Jakub Gulyás (1980) is a young photographer from Bratislava whose photos can be seen on covers of magazines like Inspire, Emma, La Femme or Eva. He proofs that the world fashion classy photography can be found also in Slovakia. Jakub originally studied restoration but finally settled down at the photography. In the beginning of his career as a photographer he collaborated with fashion designer Lenka Sršňová and captured her colorful world. His eye-catching approach in fashion photography did not stay unnoticed and many offers from fashion magazines came in after. Jakub Gulyás graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava (atelier of restoration under the guidance of prof. Boris Kvasnica). He completed courses in photographic studio of prof. Ján Krížik and one semester in photo atelier of Silvia Saparová ArtD where he was focused on documentary photography about Bratislava`s transvestites and women in their intimate environment. Jakub was finalist of PHOTO 2009 competition organized by the VUB Foundation and this year he received honorable mention in the Slovak Press Photo competition for his series “Remembering the Future”. He also paints creative pictures, which are based on his photographic work.
Why did you after so many years of study of restoration finally decide to be a photographer?
I’m a creative minded person and I wanted to create something by myself. I did not want to be only a gray eminence that preserves the work of other artist. Restoration has been a great school which taught me humility, self-discipline, historical techniques, painting practices in terms of colors culture, drawings and composition. All of these experiences have helped me later in photography so I do not consider that all those years are lost but the opposite.
Why fashion photography? What do you enjoy the most?
Fashion photography has always attracted me and I like its approach. I have a relationship to beauty and aesthetics and to fashion itself. Since childhood I had been listing pictures in foreign fashion magazines. Later I searched for a specific author of photographs and publications, but at that time I still could not imagine my future as a fashion photographer.
You were able to succeed in today`s overpressure of fashion photos. Where do you get inspiration and new ideas from?
I think the word “succeed” is at the moment too strong. We can say that in a few years maybe. In this digital age of Photoshop and in combination with the Internet people can develop their skills very quickly. However, I`ve got a feeling that the topic and the general character of photographs are becoming very similar. It is very difficult to create something new because everything has already been invented. I do not try to discover something new and original. I enjoy bringing the emotion and atmosphere into my pictures. I am inspired by the specific environment in which I am currently creating. I try to adapt to each theme given by author of fashion collections, but mostly they set me free. I do not have a specific plan when shooting and ideas often come right on the shooting location. Improvisation is sometimes more effective than working strictly according to “scenario”.
You’re well-known as a fashion photographer. Do you do also photography of a different type in your leisure time?
I have got not much time for my free creation currently, but I try to archive my material and then sort it out into a series of common themes and concepts. I would like to be more devoted to painting, because working with a digital camera, frequent squeezing of trigger and computer post-production is sometimes monotonous and impersonal to me. Sometimes I need a change and do something with my own hands.
Do you shoot more in studio or outdoors?
I love taking photos in different environments as it provides the necessary atmosphere. Studio limits me and I hate working with artificial lighting. I like natural daylight.
Do you shoot with professional models or are you also seeking the girls “from the street”?
I work mostly with models of the agencies and I do not have the courage to ask people on the street. It raises some mistrust. I would feel weird :).
How is the cooperation with Slovak models?
Slovak girls are great :).
How do you manage and create the right mood when shooting?
I try to figure out the essence of each person who is in front of my camera. At the moment, that person is becoming my muse. I am fascinated by people’s faces, their charisma; I look for another beauty than typical. In general, I’m charmed by mature women who refuse to get old and cover it with manners and extravagance. Joan Collins, Grace Jones, Amanda Lear, Dalida, these are the types of women that inspires me.
What precedes the shooting itself?
I meet with a designer who I am currently working with, he outlines his topic and idea and I try to fit in those boundaries. Then I choose the most appropriate location which should underline his collection. The casting of models and the overall visage is consulted mostly by both of us.
Could you advise our readers which photographic technique is suitable for fashion photography, respectively, what do you use?
I use DSLR Canon Mark II, fixed focal length f/1.8 85 mm, f/2.8 24-70 mm, f/4 70-200 mm with a combination of daylight :).
What makes you to express yourself also by painting?
I paint and draw since my childhood. Photo is just an accelerated process of these two activities. I’m not going to give them up and I hope having more time for them. Things that are created by my own hands are more valuable for me.
Do you watch other Slovakian photographers? Which one respectively who are your favorite photographers in general?
There are many interesting and good photographers in Slovakia. Of those young I like Michal Pudelka and Jan Durin. I admire Peter Lindbergh and his way he captures the female character of women. His photographs have the atmosphere of old films, are nostalgic and tell the story. Other photographers can be considered as innovative and shocking, but sometimes the effort to be original is exaggerated. Lindbergh work is classic and have a meaningful value for me. He doesn`t shock, his intentions are different and this all applies to my perception of beauty.
What is the difference in fashion photography here and abroad?
Our photography cannot be compared because there are different budgets and much more people work at one project abroad. We do it in very raw way here. However, sometimes it is worth it, but probably we will have to wait until we reach the same quality and level. I think that fashion photography abroad is more relaxed and creative and not as conservative as ours. Our magazines are afraid to experiment and keep the old previously verified practice.
You work with young Slovak designers, for example PUOJD brand. What do you like on such projects?
I love the dynamics of the environment, changing perceptions, atmosphere and new stories. I always look forward working with new talents such as fashion designers, makeup artists, models or somebody who gives me impulse for my creative work. I like to try new things and do not want to wake up one day and do my job in the established routines. Every new project is an adventure for me.
What are your plans for 2014?
I would like to have a solo exhibition of paintings together with a video projection.