Russian Mother Takes Magical Portraits of Her Two Boys and their Animal Friends


Russian photographer Elena Shumilova only got into photography in early 2012, when she acquired her first camera. But if you were to look through her Flickr and 500px profiles, you would swear she had been doing it for much, much longer.

Her stunning photography revolves almost exclusively around photographs of her children and their animal friends on the family’s farm. Adorable children, animals and surroundings that already offer so much beauty to Shumilova’s lens combine into an enchanted world that is equal parts cozy and magical.

Speaking with Bored Panda, she explains that her photos are part intuition, part inspiration:

I largely trust my intuition and inspiration when I compose photos. I get inspired mainly by my desire to express something I feel, though I usually cannot tell exactly what that is.

Here’s a selection of Shumilova’s photography:

























Shumilova told Bored Panda that she shoots the images during the day, so as to not miss out on time she could be spending with her children, and then edits the images at night. She also says that she prefers natural light, but loves “all sorts of light conditions – street lights, candle light, fog, smoke, rain and snow,” basically anything “that gives visual and emotional depth to the image.”

In order for the images to fit on the blog, we had to scale them down significantly, so if you like what you see be sure to head over to Shumilova’s Flickr and 500px profiles and browse to your heart’s content. Just make sure you have a warm blanket and some hot cider handy… these photos are likely to lull you into an extreme sense of coziness.

(via Bored Panda)

Image credits: Photographs by Elena Shumilova and used with permission.

  • knackers_

    Its a special lens made by Adobe not Canon …I think its called the Photoshop-EF lens.

  • SongThungnam

    So you are buying the “first camera in 2012″ story? LOL. Sure…

  • Matt Boggs

    I’m looking at them “genius”. Most of them are at 135mm and 2.8 and more. You can even see the brushed in DOF in half of them.

  • greenarcher02

    Sure. That’s over 1 year. I got my first camera in early 2012 as well. It wasn’t even a DSLR, and I never did any serious film photography, as well. It was literally my first camera (not counting the “family P&S” which I never really used). And I would say I can hold myself well with regard to photography. I can tweak things in Lightroom and if I was interested, I could play with Photoshop as well. I have all the tools for them. Other people might not agree with what I do with my photographs, but I’m proud of most of them.

    You can learn a lot in 1 year, especially with passion and dedication. And seriously? She does so much post-processing in these. And you can learn that in a few months provided you have tools. If it took you 6 years of experience just to be insecure about this kind of work, you’re living life WRONG.

    Besides, some people can be better than you and a lot of people can achieve things in less time than you require. You don’t have to be insecure. I’m pretty sure you could do better with your 6 years of photography… I repeat:

    If it took you 6 years of experience just to be insecure about this kind of work, you’re living life WRONG.

  • Knackers_

    ant help say it ooks fake and at best PS overdone on many of the pics……One DOF shot looks like there is a giant sheet of scenery hung behind some of the subjects So 2D its not funny..When I first saw them I thought some were done in Studios for some of the images the DOF was that bad…..!!..And the fake DOF shes done in PS doesnt blend into the ground properly either…Doesnt look natural………nOT not to mentio the CAT in the snow in front of boy Which looks like its been manipulated from somewhere else to there….The boys not even looking at it and he is supposed to be walking staright for it…… its terrible …doesnt work at all……After seeing this I think Im better of getting a photographic lobotomy done immediately and after I recover when I see PS created DOF, light streams ,fog and other alterations to the Image I will say WOW…..Thats fantastic and will be asking What camera and lens technique did she use to do this because I want to do same!!!!

  • Jigsaw

    Why not? It’s perfectly possible. Using a camera and Photoshop is very far from being rocket science and unless you are completely untalented you don’t need years to acquire those skills.

  • TIMedWork

    Relax, Ivor. The name ‘Boris’ is a clever projection of the true identity, hiding behind that username: Bore Us.
    He’s only 8 years old and sadly, unappreciated by his parents, as being thoughtless and unproductive.
    When he grows up, he will likely find reward, in his work in the sorting room, at the post office.

  • Jigsaw

    Oh… lots of dodging and burning? You mean she did what every professional photographer did to get good photos back when they developed film instead of shooting digital?

  • TIMedWork

    Matt, you seem to be sharp as a tack, and highly skilled in your own right.
    Please post the link to your gallery so we can all see what great photography is all about.

  • TIMedWork

    I am sure you’re not half as petty and jealous, as you sound here.

  • Pradeep Sanyal

    Beautiful pictures, well thought of, and composed. Good for her, all these jealous posts.

  • Omar Salgado

    It tells so much about the relationship between the subjects. Very well done!

  • Omar Salgado

    That’s to say that blind people cannot appreciate things; they only perceive them differently. As long as it relates to sight, touch is a “static and immediate form of sight”.

  • Tinger

    Wonderful photographs! She must be a fast learner!

  • Omar Salgado

    I agree with you most of what you wrote. But emotions or the projections of emotions/feelings alone in a work are not art itself. It is called expression, be the subject or the photographer. Though aesthetics or expressions are part of art, it goes beyond through symbols. Candles count as one, and there are many others, but I guess sleeping does not count as an expression and so that pic is not art.


  • Moonball

    Not the dog. (Unless Obama comes to visit.)

  • Moonball

    To all the haters: PS doesn’t do composition.

  • Ivor Wilson

    Indeed… but rest assured, they’ll find something to moan about with the composition anyway.

  • beautox

    She’s not the first Russian photographer that I’ve been impressed with their speed of learning. Something in the water maybe?

    I like these pics even if they have some flaws, which are quite minor compared to the overall amazing quality. It’s funny that some are so offended by these pics. I get offended easily by random pics of strangers – so-called street photography – so I don’t bother commenting on them.

