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Life and Work with Galina (Gina) Khrestsov

Today we’d like to introduce you to Galina (Gina) Khrestsov.

Galina (Gina), can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My photography interest began before my family came to the USA from Russia, when my father first bought a video camera that was bigger than a Boombox Stereo (when it just came out in the 80’s).. I was about 8 then. My whole family was so intrigued by that a camera but for some reason I always found a way to be the one to get my hands on it and record anything that was in my viewfinder. My small shoulder would get very sore after a few minutes of carrying that heavy and large box while maintaining the balance of both the camera and myself. But it never stopped there. Once in America in late 1995, I kept my interest in videorecordings and was rarely on the other side of it, and I loved it. One day my best friend (who later became my partner in photography), said that she was taking a ‘dark room’ photography class in high school and that she needed some photos shot on film for her project, that quickly became a fun experiment, it was the turning point for me. I began to dabble in photography area and spent a lot of money on film and a cheap target camera. Later my dad bought be a Carl Zeiss Sony digital camera, I remember I was absolutely thrilled that I no longer needed to ask anyone to drive me to Target or Costco to develop my films but I now had a live view of the image as well as a memory card to plug into computer. And that was it, I started to read articles, visited local photography stores and spend hrs there asking questions, went to trade-shows and seminars, took a semester in college on studio lighting and basic photography. Not knowing much about it, we bought quit a few photography gear from pawn stores, props from goodwill, and decided to give it a go. GaleRisa was established when my partner and I were asked to shoot an engagement session and got paid like $50 or something, but since then, we have been capturing memories for families, newborns, engagements, weddings, fashion, comp cards for models, interiors, seniors, and worked with local boutiques and magazines (such as Denver Style, Highlands and Parker lifestyle magazines) where our work got featured, Photography has been a part of most my life, and it always will be.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There are always struggles and doubts along the way. I’ve changed my photography and editing styles a few times. Themes and styles evolved and now we as photographers have to compete with filters on social media platforms which make it a small struggle to keep the natural photography with the new generation. But we hear it so often ‘we are who we are because of where we came from…’ So I say, just press on, and keep going, believe in yourself, write down goals, change your mindset to win and it will be so. Mistakes WILL happen- but take that as a positive lesson and profit from it. Surround yourself with those who have bigger goals, bigger dreams, and bigger visions – they will make you wiser and help you in your step. Never be afraid of failing but always grow and be eager to learn. For some reason I remember having that insecurity of not being ‘old enough’ to photograph families or weddings, I would think that our clients would not take us seriously due to our age, but you know what- we came far, and were recognized for our partnership, build relationships with clients who became repeat clients, and pursuance of keep going. Never too early to start- even at senior age, there is plenty of things to be done and succeed! There is only one of you who can do what you do best.

Please tell us about GaleRisa Photography.
What we pride ourselves at GaleRisa Photography is that our teamwork is impeccable. My partner has taken a dominant role in posing (those who struggle in front of camera) and making sure that the kids are looking into the camera when needed, that the hands are not creeping randomly, that the hair is in place and no little strands are on her nose or across lips or in her partners’ face… while I do the technical part of photography, to make sure I got the right lighting, distance from subject, angle and the post processing. Our partnership makes our photography sessions flow seamlessly and the results are unforgettable.

There’s a wealth of academic research that suggests that lack of mentors and networking opportunities for women has materially affected the number of women in leadership roles. Smart organizations and industry leaders are working to change this, but in the meantime, do you have any advice for finding a mentor and building a network?
My advise for expanding and growing, is to just dive into it, ask, research, volunteer as a second shooter for a session, go to trade-shows, meet with local photographers (or those in your network), submit your work to publications (even if you get rejected multiple times), ask questions of those who are successful and just do do do. Don’t ever just ‘sit’. There is so much out there now, there is absolutely no excuse to not start or ‘not have enough information’.. and best part is, most of it is free! If you want it bad enough, you will find a way! Always!

Pricing:

  • Family portraits start at $350
  • Wedding photography starts at $2500
  • Interior Photography starts at $400*

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
GaleRisa Photography (me)

 

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