Interview: Photographer Zdeněk Dlouhý (Czech Republicà)
Can you tell us a little about you?
Hello readers and thank you Modellenland for giving me the opportunity to share a little bit about myself, career and my thoughts regarding my work as a photographer. I consider myself a regular, ordinary human being, who through love and passion for paintings and drawings found his way to photography. I have always admired artists, especially from centuries ago, and their ability to draw, paint and study the human body. Personally, I appreciate women’s curves and the story their bodies tell and the focus of my work is to capture that beauty. My goal is to portray their full and natural elegance and enhance their shape and curves. The human body tells a story; regardless if the women are skinny, full-figured, scarred, or wrinkled. I believe that all women are beautiful and I do my best to capture this in my photos.
How and when did you get into photography?
Since childhood, I have been interested in drawing; I perceived these creations as my photographs. I didn’t have the means to own a camera, and this was my only way to capture what I saw. Occasionally I was able to use the one camera our family had, however the photo developing process was rather difficult and pressing the shutter was all I could accomplish. Later on, as digital technology replaced the film cameras, I was lucky enough to be able to afford and purchase my own equipment. Back then, these cameras were nowhere near the advanced technology, quality and high resolution we have now therefore my first camera was more like a toy; but this was the moment when photography became my life journey.
What does photography mean to you?
Photography is extremely important to me. It hasn’t been that long since a photographer had only 12 images to capture on a film and therefore had to really consider whether pressing the shutter made sense and was worth the capture. I approach taking photographs the same exact way. Digital technology gives us the ability to take thousands of photographs without even trying to capture that one particular special moment or thinking what the resulted image should look like. I admire and respect the old rules, and even though I have modern equipment in my hands, I still think every image through before pressing the shutter.
Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.
I love photography and enjoy drawing. I combined these two passions and developed my own photo style - Fine Art. This intriguing combination gives me the opportunity to curve, enhance and modify reality and implement hand work such as painting and drawing into my photos. The resulted artwork is on a border of a photograph and a painting. I ensure that my work stays within the reality of a photograph and doesn’t look like computer generated graphics.
Do you think in advance what you want in the picture?
Yes I do and often it’s a lengthy process. Often times, I play with an image in my head for weeks and form the desired final result. It starts with an idea or thought and even emotions I would like to capture. I create an image in my mind and then work towards creating the actual photograph.
Where do you get inspiration from?
I find my inspiration in old paintings. I am not trying to duplicate the work of masters from centuries ago; rather I study their techniques, and learn the use of various colors and understand the light. For example, I admire the work of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. His understanding of light and the capture of portraits are unsurpassed to this day and surely an incentive not only for photographers.
Studio, on location or both?
I enjoy taking photos outside and indoors. I was able to establish my own studio where I feel the most comfortable and able to produce the work I love. The studio provides a place where I have all of my equipment in one location and therefore I can focus on my creativity. I use the space to organize and present workshops and lectures about photography. I teach all aspects of photography, the use of lighting systems, color sense and also communications skills photographers need when working with models.
I enjoy utilizing services such as hairstylists and makeup artists and my studio provides room and opportunity to work together. I think that all the effort I put into establishing my studio has paid off; it gives me the flexibility to book clients and work at all hours rather than renting a studio and trying to coordinate everyone’s availability.
Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?
I consider myself a photographer, whose job is his hobby. Throughout the years I developed my own personal and recognizable style and I appreciate that my clients seek my services to obtain the resulted photos. I’m not sure what makes a professional; I can only share that I love what I do and getting paid only helps me to further expand my creativity and work. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my clients.
Nikon or Canon? Favourite lens?
I own a Nikon camera. I don’t think it’s important to share the make and model of the equipment photographers use as we all have our own preferences. I came across Nikon, started using it and got comfortable with it.
The selection process is similar with other equipment as well; the choice reflects individual preference and once you find what you like, you remain with it. With time, I explored many options and chose what I thought would fit my style and needs.
After a certain time of exploring and testing, I determined that GODOX lighting system was the best fit for me to utilize in my studio and out; and found it quite affordable. The choosing process may be somewhat complex for photographers and film makers, but ultimately the choice I made became the anchor for my work. Later I became a GODOX ambassador and since then have been able to help the spread of the brand name.
Choosing my lenses was also a very comparable process. Every photographer develops their own photo style and then chooses the lens variety to suit those needs. Over time and exploration of a lot of options, I determined that SIGMA lenses were the best fit for me. I enjoy the ART lenses due to the amazing sharpness, focus, color capture and contrast. These qualities are important for the work and image I want to create.
Recently, I was given an amazing opportunity to become an official photographer of SIGMA; which I consider an immense personal achievement. It is an honor to be recognized as a photographer in this way. I believe this partnership will open many doors for me as well as allow personal growth and outstanding quality of my photographs.
What has been your most memorable session and why?
This question is quite difficult to answer as I value all of my work and try to learn something new every time.
An example of one of the most memorable moments that impacted me the most was an opportunity to present my work at a gallery. I presented a collection of seven photographs that I had been working on over six months with the collaboration of my wife. She is an amazing makeup artist and FX-artist. The subject of the photographs was fantasy and the purpose was to showcase special effects work. In order to draw viewers into the scene, the photos were printed in large sizes (2x1.5m). I have experienced many amazing successful moments since then but this one was the most impactful on many levels.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?
There are many paths and directions that a photographer can choose to follow. Photography is not only about pressing the shutter as that anybody can master this simple step. It is crucial to approach your work with devotion, diligence, love and passion; or you will just be pressing a button. The final artwork is the tip of the iceberg that represents a lot of effort, patience and devotion. Try your best; learn something new every day and most of all work on yourself and your approach to capturing whatever it is and producing a final image you will be proud of. It’s a lot of endeavor – but it’s worth it.
Company name: ZD-foto
Photography partner: www.sigma-foto.cz/
Makeup artist: Naďa Dlouhá Hoštová