Today we’d like to introduce you to Violetta Markelou.
Hi Violetta, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’m a photographer and visual artist located in Washington, DC. I was born in Athens, Greece but came to the United States very young. I first fell in love with photography when I discovered a portrait by Fashion and Portrait photographer Herb Ritts. I was around 9 years old and I remember seeing it in a restaurant.
I was fixated on the image and I didn’t understand why. Years later as a pre-teen, I began looking through Harper’s Bazaar which furthered my curiosity about stylized portraiture. I loved the glamour, light, and beauty in each image. Flipping through the magazine was a fantasy and an escape for me during childhood. I got more serious about pursuing photography as a career through the encouragement from my art teachers in high school.
It was a tough decision, as my family was skeptical about my choosing an artistic path. But, since my mother was an artist herself, she knew it was something I could succeed at, even though it might be a challenging road. After studying Photography and Art History at The University of Baltimore County, I found a mentor and began assisting him. I tried to learn as much as I could on the technical and business sides.
He is still my mentor to this day. I don’t know how I would navigate the business of photography without him! I started my photography business 15 years ago. I consider myself a portrait artist more than anything. The influence of fashion photography is apparent since that was my influence for so long in my career.
My most recent work is more raw and photojournalistic with a focus on mental health awareness.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The obstacles and challenges I face are quite a few! I don’t want to discourage your readers, but in our image-saturated world, it is hard for many to distinguish photography as an art rather than a commodity that feeds the insatiable beast of social media.
I try to educate my clients on the difference as much as I can. Other challenges include keeping up with accounting, emails, and social media while maintaining creative space so that I can deliver what my clients need and the energy to create my personal art as a photographer.
I am passionate about optimal health and wellness and am part of the Biohacking community. Biohacking has greatly improved my life and has expanded my knowledge on how to take control of my own health and well-being. I am so passionate about this, that I decided to start my own holistic lifestyle brand called “Haus of V”.
I am in the development and planning phase right now. Most people know me for my photography work and my sense of style, but only those close to me know this other science/spiritual part of me. That’s about to change very soon!
As we emerge from a two-year pandemic, how do you plan on moving forward with your art and business?
Great question. Thank you for asking. I have changed personally and professionally since 2020 as I am sure everyone has. Having 80% of my income disappear in the last two years has taught me some hard lessons. With those lessons, growth is imminent.
I had to pivot my business and sharpen my other skill sets to make a living. During the first year of the pandemic, when I started my series ‘Inbox Full’, I realized that highlighting mental health will be a big part of my work moving forward. Beyond that, I will continue documenting stories of humanity through my portraiture. My intention is to raise awareness with my photography for the greatest good.
That is what is most important for me right now. I am casting a net out to the universe to make that happen. That means being proactive, speaking your intentions to everyone, and then taking the necessary steps to make it happen.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
People come to me to create an image they are proud to present to the world.
They want to look and feel fabulous. They know I understand fashion and lighting and makeup and all the elements it takes to craft an image. It can be quite scary to be vulnerable in front of a camera. I know this very well! My gift is disarming everyone who gets in front of my lens so that they can step into their higher self.
The self is able to disregard their fears and is capable of showing up in the world. It gives me great pleasure to bring the best out in everyone. People leave the photoshoot with elevated self-esteem. I’m pretty lucky to be able to do that as a career! My most recent portrait series ‘Inbox Full’ focuses on raw portraiture and mental health issues.
That is where I see my work moving forward. I want to continue raising awareness with my portraiture. I have evolved as a photographer and visual artist, as someone who seeks to go beyond the surface and dive deep to tell the most authentic stories.
Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
Finding a mentor is an absolute must!
As I mentioned above, I don’t know how I would maintain my sanity without him. I am so grateful to have found him early in my career. He has been telling me for years to slow down. And I finally am. For any young photographer reading this, find a mentor!
It will be an ongoing education and support that is invaluable. If you can’t find a mentor, be active in your creative community and spend time with other creatives for support.
- Website: www.violettamarkelou.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/violettamarkelou.photo/
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqV1Qw62BqQ
Violetta Markelou and Robert Cain Photography