Today we start one of our rare twin interviews! Following our intrusion in the fascinating world of Nomad’s we are inviting ourselves today behind the scene of their social media management and their photographic studio.
We start this twin interview by submitting Nomad’s Social Media Manager and daughter to the iconic stripe bearer of the gem trade, Mikola Kukharuk: the talented Maria Arkhipova!
Maria, the floor is yours!
We welcome today Maria Arkhipova, here seen in a self portrait - Photo Credits: Nomads Co., Ltd
AsiaLounges: Hi Maria, thank you very much for being with us today in the Lounges. Many have seen what you and your colleagues at Nomad’s do for the company’s social media but few actually know you. Can you tell us more about yourself? Who are you Maria Arkhipova?
Hi Simon and Asia Lounges readers, I’m happy to be here!
So who am I? My friends and family often say I'm a friendly and empathetic person. Everyone has many roles and I’m happy that mine include being a mother, wife, daughter, a counselor to friends and a photographer.
As a photographer, my specialty is portrait photography. I think 90% of my success with portraits comes mostly from the ability to make people feel relaxed and at ease. I believe that love, happiness, and emotion are some of the most beautiful things in the world and I love taking portraits that show feeling and capture the memorable moments of people’s lives.
Whereas for portraits, 10% of success is technical ability, but for gemstones that percentage is higher. Luckily, I’ve been stubborn enough to develop the technical skills necessary to become a good gemstone photographer.
In this portrait of her colleague Nook, Maria showcases her portraying skills - Photo Credits: Nomad's Co., Ltd
AsiaLounges: We normally would ask you how you entered the world of gems but that would be self-explanatory. However, I’d love to hear what brought you to photography and social media management instead? Why getting into the gem photography world when, literally, the world was your playground?
It’s an emotional story, but the short version is my father and I share a common passion for photography. Holding a large professional camera for the first time and hearing the shutter click deeply impacted me in ways that are difficult to capture in words.
I started my career as a portrait photographer as a student at the Ukrainian Economic University. After finishing my studies in Ukraine and then at GIA, I moved to Bangkok and joined the Nomad’s team although I wasn’t planning on becoming a full-time photographer. But it seems like photography is in my destiny! It’s what I enjoy the most, even though photographing gemstones is more complicated than people.
Acrobatic photography by Maria Arkhipova - Photo Credits: Nomad's Co., Ltd
AsiaLounges: Many of us in the trade know of Nomad’s for the quality of the gems you guys present and the quality of the cutting but, today, I’d like to hear more about what inspires you into making these lovely photographic campaigns that make Nomad’s social foot print stand out so much from its competition.
Honestly, I draw inspiration from everywhere. Nature, movies, books, famous art, even music sometimes. Each gemstone I’m taking a photo of is already a piece of art by itself. I feel that my role is not just taking a photo, but also capturing the beauty of a masterpiece for the future in a way that highlights the inherent beauty of the stone.
AsiaLounges: As the group’s social media manager, what does Nomad’s stands for for you? What does it represent and how do you reflect this in your photography and marketing materials?
Nomad’s is an incredible diverse combination of people who are not only good at their profession, but they also have a passion for the arts. They provide unique perspectives centered around an appreciation for beauty and excellence and this is what we try to capture in everything.
Picture of Paulina holding a tourmaline poetically nicknamed for the occasion: Apollinaire - Photo Credits: Nomad's Co., Ltd
AsiaLounges: Earlier, we asked you how you got into photography, I’d like to hear your opinion on the challenges of being the daughter of a prominent figure of the trade? Does it make it easier to be part of the trade or does it, on the contrary, represent a challenge?
Considering everything, I think it’s more of a challenge. On one hand, being the daughter of a ‘prominent figure’ may open some doors, but at the same time, it’s not always easy to combine family and work. Most people have the luxury of being able to separate family and work responsibilities, but when you work for your father, that’s not possible!
One Happy Gem Family, Maria and Mikola in between between work sessions - Photo Credits: Nomad's Co., Ltd
AsiaLounges: Before this interview, we studied a little bit your various social media accounts to see how your professional vision may be inspired from “your world”. To us, it looks as if your personal photography is more of a play with light while your pro shots at Nomad’s are split between that very play of light and a game of shadows. Why is that? Is that how one can separate your shots from those of your colleagues perhaps?
As already mentioned, my personal photography is centered around people’s feelings and emotions. To capture emotion, portraits are a synergy between the model and photographer. Here I use light in the same way as an artist uses his brush.
Since gemstones aren’t alive, everything is up to the photographer. The mood, purpose and feeling are made only by creating the right environment for the light and shadow to play in the gem. Nomad’s cutting quality helps the light and shadows to flow or dance evenly throughout the stone and ultimately it makes my work easier.
For my professional photos at Nomad’s, we want to keep the style recognizable yet consistent. So if you can’t separate my photos in the Nomad’s feed from my colleague Nook’s, then that means we’re achieving our goal!
