Yana Toyber is an Ukraine-born photographer based in New York. She has been in love with art and photography since always. Under a gentle spontaneous touch, she portrays women, lines and profiles of feminine bodies. In her art, water plays an important role as well, transforming into a sculptural element of her photography.

Which is your first photographic memory?
It’s funny. There is actually a picture of me in my crib staring at a Polaroid. It looked like it was very deep in thought. Since it was documented, I clearly remember that night and the fun photo shoot evening I had with my family.

What made me solidify my career goal to become a photographer was how images always made an impact on me and seemed to burn into my consciousness.

Could you describe yourself with a book, a song and a movie?
This is a very interesting question!
I always think I’m the star in my own movie called Yana. Book, I guess if we are talking fantasy I can relate to the Bene Gesserit Witches in Dune. Song, I can describe myself with two: Everything at once by Lenka, and Lil Kims’ verses in Quiet Storm by Mobb Deep.
Which of your pictures would you choose to introduce yourself?
In my “Sacred” series there is an image of a nude women standing on lava rock back facing the viewer with her arms up as ocean water crashes behind the rocks.
A famous picture, not yours, you would have liked to take.
Tiny in “Streetwise” series by Marry Ellen Mark. She wears a black dress and gloves and a black hat with veil she appears to be hugging her self. Also so many images Guy Bordin took.
A famous person you would like to portray.
I don’t care to portray anyone else.
How did you get close to photography?
I have always loved photography. What made me solidify my career goal to become a photographer was how images always made an impact on me and seemed to burn into my consciousness.
Speaking about “4Sale”, we know it is part of a collaborative experiment you made with other female visual artists. Could you tell us something more about this interesting and unique co-operation? How did you feel while working on it and shooting your fellows?
There was a feeling of constant creativity while doing the project. It was also widely accepted by everyone who came across it. We received a lot of press and I feel we all grew as artists during the project.
“4Sale” collects a number of underwater shots where clear, elegant and sinuous feminine bodies emerge from a dark background. They are in pair, alone, their eyes are closed and visages are often covered by hair. The atmosphere is blurry, out of focus and unclear because of water. What does water mean in your art?
I used water almost as a medium in “4Sale” and other projects as well. Almost like a sculptural element.
The duo water-women is quite frequent in your photography (“Sacred”, “Embrio” and “Rebirth”, just to mention). Where does this conceptual and artistic choice come from?
It feels natural I like the energy. Partnerships are important to me. In my work negative space is often explored and I feel like shooting two subjects in a frame is often a beautiful way to start that exploration.

I’m currently starting work on a Documentary project featuring my transgender friend.

In your spontaneous portraits we perceive a celebration of feminism. Under a gentle touch, you portray women and the lines and profiles of their bodies, in so celebrating their grace. How could you reach this effect?
I guess it’s simply my vision. I honestly do work which comes to me on a subconscious level I believe. I feel like I’m just a messenger.
The same soft and gentle touch could be perceived in the series “Working for a man”, where you describe random episodes of the oldest, but also one of the most dangerous professions in the world: prostitution. These fearless women you portray are catched in between work and waiting, never in the sexual act. Where does your curiosity for this theme come from?
The series is called “Working for THE man”, actually. It’s an American saying about working for a corporation. At the time. I was interested in comparing marriage to prostitution. How depending on men for income is so common for women in this country throughout history. Whether it be in a marriage or as a prostitute. The differences and the similarities. How socioeconomic situations lead women to choose certain careers. The project wasn’t really about acts of sex.
You left your original country many years ago. Do you remember something from Ukraine? Have you ever felt that emotion Germans define with the word Fernweh, meaning the ache for distant places, and feeling homesick for a place we have (almost) never been?
I grew up in a very Russian neighborhood in NY so I felt some connection. There were many of us living there from Ukraine. I was curious about the town I came from and I got to visit family there in 2003. That visit pretty much ended any curiosity I ever had.
Speaking now about New York, the city you are living now into, what can you tell us about its nightlife, habits and culture you have usually shot?
NY nightlife changes very rapidly. It’s fun! And often Status driven as well.
You end your personal description by saying that you live with a monster. That catched our attention even more, we dare to say. What does this mean? Could you tell us something more about it, please?
Hahaha that’s my cat name.
If you had to choose an era, which years would you like to live into? Why?
I like living here right now! It’s a very exciting time and it’s all I really know. Any other time would be a fantasy.
Your next project.
I’m currently starting work on a Documentary project featuring my transgender friend.
Your main flaw and quality.
My main flaw is bossiness. My main quality is love through acceptance.
Make a wish.
I wish for more love, understanding, health, and money!

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