MIFA 2021 Photographer of Year – “Anima“
George Mayer is a professional artist and interior designer. He was born, studied, and still works in a small city in the Urals (a region of Russia).
Q: Do you remember the first time you held a camera?
I first held a camera in my hands when I was a child – it was my father’s camera. He also taught me how to load film into a camera, how to develop it, and how to print pictures in the “red room”. Afterwards, I learned the same in the art college. But I consciously started taking photos only in 2005. I remember that I spent six months’ salary on it. It was the best digital camera among those sold in our city. The same year, I started my experiments in my home studio.
Q: Tell us a bit more about your winning project and what inspired you to do it?
Frankly speaking, I am a little surprised that my photos are becoming popular and periodically win competitions. The thing is that there are no relevant topics in my photos and they do not contain any signs of the place and time where and when they were taken. I consider myself a follower of the work of František Drtikol. He was inspired by Buddhism though and I am inspired by the psychology of the 20th century. I draw all the sketches beforehand and I seldom take random frames. While drawing, I immerse in a meditative state and try to establish a connection with my anima. This is the personalization of feminine features inside me. My Anima is capricious and unpredictable, but it helps me to understand myself better. In this series of works, it opposes my natural masculinity, which is symbolically depicted in the form of the planet Mars. Mars wins this fight, of course. Or I would like it to win. However, this dialogue makes more sense for me than for the audience. I am glad that I cause some emotions with my shots. By the way, the Lucie statue is based on the female figure from Drtikol’s photo Wave. This is very symbolic for me as well. Maybe it is a desire to see in photography not only a reflection of modern reality but also eternal beauty.
Q: What type of photos do you like to take in your free time?
I rarely take orders. More often, I make educational productions for my students and creative works. For myself, I like to shoot my family, my daughter. She first got into my lens in the first second of her life and I rarely show these shots to the public but they are one of my favorites. Maybe I’ll make a book sometime.
Q: What genre of photography is new to you that you would like to explore?
I look with jealousy at the works of representatives of a psychological portrait. They skillfully remove masks from people and I, on the contrary, put them on. But I am also interested in the reverse process.
Q: Besides a camera, what do you think are the three most important tools of a
My main tool is not a camera. It is light. I can create a frame without a camera using either a photogram or a pinhole camera. But I cannot do it without light. So everything related to light sources: flashes, lamps, optical attachments, mirrors, glasses, etc., is important to me.
Q: How do you know when a body of work is completed?
It seems that my photos have not changed since 2015. That is when I became the photographer of the year in the IPA Russia with photos of shadows on a female nude figure. Since then, I have done many experiments, but it seems to me that I am continuing one series of photos several years long. And I do not know when I will finish it.
Q: If it could be anything at all, what would your photography dream project be?
I pay a lot of attention to tracing and posing, but in fact, I would like to completely get rid of the physicality and the presence of a physical carrier. In this sense, I really understand Drtikol, who moved from shooting people to still life photos with cardboard figures of people. For the time being, I need a human body to show the soul, but ideally, I would also like to get rid of this intermediary.
Q: If you could take one last photo in your life, what would it be?
Only what is important to me personally. Probably it would be a huge group shot of people dear to me.
Q: Who/what is your biggest source of inspiration?
The light itself is an inexhaustible flow of energy and inspiration. The most interesting things in life happen at the edge of light and shadow.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?
To study the history of art, learn to draw, and trust your intuition.