The Land of Magic


This time I will share some of my pictures that I have taken during  Elena Shumilova’s workshop and edited for this blog. To those who haven’t read my previous posts about the workshop, there are two links: and

To start with, I want to make it clear that I have never had any intention to copy Elena’s style, but I did wonder how she makes all her images to look so warm and alive, and how she brings every single detail of her composition to perfection.  I wanted my photographs to be perfect too :). I did learn some of Elena’s techniques, I came home enriched and joyous,  but I know that it is just a beginning of a magic journey, where hard work and inspiration walk side by side.

Elena’s workshop encouraged me to use my painting skills in my photography – something that I do very seldom, and only when it is absolutely necessary.  Elena says that to know is not enough. It will take time and experience to learn what opacity and brush size to choose, and where to put a stroke.

I was playing with Photoshop, and want to share the pictures I have edited straight after the workshop. Some are heavily painted, some just retouched. There are no added textures or presets – I have only used Photoshop brushes and painted manually. If you don’t mind, could you please tell which of the images you like better.

This is Sean. I know, I know, it is impossible to take a bad picture with Sean as a model. I am so grateful that he agreed to model for us, and sure he deserves a better portrait than this one I took on the run. Sean is a musician, a local Father Christmas, and one of the nicest men I ever met, with a personality larger than life.

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I have always had a love for backlit scenes. Unfortunately we got that thick cloud sitting on the horizon –  there goes the golden and dreamy light… This one got a little bit of light though.


In this image, I painted the background more deliberately, making it look like watercolor.


In the opening image, I painted it a night. This is the real scene, with just a basic editing.


In the end of the day we are all exhausted. Tried my best to squeeze a smile.

Sean Derry

Some more photographs to acknowledge our beautiful models.


elena shumilova workshop


elena shumilova workshop

That’s it from the workshop. In my next blog I will share some pictures of Inishowen –  the land of magic and beautiful people.

I had been on the road many hours, and did a lot of thinking ( it is probably why I had missed my turn and got lost somewhere between County Cavan and Monaghan)…

As we are living our life, unpleasant things happen. We may meet some people or groups of people who act unethically and mean; who destroy others with lies and themselves with envy. We can get hurt. We can be targets or collateral damage victims. There is some ugliness always lurking in the shadows, but you know what? The rest of the life is magic! Most of our life is magic. I would be a fool if I let this perfect life to be overshadowed with bitterness and negativity. This precious, exciting, glorious life! Sadness, and even frustration takes over at times, but the magic has never failed me – after every unpleasant experience something wonderful happens.

I would love to share another few links as a Thank you to all of those who made that weekend unforgettable.

Strand Hotel, Ballyliffin – highly recommended!

Famine Village  – photo shoot location

Malin Stables



Irish TV

And again, thank you Elena Shumilova and Brendan Diver, and all our beautiful models! More workshops scheduled for 2016, including two in the USA ( Long Island and Orange County).

More to follow…

IneseMjPhotographyHave a wonderful weekend!


    1. Oh that is too kind of you. Have you seen my previous blog post? Elena’s images are perfectly composed and technically excellent. I am only learning how to apply the technique, and I am not even sure it will work out well with my style. These pictures are only my homework, and if you think they are good, it makes me very happy. Yet, it is only a homework and I am planning my own project for near future. Thank you for believing in me!

        1. Thank you! 🙂 The models were hand-picked by Elena, and of course all the pictures are more or less staged. The only personal touch in these pictures is my own editing. Some of them are composites – I won’t reveal every secret, don’t want to kill the magic 🙂 I used these techniques before, in my graphic work, and only a few times in my photography – to save a ruined image. Thank you again!

  1. Boy, these are simply stunning. While you are so correct in the magic Sean brings into a photo…what you have done with the photos of your little models are amazing. Those photos are as if taken from a dream ~ simply beautiful. I cannot imagine the processing you took ~ but can confirm 100% that what you have create is incredible, and you have me wishing to join a future course 🙂 Wish you a great weekend Inese.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! They mean a lot to me. You can host a workshop in your city, I am sure that Elena will agree. Think about that 🙂 The workshop in Ireland was her first, and now she is invited to almost every country in Europe.
      Wish you a great weekend too! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Linda! The girls are adorable! You can imagine that I have got hundreds of pictures, and it took me an hour or so just to make a choice 🙂 We had the most gorgeous models one could wish for. Thank you again!

  2. I really enjoyed The Land of Magic today, Inese. Your photos, your models, your earnest learnings, and your words — you clearly demonstrate a love for life, the real magic of all. 🙂

  3. As wonderful as they all are, I kept returning to the very first, as if it were illustrating or telling part of a story.

  4. Breathtaking, Inese. So beautiful. Difficult to choose. I love the black and white picture of Sean and the one with the lantern is also gorgeous although all are great (the girls are so pretty!). I agree with Teagan that they’d make great book covers, but they’d also be lovely inside of your own photography book…:)

    1. Thank you so much Olga! Really happy that you like the same pictures that I like 🙂 Now I am looking for a lantern. It does look great, and I want to own my own 🙂

    1. Thank you! She has two workshops scheduled for 2016 – in Long Island and Orange County. I think $800 for two days? Anyway, if you live in a different state and can arrange a workshop, just contact Elena. These two are her first workshops in the US.
      Thank you again!

  5. These are all amazing… Full of magic, of stories behind them. Difficult to choose one! But I would go for the portrait of Sean with a lamp and the little girl. I love the others as well! But there is something very special in that one. I have also loved the following picture, with you, it’s great to see you!
    Have a wonderful weekend too! xx

    1. Thank you so much Montserrat! I am sure you would pick up some beautiful music to go with the pictures 🙂 I too love the pictures with Sean – but it is not possible to take a bad picture with him 🙂
      Love xx

  6. How absolutely fascinating, Inese- I love the air of mystery this technique gives! Great set of images, I can’t choose….

  7. A love specially the photographs with the laterns, I think they give a nice contrast of warmness to the blue atmosphere; and also they make me think in the kind eyes and warm smile of the portraited persons.
    About the unethical people, I guess they need help, probably once other persons when kids could make them harm so they could be victims as well, just they didn’t have the chance to break the wheel of hate and envy.
    Thank you, Inese. I don’t see a copied style but your skill to get the moment with the richness of knew knowledge. Greetings.

    1. Thank you so much Francis! I agree with you that most of unpleasant people are victims – either of their own vices, or misled by others. It is why I take it easy. I am busy fighting with myself 🙂 Anyway, this trip was amazing, and I look forward to going back 🙂 Thank you for your words of encouragement!

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