by Editor Marius Cinteză
“I construct my photos somewhat like staged scenes on a theatrical set, where the subjects and the props are obviously real, but their role is to induce and suggest emotional reactions in the audience. After all, the reaction of pleasure or discomfort are those responsible with bringing life into any form of art, because, in the absence of the subconscious in the process of perception, the message remains unknown, and the story, sadly, untold.” ~Crina Prida~
Crina Prida is a Romanian award-winning visual artist, whose work focuses on portraiture and conceptual photography. She is not comfortable being described as a photographer, but rather as a storyteller, because her work is staged, and mostly auto-referential. Since 2008, Crina's work has been featured in many international publications and online media, and exhibited in over twenty solo and group exhibitions in Romania and abroad.
Her works contain a perfect mix of performance and theatricality by using symbolism, specific themes of tension, intimacy and cinematic references to conceive a special mood. I invite you to discover more about Crina, her inner experiences as a visual storyteller and her remarkable portraiture photography projects in the interview below!
Crina, first of all I would like to thank you so much for taking your time to answer my questions! To begin, please introduce yourself shortly and tell us more about you, your hobbies or other jobs/projects you are involved in!
I am a visual artist based in Romania, with a former training in arts, but who became a dentist after all. I suppose I’ve always had second thoughts about this decision, because the years I have spent studying art have remained, to this day, the favourite slice of my life. As far as I remember, the educators we had in art high school would not put a lot of emphasis on performance and quantifiable achievements and grades, but rather on pushing the boundaries of free thinking and on encouraging the creative exploration of our ideas. Anyway, I can’t remember a time, during my university years and after, in which I haven’t dabbled in drawing, writing or painting; currently, my interest has shifted mainly to photography.
Let’s start from the beginning: when and how did you start your photographic journey?
My father had a serious interest in photography as I was growing up; he was mostly interested in technical stuff, and he used his cameras to make photos of his work as a civil engineer and the mandatory vacation pictures; he still has a few boxes of developed slide films, lots of 35mm rolls of films and photos taken through the years. He bought me a Smena camera when I was maybe 10-12 years old. I was pretty comfortable with its minimal settings, so I shot a few rolls, which we would develop and then make print enlargements in a makeshift photo lab in our apartment.
Since sourcing chemicals and photo paper became problematic in the late 80s, I gave up on this hobby, that is, until the digital cameras became available on the market.
For many of us photography is either a hobby or a way of life. How would you define your relationship stressful with the photography?
Well, it is certainly not a desirable way of life, if we speak in terms of cost/benefit. My ‘real’ job as a dentist, is, above anything, stressful; it requires time, concentration, patience, it’s physically challenging, and it involves a very personal human interaction. In this regard, taking a hobby is more than a bourgeois adventure, it’s almost a necessity. In my case, it’s been a manner of re-connecting with the world I had abandoned after high school. At some point, going to art events, watching art movies and reading books just didn’t seem enough, especially when juxtaposing this type of experience with my own memory and validation of reality, so I decided to buy a camera and see where this would take me.
What would be the most important experience so far that has influenced your steps in photography?
I’d say, without a doubt, my long time struggle with social anxiety. I am not talking about the clinical side of it, which is manageable most of the time; I am thinking about the marks that it leaves on the lives of those who’ve ever had to deal with anxiety on any level. Reality becomes convoluted, people around you tend to occupy places in your life ranked by their ability to understand what’s going on without asking inane questions, and, of course, the whole perception of life is slightly more vulnerable and (I speak for myself), prone to a special type of empathy, a selfish and self-educated ability to be more compassionate.
Crina, I would say that you are exceptionally proficient in conveying a special mood by your portrait photography! This is an area where many photographers try to stand out, but very few even succeed. Why are you so drawn by this photography type?
The short version is - I had access to quite a number of ‘models’, people who agreed to let me take pictures of them, even in the early days, when I had really no idea what I was looking for in a photograph. There’s way too much talk about technique, lighting, posing, in portrait photography. I think it’s a shame that we fail to discuss the reasons for which we want to shoot portraits. A lot could be learned or explained if we link the aesthetic of portrait photography to its origin: curiosity as an adventure of the mind, compassion, fixing a broken memory, stuff like this. At this point, I’m trying to match my subjective and average daily life experience with an enhanced observation of it through the lens.
What do you think that makes your portraiture works differently?
I don’t acknowledge that it’s significantly different, or no more than anybody else’s work is unique and personal. Perhaps there is a vague visual common denominator to my portraits, and that has to be credited to the fact that I use specific themes of tension, intimacy and cinematic references or lighting. But this is certainly a simplified explanation, and I really don’t have a better one.
You have found inspiration for one of your latest project “Witchcraft” in the Romanian folklore. Where else are you looking for to find inspiration for the stories you want to convey by your portraiture? What is inspiring you?
