At 500px amazing photography is at our core, but these photos would not be possible without the talented people behind the lens. The 500px Spotlight series highlights the global and diverse photographers that are part of the 500px Community.
This week we are excited to introduce you to portrait photographer, Michal Zahornacky.
Hi Michal, please introduce yourself to the 500px community.
Hi! My name is Michal and I love photography. I am 33 years old, and I have been actively involved in photography since 2014—specializing in fine art portrait photography and architecture.
From the beginning, I perceived photography as a form of expression. I always wanted to show how I perceive the world through my camera and my thoughts. My work is dominated by a stylized environment in which I always focus on an idea that has a special representation.
How did you come to discover photography? Do you remember your first camera?
I think it was some old Olympus SLR, but I don’t remember the exact model. I bought it just for trips, so that I had some photos to remember. However, I quickly realized that the camera is a tool through which I can express myself.
You currently work as a professional fine-art photographer. What made you gravitate to this style of photography, pushing the boundaries of representation and creating work more conceptual in nature?
From the beginning, I tried to create images that express powerful ideas and have an atmosphere. Photographs with deeper thought, not just a captured moment. In my work, I try to create my own reality, my own perspective. That’s why I like to work with people and the main reason why I do fine art portraits.
I am very inspired by the fact that each person is unique and different. Everyone can perceive beauty in their own way, everyone can experience the same moment completely differently than others. It inspires me in how I portray my pictures. I am always looking for ways to show another form of beauty than what we are used to, and which is pushed to us daily through social networks.
Are there any other creatives you look to for inspiration? What is it about their practices that you admire?
I can be inspired by many things and, most of the time, the little things I come across in my ordinary life have the biggest impact on me. It is important to have an open mind and to perceive the world around you. Of course, I follow the work of other authors, but more out of curiosity to see how they perceive photography and where they move.
I try to come up with things that are new and different. In recent years, I have enjoyed visiting galleries with contemporary art. I really enjoy old paintings, and the way work was created in the last century, especially the color scheme. That excites me a lot, and it makes me think more about my work.
Your recent series, Curves, is a play on portraiture, and the use of distortion is a type of protest against society’s beauty ideals. A beautiful creative solution to make people think twice. Can you tell us more about how you came up with the concept?
I’ve shot portraits from the beginning, and this topic is very close to me. I like to follow the direction that portrait photography is going, and what the current trends are.
CURVES has the task of breaking the stereotype, and is like a protest against the pressure of society to achieve beauty and perfection. Different movements of water distort the symmetry of the face and create new shapes. At first glance, this may seem like a stretch image in Photoshop, but the beauty is that the water creates various unpredictable facial bends that cannot be imitated a second time.
The idea of creating such a series led me to the feeling that people judge beauty too much according to symmetry and perfection. As if the more beautiful and symmetrical the face is, the better the photo. I was already overwhelmed, and wanted to do the opposite.
On a more technical note, you use water in such an unexpected way. Playing on the ripples to create the “non-perfect” image. Do you have any tips for other photographers looking to create distortion in their images?
I’ve been thinking for a long time about how to achieve portrait distortion, so that I don’t have to use software. I wanted something natural. Water was the best way to achieve this effect.
For deformation, I use pure water and its physical properties without the use of any software. The water is exceptional in the way that every movement is original, and it is not possible to imitate several portraits that I capture, which I would probably not capture again. I created a special aquarium. Deformation can be done in several ways, for example through glass, surface reflection, or a curved mirror.
Now, let’s talk color, an element you have clearly mastered. Something that seems to occur often in the Curves series, is the use of a singular color having a nearly monochromatic palette and then allowing a contrasting color to pop. What is your strategy for working with color?
I have always been fascinated by black and white photography, which may sound strange, especially when you look at my portfolio. I got to color gradually, and currently, it makes more sense to create in color as I try to make the photos look aesthetic and pleasant at first glance. I always try to express the color emotionally.
We’ve taken a deep dive into your photography, but we would love to know what else you do to create a work-life balance, what do you do for fun?
As I mentioned in the previous answers, I really like to visit galleries. I also like to go to concerts with friends and try to play sports.
Do you have any exciting new projects in the works that you feel comfortable sharing with the 500px community?
I am currently working on a new project. I work with an ethnologist, and I am trying to incorporate elements of folk clothing into the present world. We want to show that even things that are 100 years old can be used in ordinary situations and still look good. At the same time, we simulate scenes from 100 years ago in a futuristic way. It is a new form of depicting the folk costume.
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