Tereza z Davle is known contemporary Czech photographer but she is not tempted by modern trends of portrait photography. Through nudes and portraits she materializes her vision of femininity which is based on the nature calmly and imperfections which does not exclude the beauty.
You are using the artistic name of Teresa z Davle. How did it come from?
Incidentally it was introduced by my friend the owner of cafes and gallery at the same time. When I bought the camera he very encouraged me. He had organized my exhibition but during the installation he could not remember my second name so he simply wrote Teresa z Davle according to the town where I lived.
You have not studied photography and you are self-taught. Was it about “trial and error” or did you even have some “teachers”?
I consulted with my friends – photographers, painters, artists. Since I had never anticipated that I might do photography for a living it was just fun for me. I portrayed my friends who voluntarily offered themselves so basically I got into it because of them. I did not expect any great results. Perhaps due to the fact that I photographed with love and I really enjoyed it I have finally managed and I do it for a living today.
What kind of development have you passed since 1993 when you started taking pictures?
In the beginning I struggled with a lack of finances so I saved money whenever possible. I used to buy paper and films of warranty and to borrow darkroom. I also used to take a bus or tram to meet the girls and I carried a big bag of props. But since I was young and full of enthusiasm it was nice. Now I already have got a car and everything I need. Technology has evolved as well and I`ve started taking pictures with digital but not for exhibitions only for commercial work.
Why are you attracted by classic techniques – black and white photograph, hand-developed enlargements and minimal adjustments?
I do not like perfect sterile things. For example I like old black and white movies where there can be seen “dithering” and traces break. I do not mind at all if the photos are not sharp and technically perfect. I do not need it at my work. Modern technology is not my strong skill. It is unstoppable moving forward but I stay at the same point.
What is the difference between working with the model from the “street” and professional model and celebrity? Who do you shoot the most like and why?
I prefer “non-models” because I can shape them. They are not twisted by relationships with other photographers and they do not have learned poses. They are natural and this is also my vision of femininity.
Can be every pictured woman beautiful or interesting without radical intervention of graphic editor?
Absolutely yes. In the past digital editing did not exist and the women were beautiful on the photographs and images. Now it’s the opposite the women are like cartoons. Due to digital image editing you do not even know what is true and what a lie is. But when someone comes to my photo exhibition where are pictures magnified by hand from negatives you can be absolutely sure that every woman looks in reality exactly as it is captured in the photo.
Allegedly you had been surrounded by photographic glamor from childhood. What was the impact on your work?
In my view an essential because my grandfather was a portrait photographer at Barrandov and my grandfather was a painter. I was brought up between images and photographs and I always drew and painted. Therefore shooting was absolutely natural. My grandfather had died two years before I started with it so that the family tradition persists but he sees it from above.
To what extent are you influenced by other external impacts – other photographers, world trends, opinions, critics etc.?
Many people think they are not influenced by anything but we all are unconsciously influenced whether we like it or not. I like Helmut Newton and Brassai as well as many other photographers such as Sarah Moon or Antonin Kratochvil.
The key moment in your career happened when you lost almost all your work and your studio was robbed. How did you stand again on your feet?
I dealt with whether I will or will not take pictures and after a few months I started to miss the photography. I borrowed money on the camera and started again. It was still inside me and I got back to it.
What are you working on currently?
I am currently finishing a cycle focused on girls from Cesky Krumlov. In addition to lovely ladies there are many picturesque locations. And I continue waiting for the muse. In the past I have had more of them. The most influential lasted for ten years but now she unfortunately doesn`t shoot. I still hope the right muse will come.
Interview by Romana Juhásová / Robert Vano Gallery