Profile & Interview with Irina Kozorog (Ирина Козорог)

Stunning Macrophotography of Ants, Wasps, Bees

(Revised 2021 Feb.)


Mol Smith
We have now published a book of her work. We like to help:)

View book on Amazon?

The movies are now hosted on our own server rather than Vimeo albeit at a lower resolution. However, you can watch  lower resolution copies here  Give them time to load!

ALL FILMS ARE COPYRIGHT OF IRINA. We have her permission to show them here. If you wish to use material from them, please email her for permission at :   Translate your message first into Russian. Irina does not speak English.

Watch another of her wonderful films...

I rarely read newspapers these days. Mostly because I don't believe there's much of truth printed in them. But I won't get on my soapbox about that. However, a few days ago as I was working on finding interesting Internet sites and pages for our web engine (written in July), I came across this article in the daily mail.

And in case the link to the Daily Mail's article disappears before this article is published in September, I will include a degree of repetition in what follows.

I find ants interesting creatures to photograph and these days  - take videos of - too. I loved the way the photographer here, Irina, adds something of herself into the anthropomorphising of the subjects she photographs. Her work and style impressed me greatly. It's one thing to record an image which is natural and accurate for educational purposes, but a greater mix of skills is needed to take an image which is accurate and lends soul to the subject photographed. Irina has a gift!

I thought to contact her and I found tracking her down relatively easy. She lives in Russia. Neither of us can speak or write in the other person's language. We used Google translate to manage our email exchanges. It doesn't do a very good job between English and Russian, or vice versa, but we managed. A few friends on facebook offered to translate. I found that a wonderful thing by itself!

A few of you might know I like making 3D images. I often create depth map (grey scale images) of traditionally-taken 2D images and use software called Stereotracer to convert the original images into 3D. It's fake 3D really as the third dimension of thickness is based on false information. You really do need at least two images to produce a 'true' 3D picture. Anyway, I digress.

I converted some of Irina's images into 3D and sent them to her. She loved them!

We started exchanging emails and I asked her if I could write about her here in Micscape. She agreed. I asked if I may publish some of her photos here as well, and she agreed. Please note: all the images reproduced here are © Irina's (copyright). You must not lift them from this page and re-publish them in any way or manner without writing to her and asking for her explicit permission. Her email address is below.

This is one of my favourite images of Irina's work. Artistically, it suggests this lone ant reaching up for either a rain droplet or honeydew bubble (secreted by aphids, which are often 'farmed' by ants). With delicate slender legs poised tentatively on a fine strip of vegetation, she - the ant - is suddenly manifesting behaviour akin to us humans. Thirst... desire for a cool sweet liquid... these are things we experience ourselves.

I love the idea of living on a planet not alone as humans, but sharing the experience of being alive with a multitude on novel creatures. It's summer here and each night as I work in my studio with the windows wide open, a host of moths, micro moths, spiders, lacewings, and other flying insects are drawn by the light into our room. My partner and I love it. We share our space with them willingly. I recently fell in love with a type of moth I'd never seen before... but that's for another article.

I sensed Irina has this love inside her too. It shines out in her work!
It might be interesting to note for those who are repulsed or frightened by 'creepy-crawlies' that I was once like that too. I changed. By learning about the things you fear, you often discover the fear is irrational. Life is more enjoyable when you see the other living things not as pests but cohabitors of Earth. Sure, some may work against your particular species' aims, or come into your space in too larger numbers so as to present a problem, but wanting them to continue to co-exist should always be part of any resolution to such problems.

Human beings go to impossible lengths to reach for what they desire. It appears, other living things do, like this wasp grasping the underside of a twig bridge for a tasty drink.

All of Irina's work is achieved by using living insects, most often in their natural environments. Any which might be taken into an interior space to help with lighting and control of conditions to photograph, are let free back in their natural environment afterwards.

I asked Irina some questions...

Commercial Questions

Me: Where can your book / books are available?

Irina: My book can only be purchased by contacting me personally. This is author's edition. There is no mass circulation. The book is made each time for a specific customer, with my autograph and it costs  $100.00.

Me: Is the text in your book / books English or Russian?

Irina: While only in Russian, the book has more pictures than text and is hopefully enjoyable for that reason to people of all languages.

Me: Where can people purchase your photographs?

Irina: My photos are sold on here. The cheapest price for a photograph is : 8.419 British Pound Sterling (500 Rubles).

