I met Evgenia Eliseeva six years ago. She was the primary photographer at a friend's wedding, and I bumped into her while I was toting around an entry-level DSLR, trying to take some memorable photos of my own. Even back then, I was impressed with how gracefully she worked, how good she was with couples. Above all else, her enthusiasm and energy seemed boundless. And that was before I even saw her photos, which were incredible.
I later found out that, for our day jobs, Evgenia and I serendipitously both worked for the same company. I visited her desk on a number of occasions and she was always incredibly encouraging of my own photographic exploits, even though I will readily admit that my photography was absolute crap back then. Despite my shortcomings, Evgenia hooked me up with a couple of wedding gigs, vouching for me to her own photographic employers. I vaguely recall showing up at a wedding gig one morning as a Canon 50D was placed into my hands and I was told to just GO.
Becoming a wedding photographer is a chicken-or-egg problem. It is difficult to justify spending much on decent gear unless you already have paying gigs lined up. And it's pretty much impossible to get decent gigs unless you own and know how to operate decent gear. Photography may look easy, but using professional-grade equipment skillfully requires making dozens of technical decisions instantaneously with each image that you snap. I didn't have any photography equipment back then and thus, I clumsily fumbled my way through those first few weddings. It was a painful experience that resulted in photos that were not up to my standards, let alone anyone else's. I decided to give up the photography game for awhile and focus on other things.
Years passed. Then, not too long ago, I decided I loved photography too much to let my passion go by the wayside. I'd saved up a decent chunk of money -- enough to give photography a fair shot -- so I invested thousands and thousands of dollars in camera equipment, then spent thousands more on a class with one of the world's best wedding photographers. I spent hours poring over some of the best photography blogs, honing my craft with precision so that I knew exactly how to get the results I wanted "in-camera." Soon, I was shooting gigs regularly for money (including weddings). More importantly, I was crafting images that I was actually proud of.
With my newly learned skills, I went back to Evgenia again, and she encouraged me and referred me with an even greater enthusiasm than before (if that were actually possible). I may have rekindled the spark, but Evgenia helped to keep it burning.
This week, I leave my home in Boston for an exciting new adventure in Seattle. I've been saying goodbye to close friends and colleagues for the past few weeks, but I saved a special goodbye for Evgenia. For months (years, maybe?) I've been trying to convince Evgenia to do a photo shoot with me. But even though she's stunningly beautiful, Evgenia is also quite modest and thus, repeatedly demurred at my request. With my imminent and hopefully permanent departure, I finally swayed her. So, this past Saturday in the freezing and bitter Newton air, we did a photo shoot together. I took some shots of her, then I handed her my Canon 5D Mark II and she took some photos of me too. It was my final photo shoot in Boston, and a great way for me to cap off my time with her. You'll find the photos below. I think it's some of my best work yet.
Sometimes, people touch your life and leave an indelible mark, both emotionally and professionally that can never be forgotten. Evgenia is one of those people. I will never forget her. If you're in Boston and looking for a kick-ass photographer (or even if you're elsewhere, but are willing to pay for travel/other costs), please check out her amazing work!
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