Inspiration is literally everywhere, and yet, how weird is it that we find ourselves in the middle of creative blocks all the time. I said in another interview, and I stand by this line, that photography is an efficient method of organizing chaos. I watch movies, I read books, I browse the internet like the next person. Everything can be deconstructed and re-contextualized; the Witchcraft project was fantastic, and ultimately so easy to put together. However, it took me years to actually do it. Why?? It was there all along - I have lived most of my life in Transylvania, the myths and the legends, both mysterious and extremely well documented, AND the brazenly kitschy by-products, have been continuously part of our lives in this part of the world. Yet, I had to meet the right people who were willing to be part of this adventure in order to make it happen, and I am obviously talking here about the three models and the handful of other people who helped out with logistics and everything else.
You once said that your photography style can be more fit under the “staged photography” category, usually following a plan but also letting the spontaneity to express. What would be the features of a successful “staged photography” session?
It’s true, I make images that tend to contain a mix of performance and maybe theatricality by using symbolism, props, textures, specific lighting. I am setting up the scene for the subject because it’s the best way to create a narrative in which the viewer becomes a voyeur, if that makes sense. The model is not aware of what I see at the moment when the camera shutter goes off. There is no reciprocal gaze, and that means I’m the link between the narrative in front of the camera, and the viewer who will have access to the final image, after I have manipulated it. I do value spontaneity, because often the models are playing along with the idea I had explained to them, and it’s good to allow this transition from the literal space in which we shoot, to the conveyed reality in the final image.
Can you please tell us something more about your workflow for portrait photography?
I’m not very keen on studio photography, because it is too static. Also, it needs advanced lighting skills which I do not possess, nor do I wish to develop. When I work in natural light or with very limited and simple studio lighting, my main concern is to make the model feel comfortable. I avoid heavy styling, excessive posing, complicated lighting, especially because most of the time I work with non-professional models. The more I left everything I had learned or seen in various tutorials behind, the better my images became. I value error a lot, it’s been my favourite motivation to explore beyond the classic visual landmarks, but am trying to avoid recurrent errors.
I found your project “I’ve never seen your face” impressive and I wanted to ask you how difficult is to outline the emotion in a visual story involving a person without fully revealing her/his face? Or is the other way around: this makes your photographer job easier?
The beginning of that series was caused by the much loathed question every photographer hears: What should I do with my head/hands? I’ve heard it dozens of times, and to be honest, it still puzzles me after all these years. I used to tell the models ‘just shake your head, move your shoulders, take a few steps to your side, whatever works, and forget about the camera’. As it happens, I came up with a few interesting random photos that were hiding partially or completely the model’s face, and later I started staging a few more; I still collect faceless images, in fact this could easily turn into a project in its own right, in these times where being anonymous has become a rare commodity. To answer your question - it’s neither difficult, nor easy, unless you’re losing focus on why you’re choosing one over the other.
You work with models for your portrait projects. They are an important part of the story you want to build and convey to the viewers. How do you chose your models?
In the beginning, most of my models were my friends. Later on I have worked with models from local agencies on certain fashion or editorial assignments; however, over the past 4-5 years, I have photographed mostly women I have found among my Facebook followers, a few of my patients (even models have occasional dental problems), and naturally, some of my friends who are still willing to take part in my photo projects. I am happy to have had the chance to work with a number of theatre actresses from Cluj and Bucharest, they are amazing in front of the camera, and their knowledge and ability to express emotions using their face, their eyes, and their body are exceptionally welcome for any photographer.
The success of model shooting sessions depends heavily on the model skills, on one hand, but also on your “stage director” skills, on the other hand. How do you manage to successfully communicate with the models, to make them fit in your story and to get the most of the mood from their performance in front of the camera?
This is indeed a good question. When I work on a specific project, I usually start with doing my research alone, then I set up a meeting with the models, where we discuss the concept, plan the make-up, hair, wardrobe and props. I sometimes have a few handwritten sketches and ideas collected in notebooks which I carry with me at the scene where we are shooting.
Like I said before, I prefer working with non-professional models. But, alas, there are degrees of ‘non-professional’, some people are more camera shy than others, which doesn’t make them less interesting as subjects. This is the main obstacle I have to overcome, making the model part of the scene without compromising their personality. A photo should capture grace and meaning, and sometimes I get it within the first five minutes, sometimes it takes much longer to find a way of capturing the kind of look or expression I’m after.
Crina, you are of the opinion that a secret ingredient for a great photo (portrait in your case) would be to include unforeseeable and intriguing elements. What else do you think is needed for a remarkable photograph?
Managing the mechanism that switches reality to its counterpart, the interpretation of it, for the viewer. If I like my photo, the photo is most likely about me, if the viewers like it, perhaps it’s about them as well.
Many are of the opinion that the gear is not very important when the passion for photography is strong. However, can you please share with us what is the gear do you use (camera, lenses, tripod)?
Currently it’s mainly the Canon 5D Mark IV; I prefer prime lenses, mostly the 50 1.4 and the 100 2.8, but I sometimes use my old lensbaby 3G, the Daguerreotype lens, and occasionally I borrow lenses from friends, if the project requires it (wide angle, for instance). I’m using more and more these days the Fujifilm x100f, which I bought for travelling, but it appears to be quite useful for my personal work as well. I tend to carry with me less gear than before, at this point the camera is an intuitive tool, and basically, one body and one lens are good enough for me most of the time.
