Karina Dobra’s journey from Belarus to LA with 80 countries in between

24 September, 2018

Written by: Allan Weitz

Karina Dobrykava has traveled far since leaving her native Belarus. How far? She’s traveled to about 80 countries before enrolling as a student at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. (Yup, you read that right… 80 countries… that’s not a typo.)

Karina, who has since shortened her last name to a user-friendlier ‘Dobra’, began taking pictures with her parents Kodak camera when she was about 12 years old. Her passion for photography crystallized during a family trip to Nyasvizh, an old city in Belarus known for intriguing castles, churches, and other forms of architecture. Since then she's been looking at the world and telling stories from a photographic point-of-view. In her own words, "Photography is my passion - I never looked at it as work."

While she was in high school and working on her first Bachelor degree at Minsk State Linguistic University she began traveling with a camera always at the ready - first a simple point-and-shoot and in 2008 she an honest-to-gosh DSLR. Her travels took her to Central America, back to Belarus for a short spell, followed by a stint photographing the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. From Sochi she spent time in Dubai, Chicago, and ultimately to Los Angeles, California - a place she's called home for the past two years.

Though her original goal was to become a National Geo-type of shooter, she soon found herself increasingly attracted to fashion photography. Karina's work is culturally design-oriented and often with a clear narrative behind the imagery. Knowing she'd have to up her game if she wanted to go professional, she began researching schools and ultimately chose to enroll at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles.

Karina can't speak highly enough when it comes to the faculty, staff, and studio facilities at the NYFA/LA. She's grown immensely both technically and creatively since enrolling. Aside from her instructors, Karina looks to photographers such as National Geographic's Paul Nicklin, Steve McCurry, and renowned fashion shooters including Helmut Newton and David LaChapelle and Miles Aldridge. She also draws inspiration from fine art painters such as Caspar David Friedrich, Francisco Goya, and other Romantic period painters of the mid-19th century.

Before enrolling at NYFA/LA, Karina’s experience with artificial lighting was zip. She’s since gone gung-ho learning everything she can about lighting by experimenting with the numerous toys in the school’s vast lighting library.

Depending on whether she's working in the studio or on location, Karina uses her personal Profoto B2 Monolights or the school's Profoto B1X Off-Camera Flash and Profoto D2 Monolights. One of her favorite light modifiers is the Profoto 5' RFi Softbox Octa, followed Profoto Softlight Reflectors - both White and Silver depending on the mood and tone of he photograph. With time she intends to continue building her personal lighting system as her needs (and cash flow) grow.

More than a body behind a camera, Karina fully involves herself in the production and styling of all of her projects. She has pictures in her head and understands how to bring them to realization.

Though Karina is well aware of the competition she will be going up against when she graduates she fully intends

to meet here goal of landing a major fashion account, maybe two or three. She would also like to pursue her interests in fine art and documentary photography, but one thing at a time, as she is well aware it takes time to discover oneself, unveil one's talents, and develop a signature style one can be recognized by. For now Karina Dobra's course is to as she puts it - follow her soul, her spirit, and take it to the highest levels.

To see more of Karina's images please visit her website and Instagram.

Written by: Allan Weitz