When we interviewed Instant Collection Contributor Mario, we did wonder at first whether people may suspect we’d written the answers ourselves – his account of contributing to the collection summarising everything it represents – loving life, and living freely; all whilst capturing these moments displaying a unique and personal sense of freedom, energy and positivity. His portfolio epitomises what the Instant Collection sought out to capture and we couldn’t wait to speak with him about his and his beautiful dog Kiba’s experiences.

1. Can you firstly introduce yourself a bit, where you’re from and your background?

Hi, originally I am from Russia, but for the last 4 years I’ve been living in Barcelona, Spain. My main occupation is photo post-production, but before I was an advertisement photographer for 5 years and had a good experience with this. I am introvert so it is not a surprise that at one moment I decided to change photography for retouching. No need to bother with models, artists, art-directors, and other staff which serves the idea of the another photoshoot.

Since then I could just sit down in my room, turn off the lights and dive into the world of photo manipulation. I spent there not hours, but whole days and weeks. As a result I grew very fast professionally and my knowledge of colour correction and composition became known to other photographers and agencies around the world. Finally, I understood that I can live anywhere I wanted and the only thing I needed was a good internet connection, so one day I just packed my things and with some friends moved to Barcelona by car, from Moscow. Along the way we discovered Europe and travelled around and left 10k km behind us, but that is another story.

Man on the top peak of montain

When you work with pictures of really talented, experienced or just good photographers, you always learn, even if you don’t understand that at the moment. You learn about composition, moments, colours, trends. And that’s why most of retouch artists have a big potential as photographers. That is, if they like this profession, of course. I love photography, but only as a hobby and very rarely take commercial orders.

Man looks at pink water of Torrevieja lake and thinks

2. How did you find out about the Fotolia Instant Collection and what was it that pushed you to start contributing?

I have a lot of friends who are working with stock photos and they always asked me to try and take pictures for selling to photo banks. I am always travelling somewhere and have many hobbies and equipment (kitesurfing, standup paddle boarding, surfing, skating, longboarding, bicycling, running, swimming, hiking and many others), so taking adventurous pictures is easy for me, just because it is an integral part of my life. But I always take photos on my phone camera, or go pro and never post-produce it on pc. All manipulations I do right on my phone and I like that process – when you don’t need anything, only a mobile gadget for everything. So, big stocks were closed for me but mobile stocks are an awesome solution which I decided to try.

Guy rides his skate in front of red wall

3. What camera model are you using and do you use any additional software equipment?

As I wrote above, I use only go pro hero4 or phone camera – iphone 6, 5. On phone I use VSCOcam app for color correction.

4. What in your opinion are the key characteristics in a great photo?

I think, the best picture appears when you, by luck, take it unexpectedly, by the way, and capture the moment and dynamic of the environment and people around.

hip hop dog

5. Are you able to pick a favorite image from your Fotolia portfolio and give us a bit of background into it?

I love them all, because every photo is not just a picture but a memory of a day when it was taken.

Fast riding in traffic in night streets of city

This one was made when I rode my bicycle with friends in night city. I wondered what if i put my gopro on the top tube of my bicycle and try to make some photos. Then we cycled around the almost empty city by night, sometimes between cars and buses and had some fun. As I saw later, the photos I got were incredible – they seemed like we are handling a missile rocket, not bicycles. Especially on this one.  And the colour mix – a contrast of blue and red adds a more dynamic feeling in this picture.

6. A lot of your images in your portfolio feature you skateboarding – how hard is it to take skate-boarding selfies?

It is not so hard. If you skate every day or like it, you have perfect balance control on board, so just take the pole with gopro in one hand, turn on time-lapse mode and ride. That’s it – easy enough, uh?

7. What recommendations can you give for someone looking to start contributing to the Instant Collection?

As I see, most of people take photos of sunsets and famous landscapes. I thing it is not a good idea just because you can always find a better picture of this on the internet. The true value is emotions. Emotions of people who surround you, and the moments of their life. You have to imagine as if you are an agent with a spy-camera and no one should understand if you took a picture of him. Later on, of course you have to show photo you’ve taken and ask to sign the model release. But it is only later. At that moment you are a spy! To my experience, most people like their natural emotional pictures much more than if they knew they would be photographed and acted specially for it.

Dog is looking in window

8. Can you remember what image from your portfolio received your first sale?

It is still my most popular image — where I am riding a skateboard and my dog is following me.

Man rides his longboard followed by his dog

9. When you first started selling your images did you know what kind of images you would produce or was it simply trial and error and adapting to market trends?

I didn’t know. I still don’t know, but have some clues about it.

Right now it is just a fun, I share my life, if someone is ready to buy my pictures, I am glad – that means I am doing everything right. In the future I will post more emotional pictures, more moments of life, and will more often take out my cameras from my pocket)

10. Can you give us a bit of background to this fantastic image, which in our opinion really captures everything Fotolia Instant represents – real, organic lifestyle moments?

Sailor unties the rope on board

One of my hobbies – yachting. I always dreamed of getting experience in sailing, but thought it was too expensive. One day I met a guy who offered me free courses of sailing every weekend. The only thing I had to do was just come to the marina and train. On the photo you see the last day of my training with this team, there was a very good wind, we learnt to attach and detach the spinnaker, and on our way back I took some pictures on my new gopro hero 4 that I had received a few hours before. I love this picture too — a happy guy after heavy training on a boat, ties knots, and the mediterranean sea around — everything I like so much.

A big thank you to Mario for taking the time to speak with us. You can discover more of his work on his Fotolia portfolio here.