Born in Ukraine, Koval embraced a career as a model at a very young age before moving to New York City. Surrounded by the style and personalities of her fellow models, Koval began to photograph them as they were drinking wine, smoking cigarettes or choosing their outfits. In this way, her passion for photography naturally emerged as she began capturing stolen moments and natural settings, allowing her to express herself through this creative practice. This is how her art project began, As I See You by Koval.
Koval, what is beauty to you?
Beauty to me is not about appearance or good genetics. It is about personality: I love strong independent women who can always protect themselves and, at the same time, be both so feminine and masculine. Beauty is within the eyes, whether it is vulnerable, strong or seductive.
How did your journey as a photographer begin?
I had a passion for photography since I was little. I bought my first digital camera when I was 14 and started to shoot my little sister and classmates in school. At 16, I was scouted as a model and travelled to Tokyo. I stopped taking pictures because I saw the level of other photographers and felt too distant from them. In 2017 I lived in model apartments in Milan. Every night some of my roommate models came back from work, they were so beautiful, their hair and makeup was well done, and while we all had dinner and sometimes a glass of wine, I took pictures of them on my phone just as I saw them. After a while, I decided to start my own project, As I See You.
What inspires you most, at first sight?
People. When living in New York, everything around looks like a movie and every stranger becomes an actor: I like to watch them. And of course, females. Females inspire me the most.
What are the greatest challenges you’ve found as a creative in NYC?
The greatest challenge for me in New York is to find my other side of creativity, that is acting and photography. It’s something that I have always wanted to do but there was never a moment to do so. New York is the city where dreams come true, but you have to really dream and work hard and believe in yourself. I love challenges.
When do you feel most free?
Under the rain. I’m in love with the rain, I feel so vulnerable and so happy. As someone said, “Don’t say that you love rain if you open umbrella”.
What is the role of femininity in your works?
I think all my work is protecting me at the moment. Masculinity was in my blood at all times. Since I was kid, I used to fight and challenge myself. I never saw differences between women and men. Perhaps, when I saw a strong, fast person, I challenged myself to be like them or better. Femininity came later. I always liked to watch classic movies and copied the behaviour of ladies that I liked. So, I learned it first and then poured it into my work as a photographer.
What is womanhood, to you?
You can be a boxer, fighter, racer, and at the same time such a feminine woman. Womanhood comes with the way you talk, the way you hold yourself, with posture and movement, I think it is such a natural thing. You can be a bad ass girl when you feel like it, and then wear a classic dress or heels, and kill them with your feminine side.