The Pro Files: Meet Kylie Jenner's Secret Weapon, 25-Year-Old Photographer Sasha Samsonova

We catch up with the woman behind some of Kylie's sexiest photo shoots

Photo: Source Instagram


Kylie Jenner‘s social media kontent is an art form. She could teach a course on selfie taking and lipkit swatching. Plus, she knows the exact pose for any outfit — whether it’s a new pair of Pumas or a sexy spandex dress. And while we believe Kylie has a natural-born gift for serving face to the camera, she’s also worked with some extremely talented photographers, like Sasha Samsonova.

Basically, Kylie and Sasha are a match made in Instagram heaven. If you’re not yet familiar with the photographer and film producer, stop everything, follow her on all her social media channels, and then continue reading. She’s the person behind the lens for almost all of Kylie’s “impromptu” photo shoots and “secret” projects. She’s also shot for high-fashion publications across the globe and — wait for it — she’s only 25.

We caught up with the rising star to find out how she entered the KarJenner universe, her best tips for staging our own Instagram shoots and where she plans to be in 10 years.

When did your passion for photography start?
“I’ve been doing photography for nine years now. I started when I was 16 in my home country Ukraine, and when I was 17 I did my first shoot for Harper’s Bazaar back in Europe. It was a small piece. Then after that I got picked up by a fashion editor from Marie Claire France. She picked me as a photographer to shoot for them. And then Elle reached out and I got a Harper’s Bazaar September story. It just all followed — and then I moved to L.A. I’ve been doing fashion photography my entire life.”

How has Instagram impacted your career?
“I love the Internet. I love Instagram. I never really tried to do anything to build a following. I feel like back in the day you had to just go out and party with people to make connections or have an agent to make connections for you. Now it’s not necessary because you have the Internet and social media and you can put your work out there by saying, ‘Hey, here I am and this is what I do.’ If people like it you get the response. You don’t have to fake anything. You’re just there. At least for me it’s such a relief because I am not a big party person. I definitely don’t know how to sell my own work. I’m not the person who’s gonna be like, ‘Oh, check my work out! I am really good.’ I would be the last person to try to sell somebody what I do. It’s so much easier for me because I just put my work out there and people like it. It makes me really happy.”

How did you first connect with Kylie?
“Over Instagram. She reached out to me about a year ago. She found me — she wanted to do a shoot and obviously I really wanted to do a shoot with her. We got together and we did a shoot that came out on her birthday last year. The one with all the colorful wigs. That’s what we did. That was so much fun. It was really, really great working together so we just continued doing that.”

How involved is Kylie in the process of planning her own “impromptu” photo shoots?
“She is great. Super creative. I love working with her. She knows her body well, and knows how to move and what to do with it.”

Do you get involved with the fashion direction at all?
“I have a pretty distinct vision. No matter what’s going on in the shot it’s still gonna look like my photography. I honestly don’t worry too much about the fashion or wigs — the glam part. She already has that team and Monica Rose who styles her is just insanely good. I never really worry about that. My thing is more so location and lighting and stuff like that. But like I said, I have a pretty distinct vision and no matter what it’s going to look like me.”

What’s your favorite place you’ve ever photographed Kylie?
“Oh, I really loved the desert. It was one of the first locations we ever shot at. It has beautiful lines. It has amazing lighting. It’s probably one of my favorites.”

Why do you think fans are so inspired by Kylie’s Instagram feed?
“She has really great taste and a powerful influence. The coloring is always great. Everything just looks perfect and exactly how it should. I don’t think it’s only about being famous. There are a bunch of famous people on Instagram, huge actresses and actors who don’t really have such big followings because their Instagram just looks really random, and they probably don’t take care of it whatsoever — or [they] just don’t know how to take a beautiful photo. But on her page you go there and you see everything, and it looks really amazing. You kind of want to creep around it and stare at is for hours.”

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You also shot both Kendall and Kylie for their Topshop swimwear campaign. Is there a go-to bikini pose you think is the most flattering?
“I feel like each body type would require its own pose. I try to keep it as natural as possible. I love when girls look sexy in photos, but I also need them to look like they’re not trying to look sexy. And with Kendall and Kylie they’re just naturally so gorgeous — that’s not an issue. Even if you look at all the Topshop pictures they’re all pretty relaxed. There are no crazy poses or crazy lighting. It’s just a very relaxed, very natural thing.”

Is there the secret to pulling off your own “impromptu” photo shoot?
“I feel like people always try to pre-plan everything way too early. They try to plan everything down to a point and then when they get on set something goes wrong and they completely freak out and panic and they just drop everything and try to still pull off what they have planned when they should be just working with whatever they have in the moment and making the best out of that. People should be more relaxed and take it easy and work with whatever you have right now. In the world we’re working with nothing can go exactly as planned. Everything is dependent on human factors so just relax and work with what you have. If you planned a photo shoot on a sunny day and it’s raining just chuck it. You’re not gonna do a photo shoot on a sunny day. Do a rainy photo shoot. It’s all good.”

How about the perfect selfie?
“It’s all about lighting. If you’re just outside my favorite time of day starts around 5 o’clock. But also I have these perfect little blinds that make these amazing shadows in my apartment early in the morning. It creates this stripe world that reveals only 30% of the photo. Depending on where you are just look around and try to spot good lighting. If you look on Instagram, lots of my selfies I am not wearing much. But also you can’t really see a lot of stuff. It’s kind of the balance between being naked and not showing too much.

  • What is the best setting to use on your iPhone?
  • “Just using the regular camera is fine. I hate when people use the square on their phone because it slows the quality of the picture. Why would you want to do that? I found that a lot of people have no clue that you can control exposure on your phone. I feel like that is a big, important tool. You can definitely make your photo look a lot better by controlling your exposure. It’s right there on your screen. Just tap it or push it down or up and it totally works.”
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How would you describe your fashion MO?
“I really try to pick stuff that doesn’t really have an identity. I hate printed stuff or clothes with words on them. I don’t like flashy stuff much. I really like keeping it very simple, but also really, really high quality.”

What’s your go-to thing to wear to a shoot?
“I make the dumbest decisions. I literally make the dumbest decisions. I have these silk pajamas that I wear on shoot that just got destroyed in one of my shoots with Kylie. And then I completely destroyed my dress yesterday on a video shoot. I have to direct and move around a lot and I always work a lot with the models or the artist. I control a lot of their movement. So I will lay on the floor and show them what to do and I totally killed it. I end up wearing the most fragile beautiful little pieces because I can’t refuse.”

What’s your ultimate end goal?
“I want to do film. I want to direct film. I really love directing. I love photography obviously but directing is the next step for me and I’ve been doing a lot of music videos. But definitely film is my ultimate goal.”

What do you think of Sasha’s work? Are you pumped to stage your own impromptu photo shoot now? Share below!

–Brittany Talarico

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