Born and raised in the heart of Ural Mountains, Russia, Anna Tabakova moved to Boston to discover her genuine love for photography and demonstrate the infinite diversity of beauty.
Born and raised in the heart of Ural Mountains, Russia, Anna Tabakova moved to Boston to discover her genuine love for photography and demonstrate the infinite diversity of beauty.

Boston, Massachusetts

After undergraduate studies at Chelyabinsk State University, Anna moved from the continental climate of the Ural mountains to the USA. The shift and adjustment were challenging, but she happily leaped at the change finding a new career path and friends.

“I did photography here and there for a couple of years before I found my authentic voice and decided to stay with it only about two years ago.”

Anna got her first camera at the age of 18. The same year she found her dad’s old film camera in storage, which helped her understand the importance of light, composition, and the significance of acting fast when shooting.

“In photography, each moment passes so quickly that you must anticipate everything before it happens.”

When she moved to the USA, she started with model test shots and fashion shots in NYC, which she continues doing up to the present day in the Boston area, but she admits that it is not her cup of tea. Lack of creative control over the images diminished her enthusiasm. However, she is thankful for the experience. It helped her understand light and post-editing and discover the characteristic style her clients seek. It allowed her to focus on developing the skills she needed to do what interests her: art direction.

Before she found her passion, she was ready to give up, feeling discouraged. But now, she advises anyone to keep trying to find their niche. Sometimes, it is hard to believe it will happen, but that special moment when you think, “oh, this is something I love,” will come.

That is how Anna arrived at beauty, commercial fashion, and product photography, which became her chief focus with occasional commercial lifestyle shoots.

Anna Tabakova's Fresh Take On Beauty
Anna Tabakova ©

Similar to talented Ismael Yunta, Anna is self-taught. “It is both blessing and a curse,” she asserts. “Learning things at your own pace can be very exciting, but sometimes you miss a more comprehensive educational experience. I firmly believe the best way to learn photography is to be an assistant first, as you get a solid grasp of the technical aspects of photography and learn networking and marketing.

Her answer is swift and straightforward when asked whether she prefers the studio to the outdoors.

“I am 100% a studio enthusiast; it is my safe space. I love one-light setups, but I will never miss a cloudy day shoot outdoors. I am not a fan of sunny days, but, as many do, I enjoy golden hour shots.”

Finding her niche made her want to stick to the style she found herself in.

“There are still so many things I have not tried in photography and many dream clients I would like to work for; however, I expect my images to evolve and transform as I grow. If you look at my portfolio three years ago, it is very different from the work I do now, so I intend to let my life and career evolve naturally. I am interested in art direction and might explore it in the upcoming years.”

How would she describe her style?

I always aim for great light, many colors, healthy skin glow, and emotional input from the model. This makes my style distinctive and can be applied to beauty, lifestyle, and product photography.

● 2013 Anna moves to the USA

● 2015 Anna starts to explore photography

● 2018 Anna picks up photography professionally

Anna Tabakova ©

Anna is a freelancer, which is sometimes a challenge. She might have a busy week with three projects and two weeks without work as a freelancer. How does she handle it?

“You can never rely on a stable pay-check. The whole industry is changing now due to Covid-19. Creatives try to adjust swiftly and develop new fresh ways to deliver their services and satisfy their clients. It can get rough; sometimes, you are on your own, doing everything from shooting, retouching, bookkeeping, and marketing. As an in-house photographer, I cannot be as flexible as I’d like and do many test shoots. I have a 4-year-old son who requires attention and lots of love. It keeps me busy. But, if you choose professional photography for a job, your life will never be dull, which is worth exploring.”

Her advice to those who start in photography is: “Shoot as much as possible to get a consistent style; your portfolio needs to demonstrate what you can do for your clients. Marketing is a crucial matter; being talented is not sufficient these days. Get ready for being upset, falling apart, and always remember that it all happens to pros as well, just as much as it does to newbies. It’s just a different scale of the drama.”

Anna recently moved to a bigger space where she can produce photography remotely, and she keeps the team small when she needs to work with models.

“It’s a constant hustle, but I believe it pushes the creativity level and gets your brain to reflect. Whenever I hit the wall, creatively speaking, I take a step back and never rush to hasty decisions. I like planning my shoots thoroughly and having other team members help me. Observing other photographers’ work also helps me get back into the mode.”

We know working with people can be a challenge. In her most recent promo interview for the MasterClass, Annie Leibovitz stated that she does not believe it is the photographer’s job to put the subject at ease. It might not be, but if it was, Anna indeed masters it.

“I find it pretty easy to work with new people, and I enjoy making them feel comfortable and establishing trust on the set, which is vital for the general vibe during the shoot. I am proud of reading people’s personalities with high accuracy, and I quickly understand what can make them feel at ease as I go. A little music, some chatting while the makeup is done, sharing personal stories, and showing interest are the keys to building trust and a bond, even if only for a couple of hours on the set.”

When not working or running after her four-year-old, Anna enjoys movies.
“I am a huge movie buff and still rent DVDs! I also enjoy reading detectives and mysteries in Russian, going for long walks, thrift shopping, and taking care of my houseplants. I LOVE making lists for the day, writing down my short and long-term goals; it’s a weird form of therapy for me.”

When asked about other passions besides the job, family, and everyday buzz, she says: “I honestly think that my only other interest is a full-night sleep.”

Looking at her portfolio and the amount of work collected in the past two years, it does not come as a surprise.

Anna's inspiration

Tory Rust

Kat Borchart


Joshua Pestka

Sam Robinson


Leonard Greco

Joe St. Pierre

Karin Dailey

Initially published via PHMAGG. October 2020.