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Longtime Belgravian Sasha Gusov can often be found sipping and snapping from his favourite coffee spot at good friend Mauro Sanna’s Olivo restaurants on Elizabeth Street.
The acclaimed photographer has worked with the likes of Jude Law, Ewan McGregor, Sir Patrick Stewart, Sir Ian McKellen, Minnie Driver and Pavarotti to name just a few of the famous faces to have appeared in front of his lens over the years.
His love of London began when he arrived here from Russia in 1988. “I was working in the restaurants making drinks when in 1992 the Bolshoi Ballet came to London for a special show at the Royal Albert Hall,” he says. Sasha somehow talked his way inside, pretending to be a well-known snapper. Amazingly, “they let me in to take all the backstage pictures and when they [the company] left I had taken 350 rolls of film. I took the pictures to the British Journal of Photography, and the editor published a spread and used my image on the cover.” After showing the magazine to EMI, Universal and other recording companies, a career taking portraits of famous singers and musicians quickly began.
His training was by no means formal. “My parents didn’t have time to look after me as my father was always travelling around Russia building nuclear power stations. When I was 13 years old I was sent to stay with my uncle one summer. He was a photographer in a small town, and although he wasn’t very creative, he was a good technical photographer. I learnt from him how to process films – and how to lie!”
Having already published several books, from The Bolshoi to People Like Us, his real passion now lies in candid shots rather than celebrity portraits. “For me as I get older the most interesting thing is to shoot obvious things you see every day, but to find something unusual about them. Maybe it’s time for me to do a tribute book to London, now I’ve been here 30 years. ”You may well spot him out and about, camera in hand. “I always carry a camera with me wherever I go, with extra lenses and film in my pocket, because candid shots on the street is still my favourite subject.”
Interestingly, he still prefers to shoot on film. “I love it because it’s much more disciplined than digital. You have 36 frames in a film and you have to know exactly what you’re shooting. This is what makes you a good photographer. You’re like a sniper, you can’t make a mistake!”
When he’s working there is no such thing as a typical day, given he could be shooting anywhere from Spain or Peru to Russia. However back home in London, routine and ritual are key.
“I live on Eccleston Street and I come to my favourite places on Elizabeth Street for coffee – Olivocarne and Olivomare – and I always take the same table outside. It’s funny because I travel all over the world, but when I’m in London I don’t travel anywhere at all – I stay right here on Elizabeth Street! All the famous politicians and actors come here to Olivo because it’s quiet and Mauro has the best food.”
To view Sasha’s work on Instagram follow
Sasha enjoys taking candid shots on the street.
A photographer is like a sniper, –
you can’t make a mistake