Me: What is your book / books called?

Irina:  The Amazing World

Ant Ballet by Irina

Ant ballet by Irina.
(c) All rights reserved. **Any following links are redundant **

Photo workers Questions  

Me:  What made you interested in photographing ants and insects?

Irina:  Their world is a fairy tale! This tale, magic! The world of insects honest, kind, much better world than of  people! In their world, times passes even faster!

Me:  How much time do you spend photographing the Macro world??

Irina:  I shoot every day. From 2 hours to 8 hours a day.

Me:  Have you tried macro video-recording insects?

Irina:  Yes, but do not want to show yet. I'm still just learning.

Me:  Are you able to photograph any insects during winter?

Irina:  It's not viable to photograph insects in winter here. Instead, I buy mold, also an Aquarium and soap. Here are some of the pictures I take: , ,

Me:  Are you self-taught?

Irina:  My husband taught me. He is a photographer.

Rainbow crab by Irina
Rainbow crab (above). Ant Patrol (right).
Images © Irina Kozorog (Russia)
All rights reserved.

Personal questions

Me: Your husband is a photographer? What does he like to photograph?

Irina: Andrei photographer reportazhnik
He mostly loves to shoot panoramas

Me: Have you been to any countries outside of Russia?

Irina: No, I'm afraid to fly.

Me: Do you have children?

Irina: I have three children.  

Me: What do they think of your work?

Irina: They are indifferent to the pictures, though they seem to look my work with pleasure.

Me: Have you ever been stung by a wasp when photographing them?

Irina: Yes, three times, I am guilty. I can tell you more, if you wish.

Advice to others wanting to become Macrophotographers

Me: What advise would you give to young people who want to take macro photos?

Irina: The main thing is to shoot for yourself! Not for magazines and newspapers, not for sale but for yourself! Then do it! And, be aware of their models, good to know. And pay for the work. For example, ants are very fond of honey, butterflies - orange juice, etc.

Image is © Irina Kozorog (Ирина Козорог)
All rights reserved.

Some questions and answers did not make it through the google translator in any understandable way. I visited her blog and her web site  and found out much more. From her sites:

I am 37 years old. Three children and husband - a professional photographer . Son born in 1997 and daughter-2004 and 2012 :)  

I'm interested in photography since 2011. First, a macro photograph. I like to dive into the world of insects in the world, hidden from us, a world that we do not see, we do not notice, but in which they too have their laws, their troubles and their joys. Sometimes I think their existence and behaviour is much more reasonable, and more honest than our world of people.

I do not set myself crusading goals by photographing insects such as:  talk about the importance of conserving species, etc. In my opinion, it is too global a problem.  I simply convey the beauty of wildlife, and the  insect world. I do not chase for technicality in the macro -  do not set a goal to show retina of a  dragonfly, for example.  I am interested in the story itself, and in the pursuit of capturing the macro plot, so to  say.

But it turned out that the process of shooting interests me more than the outcome. Watching the ants, I "fall out of time." For me, an hour passes, and is 5-6 hours in real time. And these observations, I still find more interesting  the next time I shoot.

In other words, it is a hobby. A hobby that brings me pleasure. And all the "bonuses" that this hobby can theoretically bring, such as money, prizes in contests, fame, etc., is all secondary. I do what I like and as much as I like.

Frequently asked questions:

What equipment is used:?
Pentax K10D, K5, for macro - often lens SMC PENTAX-DFA MACRO 1:2.8 100mm WR and Olympus OM-D E-M1 lens M.Zuiko Digital ED 60 mm 1:2.8 Macro

Are the insects alive when you photograph them?
Yes. All the insects are alive. They are not frozen, nor glued. After shooting, they feel good, as they get various goodies (to compensate for the time taken away).

Do you sell your pictures?
Yes, sometimes I sell pictures for interior or for printing. For these questions, please call 8 (925) 744-78-41 or email

Irina's achievements

Member of the Russian Union of Photographers

Winner of the contest "Golden Turtle 2013"

Finalist Wildlife Russia 2012

The winner of the competition of the best photos Russia in 2012 (Best of Russia)

Irina Kozorog (Ирина Козорог)
Contact details.

Her email: 

Irina's Work converted to 3d stereo cards.

Many thanks to Irina for permission to publish some of her work here.
We have now published a book of her work. We like to help:)

View book on Amazon?


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Published in the September 2014 edition of Micscape.

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