Words By Scott Herder
Photography By Olga Lian
Once Olga Lian discovered photography, she decided to dedicate her life to it. Hailing from Vladivostok, Russia, Lian moved to Seoul, Korea one year ago in search of inspiration and new experiences with a will to create beautiful images.
Her family ties in Korea made it a slightly easier choice, but, like any huge move, it still came with quite a few hurdles.
Candid and free-spirited, Lian says she did not really have a plan of attack when she came to Seoul. She did not know Korean, but knew she could rely heavily on her extended family in Korea for support and inspiration. Lian credits them as being her foundation while she was getting settled in Korea.
“When I came here, I did not know where to start, where to go and what to do. Thanks to my family, who believed in me, and inspired me, I had the strength to go forward.”
In order to find out more about the girl who is making these beautiful photographs we are accustomed to seeing today, we have to look beyond Lian’s Korean side of the family. We have to look at her first artistic love: painting.
Before Lian was making photos she was creating abstract paintings inspired by some of the greats. You know the names. Manet, Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Van Gogh. Lian applies the lessons she has learned from these masters to her own photography.
“I believe that there should not be a lot of primary colors in the photos. When we look at the paintings of Manet or Da Vinci, we see a total range of colors that are similar in tone. It allows us to look at the picture in general.”
Seeking out the harmony in color and composition is very important to Lian. Like most photographers, she is on the hunt for the defining emotion and feeling to share in the photographs she makes. Where she stands apart from the crowd is in her purposeful removal of colors to achieve the harmony she loves in the paintings.
Lian finds her inspiration anywhere and everywhere. Whether it is on a stroll to a coffee shop, walking around with her film camera, or visiting art galleries to discover different techniques and composition, she is always walking around with wide-open eyes.
It seems like she is constantly keeping an eye out for the visually fascinating. But after our conversation continues it begins to dawn on me that these occasions might be more than her thirst for inspiration. It seems like it is finding moments of balance and harmony in her day-to-day life. These pockets of time give her a chance to take a moment off from her own projects, to see with fresh eyes and reconnect with the creativity and love of the abstract that pulsates through her.
When asked about her future projects, she shared that she records all of her ideas in her notebook. That the ideas for projects come so often is more than enough for one lifetime. The ideas are the easy part. It is the juggling act of figuring out how exactly to implement techniques and ideas to tease out a feeling in the viewer.
“It’s important for me to show the beauty, feelings, and emotions. The ideas come by themself.”
Even though Lian is methodically imagining, drawing and planning a scene, she still manages to bridge the gap between abstract painting and photography. By creating beautiful use of balance in her colors and compositions, she takes the viewer away from the typical reality seen in photos.
“I love how people see different things in the same pictures. It’s just like abstract painting to me.”
Inspired by the abstract painters she admires, Lian wants to share her own world and imagination through her photos.
Following The Dream
“My mom always told me to do what I truly love. So I dedicated my life to photography.”
Doing what she truly loves is a major mantra for Lian. Her mother’s advice gave her the confidence and courage to make the transition from Russia to Korea, the patience and passion to get that shot just right and to find her own personal, special moments throughout the day to tap into her creativity and find her sense of balance.
Finally, when I ask Olga what words of wisdom she has for those who are aspiring to make a name for themselves, her answer was just like her mom’s.
“Don’t give up your dream.”