Living the high life

loyalty
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Multi-award-winning Milan-based photographer Daria Troitskaia is not afraid of heights. Her career has earned her pride of place in countless art journals and global exhibitions, and there’s no limit to the lengths she’ll go to for the perfect shot!

Words by Nicole Parnis | Extract taken from August's 2023 Il-Bizzilla Magazine


Most recently turning her hand to the art of aerial photography, Russian-born Troitskaia has embarked on a breathtaking photography tour of the world’s finest destinations, from Monte Carlo to the Maldives. Il-Bizzilla caught up with the daring Daria to find out more about her soaring journey.

I have travelled to many countries for my work, the most unusual being Antarctica. Last year I also visited the Arctic in Russia. I've been to South Africa, South America, Japan, China, and I’ve been to Taiwan with an exhibition - and many places in Europe.

My journey into this world began when I went to art school and studied art at university before working as a designer and art director. But it was living in Malta that brought me back to photography. I love how diverse it can be. That it can be both street photography and fine art. There is no limit to perfection in photography - you can constantly evolve. It can be an excuse to learn a new subject, to travel, to get out of the house, or even to go for a walk. In a way, photography can be a great companion.

With street photography we are observers, life goes on, and photographers have to notice interesting scenes and manage to capture them on camera. In high-fashion photography, there’s a lot of preparation and teamwork. Firstly, you have to think through the script, select the right people, explain to the models what their role is, and then shoot the scene you've thought about. Street photography is more honest in this respect, but the objectives of these two types of photography are very different. Street  photography is a documentary art form, whereas high-fashion photography is a way of selling goods.

The idea to try helicopter aerial photography came to me quite naturally. I delved into the subject and began looking into its technical aspects. It soon became clear how many things have to be considered. After going through several options, including a military helicopter and a chopper used in local rescue operations, I managed to find a privately-owned helicopter that provided the flexibility I needed.

Before a trip, I have to study the route very carefully for various reasons. I use Google Maps to see an area and from this I can build my story and choose the right camera lenses. You need to estimate an approximate altitude for this and whilst you can change lenses inside the helicopter, it is preferable to equip yourself well and then work with the pilot to adjust the altitude.

 

The exercise is meticulous and helps me to make an approximate list of the places I want to shoot which I share with the pilot, so that they can ensure that the places you want to fly over are available, and that you don’t need any special permission to get there. If you want to catch the sunrise or sunset, checking that the helicopter is equipped to be flown and land in low-light conditions is also key.

To be able to take photos from the outside of the craft, I wear a harness anchored to the aircraft before takeoff. It is much easier to get the right angle that way. Good communication with the pilot is paramount. The pilot needs to know when you are about to shoot so they can slow down, adjust altitude, turn, or even do a few rounds if necessary.

I like shooting the coastline and sea the most because the air is cleanest there and the sea is a stunning colour in Malta, thanks to the fact that the beaches are generally not sandy, but rock.  

Last year I finished a still-life project which won many awards. I want to release it as a folder of art prints. I also want to draw a line under my works with aerial views by publishing a book. Of course, I will continue to shoot my personal projects, but I would also like to do some commercial projects where I can track the result of success, combining the client’s brief with my artistic vision. I also have some interesting trips planned – of course!

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