Posted by: Issha Marie | April 8, 2009

The Proof is in the Photograph: The Masterful Eye of Alex Soloviev

I first came across Alex Soloviev’s work during a group critique for the first of two group exhibition series titled Diction. Curated by local emerging artist Mahan Javadi for Index G gallery, this exhibition showcased conceptual renderings of random pages torn from a dictionary. The project was extremely open-ended; we were free to focus on either one word off the torn page, or all the words off the page itself. I was among the small group of artists chosen for this first installation of Diction, and it is through this show that I was first introduced to Alex.

Alex Soloviev

Alex Soloviev, 2009

Alex, myself, and Mariuxis fingers at Ynot Lounge, Summer 08. Candid taken by Alex himself.

Alex, myself, and Mariuxi's fingers at Ynot Lounge, Summer '08. Candid taken by Alex himself.

Alex and I were the only photo-based artists to exhibit in Diction; the other three artists – Danielle Williams, Jol Thomson, and Mariuxi Zambrano – presented their projects in video form. Mahan’s initial vision for Diction aimed to showcase only video works, but according to Mahan himself, he wanted to find a way to integrate my work and Alex’s work into the show somehow. During the group critique (which was held a few weeks after the show was to debut), I was immediately struck by Alex’s masterful sense of composition. His photographic style – clean, well balanced, extremely well-controlled, looked strangely and strikingly at odds with my darker, more chaotic digital manipulations. This is inherently what attracted me to his work in the first place; his bare-bones approach to photography is not marred by any add-ons, textures, and extreme colour variations. His photographs are sharp and crisp, void of any major post-processing save for a curves level adjustment here and there.

Like any photo enthusiast, it was a natural reaction on my part to wonder what dSLR Alex shot with. Imagine my surprise when he confessed that he shot with only a Sony DSC-600. A point and shoot?! To the seasoned pro, this may seem a bit blasphemous, but I did not see it this way. In fact, I think his work appealed to me all the more when his photo-taking process was revealed to me.

More than a year has passed since my first encounter with Alex, and I am proud to announce that he has managed to (finally) acquire a proper dSLR (a Canon Xsi) for his shooting needs. It is a well-justified purchase on his part, not only because of his talent, but because his trusty DSC-600 was well on its way to permanent retirement. Fancier equipment aside, his talent truly lies in his ability to spot, compose, and shoot: he can spot the interesting in the mundane, he can set up the shot for a truly dynamic photograph, and he can shoot true to what he sees before him.

(c) Alex Soloviev, 2008: Algonquin Park

(c) Alex Soloviev, 2008: Algonquin Park

(c) Alex Soloviev 2009: Wintercity

(c) Alex Soloviev 2009: Wintercity

His initial interest in photography stemmed from a practical need to document over a creative urge to capture subjects in an aesthetically pleasing manner. As an architecture major in Ryerson University, having a camera on hand to document buildings of interest proved to be extremely handy. His frequent walking excursions in and around the greater Toronto area eventually led to his creative interest in the medium. Within a fairly short period of time, his photographic style evolved quickly and progressively from something that looks like a point-and-shoot shot to something that looks more thought-out.

Sony DSC-600; (c) Alex Soloviev 2007: from the Empire State building at night, New York City

Sony DSC-600; (c) Alex Soloviev 2007: from the Empire State building at night, New York City

(c) Alex Soloviev 2007: Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia

Sony DSC-600; (c) Alex Soloviev 2007: Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia

Sony DSC-600; (c) Alex Soloviev 2007: Al Capones Cell, Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia

Sony DSC-600; (c) Alex Soloviev 2007: Al Capone's Cell, Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia

(c) Alex Soloviev 2008: Toronto Islands

Sony DSC-600; (c) Alex Soloviev 2008: Toronto Islands

His dynamic sense of composition can be attributed to some of the classical training he received when he was preparing his portfolio for his post-secondary education, but his architecture background is definitely apparent in the way he composes his shots. Usual subject matters aside – landscapes, buildings, architectural elements – Alex also frequents the electronic music scene. A significant chunk of his earlier photographs with the DSC-600 depict mind-blowing laser and light effects glowing above a massive audience. The people are silhouetted against a backdrop of fog and coloured lights. These are far from your typical club shots; they are beautifully and elegantly captured, and believe it or not, the digital noise generated from his point and shoot add to the playfulness and the vibrancy of these shots.

