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Rodislav Driben: Fine Art Nude Photographer

by Yvette Depaepe
Published the 21st of May 2021

Rodislav Driben  describes his vision on artistic photographic depiction of human nudes as very challenging and an exciting activity which involves many open questions and controversial aspects. To him, it is an excellent crossroad of ideas, involving a great deal of split and shared opinions.

I invite you today to discover Rodislav's outstanding Fine Art Nude Photography through this interview. 



Can you please tell us a little about who is Rodislav, the man behind the camera?
A physicist by profession and photographer by passion who lost his way between two great Newtons. Isaac and Helmut :)

For someone who never saw your work, how would you describe it?
An entry to the world of paintings through the photography backdoor :)



At what age did you become interested in photography?
What sparked it and when did you decide that it was what you were going to do?
Why did you decide to become a Fine Art Nude photographer?
My main driving force in this life is curiosity, making life interesting and exciting with spiritual and intellectual search.   Hunger for discovery led me to travel photography and also to my artistic photographic studies of nudes.  For more than 20 years I have been travelling all over the world carrying my camera with me. Although I made many nice shots of people on the streets, of landscapes, of wild nature, photography came in the second place.

Why did you decide to become a Fine Art Nude photographer?
The situation completely changed at the end of 2015, when I realised that I should make my own images rather than shooting what I was observing while travelling.
I lesser chase main attractions but started to look for lesser recognised corners  where natural environment can give me harmony in composition, including lines, shapes, light-shade and colours.









Why are you so drawn by Fine Art Nude Photography?
My view on artistic photographic depiction of human nudes is very challenging and thus an exciting activity which involves many open questions and controversial aspects.
It is an excellent crossroad of ideas, involving a great deal of split and shared opinions.
During my staged photo sessions, my brain is as hard activated as for my
scientific solutions for problems, but... additionally my inner sensual turbine is activated  especially concerning female nudes and I don't explore that in science.  I believe that in order to achieve outstanding results an author must activate 100%  of all his / her resources of all kinds such as intellect, memory, imagination, vision of light and colours, passion for Eroticism etc.   Everything should  be devoted to reach perfection.





How did you start? What were some of the hurdles you encountered in the beginning?
Do you remember your very first fine art nude shoot session?
Was it by chance or was it intended to be like this.
Let me tell a story that illustrates the situation.

St. Petersburg. Autumn 2015. I was trying to spend my time by communicating in a regular TFP group, where photographers and novice models walk around the city and just make simple pictures.
One cold evening, a message came from a girl named Vladlena telling that she would like to have a photo session.  I asked her to send me up-to-date photos. After a while, she send me a photo where she was fully naked.  I didn't have a single nude photograph in my portfolio and first I thought it was some kind of joke. 

However, it soon became clear that the girl simply loves to show her beauty without wearing any clothes. Well, if so ...

Where can I take photos without clothes, I asked?

– In the studio, of course ...

 And what’s going on in these studios?
Let's meet and figure it out on the spot, Vladlena answered me.


What is more important to you, the mood,/story behind your images or the technical perfection?
This is a very interesting and important question indeed.
First, I assume that by technical perfection we are talking about, general quality such as management of light, composition and tonalities.
Second, the answer to this question strongly depends on which category of photography. For documentary photography, catching the very moment is the most important because there is no time to optimize visual characteristics.  So, in this case the essential is the story itself. On the other hand, when it is about commercial shootings, technical aspects are obviously prevailing.

So let me confine my answer to Fine Art Nude Photography which is basically a staged scene depiction. Let us imagine ourselves being a visitor in a museum. If a particular image is executed with skills it will definitely attract my attention. Thus the viewer’s brain and heart is opened by the excellent work of the author and the dialogue can begin. The viewer wants to dive deeper into a masterpiece to discover more and more details.

On the other hand if I notice a piece of work executed with lesser skills,  I am sort of reluctant to continue the dialogue with author.   A good story definitely deserves it and it is definitely a pity if an author can not present technical quality.







Can you describe a typical photo shoot session?
How much equipment do you generally need? Do you have some help?
A lot of work and a lot of fun!!!  In order to make an excellent photo-painting and not just a photo-study,  I need to carry a lot of draperies and accessories besides my  photographic equipment.  Sometimes people assist me, but it is very rare.  Models take care of their appearance, especially of their hair but do it themselves according to my wishes without style experts.



Can you tell us something about your favourite photographers, if there are some?
How did they influence your work?
As one can see I am much more influenced by patriarchs of paintings rather than by patriarchs of photography. But still, there are several great photographers who are a great  source of inspiration and admiration to me.  For example the Swiss photographer Christian Coigny. His very delicate and intelligent way of portraying nudes is gracious and noble.  His skills brought Fine Art Nudes to the highest levels of Art.


What kind of equipment and gear do you use?
I am on the artistic side of photography rather than on technical, strongly believing that the most important instrument is photographer himself. I'm using a pretty old semi-professional Canon 7D crop camera with several high quality Canon lenses. So far I am OK with it, but I guess that more advanced equipment would improve my works.


How much time do you spend taking photos, versus retouching photos?
And, to what degree do you retouch your photos, Photoshop? Lightroom? Aperture? Anything in particular that you always like to do in your photos, like a personal “editing signature”?

