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Marina Denisova in her Barcelona galleria

At Home With Photographer Marina Denisova

For photographer Marina Denisova taking pictures is both a way of life and a way to make a living; embarking on an ever evolving dance familiar to many creatives that brings her profession and passion together as one. Over the years Marina has created a gently inquisitive body of work spanning portraiture, architecture and design that feels at once intimate and masterfully refined. We spoke with Marina about her career and creative process, as well as her beautiful apartment in Eixample, Barcelona that she shares with her partner Jansen Aui.

Photography by Marina Denisova. Portraits by Jansen Aui.

Hey Marina, where are you at the moment and what have you been doing today?

I’m currently at home in Barcelona, having a little break between travels to catch up on emails, edit, and organize my schedule for the following months.

Can you start by telling us a little bit about your apartment? How long have you lived there and what do you love most about the space?

I’ve been living in this apartment for about two years. What I love the most about it is the “galleria” and the light it has. A “galleria” (a balcony with windows) is very typical of buildings in the Eixample area and acts as a buffer between indoors and out- to moderate the heat and light entering the space. It’s been kept in its original condition, right down to the imperfect single glazing which has a texture that creates a beautiful refraction of the light. It faces south-east so we have beautiful morning light. I love starting my day in the galleria with a cup of coffee, it’s my favorite ritual at home.

Are there pieces of art or any objects in your home that are particularly special to you?

Yes, I have a favorite artwork. It’s a gift from a very good friend of mine, Berlin-based artist Kim Bartelt and it’s called “Blue as the sea”. She gave it to me when I moved to Barcelona from Berlin, knowing that I have a special relationship with the sea.

I also have some other objects at home that I love, a glass vase designed by my friend Nathalie Schreckenberg and the Hakudo Moon Diffuser, that was created in collaboration between Aoiro and Yellow Nose Studio, my other very good friends from Berlin. For me it’s very important that all the objects at home have a history. Whether it’s a gift from a friend, a piece of furniture from a brand that I have worked with, or the objects that have been carefully collected during my trips, everything has a story behind it.

Tell us a little bit about your career in photography so far and how you first got started?

It took me quite a while to figure out that photography is what I’d like to do in life. I have a background in business, arts and visual communication, but none of these fields really felt right. When I left Russia for Florence, I worked in e-commerce which opened up the photography industry to me, and sparked my interest, although I always preferred design and architecture to fashion. So I started teaching myself photography and reaching out to spaces I wanted to photograph. One of these was an artist residency, Numeroventi, which had just opened. They liked my work and eventually offered me a job as their in-house photographer. This was in 2017, and this is where it all started, where I took photos of the interiors, artists, exhibitions, it was a very exciting time. I learned a lot there and met many wonderful people. The first publication with my photos of Numeroventi was in Openhouse magazine, then many others followed, and so my work got noticed and things happened from there.

Where do you look to for inspiration and are there any themes that you revisit regularly with your work?

I would say that my subjects are what inspire me the most. I love to photograph homes and studios of people, it always amazes me how much the way people inhabit their spaces reveal about their character.

Are there any projects that you’ve worked on that are particularly special to you?

I wouldn’t say that I have one in particular, there are many and each of them is special in its own way. But all of them are related to traveling somehow: going to Japan for the first time, seeing the architecture of Luis Barragan in Mexico, traveling through the desert of Tunisia…

Can you tell us a little bit about your creative process when putting a shoot together?

It really depends on the kind of shoot. If it’s a commercial shoot, most of the process is predetermined by the creative team. In other cases, such as shooting a story for a magazine, I do receive some guidelines but these allow more freedom. The process is more intuitive. Usually I do some research about my subject and I think of the possible shots but I try not to have everything too predetermined. You can never predict how the light behaves or if the angle actually works until you’re there.

How do you like to spend your time outside of working?

I don’t really divide my life into work and off-work. My work is my life, but not in the sense that I’m a workaholic and don't have a life outside of work, more in the sense that it’s my passion and it’s strongly intertwined with everything I do. Most of my shoots are fun for me and I see them as life experiences, more than just work. And even on my holidays I still enjoy taking photos. Besides taking photos I love having quiet time at home with a book, watching a film, or cooking together with Jansen.

What do you enjoy most about living in Eixample?

I love the fact that I can walk everywhere. My home is pretty close to the beach where I go for walks and there's a nice farmer’s market nearby where I go every Saturday morning if I’m in town. And a great chinese restaurant across the road!