a powerful tool that lets me show my thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Photography is my voice, my way of sharing my unique perspective. It gives me energy and a sense of purpose, inspiring me to keep creating and exploring the world through my camera.
When you are in the conceptualization stage, do you have a fully planned vision for your image, or does the story evolve along with the process?
When I'm in the conceptualization stage, it can go different ways. Sometimes, I have a clear vision in mind of what I want the image to be like. I know what I want to show and how I want it to look. Other times, the story and idea come together naturally as I work on it. I might start with a basic idea and then try different things like angles, lighting, and elements to see what works best. I also work with teams and always listen to their opinion. It's a mix of planning and being creative at the moment that brings the photo to life in a way that feels genuine and meaningful.
There’s so much talk these days about inclusivity and diversity but is enough really being done?
These days, people are talking a lot about inclusivity and diversity in the photography industry. But we need to ask ourselves if enough is really being done to bring about meaningful change. While there may be some efforts and progress in certain areas, it's essential to keep pushing for more significant improvements. It's not just about talking about inclusivity and diversity; we need to take real action. This means implementing specific measures to ensure that photographers from all backgrounds have equal opportunities and representation. By actively working towards inclusivity and diversity, the photography industry can create a better and more equal space where everyone can thrive and share their unique perspectives.
Exclusive Interview with Fashion Photographer and Retoucher 'Daria Valiguras'.
What was the first ever photography gear you used when it comes to photo shoots and What is your current favorite photography gear, what do you always have in your photography Bag/Kit?
When I was choosing my first professional camera, I went with the Sony Alpha 7R Mark III, a mirrorless camera with a 42.4MP full-frame sensor. It's the same camera I still use today. For my first lens, I opted for the Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art. However, since I frequently worked in studios with artificial lighting, the aperture wasn't as crucial for me and I wanted a more versatile lens. That's when I switched to the Tamron 28-75mm F/2.8, which has become my preferred lens for most situations. 
In addition to my camera and lens, my essential photography kit includes my 2019 MacBook Pro and a compact Wacom Pro tablet to make the editing process easier. 
In my backpack, you'll always find my Sony A7R3 camera, Tamron 28-75 lens, computer, tether tools cable, ULANZI Phone holder for backstage shots, a portable hard drive, and a reflector if I need it. As for lighting, it depends on the specific shoot, but I usually rent either the Profoto A10 or the Profoto B10 for professional flash needs.
What would you say has been the most defining moment of your career as a photographer/retoucher so far?
Since I have been pursuing professional photography for only three years, it is challenging for me to identify a single defining moment. However, during this time, I have been fortunate to have a mix of significant experiences. 
These include starting collaborations with top modeling agencies, having my work published in magazines, giving interviews and appearing on podcasts, having my photographs selected for exhibitions, serving as a jury member, and seeing my retouched images displayed on billboards. 
These experiences collectively affirm that I am on the right path and motivate me to continue striving for success in my photography career.
Exclusive Interview with Fashion Photographer and Retoucher 'Daria Valiguras'.
What does a “typical” day in the life of Daria Valiguras look like?
A "typical" day in my life as Daria Valiguras varies depending on my current projects and priorities. After a photoshoot, I dedicate the following day to selecting, color-grading, and editing the pictures. If I don't have any ongoing projects, my focus shifts to other aspects of my photography career. This may involve working on my portfolio, improving my website, planning future creative shoots, seeking out potential teams to collaborate with, creating mood boards, scouting locations, participating in photography challenges, or engaging in marketing and client outreach activities. Every day brings new opportunities and tasks that contribute to the growth and development of my photography business. 
What has been the highlight of your career as photographer a to date?
It is challenging for me to pinpoint a single significant moment, but I would like to share a recent and thrilling experience. Recently I had the opportunity to be interviewed for a podcast on the platform. This moment was particularly exciting and significant for me as it marked my first podcast appearance, conducted in a language that is not my native tongue. It was a thrilling experience to share my journey and insights with the audience, and the podcast is scheduled to be released later this month on the website, as well as on popular platforms like iTunes and Spotify.
When searching for models to photograph, do you have a specific character or look already in mind? How involved are your subjects in the start-to-finish process? Do you fill them in on the final vision for the image before the shoot to help them get into character?
When searching for models to photograph, I often have a general idea or concept in mind based on the overall vision for the shoot. However, I also appreciate the unique qualities and individuality of each model. I believe in creating diverse and inclusive images that celebrate different characters and look.
In terms of the subject's involvement in the start-to-finish process, I believe in open communication and collaboration. I discuss the concept and vision with the team and models before the shoot, allowing them to contribute their ideas and perspectives. This helps create a sense of trust and ensures that we are aligned in our creative direction. 
To help the models get into character, I do share the final vision for the image before the shoot. This gives them a clear understanding of the desired mood, emotions, and overall concept, allowing them to get into character. By providing this information, we can work together to bring the vision to life during the shoot. 
Throughout the process, I work closely with the models, providing guidance and direction to capture the desired poses, expressions, and movements. Their involvement and input are valuable in creating authentic and impactful images. The final result is a collaborative effort that reflects both the subject's unique qualities and the intended creative vision. 
Exclusive Interview with Fashion Photographer and Retoucher 'Daria Valiguras'.
When it comes to post-production what tools do you use, and what would you recommend to upcoming photographers?
When it comes to post-production, I primarily use Capture Pro and Adobe Photoshop as my main tools. In Capture Pro, I start with basic adjustments like exposure, contrast, and color balance, and then move on to more targeted adjustments using curves and levels. I also make use of selective color adjustments in Capture Pro. 
In Photoshop, I have a variety of tools and techniques at my disposal to refine and retouch my images. I can easily remove small imperfections using tools like the stamp, spot healing brush, and patch. If needed, I can also make adjustments to clothing and address any figure flaws using the Liquify tool. 
Additionally, I employ techniques like “Frequency separation” and “Dodging and burning” to retouch skin and make localized exposure adjustments.
Throughout the editing process, my goal is to enhance the image while preserving its authenticity and integrity. By utilizing these editing skills, I can create visually stunning images that truly reflect my creative vision.
For upcoming photographers, I would recommend familiarizing themselves with color theory and understanding the basics of post-processing techniques. Learning tools like Capture Pro and Adobe Photoshop can be valuable for refining and enhancing their images. Additionally, acquiring knowledge in fundamental techniques like “Frequency separation” and “Dodging and Burning” can greatly elevate the quality of their retouching work. It's essential to find a balance between enhancing the image and preserving its natural beauty.
Exclusive Interview with Fashion Photographer and Retoucher 'Daria Valiguras'.
What are your latest and upcoming projects?
Currently, as I continue my travels, I have been focusing primarily on personal creative projects and model test shoots. This allows me to explore different concepts, experiment with various styles, and further develop my photography skills. These projects serve as a means for me to express my creativity and capture unique moments in diverse locations. 
In the near future, I would like to focus on travel photography as my main project. I am actively planning and preparing for upcoming travels to capture stunning landscapes and unique moments in different locations.
What was the most surreal moment you ever experienced during a photography shoot?
During one of my photo shoots, something incredibly surreal happened that I'll never forget. I was taking pictures of a model with a stunning sunset and the ocean in the background. Suddenly, a whole bunch of seagulls showed up out of nowhere. To enhance the scene, my assistant began tossing food into the air, attracting even more seagulls.  It was a totally unexpected moment, but it made the scene even more surreal and captivating. The combination of the beautiful sunset, the model, and the flock of seagulls created a truly unforgettable and magical experience.
Exclusive Interview with Fashion Photographer and Retoucher 'Daria Valiguras'.
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