Who are your favourite photographers or mentors whose works have influenced you and your photography?
There’s a long list of photographers whom I like very much, but reading about some of them or studying their work has made a stronger impact; I’m listing in no particular order or timeline - Duane Michaels, Yamamoto Masao, Ferdinando Scianna, Man Ray, Sarah Moon, Saul Leiter, Alec Soth, Sally Mann, Graciela Iturbide, Mary Ellen Mark, Robert and Shana Parkeharrison, Bill Brandt, Roger Ballen, to name a few.
Now, since we almost reached the end of this interview, I would kindly ask you to share with us your future plans or photographic projects you would like to involve in.
First of all, I’ll have to try and complete a couple of projects I have been working on, or put on hold for various reasons over the past 2-3 years (Witchcraft, Delicatessen, I’ve Never Seen Your Face). I am working with visual concepts, which means they take forever to complete. Or not. I often feel I have finished with this one thing, only to find myself discovering a new way of looking at it, two years later. It’s something I can’t actually predict.
Anyway, I’m struggling to finish a series of single, rather classic female portraits, inspired by, and emphasized with literary quotes (Flaubert and Julian Barnes); I also have in mind a project that will involve a less ‘clean’ approach to portraiture and editing, but rather a sequenced storytelling, in the manner of Chris Marker’s “La Jetee”; it should result in an absurd story taking place in a derelict space we found by an abandoned spa, close to the airport, where the models actually created some charcoal/acrylic works of art which became the props in lieu of pre-existing beauty, and include some alternative processing of the images I took. There are a couple more, but I have to organize them better before talking about them. Finally, I definitely want to make a photo book which should obviously contain at least some of the things we discussed in this interview.
I can not wait to see your magnificent works on the 1x FP. Congrats Crina
Thank you 1x team for the feature,!
Although many of these series are bare and naked, they are somewhat innovative and creative that shows the photographer's intelligence,I am very happy to be acquainted with you dear Crina Prida and many thanks to Yvette for choose this photo gallery.
Really beautiful. Congratulations
Brilliant work, Crina! My admiring compliments, dear friend! Big thanks to Marius for leading this excellent interview. Cheers, Yvette
I am truly honored by your words, I am glad to be part of this extremely creative platform. Love your work, by the way!
1x has a unique feature the founders are very proud of: the photo critique. Members can submit pictures to a team of knowledgeable senior critics. Their feedback and different suggestions are useful, interesting and enriching even for the best of us.
Critique on the photo ”A Mid-winter Night's Dream” by Alessandro Traverso
With this image I tried to accompany the observer on a journey suspended between the real Manarola and a Manarola of fantasy, through the editing of a unique photographic shot aimed at enhancing all the feelings that the moment suggested to me.
I consider this one of my best photos.
Obviously this picture has some problems that I can not see. I thank you in advance for your help in the analysis of the image.
F5.6 - 15 sec -- iso 100 - 16 mm (apsc)- pentax k2ii
Senior Critic Andreas Agazzi
Thanks for presenting one of your amazing photographs to the 1x Senior Critic team, Alessandro.Without any doubt, this photograph is also breathtaking!
You are referring to some problems with this work. I can only assume that the reason why you think so is a negative curation process. If so, there might be various reasons but not necessarily because of any flaws that would stop from a publication.
But you are here not for fishing compliments and so I try to dive down to the level of nitpicking. Please find my personal findings below:
Framing: my instant finding was that the scene is framed a bit tight., especially on the top. I would prefer to see more from the sky.
There is not enough air to breath. The eyes move within the composition upwards towards the top and are forced to stop immediately, no slow down at all before you hit the end. This is the emblematic approach trying to describe what I think could be a potential for improvement. At the right side I see the necessary negative space above the open sea; it also should be above the town. So, I am not sure whether you have more space left up there.
Processing: I like the way it is but I can imaging, this is not the same for some people. Clarity and colours are pretty strong.
Not sure whether you have used a detail extractor, the way your photograph looks like gives me that impression. There is nothing wrong with it but as I said, not for everyone's eye the best option.
Vignetting: the corners are a bit dark. I assume that this is not the result of your lens but added intentionally in post processing.
I would reduce it a bit, especially at the left side. The upper left corner lacks of details in the darkest areas, this is too much of a contradiction compared with the area where the central buildings are.
I understand that this is your favourite one.
Your great work 'Between the Earth and the Sea' is my favourite and at the same quite similar to this one here. So, in case it was in curation and has been denied, I can imagine that this one here is too close to the other one, but that is just my subjective guess.
