selfPortrait meets Kristina Borinskaya, a self-taught film photographer based in Italy
Hi, Kristina! Tell us a little about you.
I was raised in a small Russian-speaking village in Moldavia. This village remains a very special place for me, as it is quiet and surrounded by nature. Since being a child I have been solitary and dreamy. I had a lot of freedom from my parents, so I spent most of my time exploring immense fields, woods and abandoned cemeteries. My memory of those times is so clear and intense, and the emotional connection I developed with the natural world never left.
How did you get into photography?
My first interest in photography came from my grandfather’s fascinating Soviet cameras. They held a sort of magic for me, and I still keep them today. I remember spending hours looking at the old black and white photographs from our family album. When I was a teenager, my grandfather gave me a simple point-and-shoot Pentax, which he bought in Portugal. This made me so happy.
And taking self-portraits? What does your practice offer you?
I started taking self-portraits when I moved to Italy. For me, this was a kind of search for my identity and for a social place as a woman in a completely new and different world. I wasn’t ostentatious: I never really knew what I wanted to achieve, and honestly not much has changed. Everything I know, and what I create, comes from being guided by my feelings. It is a necessity for me to express who I am in particular moments of my life. Making my work is not always a pure joy for me – most of the time I bare my vulnerability – but to share how I see myself and the world around me with others is liberating. At times I like to think that there is a woman or a girl somewhere in the world that feels exactly as I feel, and this makes me feel less alone and misunderstood.
‘A melancholic vision embraces all of my work’
How would you describe the style of your work?
My photography is autobiographically intimate. A melancholic vision embraces all of my work and, actually, I never shoot without being fulfilled by a sentiment or without something to express. Before taking a photograph I try to free my mind of any external influences and social prejudices I may have. In my work I am guided by beauty and try to capture that which can’t be kept: youth, love and life itself. What remains is simply memory.
And what are your influences and inspirations?
In the beginning I was guided into photography and generally into the arts by my boyfriend. He is a mentor to me and I am infinitely grateful to him for the support and dedication that he put into helping me to self-express. Inspiration is everything to me. I find it in the people I love and admire; in nature; and also in poetry, painting, music and cinema. There is nothing that inspires me more than to witness beauty and the sublime, which I constantly study and reflect on.
‘The power of a good portrait, for me, is when you show who you are and what you feel, not who you are supposed to be, or would like to be’
For how long have you been taking self-portraits, and how has your work developed in this time?
I have been taking self-portraits for two years now. I feel that my work is constantly changing, so fast. Very often I look with extreme criticism at the work I made in the past, and I guess this helps me to become better. I don’t know for how long I will continue doing self-portraits, as sometimes I feel tired of being in front of the camera, and in need of capturing new subjects, and telling new stories.
What advice would you offer people who would like to get into self-portraiture?
I think that the most important thing in taking self-portraits is being honest with yourself and consequently with others. The power of a good portrait, for me, is when you show who you are and what you feel, not who you are supposed to be, or would like to be. This is the main difference between a self-portrait and a ‘selfie’.