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“Fashion is the freedom of self-expression–the opportunity to combine the incongruous but, at the same time, not lose that beauty and harmony,” the photographer Daria Kosinova tells me. “I like that mixture of elegance and audacity.” As part of a recent shoot, she brought back a classic tool long associated with trendsetters and risk-takers: the fisheye lens.
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Created in collaboration with Victor Bonchinche (aka Repetsky), a dancer from the Vogue House of BONCHINCHE, the series was inspired by the 1990s-2000s. From Clueless-style plaid skirts to tattoo chokers and rhinestone bedazzling, the project reimagines some of the decade’s most recognizable trends for the modern age. Dancers serve as Kosinova’s models, imbuing the images with a playful sense of rhythm and motion.
Of course, the fisheye itself played an important role in the cultural landscape of the late 1990s and early aughts. The fisheye “look” helped set the tone for many of the era’s defining music videos, becoming synonymous with tracks by TLC, Busta Rhymes, and Missy Elliott. Decades later, in Kosinova’s case, its signature distortion proved to be both timeless and daring, bridging the gap between the nostalgic and avant-garde.
The Essential Gear of Daria Kosinova
Kosinova tells us:
“My camera of choice was the Nikon D810, and the lens was the AF Fisheye Nikkor 16mm f/2.8D. I like lens distortion; sometimes, it makes pictures more strange and interesting. I decided to use fisheye to enhance the looks and general shooting style. As I adore soft light, I used three sources: a Profoto D1, two reflectors, and one stand with an octobox.”
Phoblographer: Please tell us about how you first got into photography.
Daria Kosinova: I was greatly influenced by attending art school as a child. The knowledge I acquired about working with color and composition taught me to see it in the photographs of both famous photographers and those that I found on the internet. I started with photos of myself (I took selfies until they became mainstream), experimented with processing, and studied Photoshop on my own.
While studying at University, photography was a hobby for me. But I started trying to shoot not only myself but also other people, which inspired me very much. Later, I began to combine photography with a day job. I did various projects; some shots were in magazines. I continued to develop my skills and then went into photography completely.
Phoblographer: Why did you choose fashion as your niche?
Daria Kosinova: For me, fashion is a mirror, a reflection on ongoing socio-cultural events that can be artistically displayed in my work. I also think that fashion is not for everyone; it’s a complex niche. Not everyone understands or is interested in fashion. But at the same time, fashion is so diverse, giving everyone an opportunity to be themselves and experiment.
Phoblographer: What inspired this series of fisheye photos? Was it a personal project or an assignment from a client?
Daria Kosinova: It was a commercial shoot. Its client and producer, who is also a Vogue dance teacher, decided to do a photoshoot for his students. Many of them were in front of the camera lens for the first time. We were inspired by the style of the 1990s and 2000s, so we collected a mood board to display the aesthetics of that time. We found pictures from various magazines, music videos, covers, etc. Since I love the effect of “distortion” in photography, I thought that the fisheye look would be suitable here. It was supposed to enhance the general image style. The client really liked this idea, and he was delighted with the final result.
Phoblographer: A large team helped bring this project to life, including wardrobe stylists, makeup and hair, nails, etc. What did the collaboration process look like for you, and what was it like to see it all come together?
Daria Kosinova: I adore and appreciate the work of each member, and mutual understanding and trust within the team are important to me. We worked well together on this shoot, as we have repeatedly implemented many ideas together for other projects. It is a great pleasure to understand without words what we want to see and trust each other with the result. I was 100% sure that everything would work out. I feel a great sense of gratitude to all the participants of this shoot.
Phoblographer: What are some of the most difficult aspects of working with a fisheye lens, and how did you overcome them?
Daria Kosinova: Honestly, I can’t say that I encountered many obstacles. However, in my opinion, it can be difficult to build a composition where the object in the fisheye lens doesn’t become overly warped. It is important to work with the lens correctly, so as not to make the object appear too unrealistic. Instead, you want to emphasize its advantages and strengths.
Phoblographer: I love the nostalgia evoked by these images. They remind me of music videos from the 1990s-2000s (Hype Williams and his use of the fisheye lens come to mind). Did you draw inspiration from any specific songs, celebrities, fashion movements from this time?
Daria Kosinova: Yes! We got inspired by music videos like Gimme Some More by Busta Rhymes, The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly) by Missy Elliott, and Sock It 2 Me by Missy Elliott & Da Brat. Regarding fashion shoots that inspired us, many of them were made in our time but in the style of the 1990s-2000s. These included recent campaigns for UNIF, Gentle Monster’s “Once Upon a Future” Capsule, and Leomie Anderson for 10 Magazine in collaboration with Christian Louboutin.
Phoblographer: What’s your favorite memory from your time on set, shooting these images?
Daria Kosinova: The most memorable aspect was probably working with first-time models. I adore seeing how liberating it can be and how people learn to get into character, accept themselves, and enjoy the process. It was a very valuable experience for me.
Phoblographer: How did you choose your color palette for this series? Did you achieve these colors in camera or in post?
Daria Kosinova: The color correction was done in post. At first, I had two versions of the final post-production. The first one was without any color effects: soft light, precise tones. But then I realized that I just wanted to allow myself an experiment, without limiting myself. Based on my vision, I selected the tones and adjusted the settings. I wanted an “acidity” in the frames but was afraid that no one would like such an experiment because it looks quite catchy and defiant. To my surprise, everyone liked this version.
Phoblographer: In 2019, Harry Styles made headlines for “bringing back” the fisheye in his Fine Line album cover. What do you see for the future of this aesthetic? Is it here to stay or is it just having a “moment”?
Daria Kosinova: I think this will remain a classic technique for many projects in the future. Over the years, the fisheye has firmly established itself in the field of fashion. Of course, everything is seasonal in this niche, but if not in high fashion, then for many brands, I suppose this effect will be an interesting style.
Phoblographer: Why is it important to you, as a fashion photographer, to experiment with new things, such as the fisheye look?
Daria Kosinova: After this experience, I try to trust myself more, give myself free rein in creativity, and always go to another level as a result. For me, getting out of my comfort zone is growth. It is very important–and a big pleasure!–for any professional. Honestly, creative experiments often have an incredible result because you are passionate about the process and put a lot of effort into it. It seems to me that this is how many trends are created: you just allow yourself to be yourself and to create without thinking about what others might say.
All photos by Daria Kosinova. Used with permission. Follow Kosinova on Behance at @kosinova_d and Instagram at @kosinova_d_. Production by Victor Repetsky. Style by Victor Repetsky, Yana Tsukrova, and @chrwhat. Style assistant: @nataluakolosova. Clothes by Olga Chernoschekova, Space Lock, Kate Armeeva, and Sneakers-Museum. Nails by @__onlynails__. Makeup by @marikozlova and Vlada Krukovskaya. Hair by @cropanddrop_, Artem Verenikin, and @tsagana_spb. Hair assistant: @otricala_vhq.