I am a Boston based photographer, available for local, stateside and international projects. You can read about me and my work in the Boston Voyager write-ups below. For more information, feel free to get in touch using this contact form.
Meet Anna Hajiyev of Anna Hajiyev Photography in Cambridge
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I started doing photography in 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. At that moment, I was in a PhD program in Public Communication and needed one more, somewhat different outlet for my creative passion. I was struggling to develop an idea for my dissertation and needed a few months away from my research. Doing photography helped me gain inspiration for my academic work, although, these two parts of my life – academic research and photography – do not intersect as such. While it has been certainly difficult to walk the two creative paths that demand excellence and dedication, the journey has been rewarding and exciting. In addition to creative fulfillment, as a photographer, I am also able to volunteer my skills for good causes.
For example, last year, I was happy to photograph the National Adoption Day at Edward W. Brooke Courthouse in Boston. Also on a regular basis, I cover charity events organized by Sunflower of Peace, a local non-profit organization founded by my friend. Finally, fascination with photography runs in my family. As a child, I often spent time with my dad at a photography club that he ran at a youth center in Zhodino (a small town in Belarus), as well as in a makeshift darkroom at home developing film and printing photos. Now, my photography has given me and my dad another chance to bond and reminisce. I am lucky to have my dad support me by sharing his thoughts about my photography and occasionally helping me with my photography projects (most recently my dad joined me for my wedding assignment as a second photographer).
Has it been a smooth road?
One of the major obstacles on the way toward my photography aspiration was the constant lack of time. With the full load of academic work and raising a very active child (who is now a preschooler), photography often had to take a back seat. Such situation has been always disappointing. That is why, I constantly seek for opportunities to bring together my research, photography and family. For instance, on a trip to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles for a Doctoral Honors Seminar organized by the National Communication Association (NCA) I brought my camera to take pictures of the university campus and my colleagues during official and casual events. Some photos from that trip were selected for Photo Vogue (a photography project run by Vogue Italia), as well as made it to the NCA website, detailing the seminar. As to my family, I have my camera handy when we are both at home and out and about to be able to catch the happiest moments and document various experiences.
Another issue that I (as well as many creative people) find challenging is acceptance or rather, the lack thereof. While I am quite critical of my own work, it is always painful to receive rejection from other people. The experience of acceptance and rejection, however, is an inalienable part of human life and I strive to make the most of it.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Anna Hajiyev Photography – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I started doing photography in 2010 and almost a year later, I decided to open my photography business. I began as a product and fashion photographer, but later expanded to family, event and interior photography. While fashion photography fascinates me the most, I am excited about each and every of my projects. I do not think I would be content with a very specialized type of photography, that is why I am eager to take on the projects that are new to me. I am proud that, as a photographer with no formal training, I have been able to successfully complete most of them.
Although the body of my work is diverse, many of my friends and clients believe that I have a certain style. While the process of my creative growth is far from being over, I would define my style as colorful melancholy. I love black and white photography, but the variety and subtleties of hues are something I always look for in my photographs. At the same time, vibrant colors do not have to necessarily translate into purely cheerful imagery. In my personal photography projects, just as in my academic research (which is at the intersection of political philosophy and Lacanian psychoanalysis), I focus on melancholy. Melancholy is a state of longing for something that always escapes and as such it embraces a wide range of emotions simultaneously. Working with clients, however, I consider their needs and desires first, while sharing with them the aesthetics that I believe would complement a project.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I had been fortunate to live, volunteer, study and work in Tianjin (China), Rodos (Greece), Lille (France), Amsterdam (the Netherlands), London (the U.K.) and Atlanta (the U.S.) before I moved to Boston in 2014. With the abundance of positive experience of living across the globe, I truly hoped that Boston would be the city I could fall in love with. While for the fist couple of years in Boston I did not have an opportunity to explore it (as I was finishing my dissertation and rarely stepped outside), I am now in the process of getting to know the city better. And it starts to feel like home. I love the vibrant academic life of the Boston area, as well as the beauty of architecture and the comfortable and enchanting spirit of living in a city that is neither big nor small. Although I was born and raised in Belarus and thus I am familiar with the bone-chilling cold of snowy, freezing winter days, I cannot say I appreciate frigid temperatures either in Belarus or in Boston.
(March 13, 2018, http://bostonvoyager.com/interview/meet-anna-hajiyev-anna-hajiyev-photography-cambridge/ )
Check out Anna Hajiyev’s Artwork
Anna, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I picked up a camera in the summer of 2010 and set off for a European vacation. I came back with numerous images and, more importantly, abundant inspiration to engage with photography. I started to study photography on my own, by researching various topics online and taking pictures of my husband and our cats while experimenting with light and photography equipment. At that moment I did not own much of the latter, so I was fortunate to be able to borrow some strobes and cameras from the Digital Arts Entertainment Laboratory at Georgia State University in Atlanta, where I was doing my Ph.D. in Public Communication. Yet, even prior to that I felt an unexplainable fascination with imagery. When I worked briefly as a web designer, I remember how enraptured I was by sorting through photographs that I could use for building websites. Overall, I believe my appetite for photography was steadily developing during my childhood in Belarus, which was documented by my photographer dad. He created my family’s capacious archive of precious memories, and this experience has certainly animated my own desire to photograph.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
My main purpose as a photographer is to create images that stir emotions, be those images a staged or a candid portrait, a picture taken at an event or at home. Since I am not a person who prefers to express her emotions verbally (probably owing that to my Soviet upbringing), photography has become a perfect format to evince feelings that flow through me. For this reason, I enjoy taking pictures in solitude. In particular, the process of taking self-portraits involves introspection and even meditation. It allows me to be vulnerable and honest with myself about who I am and what I am going through, as well as to eventually affirm those feelings by sharing my work with other people. At the same time, I am no less excited about shooting with a team, although it certainly creates a different kind of experience. By brainstorming ideas together and bringing various aesthetics to the table, an electrifying sense of artistic camaraderie is born, which fuels my creative zeal. As to people who come across my photography, I only hope the latter does not leave them indifferent.
Do current events, local or global, affect your work and what you are focused on?
Certain genres of photography can and ought to be political. At times, art forms are the only way that a message can escape the grip of censorship or move people who would have been left uninvolved otherwise. Since I research and study the process of national identity construction, ethnic nationalism and extreme manifestations of hatred, I believe that everyone should pay attention to what is going on in many parts of the world now. And that concerns my art too: given an opportunity, I always seek to document experiences and events that I genuinely care about (for example, the National Adoption Day and the most recent March for Our Lives in Boston).
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
My work is showcased on my personal website, my Instagram and Facebook accounts, as well as on the website of Vogue Italia as a part of its Photo Vogue project. Although it happened by sheer coincidence, one of my early photographs appeared, to my total surprise, on a billboard in Time Square. Speaking of something much smaller than a fortuitous billboard, I have recently teamed up with the Sunflower of Peace Foundation (a local non-profit organization that runs numerous charitable initiatives in Ukraine) to create a body of work involving the Ukrainian diaspora in Boston. The project will culminate in an exhibition, which can hopefully elicit considerable interest among those who are already familiar with my work and reach a larger audience.
(April 30, 2018, http://bostonvoyager.com/interview/check-anna-hajiyevs-artwork/ )