By: Becky Yeker
Vika Petlakh is a twenty-year-old photographer living in Los Angeles, California. Raised in a Russian household in Chicago, she brings her innovative and captivating style to the West Coast, where she captures classic beauty through a variety of models. Vika has been published in Vogue Italy, Elegant Magazine, EDITORIAL Magazine, and many more renowned publications. She has worked with the cast of the hit TV show, Chicago Fire for Felix Mag and has an array of themed photo shoots all listed on her website. We were able to sit down with the young talent to discuss her background, her goals, and her roots.
1) Where are you from? Tell us about your Russian roots
My whole family is from Minsk, Belarus- excluding my younger brother who was the first to be born in the USA. I moved to Chicago with my mom at the age of 2 and basically grew up there.
2) When did you first pick up a camera and when did you know that it was something you had a knack for?
Ironically I started photographing on a trip to LA, (where I live now) when I was with my family, visiting for my cousins wedding about 7 years ago. My life has always been immersed in the arts and for some reason I felt the need to photograph my trip in LA with my dad’s point-and-shoot camera; I think it may be because of how pretty I thought everything looked.
3) It is clear that you worked hard for your success. How did you go about making the connections you made and getting yourself out there?
Networking. Networking. Networking. I'm a naturally friendly and outgoing person. My dad taught me early on that 1000 friends will get you further than 1000 dollars. I took this to heart and focused on actually making connections with people rather than just trying to make money any way I could.
4) What were your original plans with photography and how have they changed?
It was just a hobby... until people began responding to my work and really taking me seriously as a photographer. It really was surreal almost. I just pushed buttons and played with light the way I liked. This is still what I do, just with a little more method to my madness.
5) As an artist, what is your ideal approach to taking photos? Do you have a certain style you like to maintain? …A certain image?
I'd like to think I have a certain style, but I'm still figuring it out. My tastes and ideas change constantly, as I get inspired by each shoot individually.
6) You’re living in LA now, right? What was the transition from Chicago to LA like?
It's been terrifying and so far the most rewarding year of my life. I had never lived out of my parents home before, let alone on the other side of the country whilst supporting myself financially.
7) What are your future goals with your career?
Just to continue creating work that people will respond to, as well as being able to travel constantly.
8) Do you feel as if growing up Russian impacted your success? Influenced you at all?
I would certainly think that growing up in a very Russian household has affected me and instilled strong values and habits that have shaped me into a hardworking, self reliant individual. I can't thank my parents enough for putting up with me through my formative years, as I now realize how beneficial their hardness was on me.
Photo Credits: Vika Petlakh
Photo Credits of Vika: located on the name of the picture itself