Taking photos for publication:
It is different every time.  Sometimes I have a clear idea of what I want to achieve, but mostly I have only a general idea in mind before I start a photo-session and improvisation does the rest.   Than I carefully make a choice of the most interesting images out of all the  shots.   I focus on good compositions, colours and too on interesting stories, characters, mood.   I want to publish images that express my own feelings, my inner world, my perception of beauty, my way of story telling.  The average time between the shoot and the publication of the chosen images is about 2 à 3 months.  If there are priorities, I can speed it up to a few weeks or even a few days.

Retouching photos:
I prefer to use as little as possible Photoshop and if I use it, it will be very subtle.
I want the style of my works to by highly realistic. This means a correct perspective, a perfect lighting and shade characteristics, and credible colours.  Those elements are absolutely necessary to make my stories credible. The most vulnerable place for Photoshop application is people’s faces.  Polishing by retouching places as folds on a forehead is equivalent to erase the person's character making a living person becoming a plastic doll.   But I'm still removing certain temporary imperfections on the skin such as small red spots.

Interestingly, the image 'Death of Cleopatra' chosen by me few days after the photo session and after a very brief correction of the JPEG version on my laptop was a real success.  This image didn't wait until I was back home to view the RAW file on my good desktop screen for some significant retouch.  It won the Grand Prix at the International Color Awards ;-)



Rodislav, can you describe and tell us something about the hidden work of a fine art nude photographer? 
I mean the work between the photographer and the model, the psychological and mental aspect of that work and all the main aspects of that relationship. It doesn’t begin right in the spot and it don’t ends with a “how do you do”, for sure.
First of all, I would like to mention that it is very important to chose the right model to work with for a particular of photo-session. Casting is extremely important. Models must like my view point on fine art photography.  Actually my adoration for aesthetics of paintings sometimes brings me a model who would never pose naked for any other photographer.  What also attracts models is the possibility to fully take part in the creation process.
A lot depends on artistic improvisation skills of the model.  Several very motivated models even brought key objects to pose with for photo sessions.
Together we solve artistic tasks and this helps them to forget about their nudity.
A spark of brain work also can be seen on model's faces and this makes them even more beautiful, in my opinion.  Beauty has both a physical and a spiritual side.  Since I work with very pretty models being fully naked, we must work hard together to reveal the spiritual side  of beauty to make the perfect balance with the physical beauty.

Spiritual and physical beauty strongly differ from model to model.  I must discover the flavour of their individual spiritual beauty and enhance it by an artistic visualisation.
Some models have a more masculine type of nobility, grace and plasticity, others have a more delicate feminine or even sort of childish type.   Artists working with models must be hyper-sensitive and thoughtful especially in Fine Nude Art.  After detecting the spectrum of the models' beauty and acting capacities, I'm trying to match a character or a story to them by good compositions, light and colours.



What advice would you give to a photographer who is starting fine nude art photography?
‘’Primum non nocere’’ or "first, do no harm” as it is stated in Hippocratic Oath.
Beginners should be super-critical more than in any other genre.  A person that poses naked for a photographer, must trust him / her.
Choose very carefully what you want to publish and where your want to publish it.  
Always ask permission to the model before publication.
The person posing naked should not hesitate later on to make ore photo-sessions with you.

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?


My next goal is to try to reach all the brilliance of expressive natural looks, using vivid colours in all their majestic and variety the way British Pre-Raphaelites did.
   I also will strive for scenes with several models.

Any final words of wisdom you would like to share?
I want just to repeat my old statement: Feminine delights in nude photography are like berries on a skilfully baked cake. If a stranger brings you a plate of ripe and juicy berries, you will certainly be grateful for a delicious treat, at the same time, you will not consider the berry deliverer a cuisine chef.


Wow, such a beautiful style in your work! Congrats
Посмотрел и почитал, получил огромное удовольствие и восторг от услышанного и увиденного. ( увиденного не в первый раз, но со словами на многое посмотрел другими глазами. ) Спасибо Вам за Ваше творчество Родислав и спасибо огромное Иветт за это интервью.
Great article ,great photographer .
Very nice and artistic images
Great article. I love your work Rodislav!
Great Photographer
I see your photo today, for the first time and I am astonished. Today I visited Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence. Your photos have the stunning beauty of the best painting. A lot of congratulations for your magnificent work!
Great work of light on your model congrats
Dear Editors. Thanks for publishing the interview! Few small things: Last image is indeed much more reddish than it should be and I appear everywhere as Rodislav rather than Radik. Could you please introduce these small corrections? :)
Wonderful article and imagery! Thanks for being part of this creative community Radik!
Superb images and great work. Amazing article.
An amazing article with lot masterpieces I could see. Good reading, terrific images and thank you very much for publishing. Best Regards
Superb images and great work. Beautiful narration of body work through the visual images. Love the curation and presentation.
The last image is missing in gamma. In the classic version all is ok. Same applies to my lastest Interview, where one image is missing.
Thanks, Hans Martin ... I'll check it out with the management !
Thanks for reporting Hans Martin, we are working on fixing it.