Elena Shumilova’s Dream


Image courtesy of Elena Shumilova

In spring 2012,  Russian architect and mother Elena Shumilova got her first DSLR camera, and by Christmas the same year she became a renowned photographer. In early 2014 her name was all over the internet, and by the end of the year she had been featured in media worldwide. Her story is nothing short of magic.

I saw Elena’s photographs on Flickr in April 2013 and fell in love with them. Back then I had almost zero chance of ever meeting her. I could only dream.

Like in a fairy tale, my dreams came true. Elena Shumilova and Brendan Diver ( Photos From Ireland) hosted her first ever European photography workshop in a beautiful village of Ballyliffin, Inishowen Peninsula, Co. Donegal. I had enrolled for the workshop to have the time of my life. Here is my first post if you missed it.

elena shumilova workshop

The luckiest part of it was that I had been helping Elena with interpreting – very little, in fact, since she has good conversational English, but because of this interpreting I had the opportunity to talk with her and to know her as a person.

Elena’s beautiful face radiates that kind of inner peace, you immediately know that she would never pass judgment, never envy, fight, or hate. She is down to earth, caring, intelligent, focused and mature.

Elena says that the famous dog was never photogenic and she almost gave up on him. Then, one day, the photograph ‘just happened’.

elena shumilova

Image courtesy of Elena Shumilova

Inspiration is crucial, and it should be limitless. Don’t start if you are not inspired. No technical skill will make your viewer empathize with your work. Only the soul and emotional pulse of your photograph matters.

My advice – it is not necessary to look for inspiration in faraway places. Rather, look deep within yourself, your home, your backyard, familiar view from your window. People often get bored with their familiar surroundings and want to leave them for something more exciting, even if it is only in their dreams. I think that it is very important to retain the thrill and fondness for your surroundings, and at the same time focus your eyes and your mind on creating an aesthetically perfect story during both shooting and editing’ – Elena Shumilova

elena shumilova

Image courtesy of Elena Shumilova

When should we look for inspiration?  Elena suggests that we should look for inspiration even when we feel down, when we are going through the difficult times in our life. It is when we can be most creative.

‘Shoot when the season isn’t ‘beautiful’ in traditional sense, when the trees aren’t golden anymore, their branches stripped of leaves; overcast skies, dirty melting snow, puddles of slush and mud; withered, colorless grass. Wind, snow, rain – everything can look attractive and make a great photograph. Beauty isn’t only about sunshine, lush green grass and blooming flowers.’ – Elena Shumilova

elena shumilova

Image courtesy of Elena Shumilova

Elena rarely takes full face shots.  She believes that your body  expresses emotion  better than your face. Poses and gestures are the best story tellers.


Image courtesy of Elena Shumilova

Elena Shumilova’s Photography Workshop was run under the motto Turn Your Dream into Pictures. These words reveal the core of Elena’s exceptional standing as an artist. It was a great experience to see her work; to see how her vision had planted seeds of creativity in her students.

elena shumilova

elena shumilova

Below, two of Elena’s images from the photo shoot in Inishowen.

elena shumilova

elena shumilova

Images courtesy of Elena Shumilova

What is Elena’s personal dream? She wants to make a film. Best of luck with that, Elena! Thank you for these three days of magic and inspiration!

You can see and purchase Elena Shumilova’s artwork here.

More to follow…

IneseMjPhotographyHave a wonderful weekend!


  1. What a lovely set of visuals. What strikes me is Elena’s ability to make her photographs so soothing. There’s something calming. I must confess, I hadn’t heard of her until I read your post. Thanks for such a wonderful post!

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment! It was a wonderful experience to learn from Elena. The most amazing is the fact that it is not about her camera or her Photoshop techniques, but solely about her vision and artistic imagination.

  2. Her pictures are lovely and she is so right about inspiration. It’s not technicalities that make photos good.

    1. Hi Imelda! Aren’t they special? Her works have influenced thousands of children and family photographers since 2012. They are magical 🙂
      Hope you are doing well. My best wishes!

      1. Come to think of it, yes. Many children photos I see these days have the same feel as Elena’s. Oh, thanks for the well wishes. I am doing well unless I think otherwise. 🙂 🙂

  3. I have seen the photos by Elena of the boy & the dog several places and absolutely love them! Lucky you are to have been able to work with her and get to know her.

    I also have to say I just had a discovery myself that aligns with her inspirational quote:

    ‘Shoot when the season isn’t ‘beautiful’ in traditional sense, when the trees aren’t golden anymore, their branches stripped of leaves; overcast skies, dirty melting snow, puddles of slush and mud; withered, colorless grass. Wind, snow, rain – everything can look attractive and make a great photograph. Beauty isn’t only about sunshine, lush green grass and blooming flowers.’

    We just visited the Rockies last weekend looking for some nice winter images. We had bad weather all week with rain and fog – so all those photos of blue sky and reflections in the lakes was not going to happen. But then I tried to refocus on what else I could capture and ended up with some of the most lovely photos I have taken in the Rockies!

    Lovely post Inese!

    1. Wow, it is a wonderful story, Inger! So often we are missing our “best pictures” because we keep our eyes on the things we have imagined, instead of focusing on the things that are given to us now, in front of our eyes. It is fantastic that you had such an experience. Have a happy, productive week, and I look forward to seeing your pictures from the Rockies.

  4. This is something else, I had read and looked in amazement at her website and a post she had written about a year ago. Passed it onto a couple of photography friends and we are all so impressed by the beauty and dedication she had towards photography. This is beautiful, great post Inese!

    1. Thank you so much Randall! You can organize and host a workshop with Elena. She is a very inspiring lady, and very genuine. Thank you again for your kind comment!

  5. “look deep within yourself, your home, your backyard…” I like Elena Shumilova’s advice.
    Thank you for the post, I find it very inspiring!

    Vivienne X

  6. It’s evident from this post that Elena is an exceptionally talented and inspirational photographer. Your description of her and her lovely, caring nature and aura of inner peace endears her to us all. How lovely that she took the time to work with local people – giving advice and sharing her ideas. How great that you got to work so closely with her, too. Her photos you’ve shown here are wonderful! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! Elena is doing a workshop in March, somewhere near London, but as far as I know it was sold out before it got properly advertised 🙂 Then a workshop in Italy in April, and one in the lavender fields of Moldova in June. All sold out 🙂
      For the village of Ballyliffin, it was a major event. So many friendships were born 🙂
      There are many talented photographers, all different and recognizable. Elena is one of the best. She shares all her secrets, thousands follow her, and she is still unique. Writers use the same letters and words, but each great author is unique. That’s the magic of art.

      1. From what you sy, Elena has that certain something, charisma perhaps, that makes her so likeable and popular. She is also so generous with her help and support of others. It would be impossible not to love and admire someone like that. Thank you for telling us about such a talented and caring person, Inese. 🙂

        1. You know, it is all so natural in her – she doesn’t do anything to increase her popularity. She doesn’t think of such things 🙂 Her sense of taste is so refined that you can see it not only in her art, but in her relationships and choices, in her generosity, tactfulness, consideration. Even if she were not talented, I would be happy to call her a friend.

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