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. This is so beautiful! I really needed this today. Especially about finding inspiration even when life is hard. I love this. Thank you for sharing it 💗

    1. You know, it was something that Elena said in a personal conversation, not during the class. She said that people who are going through a difficult time in their life should use it as an opportunity to create.

  2. So many beautiful shots. The lighting and colors are perfect. I see that shot of the dandelions, and all I can think of are fairies dancing. My compliments to the artist behind the lens!

          1. Well if she isn’t, she should be. Your stuff is just as awesome if not moreso. Anyone who can capture her own reflection in the eye of a bird should be considered Grade A++++++++++++++++++ and so on.

            1. Haha Jean, thank you! You MUST come to Ireland and see these birds. They let you come so close that you can see your own reflection and all the background in their eyes. The most peaceful creatures ever.

  3. Excellent post, dear Inese… the photographs are amazing and the atmosphere very dreamy… thanks for sharing, my friend…
    Sending much love and best wishes. Aquileana ☀️

  4. I know her works and admiring her images – she is a brilliant photographer and knows how to use available light perfectly! What a great opportunity you had to meet and even join in he workshop also as her interpreter! I am sure it must be a fruitful one!

    1. Thank you so much Indah! I loved every minute, and feel very lucky. It was her first European workshop, and 2016 is all sold out before any real advertising takes place, actually 🙂 Fantastic success!

  5. How incredible! I love the photos of the little boy with the huge dog. We had an Old English Sheepdog when my son was a toddler and it brought back memories. The interview captured some great wisdom.

      1. I found our dog in my daughter’s bed this morning. She is such a tail wagger that she can’t hide at all. She hears me coming and gets so excited. Our dogs aren’t allowed in the bed but as you said, children and animals have that connection and rule-bending thing xx Rowena

  6. Very interesting. I think a lot of what she said about finding inspiration in the ordinary and the everyday also applies to writing. It was also great from the photographs to see how Father Christmas spends his time off.

    1. You will see more of that Father Christmas next week 😉 Oh don’t worry, I don’t mean the weather 😉 And you are right, he truly is the one, at least for Derry and surroundings.

  7. Wow! that is a life time experience to meet the person you are inspired of her works. I would be so thrill. Thank you for sharing few pieces of her works and her wisdom (it is hard to do at least for me).

    1. It was a magic experience. She is doing another workshop in England in March, and in Italy in May, but Ireland was her first European workshop 🙂 Go Donegal! 🙂

        1. Thank you so much! It was the very first Elena’s European workshop. I will write more about the location and the photo shoot. Three more workshops – in Italy, England and Moldova were sold out in a matter of hours. So proud for Donegal!

    1. I m just wondering – I am not able to see your blog. When I click on your link there is a post I ‘liked’ ages ago, and nothing else. Could you please give me the right link. Thank you! 🙂

  8. The photos are exquisite beyond compare and I believe once the eye is aware of the artist, you’d automatically know when you were seeing a shot by Shumilova. Few photographers reach such an ordained status but I think she’s alreay comfortably in the ball park. I’m happy you had this opportunity and were able to share it with us.

    1. Thank you Sheri! Now many photographers use her techniques, but three years ago it was like a revelation. Nevertheless, knowing techniques is not everything 🙂 She is an artist, and she will always be unique. As to her personality – even if she haven’t known how to hold a camera, I would still be proud to call her a friend.

      1. Inese, that says so much about her as an artist and a human being. I’ve always believed that to be a truly fine artist [like yourself] you have to be an individual connected to the soul of the earth and all that live upon it.
        Her scenes touched me in so many different ways. Emotionally she walked into my heart – the same as many of your works. Thank you for sharing her work with us.

        1. Sheri, thank you so much for this kind comment! I truly agree with what you are saying. There are gifted people who change the world, and there are some who change hearts.
          Thank you again!

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