In the light of the new season of Peaky Blinders, coming out, I wanted to do something different and photograph a couple in a more vintage setting. For this “couple” photo interview session, I chose David and Olenka Boyko. I had met Olenka when I was at Bucks County Community college but had lost contact with her when I left to continue my studies at Philadelphia University. I later found her on instagram, right before her wedding and asked if she and her fiancé wanted to do a “Peaky Blinders” inspired photo session. Thankfully, Olenka and David Boyko were totally cool with my suggestion and here are the results from that day.
Tell me a little bit about yourselves.
Olenka: My parents are from Lviv, Ukraine and they came here to Philadelphia when my mother was pregnant with me. So, I was made in Ukraine but born in Philadelphia.
David: I was born in Brenton, WA. My family lived in Seattle, and later moved to Lexington, KY. After I married Olenka, I moved to Philly and here I am.My parents were also from Ukraine, Revinskaya Oblast.
How are you liking Philly so far?
David: It’s growing on me.
Tell me about your educational backgrounds, what you do or are a part of.
Olenka: I am finishing up my degree this summer and am getting my Bachelors in Marketing at Temple University. I am really excited about that! In the meantime, I am working at Nordstrom Rack, which I enjoy because I am doing more Visual Merchandising, which I really like. It kind of ties into my degree also, which is cool. I like thinking about how things look and what to do to make them look better. I consider myself more of an introvert and I prefer visual merchandising because of the subtlety of it in regards to marketing. I enjoy learning about what goes on behind the scenes and how visual merchandising psychologically influences people.
David: I’ve done a little bit of everything actually. I started working as a cabinet builder. Afterwards I moved on to become a “professional sandwich builder” in Panera Bread. I was actually impressed with how the company ensures that everything is fresh. The bakers bake all night and in the morning, someone comes in to cut all of the fruits and vegetables. After working at Panera Bread, I moved to Tempurpedic, where I did anything from customer deliveries to trade shows. Also, I do graphic design on the side by making logos, cards, invitations etc. I actually just built my new website, which will go live soon! I have been a second shooter for weddings. In the past I used to drive a truck cross country, hauling cars. I also did landscaping. I even worked in Banana Republic for a while. I had my hands in a little of everything! As for my educational background, I went to college for Graphic Design for a year but it was a total flop. I realized that going to college was not for me.
How did you two meet?
Olenka: Each time was a new meeting (laugh). The first time we met was in New Jersey, at a little tiny church. David and his friends were exploring the area and happened to visit the church. That evening, during a youth gathering, the night was getting to the part where the introduction/ice breaker games were starting. David and his friends approached my group of friends and asked if we wanted to hang out with them somewhere else.
David: That was actually the only time I have ever done something like that. It was done intentionally, I kinda had a crush on her.
Olenka: We had a good time, but I did notice that the longer David was with us, the quieter he became all while sitting in the corner by himself. I remember asking my friends “What’s wrong with that kid? Does he think he’s too cool or something?” I hadn’t really seen him for 3 years after that.
David: I saw you though. I saw you at conferences sometimes. Also, we followed each other on instagram. Whenever I saw you, I would think “There she is”… like a creeper, I guess (laugh).
Olenka: Yes, he confessed this to me. So, three years later, at a conference in Columbus, Ohio, I saw him again. It’s actually funny because he was sitting in front of me with his brothers and I remember thinking “That’s that kid… who was SO anti-social!”
David: Later that day, when we were in line for food, you kind of walked by with your friend who tried to introduce us. I was like “I know you..”
Olenka: Yeah, right. The way you did it was more like “Hi, I’m David”. I thought to myself “Seriously? This kid doesn’t even remember who I am?!” (laugh). I was like “Nice to meet you…”(laugh). I don’t know how it happened, but one we started talking, we really hit it off. Our friend groups ended up hanging out that whole weekend, so we were able to get to know each other a little bit.
When did you decide that you were serious about one another?
Olenka: I actually don’t really know! It just happened! I could tell right away though because I felt really comfortable around him and he was so easy to talk too. It was one of those things where the more you talk to the person, the more things you notice that you like about them. This had never happened to me before because in the past, when I got to know a guy more, I would actually start noticing more things I didn’t like and that didn’t fit with me in order to move towards a serious relationship.
David: I think it happened when we met up in NYC. I was there with Tempurpedic and realized that Philly was pretty close by. I reached out to Olenka to invite her to spend a day with me. It was the first time that we were alone together, without our friends surrounding us. I remember thinking to myself afterwards “I’m done”. Afterwards, I was very intentional in my actions and feelings toward her and I let her know.
What would you say is your greatest achievement so far?
David: Honestly, I am very happy with how my life has been so far. Growing up, all the guys surrounding me only thought about making money. Meanwhile, I was more focused on building a relationship with people. I never really cared so much about becoming wealthy. By traveling, I was able to see a lot and experience a lot. I just absolutely love that I did that. As I look back, I have so many great memories with great people. That, to me, is a great accomplishment.
Olenka: For me, I think it’s more about personal accomplishments. Like I mentioned, by nature, I am more of an introvert. About 2-3 years ago, I was kinda forced to go out of my comfort zone because a lot of people in my life were starting to date and not being so much a part of my life anymore. I had to learn to do things on my own instead of waiting around for someone to do it with me. I was able to become more independent, meet more people and put myself out there. I have always been surrounded by people, but I never really became as comfortable in my own skin as I have in the past few years. Not caring what others think and how others view me. I’ve learned how to find common interests and topics with people I have just met. It’s so interesting how the most unexpected people have the most in common with you! I have gained so much more confidence since the person that I was in the past. I still think of myself as an introvert, but at the same time, if I need to be, I can be more extroverted.