I turned to the precious help of the critical section because, together with the expertise and severity of the curators and the extraordinary variety and beauty of the photos published that I admire daily, are the best way to improve myself. The photo is close up because I have straightened very obvious hanging oblique lines of the houses of Nanomolar, but it did not bother me too much, perhaps because working a long time on an image one get used to it and one loses the critical spirit. As for the vignetting, it is a characteristic that I reproduce in several of my photos in order to better highlight the subjects of the same. In this case I have perhaps exaggerated a bit. As for clarity and saturation, white balance I understand that they may not please everyone, we would miss it, but I like it :) I'm a self-taught Light room and Gimp user, therefore I'm far from the technical aspects... I wondered if it is worth in situations like this to straighten the pending lines, I do not bother but I think many see them as imperfections to be avoided absolutely. Thanks a lot, Andreas.
Senior Critic Mike Kreiten
Usually we have a look at the portfolio of a member before writing, to get an idea for his or her preferences, skills, maybe habits. I enjoyed your portfolio very much, inspiring work.
Like Andreas, I noticed "Between Earth and Sea" and of course compared both. For me, and we can only share our personal opinion, that one is much stronger than this work. On 1x, very common subjects are not favoured in curation. 1x is a gallery, looking rather after renewing images.
Your shot of Manarola is far better than mine, and it was no surprise to me that it was published. But having two versions published may be a high expectation. Especially if the first one is stronger.
In this one, a very large portion of your frame is dedicated to the sea. But the sea in your other version has more details , appears wilder. This one is not calm, but still quite flat. Your houses are all straight. Manarola's houses are not all aligned, that's part of Italy's charm.
There is not a single window lit in a dark scene, just street lights. Again, better in "Between Earth and Sea". The strong vignette was covering some street lights, which now appears blown-out, toned down. The vignette became very obvious in this photo. The hard detail level on buildings looks pretty graphical to me, it's much more natural in your published image.
I read this one is your favourite, so I really have to hope you don't bother me naming all the weaknesses compared to the other version. This one is a great photograph, the other one is just more than great.
Thank you so much Mike, I'm so glad you like my wallet. I like this one better than "between the land and the sea" because I wanted to do something different, risking also some technical imperfection. I had already partially identified the weak points of the picture but, thanks to your expert analysis, now they are clearer. If a photo is not published, I think the fault is mine, certainly not the curators'. 1X gave me lots of unexpected satisfaction and also to have you among my followers.
Senior Critic Mike Kreiten
You're very welcome, Alessandro! Your portfolio is for sure interesting to watch. We usually don't comment much on curation because we don't know more than any other member about it, but let me say something nevertheless.
1x is an online gallery, curators choose works that fill the virtual wall called front page. If a work is not chosen (I prefer that over 'rejected'), it does not mean there is something wrong with it. Curation is not a quality check. It just means other works occupied the vacant spaces that day and yours was not amongst the chosen ones.
Senior Critic Martin Zalba
Thank you very much for sharing your work with us, Alessandro. This view is magnificent! I think it is a complicated photograph due to the high dynamic range between lights and shadows.
From my point of view, so much light in the central area, makes the scene natural, the difference of light and shadow is so extreme ...
The main problem I see in your work is the excessive vignetting, which eats the details around the photo.
In general it seems to me that there is too much processing (look at the haloes in the rocks below on the left) the excessive saturation of warm colours, the excess of light in the central area of the photograph and the burned-out lights of the lighting.
I would reconsider the processing. I like the framing and the atmosphere.
I hope that, looking at the details that I mention, you rethink the processing of your photograph. Always with respect and with the desire to help.
Thanks for your contribution to the analysis of the photo, Martin.
Critique is also open to all members, and we learn together here. If you see an image you'd like to comment on, your words would be welcome.
Special thanks to Allesandro! :-)
Excellent professional work of critics. It seems to me that the frequent demonstration of the discussion of the work of experienced photographers will be useful to many others. Bravo critics! Thanks Ivette!
You're so right, dear Vlad. Thanks for your feedback! Cheers, Yvette
The critical section of 1x is a unique opportunity for growth for those who want to improve the quality of their photos. The competence, courtesy and availability of the crews must be praised, they perform a very difficult task in the best way. I thank Andreas Agazzi, Mike Kreiten and Martin Zalba for critic, I thank Yvette Depaepe and Mike Kreiten for choosing one of my photographs for this article. Photos that I care a lot despite having various weaknesses. Thanks for the gift! Sincerely. Alessandro Traverso
Well expressed appreciation for the Senior Critcs, dear Alessandro. Picked out your image because you submitted it in spite of your skills and because the critiques are most interesting ;-) Thanks to you, a fine example for all the members to discover this unique 1x feature. Cheers, Yvette
Thanks to the Senior Critic team for this enriching and interesting review. Thanks to Alessandro for submitting his beautiful image. Cheers, Yvette
Brilliant work, Crina! My admiring compliments, dear friend! Big thanks to Marius for leading this excellent interview. Cheers, Yvette
I am truly honored by your words, I am glad to be part of this extremely creative platform. Love your work, by the way!
by Editor Wicher Bos
Ever thought about it? Probably you have, because there are many articles discussing technological developments. Today, the step towards mirror-less is hot.
I started thinking about it following the latest iPhones' announcement, more exactly their portrait capability to create a depth of field – bokeh – without any user intervention. So, the bokeh is just calculated, no need for large apertures any more.
