by Yvette Depaepe
Published the 17th of April 2023
Barbora Biňovcová's outstanding conceptual portraits make up the vast majority of her artwork. She loves to focus on the expression and props to create the mood she tries to capture. She tried other types of photography but always get back to what she calls an “emotional portrait”, photography which sparkles a kind of emotional connection between the viewer and a complete stranger depicted in the picture. I invite you to have a glimpse on the artist behind her works.
'Self-portrait with poppies'
Dear Barbora, first I would like to thank you so much for taking the time to answer this questionnaire! To begin, please tell us how you did start your photographic journey?
I started my photography journey after graduation from university. Having degrees from two fields of study and an experience as a model with a passion for photography, I decided to get a camera to explore the world through lenses before I get a permanent job. My first models were my friends. They posted the photos we took together on social networks, which attracted more friends and models. So instead of looking for a permanent job, I have decided to make photography my career.
'Mushrooms and beauty'
For many of us, photography is either a hobby or a way of life. How would you define your relationship with photography?
Photography is a necessity for me, a part of my life. It's how I see the world, my self-expression, and the means of communication with others. It's also a relaxing activity for me. It's still more a hobby than a regular job which pays the bills.
What would be the most important experience so far that has influenced your steps in photography?
I believe that all my life experiences influence all my artworks. Even the subconscious one. All through childhood, adolescence, to motherhood. All life wins and loses, as well as missteps.
Describe your overall photographic vision.
A lack of conception characterises my attitude to photography. What I'm after is aesthetics. During the photography session, I'm letting things flow. I have all the props ready in advance, but I only use those based on my and the model's moods. I'm taking advantage of the sharp sunlight and playing with the shadows. Various curtains and objects of daily use can modify the shadows. I engage in colour reflections of spangles, foils etc. I also like to work with water. Meres or a shower in combination with flowers look superb.
'Eye and leaves'
The mood and composition in your fine art and conceptual portraits are outstanding! What is your secret and why are you so drawn by this photography type?
First of all, thank you! Close-up portraits make up the vast majority of my artwork. From my point of view, it's the easiest type of photography I could choose. I don't have to deal with outfits and the body's posture. All I have to focus on are the expression and props I pick to accompany the mood I'm trying to capture. Conceptual portraits are also fun!
While I have tried other types of photography during my career, I always get back to what I call an “emotional portrait”, photography which sparkles a kind of emotional connection between the viewer and a complete stranger depicted in the picture.
What are the main features of a successful portrait photographer in your opinion?
The key to the emotional portrait is the communication between the model and the photographer. I must do my best to help the model feel comfortable and safe. That's the only constellation under which the models relax and open themselves to me so that I can capture their real feelings. Empathy and knowledge of rules of positive verbal and non-verbal communication are crucial technical knowledge of portrait photographers.
A technically perfect picture capturing a model with an insincere expression is less intriguing than a picture capturing real feelings despite possible technical flaws. Even such photos can be unforgettable.
Can you please tell us something more about your workflow from the idea to the final product?
I usually don't have a plan for a session. All I get prepared for are some topics. For instance, I would like to get something with water elements, flowers or something more experimental. I pick a location, get some props, and then let the session flow. I'm not trying to capture a specific picture. The session lasts as long as I get a good feeling and until I feel that there is nothing more I can get from the model during the session.
'Lady with tulips'
The photographs I publish are made on my computer. The pictures I pick for the edits have to attract me to their unique atmosphere. Only such pictures get final edits. I don't spend a lot of time editing my photographs. I'm not good at editing photos, and I'm also not very technically capable. All my edits are basic, mainly just brightness and contrast modifications.
On the other hand, what I do work with a lot, is the crop. Cropping a picture gives it a completely different feeling. I crop a lot.
'Lenka in colour'
Where do you look to find inspiration for the visual stories you want to convey? What inspires you?
