Anastasiya dobrovolskaya is the young moscow photographer, who through her stunning photos tries to visualize the connection between people and nature. last year anastasiya was ranked among the 90 best portrait painters in the world, not without having sparked controversies about the use of animals in her fascinating images. her work stems from the love for these animals, which through her photography she tries to bring closer to the human race in a visual dialogue of shared emotions.
You may be wondering how Dobrovolskaya manages to tame natural wild animals before photographing them, but many of his animals were born and raised in protective national parks, in captivity or very often were rescued by their owners and, being unable to return to their own natural habitat, they have been adopted by loving families who have allowed them to have a dignified life. They trust man, they are used to human contact, many could not live without this. This is for example the case of the Štěpán bear, who also poses in the photos on pag. 16. He was born in a small zoo and survived almost by a miracle. Today he is 27 years old. In the wild, bears only live 14 or 16 years. One of the most famous images portrayed through Anastasiya’s photography is titled “Autumn Equinox” and features three women holding three foxes of different colors. The stunning image shows an all-white arctic fox, a red fox with a white pointed tail, and a silver fox with a black-gray coat. The models in the photo mirror the shades of the three foxes with their own contrasting hair color and clothing, highlighting the diversity found in both people and nature. The photographer’s intent is precisely to create a scene with a mystical atmosphere in which to compare human beauty with that of animals and, through a play of colors, shapes and small details, underline their incredible similarity. “I love intricate and elaborate images. I like to play with color. I believe that a lot can be achieved with photography: instilling love for animals in people, showing not only the external but also the internal beauty of man, freeing him from complexes and stereotypes, transmitting important social and ethical problems to the viewer”.
The theme of beauty that the artist investigates through photography is even more evident in the two different works that portray a girl with vitiligo, the showy skin disease, posing with an equally brindle fox, and a young woman with scarred skin, due to burns, next to geckos with similarly wrinkled skin (this page). The photograph of the woman serenely embracing a huge bear is instead the work that best represents the artist’s intention, that is to emotionally bring the human being closer to the animal world, warming it, in fact, in an embrace.
Anastasiya’s photographic work was born no more than 4 years ago, when during summer 2018, almost by chance, she was asked to take some photos with a pig and a rooster. Although she had never had the opportunity to photograph animals before, Anastasiya decided to accept that challenge. From that moment on she was able to unleash her talent in a more incisive way, turning a passion into a brilliant career shared with these beautiful creatures.
Anastasiya, 30 years old, after graduating, worked for a few years in the field of anti-corruption at a research institute. This kind of work did not interest her very much, to be more precise, she did not find any satisfaction in it to the point that she fell into a period of depression from which she recovered precisely through portrait photography. Initially she was more inclined to macro photography, still unable to find her style and understand exactly what kind of portraits she wanted to make. After the first service commissioned in 2018, one day she learned from the web that one of her photos, nicknamed by the network “how to wear fur” (the one in which the three girls with the three foxes are portrayed), had gone viral and had become famous in many countries of the world.
Combining together the inspirations deriving from mankind and the animal world, the photographer manages to show the uniqueness of both by emphasizing their beauty and individuality. To do this, she tries to compare their appearance in a very simple but overwhelming way, for example, by photographing people with albinism together with white animals, or people with red hair with animals that have red hair and so on.
According to the photographer, people and animals have a lot in common and if a person has any physical traits similar to that of an animal it means that both are part of the world of nature. For this reason, no one can be judged less attractive based on the physical characteristics that distinguish us. Anastasiya thinks that no one would ever define a fox as ugly because of the spots that can be present on its face and, therefore, it is not explained why a girl with vitiligo should be considered less beautiful than others.
Each of her photos looks like something out of a fairy tale, and while it may seem impossible for animals like tigers, foxes, owls, snakes, horses and even bears to pose next to people, all of it is surprisingly real. The artist has been repeatedly suspected of animal abuse, but this is not true. As the artist explains, Štěpán, the bear, and Chanel, the tiger, were both bought from zoos, while the foxes were rescued from fur factories. Almost all large animals live in the countryside, in large spaces or in specially equipped enclosures and each of them is fed according to what is required by its species. The artist has also sometimes been accused of drugging animals in order to position them on the scene as she wishes, but as she herself replies to such accusations, “whoever believes this does not know that when animals approach people they live with, they trust them and consider them part of their family”. Only animals accustomed to contact with people and free of health problems are chosen and are suitable for her photographic work.
This article was published in Superyacht Digest / Summer Issue – “Summer rhapsody” – ORDER YOUR COPY