My name is Vladimir Kabanov, the face behind Interval Illusions Photography. I was born and raised in Almaty, Kazakhstan where I lived until moving to Calgary, AB, Canada in 2008. Given that my dad was a physicist, I grew up in an environment where thinking critically, asking questions, and being fascinated by the natural world was encouraged. One of the fascinations I had developed quite early on was that to do with light. What is it? How does it work? How can one manipulate it? Perhaps it is not surprising that I’ve ended up where I am now, pursuing a Doctorate in Physical Chemistry with my thesis revolving around manipulation of light on the nanoscale, and, of course, having photography become my main hobby.
My first introduction to photography was around the age of an elementary school student. My dad had an old Soviet film camera – a 1980 Olympic edition of 35mm Zenit-TTL. He showed me how to use it and explained the basic controls: aperture, ISO, exposure time, and metering. Of course, I was too young to understand everything, but I still managed to take a few shots which I remember my dad being proud of. However, somehow photography did not really stick with me as a dedicated hobby until over a decade later, when at the very beginning of my PhD, I decided to purchase my own camera. Fujifilm just announced the release of X-T2, a very capable mirrorless digital camera with an interface/design of an old film camera. I fell in love with the concept, partly as it reminded me of my dad’s old camera, and partly because the scientist in me loved the idea of analog dials and clicky aperture rings. I purchased this camera, literally, the very first day it became available at The Camera Store, along with a couple of lenses, and I have been shooting it since.
Having started exploring the world of photography relatively recently, I still consider myself an amateur photographer. Sure, I can take pretty pictures, and I do feel very comfortable talking about the technical aspect of photography. However, I have yet to fully figure out my style and I am still training my eyes to see photos not just when there is a beautiful subject to capture, but also as an intricate play of light and shadows, colours, and textures. To me photography is not just about the subject of the capture, but it is also about the story: an idea which can be extracted from looking at the photo, one that is put into it by its composition, its name, its description, and the medium it is printed on. Perhaps, this is the development of my style of photography.
Printing my photos was a major milestone on my journey of exploring ways to tell a story through photography. It was the very first successful capture of the milky way which I decided to print as a gift for my good friend and colleague. When I went to a local printing shop, Calgary Custom Photo Service, I had no idea there were so many options of media to print on. From various types of paper, to metals, canvas, and a variety of mounting options. For star photos, I should print it on metallic paper, so I was told, and so I did. Upon receiving the print, I was mind blown. It was no longer just a photo, it was a piece of art, something I could physically look at and enjoy from different angles. Something that told a story, and I could tell a story about. I’ve discovered printing to be a whole other missing side of photography, offering a whole new set of tools to complement and complete this idea of visual storytelling.
Since then, I’ve picked up a part-time job at the very same printing shop, Calgary Custom Photo Service. I’ve learned and continue to learn a lot. I’ve purchased my own photo printer and have experimented with countless different photo and fine art papers, from different materials and brands. I found printing photos to be an experimental aspect of photography, from the way digital files are prepared for a specific paper, to the way the same photo can appear and send an entirely different message on different papers. Reminiscent of actually doing science, this process means a lot to me because as you progress through an academic career, you have less and less exposure to the hands-on experimental side of things.
I fell in love with a number of fine art papers from the oldest German paper manufacturer, Hahnemühle. The quality, texture, and colour reproduction of prints on this paper was bar to none. I’ve selected five of my most favourite papers for the Interval Illusions project. All of the five papers have unique storytelling features, and they differ in both their texture and in their finish. Coupled with the use of pigment ink, which is the case for all Interval Illusions pieces, Hahnemühle guarantees a 100-year lifetime of the prints without fading or yellowing. Robin and I find the prints we offer very dear to us, and we hope you find them, and their stories, special too.
- Vladimir Kabanov.