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best of 2015
Dolly Faibyshev
New York City

Dolly Faibyshev's editorial and personal work focuses primarily on the meaning of the "American Dream" in its myriad forms. An American born to Russian immigrants, the fantasy of America was ingrained in her from a young age. Her vivid images, shot with a hard flash to reject a glossy veneer, are regularly seen in the pages of New York, The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine.

© Dolly Faibyshev

© Dolly Faibyshev


“If anything, my understanding has never stopped deepening,” Faibyshev says. “Every time I get a window into Americana, it opens up a new avenue of understanding of what it must have been like for that person or people or place in general.”

ASMP: Since you began photographing, has your observation and/or opinion of the American Dream changed?

Dolly Faibyshev: If anything, my understanding has never stopped deepening. Every time I get a window into Americana, it opens up a new avenue of understanding of what it must be like for that person or people, or a place in general. I'm always going for a mix of empathy and amusement. And it makes me want to keep looking.

ASMP: You shoot both editorial and personal work. How do you strike a balance between the two? Do you find that one informs the other in any way?

DF: Yes, they do inform each other. I try to approach editorial work from an artistic point of view; it helps me maintain my visual aesthetic, and it's just more fun to do it that way. Sometimes I'll surprise myself and get shots that resonate for me artistically from an editorial assignment.

ASMP: What are some of your favorite editorial assignments you've covered?

DF: My favorite assignments have been the ones where I've been able to put the conventional editorial style of photography behind and bring my own voice to it. Noah Rubin (the junior tennis star training for Wimbledon) and The Fountain of Youth (where Eastern Europeans sit for hours in a mineral-rich lake because they believe in its health and healing properties) for The New York Times Magazine were two favorites of mine. I entered another world at the Fountain of Youth and got to see things I've never seen through the eyes of these elderly people. There was a magical quality to it, sitting with my camera in a pond full of people who believed in magic, and it was contagious.

ASMP: What details do you look to capture when photographing events like the Pride Parade, Fashion Week or the Westminster dog show?

DF: The first things that catch my eye are visually arresting color combinations or clashes. Then I look for moments I've never seen before, such as little human details or the fleeting moment that would have gotten away, whether it's human behavior or the look of a person who might not have been singled out otherwise. The colors start me looking and the moments start me snapping. It's one of the reasons I was attracted to photography in the first place, these ephemeral ideas and emotions that images convey more readily than conversation.

ASMP: As a self-taught photographer, what sources did you consult to learn technical skill?

DF: I mostly taught myself from books and tutorials, and lots of trial and error.

ASMP: Your visual style is bright and vivid. How did you find your personal aesthetic as a photographer?

DF: I started out by experimenting with both black & white and color, and noticed over time that people responded much more to my color work — and so did I.

ASMP: What type of lighting do you usually carry?

DF: I mainly like to use various on-camera flashes. I try to keep my setup simple.

ASMP: Are there any particular photographers or other artists whose work inspires you?

DF: I constantly look for inspiration from so many artists, new and old. I love painters Salvador Dalí and Vincent Van Gogh, and photographers Thomas Demand, Philip-Lorca diCorcia and Cindy Sherman, to name a few. I recently saw a work by Nan Goldin I hadn't seen before, "French Chris at the Drive-In," and I was really moved by it. It felt like a real human moment surrounded by a slew of contemporary work that felt devoid of feeling.

ASMP: What are your favorite platforms for promoting your work?

DF: I use the usual forms of social media but also use Virb for building my personal website.

ASMP: How long have you been an ASMP member? What initially prompted you to join?

DF: I've been a member for several years. A friend in the industry suggested I join.

ASMP: What has made you stay an ASMP member?

DF: It has honestly been a really helpful resource for me in several ways. I especially love the portfolio reviews — I've met so many great people through them and I've learned a great deal from their constructive critiques.