So far as Olga remembers, she has always loved to travel. Her father is a Russian military officer. The peculiarities of her father’s profession owing to which they had to constantly change the locations of service were added to his curiosity and wish to see other lands. These qualities are fully inherent to Olga’s mother. So, the passion for traveling is in Olga`s blood.
The parents would set off on a journey and even if it was just an ordinary picnic in the country, it invariably became the beginning of a new adventure for Olga. It became a journey into the unknown land, where the forest turned into a mysterious jungle full of secrets and dangers.
Once Olga and her elder brother nearly got lost among the giant burdocks. It happened on one of the Sakhalin tuffets. Olga’s father had been sent to service on that island. Every time when the family had free time, they always went out somewhere just “to be closer to the nature”.
Olga confides that she was raised in an “atmosphere of love”. Her parents adore each other. And she is surely grateful to her mother and father for the great selection of books in their home library. Olga says, “I was brought up reading the right books.” Each new story about travels and travelers that she read inspired her to set off on a journey. These books were also not least of all to determine her fate.
Olga Michi has been to all continents. In the past she has traveled to seven dozens of countries around the world. More than once she was off into the difficult and dangerous expeditions to Central America, Africa, Indonesia... She lived with wild tribes many times.
"But … it all happened much later,” says Olga, “first, like all the girls dreaming of a Prince Charming, I found my future husband, got married, and gave birth to our son. My husband never limited my freedom of movement or choice of locations, but he himself was always attached to the house. So the first steps to the distant countries were made by me alone".
Olga has been to such places where none of the natives let any "outsiders". She possesses a magic universal key that helps her to open the doors to places that are closed for most travelers. This is her charm and friendliness. And she surely has understanding how to use this key. And it is easily seen in the photographs, which she brings home from her travels. After all, a camera cannot be fooled. It shows just like through a magnifying glass how people you shoot really treat you.
Charm, friendliness and femininity are combined in Olga`s personality with the ability to firmly stand up for herself and protect those ones who trust and rely on her. Everybody who happened to be in difficult situations with her mark her unique ability to quickly and precisely respond to danger and hardships.
These traits also come from childhood. Her grandfather fought in the War, he defended Moscow, liberated Belgorod and Belarus. The grandmother survived the Leningrad blockade. And her mother, who has always been an influential businesswoman throughout all her career, used to tell her daughter, “If you want to achieve something in your life, you have to be a leader, you have to fight for your rights, for your position!” And then she always added, “Never come to me to complain! If you keep complaining to me, you’ll be always bullied!”
And Olga didn`t complain. She had to change schools every two years or even more often, when her father was sent to a new place of service. And each time she had to fight for her place in a new class. Once she even had to fight with one of those who tried to subordinate her. The conflict ended up in her becoming the leader of the class - she was chosen to be a monitor.
All this helped her to build a character of a fighter. It helped her to build the qualities that are very necessary during her extreme journeys. If it were not for her character, Olga Michi would never have been able to go diving. The thing is that she was insanely afraid of water in her childhood. But one day she overcame her fear. She knew that she couldn’t give up and retreat. Of course, she swallowed plenty of water, but after that Olga loves underwater adventures. She feels just like a fish in water, and underwater photography became a significant part of her photo collection now .
By the way, Olga Michi is the first and the only female traveler who dived with Nile crocodiles in their natural habitat. Her portfolio has unique shootings of great white sharks and killer whales. Moreover, while making shoots she didn`t wear any special protection from those predators.
Perhaps, the first time she wanted to hold a camera in her hands was when she was watching her Grandfather processing black-and-white pictures. It was happening in a tiny bathroom. Little Olga was watching as silhouettes of people, animals, buildings appear on the white sheets in the red half-light... It looked like a miracle. And she dreamed that when she grew up, she would surely show her own photos to her beloved Grandpa.
Now Olga is a professional travel photographer. Being an ambitious person, she doesn’t like to make an impression of a country by other people’s stories. She has to see everything by herself.
The shutter clicks... And the camera has captured a moment from the life of our planet. It will never happen again. But now it has been kept forever. A series of such captured moments makes a map of Olga’s routes. These are photo pictures of how she is trying to tell other people about her planet Earth. After all, it is different for each of us. But only a few of us manage to tell about it in such a way that other people would admire the beauty of their personal planet. Olga knows how to do it.
