Zuzana Breznanikova

Eclectic fashion photography Inspired by Art and Cinema - Interview

Read a recent magazine interview I did that tells you a bit about me and my photography. 

When did you begin your photography journey? 

I started doing photography as a hobby when my dad gave me a camera at the age of 13 and I knew instantly this was what I wanted to do. Once I am in the creative flow I just forget time. I did get my first work published at the age of 16 in a national newspaper, it was of an international basketball game. However I realised I prefer more creative genres of photography - portraiture and fashion. I like to be able to manipulate lighting to create different moods to suit a subject and to photograph people. Which is why I moved to portraiture and creative fashion photography.  As a luxury fashion photographer I tend to work more with luxury brands . I enjoy creative fashion photography especially fashion campaigns as it is inspiring and creative.

luxury brands fashion photograher Breznanikova

Where do you find inspiration for your eclectic fashion photography? Who are the photographers that you look up to?

My inspiration comes mainly from the subjects themselves but also from art and cinema. I like the work and style of Peter Lindbergh famous for his stripped-back, cinematic portraits of unfiltered beauty. 

Eclectic fashion photography inspired by art and cinema

What are the most common misconceptions about the kind of photography that you do?

Everyone thinks that all photographers retouch photos heavily and even change the features of models. While many commercial photographers still do retouch photos heavily it is in fact on Instagram where you often find people especially influencers retouching and airbrushing photos way more heavily and changing their features completely. Another misconception often held is that fashion photography is perceived as being glamorous, whereas often in reality it is not so as it involves long hours and a lot of hard work, often working demanding and extreme hours and in adverse conditions often, sometimes without any breaks. The long hours required can take their toll on your health if you are not careful - for example as I am conducting this interview I am recovering from a heavy cold but I need to keep going as there is a schedule to follow. When you have your own business and clients you can’t just take the odd sick day off, you have to plough through. 

Also fashion photography is not quite as prestigious as it once was - in the last couple of years influencers have diminished the medium in my opinion, although there is a trend building that is seeing a reduction in influencer marketing. Consumers and brands are starting to lose trust and faith in influencers, reflected in recent headlines about Instagram posts and advertising including reduced organic reach of posts and stories. 
With your photography style marked by constantly evolving ideas and imagery, what do you consider to be the qualities that make your work truly yours?

Photographer’s eye and tailoring my lighting and style to each subject and being inspired by the subjects themselves I think is the most important quality which makes my work unique. I hate to work to strict moodboards - my shoots always evolve around the subject and what feels right at that moment. I might have an initial idea based on pictures I have seen of a model beforehand but that can evolve to something completely different and much more unique to that person. I like to shoot in a fluid style and go with the flow. 

fashion photographer with eclecting photography style with shoot concepts evolving

You constantly borrow and blend concepts from art and cinema in your shoots. Which elements of these do you often find yourself gravitating towards?

I tend to get inspired by art a lot depending on the look of a model and blend in a cinematic look and feel more in terms of the lighting and grading of my images. For example in the image I got inspired by the redhead model with a pale skin who reminded me of the Renaissance paintings and this is the end imagery of my vision and photographer’s eye - well it was a creative process of three people including the model as ultimately it is the model who is at the centre of any artwork. 

Fashion photography of a readhead model with pale skin inspired by Renaissance paintings and art

If you could photograph anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why? 

Al Pacino would be among the top actors I would love to photograph - he is such an iconic and legendary Hollywood actor with some unforgettable performances like in ‘Godfather’. I love to photograph actors with a lot of character who are very expressive and he definitely is - I do a lot of actor portraiture

What do you personally think makes a great portrait? How do you strive for this in your fashion photography?

I believe portraiture to be a study of a profound depth into the subjects personal story as seen through the eye of the photographer.

Story telling told through the use of light, composition and capture of the essence of a person. In fashion for me it is not just about the clothing but also the subject - I think a great photograph has to be tailored to the subject and not to fit the clothing. Models do not just wear the clothing - it is the model for me which helps to tell a story about a brand or designer. 

It’s often said that great portraits are built around a connection between the subject and the photographer. How do you achieve this with your models and subjects?

It helps me to get to know a person to capture their personality and I don’t mean just small talk - I genuinely want to find out more about them and their personality and try to capture the essence of a person in a picture. I think it also helps that I don’t come across as intimidating. I think it helps that I hate to be in front of the camera myself. 

my portrait photography which shows connection between the subject and the photographer

Are there any portrait and fashion photography trends today that you think should change? How would you approach these if you were given free reign to do your take on them?

Looking for perfection and in the absence of perfection creating it by retouching, heavy airbrushing and even augmentation of the body. I am personally concerned what impact such perfect images can have on people. People have a tendency to compare themselves to an ideal defined by society or the media and often don’t even realise just how heavily retouched some of the images they look at and compare themselves to are. I am a believer of natural beauty and believe my job is to emphasise it. I am actually working on a project to challenge some of the beauty ideals and standards. 
Lastly, what advice would you give to anyone who wants to get into fashion portraiture and do it differently? 

Start doing a lot of personal work. Personal work allows more creative freedom. Experiment a lot without a fashion client on a set and try to develop your own style. Stop looking at what other photographers are doing - in order to develop your own unique style it needs to come from within you. Be creative and don’t rely on big creative teams. 

portrait photography personal work working with actors - Will Kemp in the picture

Find out more about eclectic fashion photographer Zuzana Breznanikova who gets inspired by art and cinema

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