Who or what inspires each of you?
David: I think really thought provoking movies inspire me. Shawshank Redemption is one of my favorites. I just appreciate well shot movies, so I guess cinematography really inspires me. I would say that I am more of an ‘artsy’ person than a logical person. For example, if I go to a cafe and they have a nicely designed menu, then I will immediately like the cafe. Good design, in general, inspire me. I really love a good design! My parents inspire me. They moved to the USA in 1990 and literally, had nothing. Now they are doing better than some Americans who have lived in this country their whole lives. To me, that shows that hard work goes a long way. No matter your circumstances, you can get it if you want it. My uncle has a successful granite business. When I look at him, I think “That guy came from nothing.” When he came here, he probably only had two sweaters and a pair of pants. When I see people like that, I can’t help but be inspired.
Olenka: That’s how I am too. I am a very visual person, visual learner, visual everything… People watching is one of my favorite things to do. Also people that I know also inspire me. One of my good friends, she’s at Parsons in NYC, she just got a scholarship in Paris to design and work with designers. For me, that is amazing! Just to see people I know, who are talented and good at what they do, succeed, makes me really amazed. I am happy for them and it makes me inspired because if you work hard, try to be a good person then good things will happen to you.
What are your hobbies?
Olenka: I am not sporty at all! I am the worst at sports. I love reading, since I was a little kid. I am always reading something. Malcolm Gladwell is one of my favorites, I love everything he’s ever written. I think I might’ve read almost all of his work. I would literally go to the library, where the limit was 12 books for checkout, I would take out 12 each time and finish them before the due date. The Office is my favorite show of all time so I almost consider it a hobby with how much I watch it (laugh). I like going on walks or going on a hike, I really like chill activities.
David: I like so many things. I love sports, except for basketball. Volleyball and Tennis are my favorite. Photography is also something that I have really been interested in for a long time. I always told myself that a camera would be my first big purchase when I started working. That never happened although I did finally get one. I have always been interested in graphic design and reading. In class, I was always that kid in middle school and high school that was always reading during class. Sometimes I would even read through the night. I enjoy driving. I also really love learning. I am constantly watching documentaries or researching some type of topic. I guess my hobby would be collecting information!
What issues, causes or ideas are you passionate about?
David: I have recently have been getting into politics. Like I said, I collect information and recently most of it has been politic driven. I have been watching Ben Shapiro, and that is who I am passionate about. I want that guy to be president! He’s a libertarian, he’s not a conservative for the sake to be conservative. I strongly agree with what he says and everything he advocates for. The arguments he makes, he is able to support logically and I admire that. I like that although he is a religious person, Shapiro does not argue from a religious perspective but from accredited researched information and statistics. I am also passionate about meeting people from all communities. Finding good people and building relationships with them.
Olenka: I think one of the things I am passionate about is the Slavic community, especially the Christian Slavic community here in the US. When one grows up in a slavic culture church here in America, you start noticing how much is culture driven vs religion driven. People are doing or saying things because they are used to things being a certain way. Just being close-minded and pushing opinions onto kids and the new generations without considering their kid’s worldviews. Being a first generation kid in a different country and with everything that is currently going on here, there is a dissonance between the parents/grandparents and their kids. It’s very interesting for me to talk about it with people from all over the USA and how they are dealing with this issue. We have a friend in Kentucky that doesn’t go to a Slavic church at all and many of the people we know only go to Slavic churches just because they don’t want to have an argument with their parents. These type of issues are why I am so passionate towards the teens in our community. Back when I was doing teen Bible school, I was able to have personal conversations with teenagers where I could explain the importance of having your own personal relationship with God versus it just being a “church thing”. I would stress that it has to be your own personal decision instead of doing it just because it’s what your parents want or expect. Especially at that age when many are questioning why they are in church and might even be a little bored with it. It is important for them to realize that it is their decision and that someone like me is available for them in case they need help or advice. It seems like the current situation in Slavic churches is very transitional. I am very interested to see what the future will bring.
Any tips or advice you would like to give anyone reading this photo-interview?
David: I have recently found a quote that I fell in love with. I don’t know exactly how it went but it went something like this, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of remedy”. If you see that something is going to happen, fix it then and this will save you a lot later. If you cut corners, something is going to happen and you will have more work in the end. Also, Olena got a cool t-shirt from United by Blue which says “Well done is better than well said”, and I completely agree with that.
Olenka: Every time I’ve looked back at different situations in my life where I was unhappy with how something turned out, I just wish that I had focused more on what I was doing and doing it well. I think I would’ve been much happier with the results. I guess what I am trying to say is that whatever you are doing, do it well. Even if it’s something that seems small and unimportant. I know sometimes a lot of the places people work in are very repetitive and I think that by trying to make small differences and changes in one’s life are important. Notice the little good things, compliment someone else and try to make every day different and focus on your own personal growth. Use what you have learned and give to other people.
David: Olena does this really cool thing where if she has a good memory, she writes it down, puts it in a jar and at the end of the year, during New Year’s, she reads them.
Olenka: Well it’s amazing how much you can forget about what happened. When I read all these “memories”, I catch myself saying “I can’t believe this all happened this year”. It really makes me appreciate life more and also reminds me of everything I am thankful for.
I hoped everyone liked the interview! If there is someone you would like me to photo interview, please leave a comment below. Otherwise, till next time! Ciao!