Every now and then you come across the work of a photographer that simply makes you stop up and drop everything else. That’s exactly what happened when I first came across the incredible photography by Roksolyana Hilevych a few years back. Her dramatic and atmospheric images give me an urge to get back into the mountains but at the same time, I don’t want to look away from the screen as I’m so drawn into her images.
In this interview, you get to know more about how Roksolyana got started with landscape photography and what keeps her motivated to keep pursuing her dreams.
Can you begin by telling us a little about who you are and how you got started with landscape photography?
My passion for photography was born around the age of 5 in my father’s darkroom. Spending my childhood in the Carpathian mountains taught me to love nature in all its nuances and also aroused a strong desire to explore more.
This further led to that I wanted to immortalize the magical moments only nature can give. So for many years I continued my travels in the mountains and watched my father while he photographed.
At the age of 18, I had my first camera as a gift and my long journey began. In 2009 I took my first photography and photoshop course after which I continued alone with various books. For many years I dabbled in ceremony photography and portraiture. Over time, however, I began to understand that only landscape photography could make me feel satisfied and bring out the strongest emotions.
What and/or who inspires you to keep going?
Being in the middle of nature whether it is sea or mountain doesn’t matter, it makes me feel like the happiest person in the world. So when you are happy and in love with what surrounds you, you can easily keep going with inspiration and give the best of yourself.
I find your photography to be dramatic and peaceful at the same time. How would you describe your style?
The main thing for me in photography is to create a cozy atmosphere. I love warm and inviting tones that make you want to step into the scene. You have noticed well that the scene appears peaceful and dramatic at the same time because the warm tones give you this welcoming feeling and clouds and filtering light give you a touch of magic and drama.
Maybe I would call it “Mellow-Drama Mood”
Take us through some of your processes in planning, capturing and processing your images.
To plan a trip, the main thing is to study the location well; I start looking at various sites for images of non-photographers to understand if there are elements that may interest me before I go to Google Earth and spend hours there to complete the study of the place.
Once I arrive on-site (usually I try to arrive at least 4/5 hours before I can shoot), I start looking for the compositions. The main thing is to find a composition that best represents the place where I am.
I’m a great lover of close-ups so I always try to find the right balance between all the elements in the photo but I also pay attention to the small details such as the peak of a mountain, texture of the water, clouds, plants, rocks, etc.
I have been working on a small details project for years and soon on my new site, which I am still working on, I will make the album dedicated only to intimate landscapes.
How important is post-processing in your photography?
Post-production is part of my creative process. A non-post-produced RAW file is only 50% of the work.
I want to have control over everything from start to finish. For me, post-production is very important because I can express myself on an artistic level. At the same time, if you don’t have a good base, that is composition and light, miracles cannot be done in Photoshop.
It seems like most of your images involve some degree of hiking. Was this an interest you had pre-photography or one that developed afterward?
Yes, I love walking in the mountains and discovering new places. I think that to take exclusive photos you have to explore so you have to walk a lot. I’ve been going to the mountains since I was little. My father was a mountain guide so I spent every weekend in the mountains. This probably explains everything.
A big part of your portfolio seems to be from the French Alps and the Italian Dolomites. What is it that draws you to these regions?
Yes, the mountains in general. I love the Alps and my dream of being able to explore and photograph them all, obviously it will take years. But I don’t stop there, I have been planning for these years to explore the Himalayas and Andes.
What is your top 3 advice for someone who’s just getting started with landscape photography?
The main thing is to observe and explore the location where you are. To do something different you have to be curious, never dwell on the appearance and also go “around the corner”.
Study the composition well and before shooting and think carefully what to include in a shot without having too many elements because sometimes the scene becomes dispersive.
My last tip is to always carry lots of memory cards and batteries so you never have to worry about them running out!
What is one piece of equipment you never leave without?
Of course my FotoPro tripod!
What’s next for Roksolyana Hilevych?
Well, it’s difficult to plan travel now with everything going on. I missed 2 important trips that I had to do in February and March. If everything goes well I’m thinking of going to Peru and Patagonia in 2021 and in the meantime I try to go to the Alps as much as possible.
Thanks again, Roksolyana, for taking the time to answer these questions. Be sure to visit her Facebook or Instagram page to enjoy more of her stunning landscape photography.