An avid Instagrammer and photographer, Czech Republic-born Katia Mi has been shooting with the Leica T for several months now. With over 10 years of experience in social media marketing, PR, media planning, web design, graphic, interior, fashion, jewelry and women accessories, Katia has spearheaded several imagery projects including @training_project and @concept_project, making her one of the top bloggers of @InstagramRussia.
Q: You shoot with the Leica T, correct? What characteristics of this camera do you enjoy?
Currently I shoot with Leica T, before I was using Leica X1 and X Vario. Of course, the design. I remember my emotions when I touched Leica T at the shop and fell in love immediately. The shapes of the body are very stylish and the design is truly eye-catching. You won’t get lost with this camera in the crowd of people. At first I was amazed how my friends reacted on Leica T when we met – they simply stared at it.
I like the ergonomics of the camera, it has only one button and the big sensor display with touch control. At first I thought that it may be complicated and not convenient to use it but quite soon realized that it’s one of the great advantages of the camera which allows to switch to necessary modes quite fast.
And, of course, the main advantage for me in Leica T are the colors and the quality of the photos. I have a big experience of shooting on different cameras and should say that Leica T has a very particular colors. The photos made with Leica T have soula and to me it’s one of the main advantages of Leica brand.
Q: How long have you been using the Leica T and what made you decide to try it?
I have been using Leica T for several months. I decided to try it right after I saw it on Leica web site. The decision of trying it was the result of my severe curiosity about photos and interface that this model is able to deliver as compared with my previous Leica cameras.
Q: What lens or lenses do you primarily use and why?
I am using only the Super-Vario-Elmar-T 11-23 мм f/3.5-4.5 ASPH mostly. I am a passionate Instagram blogger with two accounts @katia_mi (in monochrome) and @katia_mi_ (in color). I am often invited for different travel trips and it’s very important to have a wider shooting angle of camera.
Q: How would you describe your photography?
Creative and conceptual.
Q: Can you provide some background information on these images?
1. Elephant in clouds – the photo was inspired by our journey to Archstoyanie festival – the largest festival of land art and landscape art objects in Europe and Russia.
2. The mystic lake in Southern Germany where pterodactyls nest!
3. Honors to the time when I shot for fashion. Shooting at the Italian fashion house production factory.
4. The most interesting thing in this picture is that people see yellow bananas because bananas are beyond all conventions! There are no black and white bananas! I’m interested in those strange people who are mad about life etc., and talking, who wish all at once, who never get bored, who are as mad as bananas!
5. The moment of conciliation before the moment when I almost drowned.
6. Poisoned by the art in the State Hermitage Museum in Saint-Petersburg – one of the largest and oldest museums in the world. During #emptyHermitage project.
7. Family dinner, the family silver.
8. My team during Instagram #ConceptKremlin project in famous Kremlin Museums in Moscow.
9. Kokoshnik – the symbol of Russia. #ConceptHistorical project in The State Historical Museum on Red Square.
10. The Chlorophyll cell. While shooting with one of my favorite plants – monstera.
11. The homeless child in search of hope. Istanbul, Turkey.
12. The heart of the garden.
13. Dreamy wind in my hair.
Q: What goals do you set out for yourself when photographing and do you feel like you’ve achieved them with the images presented here?
I wanted each picture to be like a little story. To let people know a short history of the main emotion of the moment when this photo was shot. I think that sometimes I reach these goals because quite often people write in comments that they hear music and smell things…
Q: Do you ever face any photographic challenges? If so, what are they and how do you overcome them?
I feel the atmosphere of challenge only when I participate in photographic contests. Outside contests I don’t even think about competing with anyone. It seems to me that it’s important to shoot the photo without an aim to prove something to someone. It’s important to make it in order to deliver a message that is the intermediary between the viewer and the creator of a picture.
Q: Many of your images have a splash of red color. What appeals to you about the color red? Why do you use it?
I started to use red color in my monochrome account @katia_mi after the project that I organized in The State Hermitage Museum in Saint-Petersburg. But it’s not just red color, as you may have noticed, it’s a very noble and special red color. It’s the color of passion that helps me to better express my emotions on concrete photos. That’s why I am using it at the moment.
Q: You are very active on Instagram. How does Instagram fit into your photographic approach?
Yes, I am very active in Instagram. I got to know about Instagram from the very beginning, I started to upload photos and I could never imagine that it would became so popular in following years. Instagram is an ideal for experiments in photography that’s why it’s perfectly fits into my photographic approach – I love to experiment with objects, colors, techniques and light and, of course, to communicate with my audience.
