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Interview FotyMody#5: Ilya Filippenko, editor and founder of project

FotyMody: Tell me, how did an idea of creation of the site NaPodiume appear? What inspired you? What guided you?
Ilya Filippenko: I live in Shanghai for several years. It`s the one of the best cities on the world where a lot of photographers and models from CIS work. After one conversation with model Sasha Lunina two years ago I understood that it is practically unreal to find a photographer who speaks Russian in China. That`s why I decided to help her to create a little site where models and photographers who work in China could find each other. As it turned out, it is difficult for a photographer to find a model and for a model to find a photographer or a make-up artist not only in China but in Russia too. Scores of people have signed up to the site for the first days of its existence. These people started to propose how to update a project and add new functions on it. The absence of similar sites and mass-media interest to the project led to snowballing growth of the quantity of registered users and two years later there were more than 2 millions of them.

FotyMody: Tell, what can such sites as NaPodiume give to tiro photographers, models and stylists and to professionals in fashion sphere?
Ilya Filippenko: The main thing which “Podium” can give to beginners who want to be in fashion world is free search of each other and civilized communication without negotiators and “connections”. Many people are afraid to start their careers because of the lack of “connections” or are afraid to be rejected because of the lack of experience. NaPodiume gives all the users equal conditions to start and ability to show their works to the professional for discussing and critics.

FotyMody: About the critics… I have met a situation when other users commented uploaded photos on your site in such way, “Oh, it is not a photographer, how he could do in such way, colours are incorrect here and pose too…” Tell me, how do you feel about critics and how it should be (you know that such comment can be a reason to “drop out of the rat race” for irresolute person)?
Ilya Filippenko: I can`t say that I like when somebody criticizes me, but when critics is interspersed by an advice or a proposition I take it as an element of education and self-perfection. Also I think that adequate critics for photographers-beginners can be taken as professional`s advice or as a simple expressing of emotions caused by a seen work. Besides that, a critic for beginner is something from category of natural selection. Yes, a very sensitive person can leave everything but at the same time how he would learn something without advices and critics?

FotyMody: You are pioneers. There are analogs of social fashion networks in Russian and Ukraine, but not any of them became such popular as NaPodiume. Why, how do you think?
Ilya Filippenko: It can sound weird but I think that project has a soul. We had not had an aim to create a commercial project which would work as a watch and bring monthly profit. We lived with this project, breathed by it and did it for our pleasure and a support of other users became the main stimulus for further development. Our users have developed, built and improved “Podium” by themselves and this project became a family with friendship, love, quarrels and intrigues. I think that non-commercial direction of the project and main idea became one of the main components of “Podium`s” success.

FotyMody: Tell about percentage correlation of fashion specialists (a photographer, a stylist, a make-up artist, a model, a scout, etc.) on the site NaPodiume. Also about the geographical correlation.
Ilya Filippenko: Models – 53%, photographers – 22%, stylists and make-up artists – 8%, scouts and representatives of the companies – 3%, actors and singers – 13%. Russia – 77%, Ukraine – 16%, Italy – 2%, other countries – 5%. By the way, specialists have calculated that 96% of all Russian and Ukrainian models have their accounts on and each second photographer have uploaded his photos on the site.

FotyMody: There is a rubric “Blogs of users” on your site. Blogging is widespread and “fashionable” occupation recently. Why is that so, how do you think?
Ilya Filippenko: People had a necessity to self-expression at all times. It is the highest level of society`s development. Nowadays modern technologies allowed people to express their emotions, feelings, observations not in the copybooks in remote box of a desk but at their laptops forward to million users of the Internet. It is the brilliant ability to display yourself, share with experience and feelings. “Magazine” is the best posts form site users` blogs. They used to be edited by our team but then more democratically system of ratings appeared. Since recently all the users of network make a decision by means of simple poll what posts will be in the “Magazine” and what stay in personal notes of user.

FotyMody: Which criteria are the principles when Top50 of the best models and photographers on your site forms? Do you know such occurrences when this “hit into top” helped people in their careers? Tell, please.
Ilya Filippenko: The poll for the best models and photographers became one of the best ideas of the site This poll is based on comparison of two random photos. That is, when you vote for one work you choose the best from random pare, then – the best from the next pair… You know, when 2 millions of people choose the best of the best models or photographer`s work simultaneously, something like a natural selection happens – it guarantees incorruptibility and absolute objectivity of voting. Recently one model from the Top50 Russian models after one day of being in this list complained to me of hundreds of propositions from model agencies – it was uncomfortably for her to use personal messages, because there were so many of them and messages from her boyfriend have lost. =)
FotyMody: Everybody upload and upload pix on your site… Aren’t you afraid that server would feed up because of big amount of gigabytes of photos? =)

Ilya Filippenko: “Pix”! =) I don`t like this word so much! We were not ready for snowballing increase of the project and servers really pulled down at the first time. The first users remember that time when “Podium” hung up for a day. We make the technical securing of the site an ideal now and we broaden the server base as far as photos are uploaded. By the way, “Podium” is the second site on the point of quantity of uploaded photos per day. You can find more at the site only.

FotyMody: You have to see thousand of photos both of photographers and models… Do not your brains get tired of great number of pictures? What kind of picture it should be to be memorized for a long time?
Ilya Filippenko: A photo which picks up is characterized by minimal quantity of time to draw attention on it. Firstly a photo picks up and then I turn my eyes on shot`s quality, composition, horizon, etc.

FotyMody: A theme of our issue is “Without Photoshop”. Your attitude to this “gadget”. When Photoshop spoils a picture and when – vice versa?
Ilya Filippenko: Photoshop was just one “toy” which was not removed by my dad after another school parent meeting in far 1993. =) Other games were removed because of my bad progress in studies. I was a third form, and I have taught almost all of it possibilities. Since that time I think that its creators are really revolutionaries in advertising world, photography and publishing. Photoshop is the thing which makes world around us beautiful, it does not matter that this world is untruthful.

FotyMody: Your projections: when Russian and Ukrainian photographers, stylists and make-up artists would be known abroad?
Ilya Filippenko: As one of the great photographers said, Russia is outdated from the photography world on 80 years because of photos of front-rank workers and countrywomen. I think that it is harsh opinion but in general it reflects the essence of the matter. Russian and Ukrainian photographers really shoot for fashion magazines in USA and Europe but there are few of them. Slavic models are lucky much more, because they are really sold like hot cakes. Every day thanks to hundreds of models from different Ukrainian and Russian cities get a job in different foreign agencies. On the other hand, speed of growth of quality of Russian and Ukrainian photographers` works promises that some Slavic names would be known in world. Personally I will use civilized competition and possibilities of the site and do all the possible to let “our” photographers extort the international level and make former USSR famous not only for “perestroika and balalaika”.

FotyMody: All these things are in the name of fashion. And why for the sake of it?
Ilya Filippenko: It’s said that fashion does not touch many people. But why then the multimillion fashion industry gathers paces? And why do I drive off my native Shanghai and see train of huge factories with logos of famous fashion brands? People who do not dress up fashionable on principle at the same time wear clothes which were fashionable ten years ago. All the world people are involved into fashion. Fashion is entity and art.

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