We love having conversations with the community members to share their stories, inspiration and tricks & tips. Today we are featuring annarakhvalova who recently won the Between The Walls Photo Contest. Anna shares her background, inspiration and portrait photography creative ideas and tips.

I was born in Siberia, in Irkutsk, the city that lies near Lake Baikal, where I spent my childhood. I remember my mom locking herself in a little dark room with a strange red magenta light. I was a child back then, always intrigued and willing to know what was going on in there. She took me in and for the first time in my life I saw photographs coming alive! Shadows, forms, people, nature appeared as, by a miracle on a totally white paper, it was fascinating! I guess it was imprinted pretty hard in my memories and in my head because now I can’t live without taking pictures.

I feel I have a mission: to push my models to reveal things they have inside of them, something they hide and usually don’t show to other people but me. Their inner world, emotions, experiences, life. And I bring their secrets to my photos as chemicals make appear the images on a white paper".

I started photography as a teenager. I was always in love with arts in general and as a kid, I was drawing and painting a lot, I think photography was just the next logical step. I started by taking pictures of my friends and also lots of self-portraits, and people around who saw my images were telling me that there is something particular in the way I see things. Also, my mom and her dad both of them were in love with photography, so I suppose it runs through my veins.

My first source of inspiration was the Australian photographer Nirrimi, I was obsessed with her pictures and followed her on Flickr, always longing to see more of her work, reading her blog religiously and studying every picture, I really think she gave me the strength and the will to pursue my career. And then I discovered Ines Rehberger, a german amazing portrait photographer, I was mesmerized by her work. And my ultimate crush was Marta Bevacqua, her magical world spoke directly to my soul, she still is my favorite photographer and my good friend. I'm also very inspired by Sally Mann, Anka Zhuravleva, Oleg Oprisco, Margaret Durow.

I think my main source of inspiration for creativity is movies, music, and nature.

My tips for portrait photography:

The Right Light. The sunrise and sunset lights are the best, full bright sun is the enemy!

Find The Right Model. You need to like your model, then even if he or she is uncomfortable in front of the camera it will be easier to be patient with the model.

Don't Go With The Obvious. Make your model do something original, like lay down in the water or play and interact with the surroundings if they are busy they tend to forget about the camera, which is the best.

Always Try To Do Something New. You can be inspired by other artist's work but it's better to reinvent yourself than to copy others.