Photograph by Maxim Vakhovskiy

Maxim Vakhovskiy – Celebrating the raw beauty women of colour possess through photography

Maxim Vakhovskiy is a self-taught photographer based in Charlotte, North Carolina (USA). Growing up in Kiev, Ukraine, her family immigrated to the United States when she was 13 years old. Her father’s hobbyist photography instilled a passion for the art form within her.

“He would create a makeshift darkroom in the small bathroom of our house. I sat with him watching the images emerge on paper under red light. It was one of my favourite things to do and I think that’s when the passion for photography, or at least a small dormant seed, was planted.” – on her father’s photographic practice and influence.

Maxim tells me in our email interview that the process of finding herself in the photographic landscape was extensive. Initially studying Psychology and Philosophy she switched over to graphic design and concluded with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. It was during her formal training that she rekindled her friendship with the medium of the lens.

After graduation, Maxim began working at MODE (a branding agency in Charlotte, North Carolina) as a graphic designer. Later she inhabited the part of an art director and transitioned into photography.

Central to Maxim’s personal practice is portraiture through which she aims to emphasize the raw beauty of the people she photographs. Her work acts as a celebration of womanhood, the human body and women of colour.

Her work generally plays out within a studio set up and she explains that the reason for this is because of the control that the studio space lends to her. She elaborates on this point by stating that her obsession with precise lighting can be satisfied within the studio space. Another aspect that draws her to the studio is its privacy as she is drawn to nude portraiture. Within the studio the people she photographs can feel more at ease.

“I think of it as a love affair. I’m in love with my craft and fall a little bit in love with everyone I photograph. To me, it’s one of the few ways to capture a bit of someone’s essence. I focus on visual simplicity that evokes complexity. My work is an exercise of trust and untraditional ideals beauty basked in classic light.”

Muted tonal backdrops, soft becoming lighting, simplified backgrounds and beautiful women of colour act together to unify Maxim’s vision. With her work, she elevates the beauty of women of colour, womanhood and the human body. Her simplified backgrounds make her work more arresting as attention is brought to the people that she photographs.

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