Q: What do you like about Instagram as a platform to share your images?
Instagram have always been the way of impression of my thoughts and emotions. As you may know Instagram have a lot of filters inside, it allows to upload photos in high resolution and formats, it has a real user-friendly and very intuitive interface and, above all, it’s really entertaining because of the focus on visual content. To me personally Instagram is the vital part of my life and truly one of the best platform to share my images.
Q: Are you a full-time photographer or would you describe yourself as a serious enthusiast?
I would say I am a passionate creative conceptualist. I am specialized on creative campaigns which have a strong connection with photography but also art.
Q: When did you first become interested in photography as a mode of expression, and art form, a profession?
In my childhood… I remember how my mom took me to dancing lessons, I was 5 or 6 years old. We walked down the alley lighted by old fashioned lanterns. The snow was falling softly. It was a spectacle and artists-snowflakes, sparkling and shimmering, gently laying down on each other, turning into a glittering fluffy bedspread. I first began to think that I want to keep those emotions in my memory. And my dad told me about the photo camera…
Q: Did you have any formal education in photography, with a mentor, or were you self taught. Was there a photographer or type of photography that influenced your work or inspired you?
At first I studied photography by myself, read a lot of books. Then I followed up with my education at Universities (I have 2 diplomas in Communicative design and Arts). I was inspired by Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and other masters.
Q: What genre are your photos? (e.g. fine art, photojournalism, portrait, street photography, etc)
I don’t shoot photos in particular genre, I repel from the concepts and creativity. For example, photos on my monochrome account in Instagram @katia_mi are mainly about art and concepts. In my colorful account @katia_mi_ they are mostly lifestyle, fashion, street photography and landscapes.
Q: How did you first become interested in Leica?
For the first time I saw Leica in the cupboard of my grandfather’s home when I was a child but I didn’t know the brand that time. My grandfather got Leica camera in the 50th of the past century. During my next visit to my grandpa I knew exactly where I would go right after I cross the threshold. I remember how grandpa said the name of that camera – Leica. I was very amused because in Russian pronunciation «Leica» means «watering can»! That time my grandfather did not allow me to pick up the camera. Later the camera was lost when my grandparents moved to another place. From that time Leica remained in my heart. In that age I already knew that when I grow up I will be shooting with Leica.
Q: What approach do you take with your photography or what does photography mean to you?
Photography is my hobby, it is for my soul. But I can’t call it something minor. The picture fills my soul, it is my particular language in which I communicate with the outside world. This is more the portrait of my inner world than the reality.
Q: Do you have any upcoming projects that you’d like to share with our readers?
I am the author and the organizer of several projects in Instagram that I made this year. Those main projects are @concept_project and @training_project.
@concept_project is aiming at creating the new cultural format and I would say it’s a sort of creative laboratory. The project offers a non-standard glance and creative approaches that reveal the potential of cultural spaces. The concept of each series of @concept_project intentionally undermines documentary, transforming the boundary between the present and the invention. This year I created the idea and organized #ConceptHistorical in The State Historical Museum, #ConceptTsaritsyno in The State Tsaritsyno Museum-preserve, #ConceptEthnomir in the biggest ethnographic park in Russia, #ConceptPhantom on the stage of famous ‘The Phantom of The Opera’ musical, #ConceptTsar in the biggest museum-preserve in Russia (Tsarskoe Selo in Saint-Petersburg), #ConceptBiennale2015 in Venice and epic #ConceptKremlin in Moscow Kremlin Museums.
@training_project is aimed at developing the skills of Instagram bloggers which they did not have before.
Within this project this year I organized two parts of #TrainingAeroflot series together with Aeroflot – Russian Airlines, #TrainingHermitageIFZ in Imperial Porcelain Factory in Saint-Petersburg and a number of other projects.
There were also several #empty mets organized in Russia: #EmptyHermitage in famous The State Hermitage Museum in Saint-Petersburg, #EmptyTretyakov in the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow and #EmptyBolshoi in The State Academic Bolshoi Theatre of Russia.
I am the organizer of several upcoming projects at the end of this and the beginning of the following year – another series of @concept_porject, several travel tours with tourism boards of different countries and a number of creative projects aimed at communication of concrete cultural events and art objects.
Q: How do you see your photography evolving over the next three years or so?
I would continue doing what inspires me and I hope that my followers and people who know me would love what I would do.
If you would like to know more about Katia Mi’s work and projects, please follow her on Instagram here and here. For more information on her work, please visit her website.