What are these developments?
The technology is referred to as computation photography. It stands for digital image capturing and processing using digital computation.
What I like about this definition is that it refers to the output, “is an ordinary photograph.” It makes you wonder even more…
Today, a first, a general overview of the field.
The photographer has always been in the front line of technological change:
In the 19th century it was the invention of chemical photography. That ignited a revolution in image-making. Some people were thinking that painting would become extinct ... and it almost did for some genres like portraits, yet, painters found a new way to excite the world.
Followed by another huge step when in the 20st century digital photography was invented. Photography became even better, now you can have instant feedback during a photo shoot, copy and distribute pictures super-fast and post-processing options are mind-blowing: easily clone out things, changing colours, etc.
And now, the 21st century, we see a rapid development of computational photography. Camera’s able to produce images by calculation, based on image data collected by multiple lenses, and sensors. Multiple images combined to create a High Dynamic Range, large Depth of Field by focus-stacking, blurring a background when shooting a portrait, large mosaic pictures, etc.
Where will it end? Start dreaming…
Suppose you would have a complete 3D-capture of a situation for a brief moment in time… and by computation alone you are able, to relight, change focus (plane), zoom in or out, etc. It would mean total freedom for the photographer being back home… an ideal world?
For sure, the possibilities to correct and enhance images will increase even further. Yet, it seems just to be the perfecting of our present tools… however extrapolation of the current abilities is never a good prediction. I believe that in the era of computational photography we will see new and unexpected things developed by true artists who will be applying the new tools in new ways...
What would that do to photography? Would it still be fun? Absolutely!
What remains unchanged:
1. Bringing the camera to the “situation”
2. Staging - in front of the camera
3. Imagination - seeing beyond the factual
Look at these pictures I have selected… these are not just ‘captures’ of a situation these are personal representations of a vision, believe or an experience or emotion…
For me this is the essence of photography.
Finally, do you think you would enjoy photography in that new world just as much?
Would Artificial Intelligence software take over?
Science Fiction: “Camera, please capture this building, in contrasty light, so it has a suspense and mysterious mood” - “OK, sir but if you step 2 meters to the right, we get a better composition”
Who knows – step through the elevator-door, join the future and let’s explore!
“Let your love and not your camera draw you to your subject.” - ~H. Steward Wallace 1902 ~
Great article, good thoughts! Thank you Wicher!
Well, in fact you could think that if there were perfect lenses, going from 6-1000mm always sharp back to front, there would not be the slight obstacles of optics to enable us doing artistic photography.
Computational images would not imitate our usual sense for real photography
So in effect our world would be more sad, photography not such a fantastic hobby or profession.
BUT we still have RAWs :-) So we're still the computational part ourselves if we insist, haha! Well, with all the tools having sliders, of course....
Thx Mike! "So in effect our world would be more sad, photography not such a fantastic hobby or profession." Indeed exactly my thought...
Historically, the great divide between the vision of the artist and that of the photographer was that the artist could image the world as he wanted to see it. The photographer had to image the world as it was. The artist could paint in, or paint out, anything he wanted. He could manipulate his angles and colours in his imagination before reproducing that vision on canvas. The photographer could achieve a more accurate rendition of what he saw than the artist ever could, but to maximize impact, he had to physically change his angles, alter the time of capture and understand how his lens selection would affect the image of his vision. What he could not change with his technology, he had to accept. Technologies have made photography closer to art than ever before and provided the artist with easier, more realistic images. Increasingly, we are becoming "designers" of a visual world we want, free from imperfection, enhanced colours, greater (or less) sharpness. All we need is an image, good or bad, to manipulate. From that, we can create our perfect visions of an imperfect world, which may appear unrecognizable from reality. The price of that perfection may be our ability to see, capture and enjoy the little imperfections that make the world we see. To me, that is the ability which makes our work special.
I could not agree more!
Thank you for putting these very valid points in clear words! That's the imperfection of camera physics we love to play and somehow, maintain.
Excellent addition and fully comply with your views Brian! " The price of that perfection may be our ability to see, capture and enjoy the little imperfections that make the world we see. " I suppose that is what Japanese call Wabi-Sabi ;) worth some additional thought! Thanks!
Good words about this issue. I agree!
love it !
Spendido article, very very interesting. Thanks Wicher for choosing one of my works. You have fully understood my thought. Being among these magnificent artists is an honor for me. Thanks also to you Yvette. Congratulations to all
A well-deserved honor in my humble opinion Carmine! Thx!
Thanks for this fine "study" and for including one of my images, dear Wicher! Congratulations to all the authors selected. Best greetings, Yvette
It is great to be in your editorial team Yvette, i truly like the challenge it brings to reflect on photography in its broadest scope ;) And your art is wonderful!
