August 19, 2020



Photography by Oleg Kolimbet
Interview by Melanie Meggs

Oleg Kolimbet is a freelance photographer shooting mainly in St. Petersburg and the North-West Region of Russia. His very first camera was a Soviet 'Smena', given to him by his father in his school years. Since then, his passion for photography has flared up, then faded, and has become more of an undying passion much more for Oleg at a mature age. Recently, shooting more and more on monolens, a very special lens to Oleg, who says "it allows the viewer to go beyond the frame, leaving space for the imagination, and bringing us back to our past or our dreams." Sometimes he just wants to look at the world in a 'non-documentarian' sense just as the founders of pictorial photography looked at it, but at the same time keeping it in a modern context.

"The artist's task is to show the invisible by means of the visible."

TPL: Oleg, when did you start getting interested in photography?

OK: My father, a frontier guard officer, had a Soviet 'Zenit' film camera, on which he shot our family, and from an early age he attracted me to film development and printing. I didn't know yet how to photograph, but the printing process itself, when an image suddenly appeared from out of nowhere, fascinated me and seemed like a miracle. When I was in high school, my father gave me a 'Smena-8M' camera, and I started shooting on my own.

TPL: Where do you find your inspiration?

OK: I'm not looking for inspiration, it finds me itself. The main thing is to remain open to all the amazing things that are around, and also not to be locked in yourself and on yourself: read books, watch films, attend exhibitions, go outdoors. The world is multifaceted and beautiful, but in order to understand and see it, you need to be open.

TPL: Do you have any favourite artists or photographers you would like to share with us, and the reason for their significance?

OK: This is probably the most difficult question. My list of favorite photographers is very large - since recently it has been hanging on my wall and is constantly updated. I can name those I included in this list as one of the first: Josef Koudelka, Mario Giacomelli, Richard Avedon, Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Klein, Sebastião Salgado, Peter Lindbergh, Georgy Kolosov, and Mary Ellen Mark.

And as far as significance is concerned, it is never direct, you just absorb everything you see and how it will later affect your work - only God knows. But generally speaking, I think that the work of any photographer is greatly influenced by cinema, painting, music and literature. Stop any of the Michelangelo Antonioni or Andrei Tarkovsky movies at any minute - and you will see an exquisite photo. Listen to Bach or Rachmaninov - and dozens of beautiful paintings will appear in your mind.

TPL: Where is your favourite place to photograph?

OK: Where I live - St. Petersburg and its surrounds. I am lucky to live in a very beautiful city. I also love Greece, and also dream someday to shoot in the place where I was born - in Kamchatka. But in general, the place for me does not matter much - scenes for filming can be found everywhere, wherever you are.

TPL: Has your style of shooting changed since you first started?

OK: Photography has become for me more than just a hobby only in recent years, so it can be said that my style is only being formed. I try not to think about it and shoot with an 'empty head'.

TPL: What do you think of Instagram as a tool to show your work? Any positives or negatives that you have personally come across?

OK: Instagram is certainly a very good tool for getting feedback and a great place to exchange experiences with other photographers. I have two Instagram accounts - one for street photography, and the second in which I do not limit myself to any genres and styles. Thanks to Instagram, I have made many friends around the world who are as passionate about photography as I am. This is its positive side - it connects people. And I have not yet encountered anything negative that could be spoken about.

TPL: Have you ever been involved in the artistic world before photography?

OK: In the field of visual arts - never. But I have always been a very attentive and receptive viewer - is this considered?

TPL: Are there any special projects you are currently working on?

OK: In the near future I plan to publish on my website* and maybe somewhere else a couple of documentary stories that have not been published anywhere before and I am collecting material for a new one. Now I am more and more interested in the combination of documentary and art photography, so most likely my future projects will be in this area. We will see, I myself wonder what kind of projects they will be.

*Editor's Note: Oleg's website is now published. Please see his profile below for link.

TPL: "When I am not out photographing, I (like to)...

OK: I would strum a guitar or continue to do what I did in my younger years - to write poetry and prose. Once it worked out pretty well for me, something was even printed in some magazines. Perhaps this is where my attitude to photography comes from - for me it is a concentrated form of poetry."