Flora’s talent for portraying feminine beauty at its most natural and unaffected has made her one of MetArt’s most highly esteemed artists. She’s known for her exotic outdoor shoots as much as for her cosy bedroom scenes, and the rapport she creates with her gorgeous models is instantly apparent in her work. Here’s an opportunity to learn more about her creative process and inspiration…
Flora, where are you from?
F: I was born not far from Moscow, but now I’m looking into my ancestry. It’s interesting to find out where the roots of my family go.
What is your background in photography and film?
F: My entire career in the field of photography and cinema can be traced back to the site Errotica Archives, and continuing to MetArt, and other sites in the Network. The first set I shot was published on June 2, 2010. I shot it at the beginning of May with the beautiful Irina J and I am so glad it was immediately published, and the members liked it.
What inspired you to start?
F: One day my friend was invited to take part in an erotic photo shoot, but the pictures didn’t turn out very successful. I began to look for beautiful photos and I saw some of Erro’s work, it was sensual, erotic and not vulgar. It inspired me to give it a try. Next, I decided to shoot video, also inspired by Erro’s films. My favorite video is Deni – Tropicana, on Errotica Archives.
Are you inspired by mainstream art?
F: Yes, a lot! I love theater, I go to see various performances, opera, three or four times a month. I am very fond of ballet. I enjoy classical music, especially Mozart and Tchaikovsky. I love ‘new age’ music, such as Enigma, Wise Hand, Deep Forest, Karunesh, and rock, especially Queen. I like art that has had a lot of hard work invested in it, and that has a lot of soul. Paintings, furnishings and decorations, jewelry. I like architecture with fine details. I always try to see the beauty in everything. I go to the cinema regularly and I love good movies. In addition to the story and the actors I pay attention to how individual frames are shot. I take notice of the work that’s put into styling, costumes, decorations, editors’ work, lighting, and so on. I note beautiful places for location shoots and imagine how amazing it would be to take in the atmosphere of a great movie production, just to watch the process, or maybe even to be a part of the production. I often read about how a movie was created, some interesting facts, funny incidents and stories about the difficult moments for actors and filmmakers. My favorite genres are drama, thriller, detective and adventure. One of my favorite movies is Amadeus, directed by Milos Forman. Also, I often watch historical documentaries, particularly about the Second World War. I love documentaries about nature and animals. Photography also inspires me. I love travel photos – architecture, people, nature and life in different countries. I really love to travel and I always bring back a lot of photos and videos from my journeys. I’m always interested in everything. I read a lot, ever since I was a child. Although now I don’t have much time to read, I try to find an hour or two. It takes you to another wonderful world of imagination, the world of inspiration. The last book I read was ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray.’
You’ve been shooting for MetArt since 2013, has your style evolved since then?
F: I think so, yes. Of course, I always try to do better and better, always try to adhere to my shooting principles, my own style; but the world is changing, members have different tastes and they look for different things in photoshoots, so I try to satisfy all their wishes as much as possible without changing my style. Therefore, I always read the comments for my photosets and my videos, take any criticism on board, and communicate on Facebook, discussing my latest work.
You shoot a lot outdoors, does it bring any difficulties when shooting?
F: I like to shoot both in hotels and outside, and we have difficulties everywhere. The hotel sometimes doesn’t get enough daylight and it’s not ideal as I love natural light, it brings a certain beauty to the shoot, shows the reality and naturalness. And when there is not enough natural light, which happens very often on set, the technical side gets lost – there is not enough sharpness and soft focus, and many viewers don’t like that. Then it becomes necessary to use photo lights to please people who prefer to look closely at all the details – it gives a good illumination and sharpness. One of the advantages of shooting in hotels is that nobody bothers you, there is no problem with the temperature in the room and it’s comfortable. The drawback is that sometimes there is not enough space to shoot. I love shooting on location as well, but because of the climate of our region it’s only possible to shoot outside in the summer. Of course many people do shoot in the winter, but for me it’s not acceptable because of the potential health risks to the models. Nature is always beautiful and this is a big plus. I enjoy working on location, in nature. Early in the morning, when we set out there are no crowds of people, the soft sun is pleasantly warm and a cup of aromatic coffee and some good music set a perfect mood. The big outdoors allows freedom of movement and a sense of scale in shooting. But the weather sometimes has its disadvantages, such as a sudden change of weather from sunny to cloudy, so you have to change the camera settings, and heavy rain or wind can interrupt the shoot. I prefer when it’s cloudy, as there are no shadows cast, no direct sunrays to blind you, and it doesn’t get too hot. I love shooting outdoors on vacation in the tropics, in the early morning or at dawn, near the ocean or in the shade of the palm trees.