Yes, a lot of what I wanted to say, said Brian. I’ll just add that use of computer technology doesn’t turn analog and digital photography into computer photography. There is no such thing as computer photography. I would call it computer painting or graphics. Of course, the use of computer technology gave a second wind for the photograph, which we now call digital and which made life much easier for photographers. Digital photography will exist in parallel with other methods of fine art, and I hope that it, like painting, will exist forever. :-) Although there are fears that it is will evolving into holographic or into some other fixing the reality around us. Who knows... Big thanks to all. Vladimir.
by Editor Yvette Depaepe
For Svetlin Yosifov, documentary photography is all about catching a moment of reality, in order to give a meaningful message of what is going on in the world. His portraits are compelling and have a huge impact coming from emotions. Svetlin always tries to make his first shot unhindered even before establishing contact with the subject because seconds after, people’s faces change when they see the camera...and the real moment is gone... Don't miss this interview where you will discover a lot about the excellent photographer Svetlin is.
Hi Svetlin, can you briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs.
I was born in Bulgaria, and I had the privilege of living in this beautiful country all my life. My employment is in a private sports club, focused on extreme sports, which involves a lot of travelling and keeps my life dynamic and interesting. Apart from this, I love travelling abroad and do this once a year for a period of two months. I always associate these trips with diving in the unknown, meeting new people and experiencing something new. My adventurous spirit is my main drive, the inner flame, that keeps me going!
How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
Which are your most important experiences that has influenced your art?
I think that the place where I grew up had the biggest impact on my life. The sunrises and sunsets over the Black sea are amazing, especially of you are at the right time, on the right spot, next to the silent shore, or the furious waves… IRREPLACEABLE. Throughout the years, I’ve worked in the sports club, I have had the opportunity to photograph athletes in ski, motocross and windsurfing disciplines. Slowly, step by step, I shortened the distance to the object, changed lenses, as I came closer to their faces, suddenly I filled in the emptiness I always felt when photographing landscapes and other genres. This is how my passion for portraits arose and I started seeking my sunsets and sunrises in the eyes and faces of people.
What first attracted you to photography?
In 2004 I received my first POLAROID camera. I was invited to attend a windsurf regatta – from the Black sea to the Dardanelles. After the end of the race, I spent sleepless nights in a dark room, filling out the results of my first photo session. An year later I got my Canon 350D. As I dived into the secrets and techniques of photography I found my true love. More sleepless nights studying Photoshop helped me to keep an eye on details – lights , shadows, reflections, symmetry – obvious and hidden… All the things that can reflect the past, the present like a wrinkle, a scar on a face, telling the story, the enlightenment of a smile and the dramatic of a tear. This is my challenge – to show as much as I can, if not at least one of those feelings in my photos.
Describe your overall photographic vision.
Portrait photography is the most compelling genre for me. The impact of a single photo, comes from the emotion it reflects. I most cases, I try to make my first shot unhindered, even before establishing contact with the subject. Most of my photos are made this way. Seconds, after I make my first shot, people’s faces change, practically when they see the camera...and the real moment is gone...
Why are you so drawn by Documentary Photography?
First of all I would like to remind what Documentary Photography is all about. It catches a moment of reality, in order to give a meaningful message of what is going on in the world.Here, I want to admit, that not all my photos comply to the Documentary Photography, may be some of them are more sub categorized as Documentary - ART Portrait Photography. Documentary photos are normally intended to draw attention to real life situations, urgent actions, that need to be taken, society issues. On the streets I seek interesting people, who’s faces reflect their way of life and culture.
What is more important to you, the mood,/story behind your images or the technical perfection?
Everything is important to me, as long as I reach the desired result. I am extremely critical when it comes to my photos. Every image hides a story, and if it isn’t so, this photo won’t be shown to anyone until it leaves my “To Finish” folder. I open it each week, as a new idea comes to my mind, something that I considered inappropriate the week before.
Following images are part of the album 'TEN RUPEES FOR INDIA'
What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer?
Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph?
This is the hardest part of getting ready for a trip. There are so many interesting places, I would love to visit places filled with people that we could never see anywhere else in the world. Places that hold a long history, people that hang on to rituals and traditions, that we’ve seen only on television. I can give an example... In 2018, when I decided to visit Ethiopia, my research began 3-4 months before my departure. I looked at tons of photos of photographers who went there and tried to build an idea of what it is going to be like.
A month and a half later, my third photo album "ETHIOPIAN TRIBES EXPEDITION 2018" was released.
What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
My favourite cameras are Canon EOS 6D Mark II and Leica DIGILUX 3. They are always on the road with me, kept safe in my photographer’s backpack with the highest protection, possible. I use the standard Canon 24-70 mm lens, which is perfect for street portraits, as well as Canon EF 70-200mm, Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM for portraits.
This is one more image part of the album 'TEN RUPEES FOR INDIA'
What software do you use to process your images?
When processing a photo, I normally use Adobe Photoshop CS6, Licensed :Imagenomic professional plugin,PictureCode-Photo Ninja plugin,Topaz Adjust plugin.
Can you tell us something more about your work flow?
