An Interview with Xenia Ivanova
You might know the talented 26-year-old photographer from social media under the name Xenia Offwhite or seen her on our last campaign's photoshoot. Xenia Ivanova, originally from Moscow, has indeed made quite a name for herself on the Milanese photography scene. Passionate about minimalism, photography and sustainability, Xenia shares her inspiring lifestyle and adorable little Chihuahua, Walter, with her community and takes us on her photography adventures around Italy and beyond. With her newly-opened Youtube channel, she reveals herself as a sustainability and healthy lifestyle influencer. A beautiful journey and well deserved success.
You have been a photographer for 8 years now, how did it all start? Was it something you had always dreamt about?
I started photography a bit randomly and without truly thinking it could be a career. At the time, I was studying journalism and I needed images to illustrate my articles. I bought my first camera and soon after that I was hooked. It rapidly became a huge part of my life. I used to be scared that I started photography too late to develop my eye and my skills well enough. But I understood that age didn’t matter, with photography you learn your whole life. The key is to always be alert for new things, new people, new techniques. That’s what I love about photography: the constant evolution. I like photographing people the most although I recently got quite into beauty.
Your photography is very unique, a soft blend of minimalism and elegance. How did you achieve this specific style?
When I attended Moscow photography academy, I started practicing my art and developing my eye, my style. Some things, you simply cannot learn from a professor. It comes with practice, passion and oversee, which means the more you look the more you find your style. I found my minimalist style by experimenting.
I love how photography is a constant challenge and evolution, there’s always something new to learn and improve. I love capturing spontaneity, candid moments and seeing people’s true selves. My superpower is to see people from inside. In my opinion there is no such thing as a non photogenic person, only photographers who don't manage to capture their beauty.
"I love capturing spontaneity, candid moments and seeing people’s true selves.
My superpower is to see people from inside."
You recently started a Youtube channel. Tell us a bit more about it!
I had been wanting to open my channel for six or seven years but never had enough stamina or willpower to actually do it. The first lockdown gave me the feeling it was now or never, so I got started. I already had a long list of videos that I wanted to make, I had equipment and editing skills. Since then Premiere Pro has become my best friend (laughs). At first, I was scared of not having enough to say but it turns out I have the opposite problem!
The biggest part of the work is editing the videos, to make them interesting and dynamic. It is pretty tedious and time consuming but I am loving the format! When I publish the video and start receiving comments from the people in my community, it makes all the behind the scenes work completely worth it. On Youtube, everything is connected to you personality, your point of you and thoughts. I am very proud of my audience and community, 99% of the comments I get are positive and encouraging and push me to keep going. It is the beginning of the journey but I can’t wait to improve and see what the future holds.
Have you always been sensitive to sustainability? Have you changed your behaviour in the past few years to lead a more sustainable life?
To be frank, I used to not be aware of ethical and environmental issues. I used to shop a lot during the sales periods, buy from mass market fashion without even thinking about it. I was not aware of the impact my behaviour could have, for me it wasn’t a problem. I became aware of it when I moved to my new house 3 years ago and saw all the clothes I didn’t wear because I didn’t like the style anymore or because their quality was bad. I started wondering what a good material was, why polyester was not nice to the touch, why cotton pieces lasted longer and felt nicer on the skin. I started researching and really thinking about the value of real things. I reconsidered my attitude towards fashion, slowly changing my wardrobe. I now try to invest in clothes with more quality, in basics and essentials that will last in time and I almost never shop. My motto is quality over quantity. Neutral colours, shapes that look good on me and that I won’t be tired of wearing. Learn to know your body and the colours that compliment you and stick to these rules.
Do you think there is a true shift in people’s mindsets towards a more sustainable world?
In the past 2 years, I think a lot of changes happened, especially with the lockdowns and the current crisis. People understand more the importance of living as sustainably as possible, to love nature and not hurt it, to reduce waste and their impact. I see it a lot through the comments people leave under my Youtube videos and how they react to sustainability related topics. People have made shifts in their own life to be more sustainable. I think it is a beautiful thing. We are going in the right direction.
What is your wardrobe like?
In my opinion, our wardrobes can have a true impact on our mindset. The more cluttered your closet, the more cluttered your mind gets. With a capsule wardrobe, it is so easy to pick an outfit and get ready in the morning. My closet isn’t 100% sustainable yet but I think the important part is to wear your clothes as many time as possible. Before buying something, think about it, sleep on it and if you’re still thinking about it the day after, go for it.
Who inspires you the most? / Who do you look up to?
I get a lot of inspiration from nature and traveling. But also from people. I truly came to this realisation during the first lockdown. I really missed seeing and talking to people, exchanging with them and sharing experiences. No matter your age and experience you always have something to learn from other people. It can be related to you professional field or something completely different! I always try to open my heart to the world and to others and I am convinced that by doing so the world also gives back to you.
"People have made shifts in their own life to be more sustainable. I think it is a beautiful thing.
We are going in the right direction."
Do you find it challenging to be a woman entrepreneur?
Honestly, not really. I am lucky that I never found it challenging to be a women entrepreneur. I believe there is a bit more equity in the creative world. In my experience, you often find yourself on set with makeup artists, hairdressers, stylists, creative directors that are all women, so I never had any issues with being a woman photographer. Of course, women around the world and in my home country are faced with injustice, violence and equal rights issues. I think it is important to always keep that in mind and support feminist movements around the globe. It is thanks to these women that we are free to do what we want.
Any advice you would like to give other young women who are thinking about starting their own project?
My advice would be to follow your heart and dream. Forget about perfection, just go for it! Everything comes with time and experience. Don’t wait for the right moment because it might never happen. It is better to try and not succeed than to not do anything at all, right? Of course it is important to have a clear view of what you want to create and achieve and to do your research. But the most important is to follow your dream. Always open your heart and believe in yourself. It is the most important thing.
Thank you so much Xenia for your time and great advice! Make sure you follow her on Youtube and Instagram @xeniaoffwhite !