Welcome to another episode from our Brno Expats Have Talent series. Brno is full of talented people, and some of them are not from the CR – we’re introducing one talented expat at a time!
This month, Dina from Russia speaks abour her life as a photographer.
Dina Khusainova (Russia) – photographer
Watch a short video of Dina’s photographic explorations in Brno.
How long have you been practising your art?
My journey in photography began in Russia, where I am originally from. My grandfather was a professional photographer for many years, and my dad has always been passionate about film photography. When I was still a kid, he started to explain the basics of photography to me. I was a little frightened by the complex photographic equipment, but over time everything fell into place.
As a student, I started studying books on photography, new techniques, and I began practicing with my first digital camera. Both at school and at my first university, I was always playing the role of an amateur photojournalist, who was documenting all events and moments in the lives of students.
I started taking photography seriously after moving to the Czech Republic 10 years ago where I came to continue my higher education. I entered the Faculty of Informatics (Masaryk University), where I studied photography and dabbled in studio photography at the same time.
Is art your main source of income, or a hobby?
I became a full-time photographer in 2015 after receiving my diploma. It’s my main source of income and a hobby at the same time. When I have free time, I still like to take photos, but in combination with something active — a hike, a walk or a meeting with friends.
How do you find living in Brno as an expat and artist?
Brno is a great place for peaceful and stress-free growth. I was able to grow stronger here as a photographer and realized what is important for me in photography and what I lack. I like the size of the city: Brno is not a large metropolis, but it is also a fairly culturally active city.
Is it easy to practise your art here, what obstacles did you face?
It was very easy for me to start photography as a profession in Brno. There were no clear standards, I could calmly create and offer my style to people, and oftentimes, the clients came to me. You can always find people who will help you implement a new idea or who want to collaborate with you. During my whole time in Brno, I have never been turned down when I asked someone for help. It seems to me that people in the Czech Republic are very curious about photography and they are not spoiled by global trends and unrealistic expectations.
In Russia, I was constantly looking at other photographers and was afraid to start something myself. Here in Brno, from the very beginning, I had complete freedom, and I could easily gain experience and look for my own style without feeling pressure to conform to a specific standard.
Where do you find inspiration?
Most often, I am inspired by the combination of light and colour in everyday life. You can walk around the city in the morning and you will see more beauty than you would find during a whole day of exploring the largest gallery in the world.
You don’t have to put yourself in a box in terms of inspiration. In other words, don’t say “I only get my inspiration from films,” or “only nature can inspire me.” Sometimes you get a boost and new ideas from places and people that you didn’t even think about. You just need to relax and start noticing the simple life around you.
Do you cooperate with other expats or local Czechs in your activity?
My environment consists of a mix of expats and those who have lived here all their lives. Often I don’t even think about where the person I’m communicating with is from. Photography has really given me the opportunity to effortlessly cross borders and interact with people from around the world. It has helped me to meet people that I otherwise never would have met. I am a solo photographer; I do not work in any permanent team. But if a make-up artist or stylist is needed for a larger shoot, I always have someone to turn to. Brno has excellent makeup artists and also other photographers to help on projects.
How can you practise your art now, in the strange covid times?
When there were strict restrictions in the country, I took advantage of that break and did not take photographs. Instead, I did what I had been putting off for a long time. I got carried away by growing plants and reading books.
After the first quarantine, when everyone returned to their regular activities, I had even more work than before covid. More family shoots appeared, many people began to work on their individual images, and everyone was looking for a photographer.
Although there is plenty of work available now, I try to make time for other activities anyway, so as to maintain a healthy balance. In addition to photography, I like to organize small hiking trips in South Moravia and spend time with close friends.
Is there any other area in art that you’d like to explore?
I’ve never been particularly creative or artistic. For me, photography has always been a craft that brings joy to me and the people for whom I shoot. I’ve always liked doing things with my own hands, and even as a child, I was enthusiastically knitting, glueing, and making crafts. I have always been attracted to ceramics and carpentry. If circumstances in the future allow me to try these things, I would love to learn how to make something practical, like dishes or furniture.
What did you choose for your live input of this article and why?
For my live input, I made a short presentation to show what I photograph here in Brno. My work mainly consists of portrait photography for individuals, but sometimes I work with couples or families, too.
Photos courtesy by Dina Khusainova