What photoset are you most proud of?
F: I think my best set is yet to come! If you think that you’ve already reached the pinnacle of your work, it means that there is nowhere else to evolve and your work becomes monotonous. I always have a different attitude to my own work. When I’m shooting, I think – this is the best shot right here! Then I come home and start seeking out weaknesses – I can see where I should have done something differently. I am sure that many photographers criticize every set they do. And I am no exception.
Do you prefer photography or filmmaking?
F: I like both! I can’t say for sure, because I’ve only been getting new models for the last couple of years, and you have to teach them, help them to open up and express themselves, show their sensuality, tenderness, grace and emotion, but not in a vulgar way. Some models find photoshoots challenging – they can’t relax, but feel very confident in videos – and vice versa. And it’s the same with me – I find it easier to shoot photos of some and videos of others, but it’s always fun!
You’ve shot some fantastic models, is there a particular one that inspires you?
F: No, I’ve been lucky, I always come across good models. I shoot a lot of models, and they are all different – each with her own take on life, with her own preferences and tastes. Each brings something different to each set and video shoot. They leave a mark on my life, and I leave mine on theirs. I’m happy that I keep in touch with everyone and I am aware of what’s going on in their lives.
Do you plan your shoots or improvise on the day?
F: Usually I plan the shoot in detail in advance. We negotiate all the details with the model – date, location, styling, clothes, makeup, and so on. But sometimes decisions can be made very spontaneously, almost in an hour, and I like that. It all depends on the circumstances.
Your models always look beautiful; do you get involved in the styling?
F: Yes, it is very important. Nothing is done without my participation. We discuss and choose all the clothes and jewelry together, even the nail colour and makeup. Harmony is important to me when I’m shooting, so that there is a seamless picture, so that everything blends in together. The tones and shades of the clothes, make-up and the interior – it is very important to me. If something doesn’t fit or isn’t the way I want, I feel uncomfortable. I love warm undertones in the setting and clothes, but many viewers don’t like it, they prefer bright colours. I remember a comment about my work: “50 shades of beige”! And that’s my style – a light bed, light underwear or a robe, and all the emphasis is on the beauty of the model. Nothing distracts from it. Just you and her, and nothing more – this is the ideal formula for my shooting. But I want to please those who like bright colors, so I sometimes increase the brightness and saturation of images, interiors, clothes and lipstick. But I try to combine the colors as much as possible. I don’t like clothes that are too bright with a lot of patterns, in my opinion it’s very distracting. By the way, my models do their own make up and hair. This creates the opportunity to see the natural beauty of the model, how she looks like in everyday life; not as if the girl is at a photo shoot, and she will come home afterwards and remove her mask, but as if it’s simply a fragment of life, she is real, right next to you. This principle is very important to me on set. I don’t want affectedness, but as much of a natural appearance as possible. Although sometimes I want models to act for a change…!
Do you think it’s an advantage to be a woman working in erotica?
F: I think so – a female photographer has a special approach to erotic photos. I have a female perspective on female beauty; as a woman I see something different than male photographers do. I know some of the nuances that are men are not familiar with. I know a woman's behavior, I know what men might like and what they might not like. Working in erotica, the fact that I’m a woman is an advantage, especially since I’m about the same age as the models. There is no awkwardness during the shoots, the atmosphere is friendly, we talk a lot, we joke, share good moments. We are simply on the same wavelength. So a shooting day is an additional reason not only to work, but also to communicate. Good relationships and a friendly atmosphere contribute to good work. We work for the same goal – to please fans of female beauty, and women in general. After all, every woman is different, each bearing a mystery. I wonder when viewers look at photos or watch videos, whether they want to find out more about the model, how she is in real life? What are her hobbies, what does she like to do? Or do they only look at a beautiful picture?
What are your ambitions for your work with MetArt?
F: To continue to please members with my work, my style and models. It’s no secret that every photographer has their own admirers. Admirers of their style, their way of working. I don’t want to be the best of the best and be the first in everything. I want to continue to grow and develop, to work for my own pleasure and the pleasure of my audience, to convey my good vibes through my work, so that after viewing it you are left with a pleasant aftertaste.
What do you think attracts viewers to your work?
F: I have some ideas about this, but I would like to hear a response from the members themselves! I love feedback.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
F: I would like to share my good mood and wish everyone all the best!