Synchrodogs - On their own path

Tania Shchegloba and Roman Noven - Interview Flavio Affonso

As they say: Synchrodogs, the duo formed by Roman Noven and Tania Shcheglova, can often be found exploring the Ukrainian Carpathians by motorbike. I knew about them where they meet eachother, “on some photography website (which seems so dead by now as it was 10 years ago)”. Unconventional, exceptional, unique. I’ve always wanted to know more about their perspective of the intimate relationship between human beings and nature, “discovering how far people managed to intrude into territories that were meant to be wild”.

How do you knew each other?

We are from two different cities 8 hours by train from each other so we met in the city between his and mine. It felt so easy to shoot together that we never stopped.

I know you are from Ukraine, but where are you living now?

We live in Ivano-Frankivsk, as it’s a city near the mountains and we have airport here. Basically we travel a lot as most of our projects and collaborators are abroad, but now we are on quarantine (just like the rest of the world) and having to stay here at home for so long we at last have time to work on pictures from our endless archives.

How did you find your style in photography?

It came quite naturally, we were experimenting a lot and shooting in natural environment, which has always been our main inspiration. At the same time we never thought about any limitations or borders, just rejected to think that something was not available to us. Only laziness stops people from creating something difficult or innovative, so when we planned shooting in very distinct place we looked for grant to get funding for travel, when we needed a camera to shoot we applied for competitions where we could win one (and we won it several times in fact), when we needed props or costumes we made them with our hands. Hundreds of times we got frozen, sunburnt, scratched and bruised, but made a shot we wanted to.

It has been always this format, Roman takes the pictures and Tania is in front of the camera?

In our duo we both are photographers and art directors, and nobody is a model. First comes the idea and vision, and then we both just work to make it look like we planned.

I do not see a naked painted woman and a landscape in your photographs, I most see one completed scenario where one needs for the other to complete a meaning, like a one second performance, but please tell me how do you work. It seems you take the camera and travel around the globe to see where is the place, but your process of creating a picture is still unreachable for me. Would you tell me about your process of work?

We have a black book of ideas where we write down all that comes to mind, mostly via night time meditation or real life observation, and then when a time comes, and we feel the ideas can be put together to tell a story, we get prepared for a long trip. We are always looking for locations that are hard to be reached by people, and that automatically means it would be a difficult trip for us as well. We always get mentally prepared for adventure. It may take up to 1 year to prepare a project and then we shoot it in 1-2 month, usually renting a 4×4 car that can bring us to lands rarely attended by humans. Because of the complexity of ideas we always carry huge suitcases filled with props and setting design elements to make installations, all the time of shooting we indeed do not look glamorous, all the time meeting dangers like snakes or spiders. This year we were shooting in Andaman islands (partly inhibited by aborigines who killed a tourist some years ago) and also were spending lots of time on the beach with mangrove trees (famous for crocodiles attacking people) – who would ever select those places to shoot and have a vacation?

What can you tell me about wild landscapes and human being?

Nature is wild and unpredictable, just like humans are. But the message of our art is to show how interconnected it all is, changing the environment we change ourselves.

What do you want to cause in the viewer with your photographs?

First of all we just want to inspire people to live a less urbanized kind of life and appreciate nature more, to wake peoples consciousness up a bit.

Do you work different in commercial and personal projects?

For us commercial shootings are like exercise for brain, as there is always some topic or theme, and the works not only have to be interesting, but also corresponding to the mood and aesthetic of the brand or magazine.

What inspires you? Music, books, life, love, dreams, where does your work begins?

Apart from photography we like making video (and started working in this direction recently), also we love driving enduro bike, it gives lots of adventures, Roman loves making electronic music, learns to play piano this year, Tania is making jewelry as we have our charitable project called Crystaltania. All jewelry pieces are made from beads we collect while traveling all over the world, money from sales goes to different charitable purpose every time – sometimes we buy Christmas presents for kids in orphanages, sometimes buy out animals from poachers who want to kill them for fur. All those activities make us equally happy.

What are you working on these days?

We are working on video about Synchrodogs for one magazine, also editing our showreel we worked on while traveling this winter, which would be something like our video portfolio, as we would love to work on music or fashion video soon. Also during quarantine we made a lot of new photographs, literally enough to make a nice new book or publish in big magazines when they contact us for fresh material.

Would you choose 4 of your pictures and tell me what do you see?

No matter which pictures we select from “Reverie Sleep” project we see ourselves freezing, from “Supernatural project” – running from snakes or swimming spiders, “Animalism, Naturalism” – escaping from police or guardians, “Slightly Altered” – making difficult installations meant to live for one day only before we take a picture of them and destroy.  Any picture from any project since 2013 is a lot of organization and a though location search, it is when we took things seriously and much less spontaneous then before. It is also when we became conscious about all alternations planet Earth is facing and got the understanding of how we can actualize those issues and make images visually informative, in spite of all difficulties that stand on the way of realizing any idea.

Synchrodogs is a duo of photographers from Ukraine – Tania Shcheglova (b.1989) and Roman Noven (b.1984) working together since 2008.