Photo: Courtesy Daria Strokous, Federico Morgantini, and Anastasia Durasova

Given her background, Strokous was uniquely prepared to handle the shoot. “It’s not every day you find a model with racks, lights, and equipment,” she says. “I have a whole studio in my house. I’ve always loved photography and cameras, but since I’m studying film, I also have everything you’d need to set up.” After years of appearing in NARS ads, she was able to follow Durasova’s beauty instructions too. “Because I’ve worked with her so many times, I’ve been able to observe her techniques,” she says. “I have all this makeup so she could just say ‘go find Orgasm blush’ and I’d go get it! We went back and forth, applying everything and doing tests to get things right.”

By playing multiple parts, Strokous found herself gaining new insight into the creative process. “Usually, the photographer is on the other side of the camera, and you never get to feel their viewpoint and see what they see,” she says. “I can only see myself from one angle while they’re able to move around and see you from every side—this was the opposite experience.” It helped that Strokous and Durosova had a decades-long friendship. The pair met when the Strokous moved from Moscow to New York to begin her career. Morgantini was a new addition to the team, introduced over video chat. “It was very natural to connect over FaceTime at this point when we’ve all become so used to communicating that way,” says Strokous. “I wonder what it will be like when we finally meet because we haven’t gotten the chance to speak in person yet.”

Photo: Courtesy Daria Strokous, Federico Morgantini, and Anastasia Durasova

Despite the distance, the group has been able to create beautiful images and use their talents during a time when many have found making art difficult. The outlet has proven especially invigorating for Strokous, who would eventually like to expand the project to include a stylist and runway looks. “That’s my next step,” she says, noting that the current shelter-in-place orders have made sourcing clothing for shoots virtually impossible. “Many brands produce in Italy and China, plus the showrooms in New York, and Paris are closed.” Even still, Strokous would rather be productive than sit at home rewatching Contagion on Netflix. “It’s an incredible movie, and Steven Soderbergh was so prescient, but I can’t understand the logic of watching with everything going on,” she says. “Right now, I need to see something inspiring.”

Photo: Courtesy Daria Strokous, Federico Morgantini, and Anastasia Durasova

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