My everyday work is public relations and photojournalism. I received a BA degree in English philology, but also took some classes at an art school, and took part in several young painters’ competitions. I started photography more seriously a few years ago when my husband and I bought our first digital SLR. Since then I have won prizes in several local and international photography contests.
I mostly explore several areas of photographing people: portraits, portraits in nature, and my favourite, children. I do photo manipulation as well as natural photos. I have never focused on, for instance, birds, landscapes, or animals because I prefer exploring human emotions. My heroes are the people around me. I often photograph my two children, and draw inspiration from the events and human relations around me every day, as well as from music, from how I or how other people around me feel. That’s why some of my photos may look depressive or black, because I try to show the saddest side of our lives: there are so many unhappy people around us nowadays—many poor and homeless, for example.
I am very much inspired by Czeck photographer Jan Saudek. Perhaps that’s why some of my portraits seem weird to people—I very rarely make “classically beautiful” portraits. I like to observe more deeply: the portrait is not only the eyes, the lips, the expression; it is trying to look into the soul. To take portraits, I need time, the model and the idea, although sometimes ideas arise when I started post-processing of a photograph in my computer.
Sometimes, however, I know ahead of time that I want to do some difficult post- processing for a photo, and plan for it. The images in my portfolio with my daughter, for instance, are taken in my home studio on a white background; afterwards I add other backgrounds from my stock of images. I’m constantly looking around to shoot interesting places—old houses, rooms, walls, and so on, so I can use them in future art works.
It is always difficult to get the right lighting, because if I take a shot inside it has noticeably different lighting if I afterwards try to combine it with a background photo taken outdoors. So I try to always use natural window light or one flash—using the flash like sunlight. I also use a white reflector to light the shadows. I have a large balcony in my house with light wails, so I sometimes put my models there and make good shots.
As to working with models, I always try to make up and dress them for the theme of the photo and, of course, in post- processing some details can be colorized—lips, eyes, hair color. For this, I use the Airbrush tool in Photoshop, very carefully. I make a different layer for each post-processed piece, so afterwards it is easier to correct before merging them.
It helps that my two favourite models, my daughter and son are always here.
I think I have my own style that is a little bit like painting; people often say that my photos look like old painted pictures. That is why I use a specific way of post-processing in Photoshop, with several layers, because I very often use several photos in one image, as well as brushes and different textures. Sometimes I don’t know what the result will be until the post-processing is finished. But it also happens that I just take a shot and see that I don’t need any post-processing, except maybe adjusting the contrast and making the image black-and-white.
I think it’s important to take a camera with you all the time, and take many photos. You don’t need an expensive camera, everybody can start with just simple 4-megapixel camera. It doesn’t matter so much what camera you have; the main thing is to have your ideas!