What I normally do, when processing a photo, is to remove the irrelevant and distracting objects, from my main accent. After entering a light contrast, in order to highlight certain elements, I apply textures, that I have composed myself. When photographing someone on the street, I always make at least two more shots, without my object, in order to capture the light , with a similar camera adjustment as the main shot. I normally use these extra shots to produce my own textures. Layers in Photoshop are similar to semitransparent sheets, and I use many of them, plus my texture. Every layer holds one texture, which is independent from the images in the other layers. Put one on top of the other, and looked upon as a whole, they express the desired effect. This way I have the opportunity to paint, add or subtract pictorial elements on one layer , without affecting the main image, or the images in the other layers. Each texture, each layer, can be fully or partially filled or transparent. At the end, while adding a B&W filter, sometimes you can obtain unbelievable results.
What is your most important advice to a beginner in Documentary Photography and how do you get started?
I am not sure if I can give advise to people just starting their photographic journey. I just can say, in my humble opinion, that everyone has to leave his comfort zone and sacrifice time. Keep on believing in yourself. In my case, after years of sleepless nights and hard work, I started to feel fulfilled by work and success.
Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
I try to hold on to something Ansel Adams said „The are no rules to making good photos. Twelve for one year-that's a pretty good result!“ Looking back, from 2005 till today, I can say that 1X had a great impact on what I saw through my lens and what I expressed in my photos. I remember flying in the clouds, joyful, when curators published my first photo. Till this day I keep looking at photos at 1x.com, whenever I have the time.
Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a lot and why?
Oh, these photographs are so many, that it is hard for me to be specific. Here, at 1x.com I can think of at least 50 😊 that have inspired me and even made me feel envy.
This picture is part of the album 'GoodBye Cuba....!'
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
Of course… Always move and look forward! I can only wish myself more frequent adrenaline rushes and excitement, more of those special moments. When coming home after months of travelling and spending hours in front of my computer, I finally spot the perfect shot. My main goal is to visit more wild places - and the ones I wish to visit are plenty. I am afraid my lifetime will be too short… As for my photos I wish to find many impressive faces and make them extraordinary for our world to see!
Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
Oh… this is a hard one. Reminds me of the time that I was invited to take part in a Bulgarian photo club, with nine other famous Bulgarian photographers. They told me : “ You have great photos, pick two…”. An impossible mission! I spent a week in front of my computer and at last picked two. This led to the winning prize, so I present you this world winning shot part of the "ETHIOPIAN TRIBES EXPEDITION 2018" album.
This photo also was published on 1х. A special THANK to the curators!!!
Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
1X is amazing! Keep seeking, unravelling and finding only the best!
. I am so impressed by your extraordinary work, Svetlin . Congratulations !! .
Thanks for your compliments....Wangenrot!!I also like your work !!
. It is a great pleasure for me, Svetlin . Thank you so much !! .
Very motivating Thank you very much for showing your art, Svetlin Yosifov. Thanks Yvette
Thanks for your compliments....Mario!!
And thanks a lot for your appreciation too, Mario Eduardo ;-)
Congratulations and Thank you my friend for this wonderful interview! You have a unique talent!
Thanks for compliments and friendship Veselin :) :) !!
Artistic documentary - love every single one! Congrats :)
Thanks for your compliments....Ivaylo!!
Gorgeous images. I love what you do with backgrounds and textures. Would like to know more about your workflow. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for your compliments.... Anita!!
So exciting to interview you, Svet! Thanks for sharing your photographic experiences and for the glimp on your personality. My vrey best compliments on your whole body of work, my friend. Cheers, Yvette
Thank you again.. Yvette !!
Special thanks to editor Yvette Depaepe!! Thank 1x.com.....!!!
by Editor Wicher Bos
Tom Hegen is an award-winning German photographer known for his aerial photography projects. The focus of these projects is on landscapes that have been altered by human intervention.
The Salt series is iconic already, the almost abstract images show human impact with a convincing intensity and beauty. Other recent projects were photographing, tulip fields, coal mines, forestry and waterways coloured by industrial waste.
One of his latest projects is named after the Paris Agreement objective, Two Degrees Celsius, in which Tom documents the effects of global warming by photographing the Arctic ice sheet from an air plane.
Very happy that he is willing to free up some valuable time for the 1x.com community and provide some background to his photography.
COAL MINES SERIES
To start, who is photographer Tom Hegen?
I am a photographer, specialized in aerial photography. Before I came to aerial photography, I started off with classic landscape photography but soon realized that those sugar-coated shots do not represent their real environment. I began to question the term »landscape« in a sense of »landscaping«. As a consequence, I now focus on landscapes that show the impact of human prescience on earth.
How did it all begin, there are many ways to expose human impact on the environment, how did you come to make aerial photography?
I am interested in the concept of the Anthropocene. It is a term used by scientists which theorize that humans, in recent centuries, have become one of the most important factors influencing the biological, geological and atmospheric processes on Earth. Some of the most significant changes in the Anthropocene include climate change, the ozone hole in the Antarctic, rapidly rising sea levels, and landscape changes caused by river shifts or the degradation of raw materials. In my photography, I explore the origin and scale of that idea in an effort to understand the dimensions of man’s intervention in natural spaces and to direct attention toward how humans can take responsibility. Aerial photography is a compelling way to document those issues as it basically makes the dimensions of human force on earth visible and it enables to show subjects in connection to their environment on a much larger scale.
