Gabriela Slegrova / Member Interview

Gabriela was born and raised in Prague, Czech Republic. For the last fifteen years she has been living in Cape town. She is self-thought photographer, often using herself as a model as its very convenient and the best way to learn. She loves beautiful landscapes, something which South Africa has a lot and love to combine them with artistic portraits in these lovely landscapes. She calls them Dreamscapes...

In last few years she has started photographing Underwater portraits and has completely fallen in love with it and believes that is certainly her new direction for some time. I love to create images which are out of this world. Images that are surreal, dreamy and etheric.

Last half of year her work has been standing a little bit still as she is giving herself completely to her firstborn baby girl. Her photography has been focused mostly on her daughter. And who knows maybe newborn and kids portraits will be her passion in future too.

What inspired you to become a photographer?

During my modeling career, before my photography life , I was often moved by the ambition of switching places with photographer. (It seems so much fun). It was to early in my life to consider anything else, I was having fun, I was model and I was very young. I had what seem endless years of fun and adventure before me. So I have left the idea of being photographer behind me. As it came to pass I satisfied another ambition I had held for some time and that being desire to live in beautiful part of world. Which turned out to be Cape Town. Inspired by beauty, Cape town proved to be my opportunity to test myself with little Sony point and shoot. And only later when I met my future husband ( who is one of the smartest people I know) the real photography passion has started to grow in me. My husband taught me how camera works, inside out and how to use it properly. Which was something I thought I will never really learn, but I managed. And what really inspires me? It might sounds bit superficial, but it is beauty, which is everywhere around us.

Tell us about your first photo that really validated your interest as a photographer.

I think it was time, when me and my husband went for our first photography expedition as I called it. We were photographing Milky way in my all time favorite location in quiver tree forest in South Africa. I loved it, it was so exciting and new. We were sleeping under the stars in this special forest and were photographing the milky way above our quiver trees. I loved this weekend away. I enjoyed the planning of it, then every minute of the adventure weekend and also very excited to see the photos on my screen later at home. Since then on, I always plan some new excited places to go, explore and photograph.

Back when you were just starting out, what was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome that?

My biggest challenge in the beginning was definitely the technical part of my camera and understanding how it works. But it eventually became like driving a car. More you practice it, better you become and eventually you don't have to think about it at all, it becomes automatic.

What do you enjoy photographing the most?

My most favorite subject to photograph last two years are definitively underwater portraits. I just so love it. I would cancel anything for exchange of underwater shoot :) When me and my model dive in the water and everything becomes fluid and surreal. The whole new worlds always opens up. I always plan the shoot ahead, but there are always surprises (good and bad too) and unexpected things happening as your control underwater is quite limited. Besides underwater portraits I also love night photography with milky way.

Self portraits in stunning landscapes and last 9 months since my baby girl was born I photograph her a lot :)

What has been your proudest moment as a photographer?

Well as I am mostly only hobbyist photographer, then being publish in international Camera magazine made me quite happy. Also magazine has chosen my photo for publication in their yearly book Memento, which I was very proud of. And mostly making underwater video and photo for Italian perfume, was quite achievement :)

Tell us about time in your photographic journey where you failed at something and how did you pivot to overcome this?

Few years ago I had a dream to have my own exhibition. I have spent some time visiting local galleries and meeting their owners, but no one was really interested. It was quite disappointment for me and after while I gave up. I thought it must happen more spontaneously. A year ago one smaller gallery has contacted me and I have permanently few of my favorite photos there. And they do sell :)

We all have weaknesses, what is yours relating to photography?

Still probably the technical side of my camera. To me the composition and light is always more important.

Finding time to get out and shoot is another challenge for many. How do you find the time in your busy schedule to get out there behind your camera?

I believe its all about priorities. People always find the time for things they love most. So for me it never used to be problem. I love being outside, doing things. being active, creating. But having said that, since my baby girl was born I do struggle to find the time I used to have. But also, she is my priority for now :)

Nailing a composite right can be a challenge. What do you think the trick is to mastering composition?

First create the image in your head, think about it a lot, imagine it. Then try and draw it on paper, even if you are bad with drawing like me. More you work on the idea and know, better results you will get. But having said that. sometimes one can be also surprised but complete unplanned result. Specially in my underwater sessions.

There are many photographers starting out, who don't have the money to buy the camera gear they want. What advice can you give to them?

Photography can be very expensive hobby as it is very big selling business these days. . And sometimes it can feel, that one always needs more things to buy. (filters, remotes, tripod...) . But the truth is, taking an excellent photograph needs something else that great camera gear. It requires passion, willing to get out (the best photo you will never take from your couch) good eye, that lovely light most of the photographers are after. I have started with second hand camera, which was more then 13 years old and got some really great results with it :)

How do you feel photography has impacted the way you see the world?

It has changed it completely. I don't see the world same way anymore. Its much better. Worlds has become more like dance of shadows, light, colors and magic to me.

What do you see photographers doing today, that if done differently tomorrow would improve their success?

Be original and yourself. Believe in yourself. Don’t let other people tell you, that your work is not good enough.

To get your creative eye focused, where do you draw your inspiration from?

Mostly from my dreams and thoughts during night. I often wake up around 3am and spend on hour just imaging and thinking about by next image. Also my surroundings often inspire me a lot as I live in very beautiful place.

What is your best photography related tip?

First focus on quantity and when you master technical aspect of your camera and photographing then focus on quality. Finding your style and what you would like to specialize I think its a key to success.

What would you like for people take away from your work?

Escape from their day to day reality and dive into my imaginary world.

What are some ‘must have’ items in your camera bag?

Neutral density filters (I love long exposures) remote control, wide angle lens and my favourite 24-70mm lens.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what is the ONE photography book you would want to have with you?

Most likely my future book full of my best images :)

Final question, and it’s a fun one: Life has been found on another planet and none-other than Sir Richard Branson is piloting Virgin Galactic and has put together a team of engineers, scientist, doctors and has asked you to come along to document the journey. The challenge is you can only bring two lenses and one camera body and two other items. What would you bring?

I would bring what I love most and that is my Canon 6D, 24-70mm lens and super wide lens and remote control.

We want you to be in the middle of the conversation.

Do you want to share your story