Photographer Sasha Lytvyn approaches personal projects and commercial projects in exactly the same way, as long as he gets the freedom to do so. His long term collaborators at PlyKnits (a knitwear brand) allow him to artistically direct and photograph its latest campaigns as if it were Sasha’s personal work; the dream for any photographer working commercially.
Sasha was given “complete creative freedom” on a recent shoot for the brand’s first lookbook. Titled Self-Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman, the creative director at Ply Knits, Carolyn, wanted to create something different from the usual lookbook which usually exhibits the clothes first and foremost. On this creative freedom, Sasha tells It’s Nice That: “It’s the best gift you can possibly give to an artist when you hire one.” In a refreshingly freeing manner, Carolyn’s brief to Sasha was: “I don’t want you to think about the sweaters at all, just do what you do best; do your work.”
The results of Sasha’s campaign are beautiful, candid photographs evoking the crisp feeling of Ply-Knits. “Honestly I loved working on with my whole heart,” says Sasha. “We created so much beautiful imagery that you could make a book out of it.” And if this book did exist, it’s unlikely you would think it was part of a fashion campaign but part of a mysterious wider story following the ins and outs of the protagonists’ life.
As a self-taught artist, Sasha developed his practice through books by masters of the art. “They left the biggest lessons”, he states on this fact. “Once there is pure love for a medium you don’t need schools. It’s all our there in the books”, says Sasha on his ever growing passion for the medium. Recalling the turning point in his life 12 years ago when he first became serious about photography, Sasha remembers: “One evening, I saw a print of something with artistic value and it triggered this enormous passion for photography inside of me that just gets bigger and bigger every year.”
He cites his attraction to the medium in the “paradox of ease.” By this, he means that it’s the “quickest way to make a record of reality.” Even though he loves drawing and painting, and respects the fact that sometimes it might be easier to draw a moment if you want to capture it that instant, it’s the “discovery of something new” in a photograph that keeps Sasha on tenterhooks. “If you open up to life, it also opens up to you. It gives you these little gifts of discovery and you learn something you wouldn’t have otherwise.”
In turn, Sasha sees still photographs everywhere he goes. Filled with curiosity, his eye captures new composition with every glance which “makes [him] so happy.” On top of all this, it is the urge to go out and document new stories with his camera that keeps the photographer “preset and grounded in the present.” For Sasha, his skill in visually storytelling lies in those tiny details he manages to pick up on and photograph. “You have to live in that moment in order to capture it, otherwise it doesn’t work”, he concludes on his intimate photographs,n which explains how Sasha elevates an editorial campaign for a knitwear brand to an artistic level.
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.