Elvina Mae Farkas, called Elly by her friends and family, is only 22 years old, but her photography has been around for a few years already. The self-taught fashion and portraiture photographer from Melbourne, Australia has been a freelance photographer since the age of 16, and the years of experience have proven to be very beneficial. The unique style and vision of her photography are evident from image to image in her impressive portfolio. Her photographs vary from formalistic color pallets and tones that could be taken from a dream to stripped down and purely expressive natural portraits. To say that her success and body of work at just 22 years of age is impressive would be an understatement yet unsurprising—since moving to Melbourne in 2009, she has shot on location for clients in Singapore, Australia, and across Europe. She is a consummate professional and a passionate artist, as the interview below will illustrate. As she prepares to launch her new media and marketing venture, Anue Management, alongside her creative partner, Lucas Malone, there is still much to look forward to from the talented young woman.
Where did you first discover your love of photography? How old were you?
My first SLR camera was gifted to me on my 12th birthday and it was then when I began expanding my knowledge of cameras through trail and error. It only took a couple of years before I discovered that it’s not the camera that I love; it’s the whole process of creating an image from lighting, to shooting to post-production.
My passion and love for photography is in the concept, that idea which allows me to imagine something beautiful or interesting in front me. It’s easy to define photography as just simply making images, but to me, it’s about producing an image, start to finish.
What kind of training and education have you undertaken, if any, to develop your skills?
I haven’t taken on any formal training or education in photography, however I did take a lot of time to do my own research whether it be by books, online or by talking to other people. I don’t think anyone can really develop their skills fully anymore in this day and age, especially when technology keeps releasing all sorts of incredible new options for photographers.
You’re preparing to launch a new management and production company called Anue. Can you describe what that is? How is it going to continue to challenge you as a photographer?
Anue Management & Productions is a film and photographic agency that deals with all production needs from concept, team, casting, shooting, managing and producing. Since meeting my videographer partner our work has become inseparable, generally shooting, creating and advising each other on almost every job we’ve done.
On a personal level, our production agency was our own commitment to each other’s creative forces while on a business front it was the push forward in combining both our knowledge and creative backgrounds together in a more formal light. I find it absolutely fascinating learning about all things film and video and it has become my biggest challenge as of late merging that film style in my photographic work, especially when it comes to creating mood lighting.
You’ve shot on location in Europe, Asia, and home in Australia. Have you got a favorite place to photograph?
It’s so hard to mention one as a favorite place to shoot as each location has so many different amazing attributes about it. Asia is such an exhilarating experience as the weather and people are always so warm and welcoming, whereas Australia is such an interesting market. If I had to choose it would have to be Europe; it’s that European magic in the air that fills you with such inspiration, plus the people there are beyond beautiful which is always nice.
Can you take me behind the scenes a little and talk about what goes into one of your photo-shoots and how you prepare for it, from planning to shooting?
For personal concepts, my partner and I love spending time browsing through books and watching movies for inspiration. We get an idea, spend months sorting out a concept in detail, organize the team and then on the big day, hopefully watch everything come together smoothly.
For client shoots, it’s all about figuring out that line between our creative input and what the client needs and then managing it successfully with the least amount of hiccups. I find post-production to be the most stressful in the entire assembly, there’s a lot of creative freedom in terms of finishing the image and sometimes I’ll re-edit an image 3 times before I’m happy with it.
What kind of challenges and opportunities do you believe Anue will offer you in your own personal work? How do you see the two sides complimenting and challenging each other?
There are always going to be challenges when working with moving film, especially when it comes to lighting set-ups and managing a time-frame to fit both photography and film into one shoot. Having said that, the challenge does turn itself into a opportunity to expand my knowledge into so many different ways of using light, especially mixing lights such as natural, strobe and continuous. I used to stick to what I knew and didn’t want to expand much further in fear that people would tell me what I was doing was wrong. I’ve learnt now that there is no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways when it comes to light, there is only a result that provides you with what you imagined and hadn’t.
There are definitely other positives that come from the new challenges, such as a change in perspective in terms of creative direction and directing a model. A fluid moving model provides a much more natural result than placing and directing a model into a pose. All of this things, I feel, have given me a much more relaxed approach to both my client work through Anue and in my own personal work.
It is impressive, to say the least, that you've been able to find the kind of success that you have so far. What words of advice and encouragement would you like to give to any of the readers out there who are aspiring to grow as photographers, whether as a passionate hobby or a career and lifestyle choice?
Photography is an ever-evolving work of art for me, I’m never 100% satisfied with what I’ve shot or produced and I feel like that’s what keeps me striving for the bigger and better. Even if you treat photography as a hobby, there are always going to be people who are going to challenge your style or the way you work. I emerged in a time where the natural light, sunset, sunrise, girls-in-a-field “instagram” style of photography was high in demand, but I didn’t feel like that style suited me. I stuck with my portrait style of imagery and even though it didn’t get me anywhere for 3 years, finally I had mastered enough in my own style for people to start noticing the way I work later down the track. In terms of advice for those who want this as a career, the biggest advice I could give anyone is to make sure you treat this as a job. Your images are your selling point, yes, but if you can’t market yourself to clients professionally, no one will want to take you seriously. But overall, if this is the job you want, I say stick to your guns and fights for it.