How this fashion photographer turned her passion for self-portraits into a microstock business

Sam Potenciano
Sam Potenciano

In the world of stock photography, where commercially-appealing content reigns supreme, Evgeniya Porechenskaya’s colorful, eccentric body of work stands out precisely due to her rejection of traditional norms.

Photo by Evgeniya Porechenskaya on Canva

A browse through her extensive online portfolio reveals a boldly expressive style that preserves her artistic individuality while still balancing the needs of potential clients.

Her journey towards discovering this creative sweet spot, however, started much earlier in her career—back to her days as a student still defining her own personal relationship with photography.

Falling in love with photography

Photo by Evgeniya Porechenskaya on Canva

Falling in love with the art of photography from an early age, Evgeniya initially found herself drawn to the creative satisfaction that came from producing instant photos with her trusty Polaroid camera.

As time progressed, her skills and self-proclaimed love for the hobby grew, eventually prompting her to enroll in a journalism course to develop a more in-depth understanding of the subject.

“Unfortunately, at the time, I did not have many photographer friends that I could consult or shoot with,” she explains. “But I met a lot of young musicians who would often ask me to help them create unusual photographs.” It was through these initial collaborations with fellow aspiring artists that Evgeniya learned to truly hone her skills and develop her own unusual aesthetic.

Developing a creative process

Photo by Evgeniya Porechenskaya on Canva

Typified by a fearless and unapologetic embrace of saturated color, Evgeniya’s work initially appears to have more in common with pop artwork than traditional stock photography. “Its seems to me that color is more important in my work rather than the subject of my photographs,” she says. “I would describe my work as color-conceptual experiments.”

Looking through her photos, you might expect her to rattle off inspirations that range anywhere from pop art icon Andy Warhol to fashion photographer David LaChappelle—but the truth is, her signature style is mostly just a result of her own experimentation.

“When I was starting out, I didn’t have the work of other photographers to inspire me,” she shares. “I didn’t have the access to the magazines and books that I do now. All I had were my own experiments, so I had to simply draw inspiration from what I created myself.”

Discovering self-portraiture

Photo by Evgeniya Porechenskaya on Canva

Around the same time she began experimenting with her photographic style, Evgeniya had also just passed training to be a professional makeup artist. This combination of complementary skills led to a lightbulb moment in her work.

I realized that I could use this skill to do my own makeup, as well as model for my own photos,” she says. “It's more interesting for me to do everything myself—to think and act as both model and photographer.”

This creative epiphany is what led Evgeniya down the path of photography that she is most passionate about: a combination of fashion and self-portraiture.

Exploring microstock photography

Photo by Evgeniya Porechenskaya on Canva

In attempting to make a living through her artistic passions, Evgeniya stumbled upon the concept of microstock photography. “Over time, I just found myself becoming more and more interested in and attracted to it as a business model.” she says.

Her first attempts to sell her images to stock agencies, however, weren’t without their challenges. “The first real challenges I encountered were associated with the numerous rejections of my photos,” she admits. “The reasons for which were usually technical issues like white balance error, excessive saturation, and the excessive use of filters.”

It was during this learning period that Evgeniya discovered the importance of resilience in the face of rejection. “Through trial and error, many of the photos that were initially rejected were eventually adopted,” she says proudly. “And some of them are even still in demand!”

‘Thinking wider’ with Canva

Photo by Evgeniya Porechenskaya on Canva

Soon after selling her images online, Evgeniya began contributing images to Canva’s photo library. “At the time, Canva was closed for registration,” she recalls, “But luckily, I was invited to join.”

Off the bat, she describes her experience with the platform as refreshing in comparison to other stock agencies because of its design applications. “Canva acts as a constructor of designs,” she explains, “and I like that people can incorporate my photos into their own design ideas.”

Another plus is that Canva is “the only microstock agency where you can actually see where you work is used. As a contributor, that data is very interesting and useful.” Simply being able to view her photography within the context of other people’s Canva creations has helped her develop a fuller understanding of the impact of her work.

Photo by Evgeniya Porechenskaya on Canva

“I’ve found my work everywhere,” she shares. “In designs for billboards, websites, advertising booklets, clothing, smartphone cases, even stationary.” Gaining access to this information has ultimately helped her identify the kind of work that buyers enjoy and, therefore, produce more efficiently. 

She also credits the platform with helping her create a sense of balance between her artistic and commercial ambitions. “It helped me understand that there is always a client who will appreciate your ideas,” she says. “I still like to experiment, but now I also consider myself a commercial artist.”

The greatest takeaway from Evgeniya’s experience with Canva is that it allows her to, in her own words, “think wider.”

Her advice to other your photographers interested in selling their work online? “Don’t limit yourself to the settings of your camera,” she advises. “In the larger scheme of things, your camera is just a tool.”

To download more of Evgeniya’s work, visit her portfolio on Canva.