PHLEARN MagazineFine Art Photographer Anya Anti Uses Vintage Lenses to Bring Fantasy to Life

Fine Art Photographer Anya Anti Uses Vintage Lenses to Bring Fantasy to Life

Ukraine-born fine art conceptual photographer Anya Anti strives to tell imaginative stories through her art. Her images are like fairy tales – feminine, thoughtful, mystical, surreal, fragile, and often a play on associations. A self-taught, internationally acclaimed artist, she considers herself a dreamer and is widely recognized for shooting with vintage manual lenses.

To get a better idea of how Anya captures her fairy tale photos, take a look at what she keeps in her gear bag.


The Nikon D600 is my first and only full-frame camera, which I bought five years ago. My very first camera was a Nikon D60. When I bought it, I just liked the way it felt in hand and it was within my budget. Since then I stick with Nikon and don’t feel the need to switch to any other brand.


Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G

Aperture Range: f/1.4 to 16, Silent Wave Motor AF System

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Nikon 85mm 1.8D

Aperture Range: f/1.8 to 16, Minimum Focus Distance: 2.8′, Rear Focus System

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Helios 77M-4

50mm F1.8 Russian Vintage Lens for Nikon

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Helios 81N

50mm F2 Russian Vintage Lens

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Helios 40-2

85mm F1.5 Russian Vintage Lens for Nikon

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I have two Nikkor lenses: the Nikkor 50mm 1.4G and the Nikkor 85mm 1.8D. But, most of the time I shoot with old vintage manual lenses like Helios 77M-4, Helios 81N and Helios 40-2. I love their famous swirly bokeh and their imperfections help me be more creative to achieve that dreamy effect of my photographs.

My favorite and go-to lens is the Helios 77M-4 which is 50mm and f/1.8. It’s tiny, sharp compared to other vintage lenses, and the wide aperture gives really nice swirly bokeh.


Yongnuo YN460 II

Flash index: 33, Up/down ward angle: 0 to 90 degrees; Left/right angle: 0 to 270 degrees

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Broncolor Move Outdoor Kit

Flash index: 33, Up/downward angle: 0 to 90 degrees; Left/right angle: 0 to 270 degrees

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Lupo Superpanel Daylight LED

Daylight Balance: 5600K, Multi-Voltage AC Adapter, 2000W Daylight Equivalent

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Lupo Dayled 1000 Tungsten LED

Tungsten Balance: 3200K, 1.5 Hours on Optional Battery, 1000W Tungsten Equivalent

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Most of the time I shoot on location and prefer to work with just natural light and a silver reflector. But for special effects, specific mood, or when natural light is not enough, I use additional lighting.

When I need to pack very light and be mobile, I use Yongnuo YN460-II speedlites. When I have more time and the resources to work with a quality and complicated light setup, I use a Broncolor Move 1200 L Battery Power Pack kit with two MobiLED flashheads and Broncolor Siros L 400Ws. Also I love working with continuous light – I find it much easier to manage – and I use Lupo Superpanel Daylight and Lupo Dayled 1000 LEDs.


I have several bags for different purposes depending on how much gear I need, how far I’ll be going, and for how long I will travel. When I need to be fully equipped, I use a Lowepro Fastpack 250. Other bags I like include the Lowepro Rezo 170 AW, COSYSPEED CAMSLINGER Streetomatic+, and Jill-E.


Silver reflector, tripod, and sometimes a Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote Control. And, while I don’t usually carry it in my bag, I edit with a Wacom Intuos Pro.

To see more of Anya’s surreal and whimsical photography, visit her website or follow her on Instagram. Would you like to create your own fairy tale photos? You can get inspired and learn Anya’s process by attending one of her workshops, or book her for a 1-on-1 lesson in New York City.

Brooke Arnold

Brooke is a writer and award-winning photographer specializing in cat portraits. She is an advocate for rescue animals and is best known for dressing up her cats as famous people like Bob Ross and Evel Knievel. Her biggest claim to fame, however, is being child #2 in an orange juice ad that hung in a mall in Miami at age 8.

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