  • Bozo_from_Oz

    I agree 100% with Matt…absolutely .terrible DOF brushing….doesnt even blend in some of the images and its 100% PS as the DOF starts and finishes in a weird sort of way..In some images its that extreme its like she used a drop down background in a studio……… And as one of the other posters said these are is more illustrations than photography….I cant understand why people have to be so heavy handed with these Photoshop features when if it had been a little more subtly applied it may have looked ok

  • kassim

    wow.. just wow.

  • True Orient

    Go ahead! Talk about all the things wrong with the images from a technical point of view while I enjoy them.

  • guest

    The final photos look good. and yes, it takes a sec to figure out that they are all photoshopped. You can learn to do this kind of stuff in a month or two. Don’t know why you would photoshop so many pics of your kids, all to look the same way. I thought the point is to capture a moment, not to imagine it…

  • Mr Hogwallop

    Why is the word mother in quotation marks but professional photographer isn’t..?

  • Frodo

    Possible, but highly improbable, especially in this case.

  • Mr Hogwallop

    To be honest the only “real photographers of real scenes” are forensic photographers working for police departments doing evidence photos…all others are creating illustrations of the their version of reality.

  • kb

    Everyone can disagree of course, but there’s what the scene really looked like to the human eye, there’s what the scene really looked like in the shot image , and there’s what the finished product looks like. The further the third deviates from the first two, the more fake it is.

  • Mr Hogwallop

    or the more creative it is..every decision a photographer makes takes the scene another step away from reality. Do you you use a camera with a field of view that is less or more than what the human eye see (145-ish degrees). Ever use a long lens (fake.) wide open to blur the background (fake) What about the color, is it perfectly accurate to the original scene?
    For an allegedly creative vocation/avocation it seems some people have a grudge against creativity.
    Cameras don,t lie but photographers do everyday. Get used to it, photography is fake. It must be tough to be the last real photographer.

  • Dover

    Who says there is only one point? If you consider photography an art form (it is), then no one really has the right to define it precisely. No one told Salvador Dali that clocks typically do not melt. If you want to capture a moment of pure truth as your expression, by all means do so. Along with passport photographers and crime scene photographers, pure truth cam be your realm. But artistic license and freedom belongs to anyone using photography as an art form.

  • Dover

    But because you have no way of knowing for certain, your criticism looks an awful lot like envy. And sour grapes.

    Lesson: Unless you can prove someone is being dishonest, it makes more sense to keep your opinion to yourself.

  • Dover

    “Just so everyone knows, all of these pictures are SUPER photoshopped.”

    So what?

    You might as well have said: “Just so everyone knows, all of these pictures were originally taken WITH A CAMERA!”

    It’s 2014. Stop being so frightened.

  • Mr Hogwallop

    It’s like the old joke about how many photographers does it take to change a lightbulb…

  • Mr Hogwallop

    Back when people used enlargers, you could use a stocking stretched on a frame or (gasp!) a cello wrapper from a cigarette pack to soften/blur areas of the frame, or even defocus the enlarger a bit while doing a split exposure..trickier than photoshop but eventually you get something usable.

  • David Portass

    Ignore all the haters Shumilova, your end products are beautiful in subject, composition and very pleasing to look at. If you are happy with what you are creating and you have clients and fans that love what you are creating then that is really all that matters.

  • C Jones

    No real reason except to highlight the wording. The title just hit me odd and seemed a bit out of place.

  • Javi

    She edits the images aaaaall niiiiiight loooooong

  • Ivor Wilson

    lol… thanks for the Lionel ear-worm.

  • Ivor Wilson

    Such is the internet, eh? If nothing else, to elicit such a reaction is success in itself.

  • Ivor Wilson


  • Frodo

    I never made any claim that the photographer was dishonest, nor did I criticize her. Nice strawman argument there. The basis of the story was how fast she became proficient in photography so I thought it perfectly reasonable to question the timeline of her learning curve. What’s wrong with that? I’d say the vast majority of people who purchase their first older used camera, without any prior knowledge of photography, do not discover the requisite know how or knowledge to reason that they must get a 5d Mark II and a 50mm 1.2 lens within a span of just a few weeks. I just found that a little fact a bit odd, that’s all. Most people are still busy fiddling with the dials and learning what the modes, menus, etc. mean.

    Lesson: Learn to comprehend what a person is saying before accusing them of something they never even said.

  • Frodo

    It’s so weird to hear criticism over photoshopping. Doesn’t everyone photoshop?

  • Mikey C.

    “Real photographers of real scenes should feel no competition from this illustrator” Why does it have to be a competition? Why can’t one photographer just appreciate the art of another instead of having to compare themselves to them? We all do it for the love of the art…well, at least we used to.

  • Frodo

    Those who are the quickest to judge never want to be judged themselves. It’s the law of nature.

  • Michael Van Havill

    If you miss the beauty in these shots trying to rant about photography vs art I feel sorry for you. These picture are wonderful and loved worldwide. Well done to her and what amazing photos to have to look back on as he gets older.

  • James

    I hate you for bashing on Obama, but when I read your comment I couldn’t stop laughing.

  • James


  • hdc77494

    Matt, does that make her any less skilled or the images any less moving?

  • Rashard D.

    I think these photos are great! I’m a photographer and I read all of these comments about how the photo should have been done like this or that, how it’s photo shop and layered, burn, or dodge, art or not art, blah blah blah! Shut up humans and just give good positive credit!

  • Shashank

    Which dog breed?

  • hdc77494

    If the work is so obviously awful, why is this portfolio featured on more than a dozen reputable photography sites, the Huffington Post, the Weather Channel, and others, all in the span of two or three days? Regardless of your personal opinion, a whole lot of professional editors disagree with you. I can imagine your bosses reaction if you had rejected these images for publication.