Kirill Bichutsky – of KirillWasHere.com – has quickly become one of the most renowned photographers of our generation. While fanfare and criticism delve into his photography only to interpret a stereotypical message, Kirill says his images are not about nightlife antics, degrading women or the wasteful debauchery some people proclaim them to be. Rather, Kirill’s images present a view of life oft overlooked: simple enjoyment.
Kirill is in the business of culture, and he has expanded his brand everywhere from champagne facials to college tours. Elite was able to catch up with the man behind the camera and see what he thinks of life, culture and his future as a businessman:
What inspired you to initially get into photography?
Honestly, I didn't think that I would. I never thought that I would be doing this. I always did art, graphic design, etc.. One night I got really drunk and went out into the crowd with my camera and started taking photos. People wanted to know where they could find them so I created a website.
Whose career inspired you the most?
DJ's inspired me the most. I wanted to be built as more of an artist, rather than a service. I wanted to be know as a brand experience rather than just the nightlife photographer connotation.
Was there a turning point in your life that led to your current direction?
I dropped out of college and was hanging out in comedy clubs. That's where I developed my dark sense of humor. Comedians definitely influenced the sense of humor. They make jokes, and people knew that they were just making jokes. Also, my roommate was a DJ and he brought me out everywhere. He always pushed me to do more.
You have come a long way from sneaking into parties. What was it that kept you motivated?
Parties were fun, alcohol was free, but it was the instant success that caught my eye the most. It grew fast and I was always on the back end of the site watching it grow. It became an addiction, watching my brand unfold and expand.
What is the most fun experience that you have had in your career thus far?
My style was a bit raunchy and people thought I could not be worked with. One of the most fun experiences that I had was when [other] brands started to accept my brand. Hennessy flew me out to France on a private jet to watch and document how Hennessy gets created.
Throughout your career, you have seen NYC evolve. What are some things that have changed for the better and changed for the worst?
People always talk about how their generation went harder than the ones that followed. From what I've seen, this is true: people have become more afraid to rage and go all out. They stand around. Now, people in the clubs look at performances as more of a concert, rather than partying and going crazy. I've seen Aoki perform and there will be people watching instead of going crazy. There's only a few spots in the city that still maintain this raw energy like WIP, Goldbar and RDV.
If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?
I would have to say Disney. I grew up with it and I always wanted to be one of those animated characters.
What is your dream accomplishment?
Keeping the brand alive for now. I can't shoot parties forever, you know. I'd have to say aligning this so that when the party photography side is done, I can transition into the next part of my career. Whether it be music videos or animation, but I want my brand to exist outside of the nightlife photography world.
We have grown really fond of the Champagne Facials. Do girls just run up to you asking for it?
In 5 days after I launched it, girls just started coming up to me asking for champagne facials. People attach too much meaning to the imagery. They don't see it as harmless fun; they see it as degrading. Even before girls started asking for it, I let them know that when I pour the champagne, I might miss haha. Rather than a girl getting hit in the face with champagne, people should focus on bigger issues.
What is the craziest thing you have ever seen?
Nothing too crazy that most people haven't seen while being out themselves. I'm not the paparazzi; I'm friends with these artists.
Which school did you have the most fun at on the last College Dropout’s Tour?
Rhode Island. They get wild over there.
What plans do you have for your career that we would have never suspected?
No idea, my career has been so organic that I don't try to force it. That's how the college tour came about. One day I just decided that I was tired of the NY nightlife scene and decided to go out to colleges so I called up Jesse Marco and we made moves.
With so much going on in your life right now and so many people flocking to you, how do you keep yourself humble in this city?
I've had a lot of luck and success with branding myself to break free from the nightlife photography mold. In the end, I know that all of the people I shoot are helping me. I'm not using them to get popular. I would never be a dick to the people that help me expand my brand.
5, 10, 50 years down the line, when you have achieved everything you aspire for today, where do you see yourself?
I won't be shooting nightlife anymore. But who knows, we'll see where it goes. The brand will probably be moved more towards the art world. And when that time comes, I'll finally get to enjoy it and not have to grind as hard.
Any final words of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Branding is everything. Don't be too cocky to think that you cant work for free. I still do it; in the end, that's your brand. Shitty party with money or good party unpaid; take the better party. Do what’s best for your brand and your image. One of the quotes that I like to live by is from the late DJ AM, “Find something that you love to do so much that you’d do it for free.”
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