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Interview With Tatiana Kozak: About Moving to New York, Becoming a Photographer and Changing a Career Path


Tatiana is originally from Odessa, a wonderful port city in Ukraine. A few years ago she came to the U.S. to study English. She fell in love with New York City so much, that she made a decision to stay. After she came to NYC she realized that everything she planned for her career path was completely different from what she really wanted to do in her life. Thus, Tatiana started her path as an assistant photographer and now she is working on her own brand. Up&Up couldn’t help but asked Tatiana a few questions about her inspirational life.

What was your first impression of the city? Did you immediately understand that you want to stay there or it took some time to realize it?
When I first came to NYC, I was lucky to have a friend who met me from the airport and let me stay at her place for my studying period (that time I didn't know if I wanted to stay or not). By that time, I had a picture in my head where skyscrapers and yellow cabs are everywhere you go but the reality was totally different. My friend has been living in Brooklyn, which is one of the five boroughs that make up New York. Brooklyn looked nothing like the picture of New York that I had in my head. After a few days spent in Brooklyn I was confused. So I took the subway (the most popular way to travel in NYC) and headed to Manhattan. I didn't know exactly where I should get off so I relied on my intuition. I didn't see where the train was going since the subway is under ground. When I came out of the train station I finally saw the "real" New York with its skyscrapers, yellow cabs, rushing people and so on. It was like either I was dreaming or inside of some famous movie.

When you are there everything looks unreal because you got used to see this stuff in movies. I think that was love from the first sight, I fell in love with the city once and forever!

How did you understand that you want to become a photographer? Was it something about NY that inspired you? As there are many incredible photographers…
Yes, that's true, there are a lot of talented artists in NYC and not only in Photography. Since I was a teenager camera was an integral attribute of my life. I took it everywhere I went. However, I have never thought that I wanted to be a photographer. That's just never came to my mind. Three years ago my friend was given a digital camera for her birthday. We were hanging out around the City and she was always asking me to photograph her. We often liked the result. That's when I first realized that I wanted to get my own camera and learn more.

How did you start your way of becoming a photographer?
I found an advertisement in a newspaper. Photographer has recruited students. There were just a few lessons but I learned basic settings in my camera so I didn't have to use automatic settings anymore. After that I became a self-learner. I was watching all tutorials on YouTube that I could find, I was taking online workshops. A little bit later I discovered creativelive.com that also helped me a lot. Than more I learn than more I feel that there are so much I don't know yet. I don't consider myself a photographer I want to become yet. However, it's nice compare my pictures of now to pictures that I made few years ago and see tremendous changes.

What was the hardest thing in moving to NY?
I think one of the hardest things was finding a permanent place to live. Rental of apartment in NYC is very expensive. The budget that I had wouldn't let me pay for the entire apartment that on the average was $1500. Luckily for me one of my classmates was looking for someone to share rent with. Since then we've become best friends:)

Some people say there is a lot of hustle and bustle in New York and many get tired of this life. Have you ever felt some kind of fatigue? If so, how do you manage to control it?
I got used to the bustle of the big city because I came from the one like that. However, one of the awesome things about NYC is that anytime you want to escape its' bustle, you can go to Florida. It is the most popular place when you need to relax and lie on the beach. It is affordable and just three hours from New York. The beaches there are just beautiful.

I am sure you have your favorite places (cafes, parks, shops). Can you recommend something cool which is not very well-known? 
Yes, of course. I live in queens near absolutely gorgeous park where you can observe Manhattan in all its glory. The name of this park is Gantry plaza state park and not many tourists know about it. I have a lot of photographs from that view on my Instagram.

What advice can you give to those who are thinking about creating a brand?
Work hard, learn all the time and don't be afraid of experiments.

All the pictures belong to Tatiana Kozak (@kozak.nyc)

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