Sony DSC-600; (c) Alex Soloviev, 2007: Guvernment, 11th Anniversary

Sony DSC-600; (c) Alex Soloviev, 2007: Guvernment, 11th Anniversary - Ferry Corsten at the Kool Haus

Sony DSC-600; (c) Alex Soloviev, 2008: Contact at the Guvernment (w/ Blake Jarrell, Markus Schulz, Menno de Jong, Rank 1)

Sony DSC-600; (c) Alex Soloviev, 2008: Contact at the Guvernment (w/ Blake Jarrell, Markus Schulz, Menno de Jong, Rank 1)

Sony DSC-600; (c) Alex Soloviev 2008: candid of Mahan Javadi at the UofT undergraduate thesis exhibition

Sony DSC-600; (c) Alex Soloviev, 2008: candid of Mahan Javadi at the UofT undergraduate thesis exhibition

(c) Alex Soloviev, 2009: The Prodigy

(c) Alex Soloviev, 2009: The Prodigy

In terms of post-processing, Alex has a way of filtering out the stronger photographs from the multitude of shots he generates from his long walks or his nights out at a club. He used to do much of his editing on Photoshop, and has only recently moved over to Lightroom to manage his RAW files a lot more efficiently. Each of his photographs are treated differently, depending on the general mood and theme of the shot. He may choose to de-saturate the colours on one, do a black and white conversion on the next, and increase the saturation level on another. He rarely shoots to crop, or at least, he tries not to. Alex is also very particular of the scenes he chooses to capture on camera. He tends to exclude human figures from his landscapes unless he feels that they add something to the shot. While most of the photographs he takes are borne out of some form of spontaneity, the excursions he takes are meticulously planned.

(c) Alex Soloviev, 2009: a serendipitous sighting from the Brooklyn Bridge, New York

(c) Alex Soloviev, 2009: a serendipitous sighting from the Brooklyn Bridge, New York

(c) Alex Soloviev, 2009: New York in HDR

(c) Alex Soloviev, 2009: New York in HDR

(c) Alex Soloviev, 2009: from the Roy Thompson Hall set

(c) Alex Soloviev, 2009: from the Roy Thompson Hall set

Alex draws inspiration from the photographers he follows in his Flickr page. He also frequents a few photo-blogs, three of which he watches notoriously. Here’s the plus – they are all locals!

  • Blursurfing.com
  • [dailydoseofimagery]
  • The Vanishing Point
  • Alex is currently working on completing his undergraduate degree in Architecture at Ryerson University. In the meantime, he plans to continue his series on Toronto streets, which he plans to achieve through his noted walking excursions, weather permitting. Future projects will also include taking photographs from aboveground garages, as well as a body of work on ‘concrete’ Toronto, and possibly something surrounding the sights along the Humber River. When asked if he has considered photography as a career, he claims that for now, it will remain a serious hobby, though if opportunity comes knocking, he will certainly embrace it. As for what I think, there is not a doubt in my mind that Alex Soloviev will make some sort of commercial success in the future. There are no words to describe just how much I love and admire his work. It also helps that he’s extremely likeable and easygoing as well.

    You can view more of Alex Soloviev’s photography at his personal Flickr stream. Note the progression from his earlier photographs to his more recent ones; the difference, though hardly noticeable at first glance, is astounding. Alex is living proof that practice makes perfect. The proof is in his photographs.

    (c) Alex Soloviev, 2009: from the Roy Thompson Hall set

    (c) Alex Soloviev, 2009: from the Roy Thompson Hall set

    All photographs are courtesy of Alex Soloviev‘s Facebook and Flickr streams. These photographs are the creative and intellectual property of the photographer, all rights reserved.

    A big, fat thank you goes out to Alex, for not only taking the time to meet with me on his spare time, but for also putting up with my girlish squeals of admiration during the interview. You rock Alex. :-)

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    Responses

    1. I love your blog postings and try to visit often. This article is just one of many reasons why I look forward to the opportunity to sit and read one of your postings :)
      Well written and what a great artist to feature!

    2. Thanks so much for the support Nadia! :-D

    3. Nice info,
      Thanks for sharing.

      Regards!
      http://www.real-visuals.com

    4. Well wriiten. Thanks for including me in that list, lets go shoot sometime

      • I would love that. :-)


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