Evgeny Tchebotarev is a co-founder of 500px, a global online community and marketplace based on photography that now has over 12 million users. With experience as both a professional and a hobby photographer, he travels extensively and is currently based in southeast Asia. He continues to shoot voraciously while helping companies expand their business to China and Southeast Asia.
I shot everything in my path
When I was 14 years old digital cameras were new on the market and very expensive, but I desperately wanted one. I saved my birthday money, did odd jobs and eventually had enough to spend my first life’s savings on a digital camera. When I started, I shot basically everything that stood in my way — flowers, cats, portraits. The photos were terrifyingly bad, but I loved it.
Making time for photography
My first work as a professional photographer was selling photos to lifestyle and architectural magazines, often accompanied by articles about architecture and interviews with architects. When I was building up 500px, I continued shooting, especially landscape shots. I would get up early to meet the sunrise, patiently setting everything up and waiting for the right time. I sold quite a few photos but mainly I wanted to stay connected with my hobby and the community we were building. However, when 500px really started to grow, I became so focused on creating a platform that others could use that my own photography began to suffer. I was in the office during the good light and didn’t have time for the photo expedition trips that I so enjoyed. Eventually, I decided to consciously make time for photography again and started going on remote photography tours and spending time with other passionate photographers. I traveled to Tibet, Iceland, Alaska and Patagonia. The beauty of these landscapes and the excitement of the photographers around me brought my own passion back.
Shooting more than ever
I consider myself a hobby photographer and now that I’ve left 500px, I’m shooting more than ever, lots of urban scenes and portraits. I find the density and verticality of Shanghai and Hong Kong very inspirational — you have the feeling that it never ends. Also, life is so unbalanced because of the extreme wealth and the extreme poverty that seems to be everywhere. The visual contrast that many photographers seek is naturally all around.
Sharing makes us strive
Sharing our photos is important because we are all striving to become better. Being part of a community pushes us. It’s a place that triggers your curiosity and where it’s safe to bounce ideas. When I look at other’s photos, I’m filled with questions. Where is that place? What technology did he use? How could I use what I’ve seen and make it my own?
When photos matter
Printing your photos in large format makes them significant. Even an average photo becomes significant because someone chose to print it and hang it. That matters. There’s a story in it. My own apartment is filled with so many large wall prints that I’ve literally run out of wall space. I hang photos that make me feel calm, mostly landscape and architectural photos that are easy on the eyes but will also be appreciated by people that come to my home. You can definitely tell that a photographer lives there. I have three photos in the living room, three in the bedroom and three in the bathroom.
Patagonia is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. I was standing there, looking at the scenery with my own eyes and thinking, “That’s not real.” It blew my mind.
I have a stunning Xpozer print from Yosemite National Park in the winter. I arrived there during a snowstorm and hunkered down for the night. The next morning all of the trees were heavy with snow. I trekked to a river that was brilliant blue and started setting up my equipment. Standing in the deep snow, my shoes were soaked and my feet freezing, but I captured the scene just as I wanted using a 30-second exposure. Especially after everything I’d been through and all of the effort, I really wanted to get it right. And I did.
“Printing your photos makes them significant.” Evgeny Tchebotraev
You’re reading “Amazing Photography” on Photofocus and own the printed version, too*
*Offer applies to the United States only
Every other week a new photo and the story behind it will be published here on Photofocus. Clemens and Ivan have made copies of “Amazing Photography” available for the cost of shipping — $8.99 alone. The book retails for $29.99 regularly. Here are some highlights …
- More than 100 breathtaking photos by professional and hobby photographers
- 13 personal stories from pro’s and hobbyists such as Albert Dros (pro-photographer), Laura Vink (pro-photographer), Andre Kuipers (astronaut and photographer), Ori Guttin (co-founder Viewbug) and Evgeny Tchebotarev (co-founder 500px)
- 4 practical photo guides to help you enjoy your photos to the max
- 7 DIY quick fixes for unexpected photography situations
- World’s top 15 under-the-radar spots for stunning photos
- Would you rather …? A hypothetical photography game for friends
- The science behind how your photos can affect your happiness and well-being.