In the era of Instagram, it’s tough for pictures to be so valuable and unique as they were a hundred years ago. Anastasia started business to bring back the perception of real photography.
We started our photo agency, Shipr, by going back in time. We use a technique that was popular in the U.S. following the Civil War, called ambrotype, a photographic process on glass. In Russia, such prints were few and far between.
At Shipr, we basically borrowed vintage photographic technologies from Russia, the U.S. and Germany. Then, we worked with a chemist to create unique developing procedures, and two years later we finally found one that we loved.
We started offering our service – exclusive photo shoots with vintage cameras and technology – to event agencies in Moscow. However, they were used to selling soap bubble shows, and weren’t really interested in understanding our business. We realized that most people are quite conservative when it comes to trying new things, and it’s hard to get them to embrace something they’re not familiar with.
We put much effort into explaining what we do. But even our hipster friends, who are often on the cutting edge of style and generally more progressive, were skeptical. Were we just putting regular, digital technology into a big, vintage camera, and developing our images with Soviet technology? (We used chemical baths from the Soviet era).
We eventually found our niche. We are often invited to antique markets and historical reconstruction events with costumes and themes. We’ve met others who use unique methods to do what they love to do. For example, we met a DJ who plays music on the Pathéphone, and he is one-of-a-kind in Moscow. Now we often help him get gigs when we are invited somewhere, and vice versa. We are also invited to large festivals in Moscow, which usually take place in the city center and can last for days.
Once, an old man approached us and asked if we needed money for a new digital camera. He was serious, thinking we were just using an old piece of junk that we had assembled in a garage somewhere. At that time, we were using a rare, vintage camera from 1925.
While great for exposure and meeting new people, those events, are not what we really crave. We want this technology to be a part of people’s lives, just like you’d listen to LPs because they’re cool. We want to make photography genuine art again, and to capture rare moments.