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Femininity & Imagination: The World of Sasha Samsonova

An observation by Mia Ballesteros

The first time I ever saw a piece of work from Sasha Samsonova, I was aimlessly browsing Google trying to find inspiration for an upcoming project. All I knew is I wanted to create something timeless, nostalgic….beautiful. That’s when I came across this image

The beautiful azure tones, the natural setting, the soft lighting….everything about this image instantly hooked me and before I knew it I was elbows deep into reading all there is to know about the legendary Sasha Samsonova.

Born in Ukraine, 30-year-old Sasha Samsonova is a fashion photographer and director and has taken the Hollywood photography game by storm. Self-taught, she started in the photography industry at a young age with a job at Harper’s Bazaar, kicking her career off at only 17. Being that her introduction to photography was with such a prominent brand, it didn’t take her long after that to gain more work and start to make a name for herself. Since then, Sasha has worked with companies such as Complex, Vogue, Paper, Playboy, and many more.

Samsonova’s work consists of enduring photographs of the world’s hottest celebrities, like Kendall Jenner, John Legend, Emma Roberts, and Kelly Rowland (to name a few), but with a twist. Her ability to so perfectly capture present-day celebrities in an old Hollywood glamour style is what first captured and held my attention towards her art. The elegance of her photography is what allows her to break away from paparazzi-esque images and instead provides a more intimate look into the lives and minds of her subjects. Her photographs feel like a moment frozen in time, something you’d look back on in 20 years, sigh, and think to yourself, “Ah, the good old days”.

Before Samsonova ever had photography in her sights, she was on the road to becoming a professional ballroom dancer. And this is definitely apparent in her work as her style oozes emotion, grace, and harmony, pushing the boundaries of sensuality. This feminine way about her and her art is what makes her stand out apart from other photographers as she holds the idea of empowering women very close to her. Also, having grown up in the mountainous forests of Ukraine, her passion for nature has certainly been evident in her art and has played a big role in how her recent work has gone in the direction that it has.

For example, in her most recent lockdown project commissioned by WePresent, Samsonova took her models on a journey into the forests of Hawaii and documented their natural forms against the surrounding nature. Inspired by Irving Penn and her neighborhood’s botanical gardens, the project focuses on the strength and power of women and their bodies, at one with their environment.

According to Samsonova in her interview done with WePresent, she states that “[These] images emanate a sense of comfort, of women powerful in their self-assurance, and in their bodies”, and this couldn’t be more accurate. She opens up opportunities for a safe sensual space, as her team consists of almost all women. I must add that I love how she is able to present her work in a field that was once predominantly led by men, and offer us a refreshing taste of feminine beauty and elegance. In a way, it almost feels necessary.

So how does Miss Samsonova make the complex look simple? Her way of photographing might seem all glitz, glamour, and a ton of work, but when it comes down to it, is actually pretty magical. In an interview done with This Generation, she describes that her process for preparing for a shoot is as follows:

1. Analyze and study your subject

2. Create a character for them in your head

3. Bring that character to life on shoot day

This idea of combining both subject and imagination directly explains the strong emotions portrayed in her artwork and is exactly how she has successfully produced the work that she has. It also provides such an inspiration for other artists and shows us that art can be whatever you make it. In this day and age where we have so many tools at our disposal, Sasha Samsonova showcases that maybe the strongest tool we can use is one we already have…

our imaginations.

As always, thanks for reading. See you next time<3

Some of my favorites of Samsonova's


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