After becoming a marine technologist, Erik Chistov (@erychist) decided to pick up a camera and start exploring. Ever since then, it’s been about seeing the world from a different perspective, in a new light. Erik’s in his living room at home in Iceland and I’m at my home desk in Boston, MA. Speaking with him today, I realize how important it is for him to see the beauty in everyday life, even when he’s on a small island with ~4,000 people.
Born in Riga, Latvia, and currently residing in Iceland, on the island of Vestmannaeyjar, Erik Chistov is a photographer and filmmaker documenting the world around him. Erik is a humble artist who still prides himself on his drive to continue learning and works to shed light on hidden gems across the globe. Continue below to learn about the moody, cinematic works of Erik Chistov.
Matt: So tell me a little bit about how you got started, and what made you want to pick up a camera in the first place?
Erik: Yeah, so let me start by taking it back to 2016. I had gotten tired of working a 9-5 in the UK, and I had just gone backpacking in Norway, where I met some cool guys that had a drone. I was pretty intrigued because this was before drones became so popular, and it got me to thinking about taking pictures more as a way to document life around me.
This is also what got me into traveling and exploring more and it made me more conscious of seeing the world.
Erik: Fast forward to 2018 – I finally bought my own camera and lenses. The same camera that I use now – a Sony a6500. I’ve thought of upgrading, but honestly I love the compact build of this camera, and it gets the job done perfectly for me, so I’ll stick with it for now.
Matt: Did you study photography or art in school at all?
Erik: No, I actually went to marine school, to learn how to work on ships. Originally I wanted to travel and if you work on ships, you can get paid well, and you get to travel… or so I thought. I realized shortly into it that you can work on the ships and travel, but most of the time, you’ll only dock for a few days, and you never get to fully experience a culture.
I will say that this was good for me, for learning about other cultures, but like I said – you don’t get to fully immerse yourself and take it all in.
Creating Your Own Style
Matt: How did you learn to shoot and edit? And how did you create your own style?
Erik: I’m still learning everyday, honestly. I mainly learned like many other photographers – hours of YouTube, Lightroom tutorials, things like that. That’s what helped me to create my first preset pack even, and now I’m still continuing to develop and improve my style.
There’s still tons of things that I would like to learn, like astrophotography and more about shooting with a team . When I started shooting, I focused on capturing the beauty in nature. Shortly after, I went to Bali, and I wanted to start shooting more models. I started shooting more models and portraits there and then I started combining these portraits with the nature that I was used to. I think working with a team – you know, stylist, lighting, etc… in an outdoor environment would be a lot of fun.
As for style – that’s one of those things that’s constantly changing as well. As you can see on my Instagram feed, the photos are kind of all different I would say – and they’re all edited differently. But for my portfolio, like other photographers, I want to edit more congruently and keep the style more consistent. Mainly because I edit Instagram photos for what I personally like, where as I want to have a more coherent style on my portfolio. Having that balance of what you personally like, and what brands or clients will like is important in my opinion.
If you’re a fan of Erik’s personal style and are interested in purchasing his custom Lightroom Presets, see his current selection below:
Plans for the Future
Matt: So what are you working on now / what are you planning for future work?
Erik: So right now I’m on a small island in Iceland just trying to save up some money before I start my next project, “Faces Of”. I had hopes to move back to the UK in November and start preparing for this project which would start in May, but with covid and everything, I think I will have to push it back a little until I can travel.
The whole goal of ‘Faces Of’ is to go to all different parts of the world and find the most unique and interesting characters and places and document them and help shed light on what they’re doing. It will be a mix of interviews with locals and also highlights of the unique people doing whatever it is that they do. For certain locations, mainly in Asia, I’ll go with a translator and have a standard set of say… 20 questions, and then I’ll also be putting together a handful of unique questions per person so I can get a good understanding of each of them.
I’m really excited for it and I’m hoping to go for 2 years.
Matt: Wow, that’s unreal, do you have all of it planned out yet, or will you just go wherever you feel sounds right?
Erik: Right now I have parts of it planned out, because certain areas will be cheaper to travel to if I’m closer, so I’m working on finding a good loop to take, but right now the goal is to go to all of the continents and for 2+ years.
Matt: That’s unreal, I can’t wait to see the final project and hear how the trip goes!
For more of Erik’s work, be sure to follow him on Instagram here. Also be sure to stay tuned for Erik’s ‘Faces Of’ Project, coming soon.