Ilanna Barkusky: Color Series


Heidi: A significant portion of your photo career was steeped in the ski industry, what are you bringing forward from that experience creatively, and what are you leaving behind?                                                                                                                            Ilanna: Skiing was my foundation for a creative career. Over those years, I learned how to conceptualize and pull together the images I wanted to create. I loved shooting for the magazines, and the democratic nature of submitting your best work at the end of the season to photo editors around the world. I always had a plan for the creative images I wanted to capture over the winter. I used to organize night shoots at the local mountains or convince a group to build and ride a Mount Seymour backcountry jump at sunset. I learned the benefits of going the extra mile to create a photo when I saw them published in some of my favorite magazines. That made hiking with photo gear in my backpack or dealing with the elements entirely worth it. When I started broadening my horizons outside of skiing, I left behind having such a specific niche driving my creativity. With that, I gave myself permission to experiment and dive into different genres.

How has this project helped you transition from Canada to California?
This series got a significant amount of traction, which luckily coincided with the transition and growth of moving from Canada to California. Through that, I learned the real importance of personal work, and how it can truly be the catalyst needed to achieve your wildest goals.

What made you choose courts and how do you find them?
I was looking to intersect movement and shadows with shapes and lines. Tracks, as well as tennis and basketball courts, was a perfect fit for the concept I was looking to explore. Finding these locations was straight forward. I would sometimes browse Google Earth, but I also kept an eye out for them in my daily life once the project was underway. One of my favorite locations that I shot for basketball and skateboarding was found out of the corner of my eye while driving on a bridge in my hometown of Vancouver.

Why the drones?
I originally bought a drone because I wanted to be on the cutting edge of something new and exciting within photography. I quickly realized that the overhead, top-down angle of a drone creates these simplistic compositions that I really gravitate towards. Not only is it a unique perspective that many of us do not see on a regular basis, but it also feels like a poetic way to look at the world.

Where and how are you finding the talent?
For the Colour Series, I was mainly asking friends of mine to be a part of the project. Over the years, I’ve been able to work with such incredible athletes and meet wonderful people along the way. I always circle back and ask people I’ve worked with previously to keep shooting together. I really thrive on creative collaboration, and it is one of my favorite aspects of the job.

What sport has replaced the experience and flow of skiing for you, if any?
I think it will be hard for any sport to replace the space that skiing held for me. That aside, in terms of a similar experience, I have always been obsessed with the ocean. I’m looking to spend more time in the water whether it is surfing, paddling, and getting my scuba certification.

What have you been working on lately?
My most recent project was one of the most rewarding so far! I directed and produced a personal project called Simply Stronger with 6 different athletes and an amazing crew. We ended up with a 45s spot and some creative cutdown videos anywhere from the 6-15 second range.

Why the 6 second challenge?
If the idea of something scares me, I try to give it a go at the first available opportunity to demystify it. The idea of condensing storytelling into a 6 second timeframe seemed daunting, but it is also needed in today’s advertising/commercial landscape. We incorporated some motion design into the final cuts, which I think really elevated the final product. I’m looking forward to doing more!

Recommended Posts