Look at her "African Diary", for example. Each picture shows her love to the "Black Continent". Very often she has to take risks by making one or the other fascinating shot. And in order to make it successful, you need to have a cool head and knowledge in addition to the courage. You need to have deep knowledge about the subject being photographed, otherwise the meeting with a Great White and a Nile crocodile, an African gorilla or a Komodo dragon, or even with “just” a hyena may result in a tragedy.
From her own experience Olga Michi knows, that you literally need to "get into the skin" of a dangerous animal to intuitively feel what it may do the next moment. The basis for this intuition makes experience and knowledge of the subject that you see through your camera lens.
“Either you play by the rules of the animals,” says Olga, “or there is no need to get into the environment which they consider to be their own.”
Olga’s decisive character and readiness to take risks are accompanied by the ability to plan her actions in the case of an emergency. She knows, that every improvisation should be well prepared beforehand. Safety is the most important thing in her journeys. Sometimes it seemingly depends on mere trifles.
For instance, communication with the indigenous inhabitants of Ethiopia is very risky. Every second native is a carrier of deadly viruses, including the human immunodeficiency virus. It helped her that she prudently always took long trousers and closed shirts. They protected her not only from insects, but also from scratches which could be done by the natives. They often try to take traveler`s hands and may accidentally cut the skin with their sharp nails which they almost never cut.
Olga is well aware that during the visit to any country-not only country- even each region in the country, you must observe special rules. You should prepare to follow a special program. It is also necessary to analyze… your own habits. Even such innocent, at first glance, manifestations of your character as gestures, can either help or hinder the journey. It is also very important to collect information about the political situation in the country.
For example, Olga’s travels to Africa taught her to carefully collect and thoroughly check the information about the country. For Africa is the continent where the political situation may change as often as the wind direction.
When she was going to depart for Africa for the first time, many people would say, “Are you crazy? It’s dangerous!” But she decided that she is obliged, really obliged to visit the continent she has always dreamed of. Now she goes back there again and again. So her intuition didn’t let her down.
“People often ask me why I travel to godforsaken places and take pictures of all those various tribes,” says Olga, “why I do not take photos of outstanding cultural heritage? I answer that those monuments will remain as they are. But the tribes are vanishing. And if I do not go there now, then perhaps I will never see them at all. The tribes will disappear.
And one more thing. One of the major purposes of my travels is to draw attention to those people. After all, we and they are part of one world, one planet…."
Well, in general she is like this. She can strictly plan her life but at the same time she can act paradoxically, despite of “good advice”. If Olga is told: “You don`t have to do this”, she will certainly do the opposite. However, only if it is very interesting for her. Someone may call this trait a stubbornness. But, most likely, it’s the ability `to live for a dream`. This dream is a desire to experience the feeling of freedom again and again. And it comes when Olga is at one with nature. She wakes up in the morning not by the sound of the alarm clock but because the sun rises. And this miracle cannot be missed. It needs to be seen. You should feel the warmth of the first rays of the sun. They give you the hope that the new day will be the happiest one.
And at night the huge starry sky is spread over you... The fire is burning nearby... There are no city noises or scents that make your life so hectic. It does not matter whether you are surrounded by the impenetrable jungle or endless savanna. Sometimes the sounds of wild animals or noise near the Amazon can be heard ... And it seems that your far ancestors are whispering something to you…
May be, this way Olga returns to her childhood, when her parents took a little girl with them to a wild forest. It’s interesting that those forests never seemed hostile to her. As they do not seem hostile to Victor, her son, whom she took for his first journey at the age of two. It happened in Russia. Her son joined her in a trip to dangerous Africa when he was only five years old... Yeah, Olga is such a “crazy mom”. But as she says, “I have not so much madness in me . I’m sure about everything I do, I’m confident about my abilities, otherwise I wouldn’t do it.”
Nevertheless, Olga is always ready to follow her dream at any time in order to experience the feeling of freedom at one with the nature again and again.
One day she admitted: “I’m an adventuress, that`s for sure. If I’m offered to go somewhere, I never think twice. If I feel that I have to go there, and it will be interesting, then I’ll do anything to go. I always follow my dream.”
Intuition is the basis in the work of a travel photographer, as well as anticipation an elusive feelings. But, of course, the most important thing is the ability to contemplate and to see the beauty even in the smallest things. This ability turns any journey into an exciting adventure, bright and colorful, as we see it in Olga’s pictures.
“I always envy those who come to an interesting place for the first time. Although in my opinion that there are no uninteresting places. However, first impressions bring a storm of emotions, an indescribable feeling of joy of what you see. And at once you want to share the emotions you are experiencing with everybody...”