One of Nomad's Tourmalines which colour reminisces of rosemary leaves - Photo Credits: Nomad's Co., Ltd
AsiaLounges: Between the gem photographers, inclusion photographers and outdoors photographers that we meet in the trade we often hear that the most important tool for photography is the Light itself. What do you think about this statement and can you tell us more about it or about what’s the most important thing in photography to you?
For me, light is an important tool in professional photography, but I think there’s more to it. In my opinion, what makes a photographer’s work special is his personal taste and vision of beauty in this world. This is what I try to develop every day.
A play of light between the model, the surrounding and the gems - Photo Credits: Nomad's Co., Ltd
AsiaLounges: We have asked a lot recently about what ethics and transparency means to people. That being said, there is about as many people complaining about transparency and ethics at the mining source than there are about people complaining that pictures are not always representing the reality of a gemstone properly. What is your take on it? How do you guys at Nomad’s do to keep your photography and e-marketing in a world that increasingly needs internet all the while being increasingly wary of it?
We all know how crucial light is for judging gemstones. A stone may look very different inside vs outside in natural daylight.
We must keep in mind that a photo is a flat 2D image taken from a particular distance, angle and in a singular lighting environment. That means any photo you see is a single angle from a single distance taken in less than 1 second under lights that aren’t changing. For example, when you see a photo of yourself, sometimes you feel as if it doesn’t capture the real you. Perhaps it was just that split second or the angle or something in the photo that doesn’t convey the impression you normally see in the mirror.
Put simply: a photo is a static capture of a dynamic impression so it’s limited in one sense.
One thing we love about gemstones is that they are complex and they capture and play with light uniquely. Knowing this, it comes down to the integrity and skill of the photographer to capture the impression as well as possible. (with a caveat, knowing that not everything can be adequately captured in a single photo.)
Our primary goal for the last few years has been to make our website and social media photography as realistic as possible. It’s been a growing process for us, especially with jewelers being able to see and purchase stones on our website (gemsbynomads.com), but I feel like we’re doing well. A combination of photos and videos & being able to see the stone in different lights and on a hand helps immensely.
Portrait of Claudia - Photo Credits: Nomad's Co., Ltd
AsiaLounges: As you may know, we like to ask what are our guests favorite gemstones, while we will ask you that too, we would also like to know: should you be left to your own devices, what would be the one thing you’d like to photograph the most and why?
What I enjoy most is taking photos of people. Combine people and gemstones and it’s a great combination that I look forward to exploring more.
As far as my favorite gemstones, my husband gave me a pair of Tsavorite earrings on our wedding day. They carry special memories from the best day in my life, so I’d have to choose Tsavorite.
Gems and People - Photo Credits: Nomad's Co., Ltd
AsiaLounges: We are slowly reaching the end of our interview and, as it is customary here, I’d like to ask you to give our readers that would like to follow in your footsteps three advices. Further to that, could you please also recommend three books that in your opinion any and all gem and jewellery or photographer should have in their library?
Being a photographer (whether for gemstones, jewelry, nature or portraits) is a fun, artistic job and I hope that more people consider studying this field!
Photography is similar in a way to sculpture. Like how a sculptor sees the finished art in a rough piece of rock, a photographer sees the many possibilities but must compose the picture through the confines of his lens. To be great at any profession, you must dedicate many hours to it…this is especially true with photography. Of course, you’ll need to know the technical side of how to set up your camera, composition, and working with light, but the key to success is simple: Take as many pictures as you can every day. Analyze your work and be quick to find and fix your mistakes. This is my first piece of advice.
Second piece of advice: Don’t compare yourself with other photographers and don’t give up. Each person is unique and has their own style and expression. Try to be the best version of yourself today and remember that you can always improve tomorrow. Never give up.
Third piece of advice: Outstanding photography conveys a depth of feeling rather than depth of field. Instead of chasing expensive equipment, focus first on your peace of mind and you will see things differently and then be able to better convey emotion in your photography.
As for the book recommendations: No books are coming to mind at the moment. I’ve found things learned from others, Youtube tutorials, and some Pinterest ideas to be some of the greatest sources of inspiration as a photographer…often things entirely outside the realm of gemstones.
AsiaLounges: Thank you very much Maria for being with us today, I am convinced that our readers, the Loungers, have enjoyed this interview as much as we did enjoy writing these lines.
It was a great pleasure to be here today and share my voice with you guys…a big thanks from the bottom of my heart for the invite. I wish you all the best!
AsiaLounges: As for us, we will meet you again soon in the Lounges with more exciting content! If you have enjoyed this interview please let us know by liking, commenting and sharing our work with your family and friends on your favourite social media platform. Don't forget that you can also support A Gem Dealer's Journal through our Patreon's Page. It helps us a lot and takes but a second!
Should you have any questions or topic that you’d like us to research for a future interviews and articles, feel free to let us know by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org, it is always a pleasure to dig further into the world of gems and gemmology!
For all the rest, feel free to take a look at our gem and jewellery collection as well as to contact us should you be interested in getting one of our famed bespoke pieces of AsiaLounges Jewellery.
See you again in the Lounges,