I was surprised that Dirk Mai not only responded to my inquiry online, but that we connected immediately and began discussing potential shoots. I was even more surprised when he suggested something a little more unconventional: shooting in Joshua Tree. He was willing to adventure with a completely random person to a location very near and dear to his heart, without ever having met in person! I felt very grateful to have someone that I respected professionally place so much trust in me and my abilities early on.
From the moment Dirk picked me up, I could tell it was going to be an incredible experience. My initial hesitations about a weekend trip with a complete stranger disappeared, as we immediately began sharing life stories, laughs, and ideas. We spent the first night sitting under the stars talking about my time growing up in Russia, struggling in New York, and finding my voice in the industry. We even befriended a random collection of people who had left their material selves behind and lived in Joshua Tree year-round.
It was only natural that the pictures evoked themes of trust, human connection, and natural vibes, as they captured the raw, transformative energy I felt from everyone I met at Joshua Tree. As an artist, I believe that true art is created through stories that we live, breathe, and experience ourselves. Every shoot is a real part of me, and this one remains one of the most important.