Reporting from the Runway: A Two Way Street of a Journalism Student Modeling in New York

Written by Allison Merchant Photos courtesy of Oksana Ponomarova

Fashion shows. We all can picture the classic scene that eludes reality and dives into the fantasy of a bright, imaginative world. Viewers absorb enveloping, boisterous music along with the flashing lights of photographers who move with aggression to capture poise. Reporters slide in and out of crowds, eager to secure juicy quotes that will saturate their article and entice readers. Models flawlessly move along the runway, no fear but freedom in confidence.  There is an invisible barrier between the photographer, the reporter, and the model in this fantasy. But from Oksana Ponomarova’s perspective, the barriers are broken through perseverance. 

Born in Russia and raised in Ukraine, Ponomarova, a junior journalism major, is no stranger to venturing into the unknown. 

“Here [at Temple] ] I’m really pursuing my dream,” Ponomarova said.  As a journalist, she has engaged herself on campus with the broadcast show Temple Update, as well as an anchoring position for the Spanish version , Temple Update Ahora.

Ponomarvara originally began her schooling in the field of linguistics because of her multicultural background and her love for language. Yet more than three years ago, she discovered a passion for another expression: fashion. 

“I love it,” Ponomarova said. “I love the designers and I would love to do more fashion shows.” 

Ponomarova finds herself commuting to New York for fashion shows, dressing in couture and posing for the camera. She walked in the 2015 Style fashion week with David Tupaz and the 2015 Couture fashion week for several designers, including Laura Santana.

“Some of the designers have really great collections and I’m really proud to feature those collections, to be a model for those designers and have those beautiful outfits on me,” Ponomarova said. 

At 27, Ponomarova never thought of becoming a model or entering the fashion world. Three years into the business, she has found that she loves the clothes and the people she meets along her journey. 

“It’s like a different level,” Ponomarova said.. “I can see how I’m growing; being featured with different models and designers.”

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In addition to designers and models, Ponomarova collaborates with photographers who have to fight for the runway light equally as much as the models.

Fashion photographer Aldo Antonio, 24, enjoys the art in fashion photography. 

“Every photo that I do, it’s like a special place for me,” Antonio said. “It’s like a secret.” Although Antonio has never worked professionally with Ponomarova, that does not stop the two from remaining old friends. 

Meanwhile, photographer Vandyke Williams has only worked professionally with Ponomarova, but stays in touch whenever she travels to New York. Williams called fashion show photography exhilarating.

“The excitement is getting there to shoot,” Williams said. “It’s meeting other photographers, meeting the designers, and talking to individuals.” 

Ponomarova is enthusiastic about her career path in journalism and the opportunities that modeling provides her.

“Modeling gives you good exposure,” she said. “If you’re featured in a magazine or somewhere else it is more publicity for yourself and it’s good for your credentials.  So I can see the two going together well.”

Despite recently obtaining an internship with Fox News, Ponomarova admits she is her biggest critic. 

“When you pressure yourself too much, you don’t get to enjoy what you have and basically you get to be disappointed of yourself,” she said.

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Ponomarova strives to maintain her stride on the runway and steal the broadcast spotlight. Rounding out her junior year, she is pushing forward with her courses and potential trips to the city that never sleeps. At  this rate, Ponomarova may have to give up her beauty sleep with all her goals set in motion. 

She gives this advice to those still dreaming with one eye open: “Definitely be ambitious and try to put yourself out there, but you should always take time to appreciate who you are and what you’re doing,” Ponomarova said. “Don’t diminish yourself; always give yourself credit.” 

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