How do you select your landscapes? Can you explore these landscapes in advance? There must be some plan, I suppose?
My photography projects are very much research driven. I do a lot of research on the subject before taking the actual photos. It takes a whole lot of preparations to get a project on track. I am always planning my projects a good time before the actual production. Preparation is really important when it comes to aerial photography. It really helps for a safe and successful aerial production. I basically work with a four-step-method of research, concept, execution and evaluation. For scouting the locations, I also use high-resolution satellite software to get a better idea of the landscape.
TWO DEGREES CELSIUS SERIES
Your focus is on the relationships between humans and their natural environment – can you give some examples that clarify how you approach this, and what selections you make?
The idea of my photography projects is to raise peoples awareness of environmental relevant issues. But I don’t see myself as the guy who is pointing the finger on saying what we’ve done wrong. I would more like to inspire people to think about how we have an impact on our environment. Therefore, I try to focus on landscapes, that show the impact of human presence on earth. On how we claim our environment in order to meet our needs. I see myself as a frame builder, who frames the canvas earth, where we are painting on.
As we are an artistic photography platform: What in your opinion, makes a good photograph?
Besides the technical and aesthetic part of a photograph, I think it a photo has to tell a story in some kind. There are so many brilliant photographers and great photos out there. For me, however, the message of the picture is very important.
How important is post-processing your images? Do you restrict yourself in this respect? How do you decide when you’re done?
Post-processing is part of my photography workflow. I think of every image as a piece of artwork, that could be hung on a wall. However, I try to restrict myself to "don’t remove, what has been there and don’t add that has not been there".
Is there in your portfolio one image that in particular makes you feel proud or has a special emotion to it? Why?
The photographs from my recent project »Two Degrees Celsius Series« are personally very meaningful to me as they were really hard to shoot. I took the images on a couple of flights with a small air plane over the Arctic Ice Sheet. There is a big difference in photographing from an air plane or a helicopter. Helicopters can hover over one particular spot. Air planes not. Imagine shooting out of an open window of a moving car with 150km/h, with a 200mm zoom lens an animal in 500-meter distance.
Can you elaborate on what is it specifically you want people to see?
The idea of my photography is to create an awareness of environmental relevant issues. I use abstraction and aesthetisation to get the viewer’s attention on topics, they wouldn’t necessarily focus on. I hope that people start asking on what they are looking at and to start thinking of how that affects our planet. With my photography, I would like to start a discussion on how we can make our planet sustainable for further generations.
What other artists, be them photographers or not, do you see as examples or do you admire and why?
I really enjoy looking at the work of abstract painter like Mark Rothko or Jackson Pollock and how they managed to create an exciting composition with few stylistic elements. I also admire the work of aerial photographer pioneers Georg Gerster (Switzerland) and Yann Arthus-Bertrand (France).
Is there anything else you wish to add?
In November 2018, I published my first aerial photography book »HABITAT«. The photo project »Habitat« deals with human intervention in natural environments. It raises the question of when man’s influence on Earth began and how our civilization has developed since that. The book „Habitat“ documents the relationship between man and nature by aerial photography. Five chapters and 90 photographs show traces of human presence on Earth. Each chapter is supplemented by some representative facts and infographics that illustrate to which extent we claim our environment in order to meet our needs. The book can be purchased through my website www.tomhegen.de
Thank you, Tom Hegen for sharing more about your passion in life and in photography. We’re excited to see what works of art you come up with next.
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY TOM HEGEN © Tom Hegen
For further reference see Tom’s website: www.tomhegen.de
Fascinating photos, great interview. I wondered if you are really not familiar with the works of Henry Fair, basically doing very similar work and having the same intentions. Exposing the ugly behind the obviously beautiful. It could be a concurrent situation or a very interesting cooperation between you two :-)
Dear Mike, as interviewer i wasn’t familiar with J Henry Fair thx for mentioning him. I checked him out,.. great photography as well!
Thank you for your kind reply, Wicherbos! I rather wrote Tom Hegen, assuming he would read comments on an article about his work. Seems he's not an active member here, so he most probably can't answer...
Absolutely magnificent work Tom, congratulations and thank you Wicher for presenting us with this story, an inspiration!
So happy to get that great article and superb selection of pictures; As an aerial photo fan, I'm really admirative of these graphic photo with a message
Thank you Marc
Super interesting. Thank you very much Tom Hegen. Thank you Ivette
Editor Wicher Bos led this interesting interview, dear Mario! Honours all to Tom Hegen and Wicher Bos. Thanks for your interest, dear friend!
Great article, great artist ... thank you for sharing this with us.
Respect for this great artist Tom Hegen is for contributing to the awareness of environmental issues through his photography in a most artistic way. Thanks Wicher for leading this unique interview. Cheers, Yvette
Special thanks to editor Yvette Depaepe!! Thank 1x.com.....!!!