I find my inspiration in everyday scenes; whenever I see an interesting object, I consider using it in my photographs. Models I work with, as well as my fellow photographers and other visual artists, are what inspire me. When finding inspiration in the work of other photographers, I try to decompose the artwork. There are always several areas of interest in other works: the model, environment, props, and lightning. I'm trying to identify what I like the most about the pictures and later attempt to convert that into something related yet different in my artwork. That's what inspiration is about for me.
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 gear you use (camera, lenses, lighting, tripod, etc.)?
There are photography disciplines where the equipment is critical, but that's not the case in my work. I use my old Nikon D700 with a 50mm f1.8 prime lens. I primarily work with daylight, and if I employ artificial lightning, it's always something alternative. Table lamps, decorative Christmas lights, a data projector, or flash-lights are excellent and exciting light sources. Even a tiny source of light is enough for close-up portraits.
What would be your favourite photo? Please tell us the story behind it.
Picking a single photo of all the pictures I've created during my career is hard. I'm currently really keen about a breastfeeding topic which I'm trying to show in my work. The way I'm trying to depict the very intimate act of breastfeeding is a connection of the emotional portrait I've mentioned in the previous questions, one of my fields of study at university (I'm a graduated midwife), and my recent role of a mother.
Public breastfeeding is becoming more common, which is great. However, there are still mothers, even among my friends, who are scared of it.
In my photos, I'm trying to capture all the beauty of the act. It's naturalness, intimacy as well as the aesthetics of the close connection between the mother and the child. I'm still approaching the topic from the artistic point of view, creating artworks.
Mothers also want to have a nice memory of the period when they and their children were very attached to each other. Having such a photograph might even be a part of the ritual of stopping the breastfeeding of the child.
When it comes to the photography session itself, I must say that it's always a very challenging session. Planning a scene with a toddler is very hard, almost impossible sometimes. I'm again taking advantage of my experience and previous work, where I do not plan the scene into a detail, but am improvising. There's very little time for capturing the right photo, and I need to react to the little model's mood, which is constantly changing. But I'm really enjoying such sessions.
Who are your favourite photographers or mentors whose works have influenced you and your photography?
I love the artworks of many excellent visual artists - for example, Laura Makabrescu's mysterious photos are mesmerising. I also admire the work of Marta Bevacqua and Alessio Albi for their timelessness and very aesthetic portraits. I love the visual stories of Monia Merlo, seemingly stuck in the past centuries. I also need to mention Mira Nedyalkova - her underwater photos are fantastic.
Now, since we have almost reached the end of this interview, I would kindly ask you to share with us your plans or photographic projects you would like to be involved in.
I'll have one of my photographs at an exhibition in Paris, an interview in a national magazine, and hopefully will appear on a talk show on national television.
Regarding the photography work itself, I'm planning an exhibition of my portraits on the topic of breastfeeding; that's something I pursue a lot at the moment.
Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
I believe that there is nothing else to add. Thank you very much for the friendly chat. I'm grateful for being a member of the 1x platform as it helps me to become a better photographer as well as helps me sell my work.
'Hidden in flowers'
Cristiano Giani PRO
A very impressive body of work. Many congrats...
Arnon Orbach CREW
Wonderful photos with such personal ID of Barbora. Mesmerizing frames so uniquely presented. Thanks for sharing.
Amazing works congratulations !!
Jennifer Lu PRO
wow ,So beautiful ....great work!
Beautiful emotive images, well done
Wicher Bos CREW
Remarkable series! Love the colors and textures…
Vladimir Funtak PRO
Eliska, above all!
Love this set, from colors to texture to aesthetics every thing is very creative & well executed. Congratulations!
Anita Singh PRO
Beautiful creative work, the style and tones are very unique and eye catching , congratulations Barbora , thank you Yvette for sharing the brilliant work
Yvette Depaepe CREW
No tahnks, Anita ! I love Barbora's work ... Cheers, Yvette
Very creative work, congratulaciones.