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Photography Student Elena Zhukova Featured in CMYK Magazine

For Elena Zhukova, driving on the freeway sparked an idea that is soon to be featured in CMYK Magazine. The Academy of Art University MFA Photography student’s photo was chosen by Timothy Devine, a New York photographer. The work will be featured in the magazine’s issue #49, hitting newsstands in January.

Photograph by Elena Zhukova

CMYK Magazine is an art and design magazine that bridges the gap between new artists and the creative marketplace. Each quarter, they publish a gallery of the top work in areas such as advertising, design, photography and illustration, all chosen by professionals in the field.

"The purpose of my photographs is to illustrate the magnitude and vast range of human character and individuality in fictitious ways," Elena told the magazine.

The stretch of 280 freeway in San Francisco that intrigued Elena offers views of downtown San Francisco and residential areas. However, it was a solitary smoke stack that caught her imagination.

Photograph by Elena Zhukova

Inspired to recreate the scene in a distinctive way, she found a model with long hair and created a costume replicating the look of the smoke stack. The resulting photo won a first place in Academy of Art University’s Spring Show in addition to the feature in CMYK Magazine.

Elena’s work is influenced by the world and the people around her, from her son to the people she sees each day. “Sometimes I see something totally random or routine, and it stands out in my mind,” she said. “Just everyday stuff.”

Though she completed an undergraduate degree in science, she had long been interested in photography. “I wanted to do more commercial and advertising photography,” she said. “And for that, I needed knowledge.”

Photograph by Elena Zhukova

Her time at Academy of Art University has immersed her in photography. Instructors offer insights both artistic and practical. “I’ve taken four classes with Will Mosgrove. His experience comes from his many years as a working photographer,” said Elena. “He’s guided in me in estimating costs and pre-production work.”

She has made full use of the facilities available at the school as well. Her shoots require significant lighting, which Academy of Art University’s campus has been able to offer her. This enabled her to build a portfolio with a rich mix of photographs and styles. 

Photograph by Elena Zhukova

In addition to pursuing her Photography degree, Elena has recently worked on projects for the University of California system and SupperClub in San Francisco as well as photographing weddings through her company Photomomentum. Her photos have been featured in Wedding Style Magazine and on the cover of Roz Savage’s book Rowing the Atlantic: Lessons Learned on the Open Ocean.

Her art has been a driving force in her life, and she encourages others to follow their dreams. She offers these words of wisdom for fellow students: “If you’re not very passionate about photography, it’s hard. If you’re passionate, it won’t be quite as hard.”


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