Canon 5D Mark IV.
I prefer apartments.
Maria Svarbova was born in 1988 in Slovakia. Despite studying restoration and archaeology, she found a medium for her artistic expression in photography. Since 2010, she has focused on developing her own photographic language, quickly gaining international recognition. Amongst awards, solo and group exhibitions, her work has been featured in Vogue, Guardian, Instagram, and many other publications. Highlights of her commercial work include commission for promotional poster displayed at the Taiwanese landmark, 101 skyscraper.
Maria Svarbova’s Style Of Photography.
Maria Svarbova has developed a distinctive style early on – departing from traditional portraits to focus on experimentation with space, colour and atmosphere. Her interest in architecture and public spaces, usually built in the Socialist era, led her to create unique sceneries. The human body in Maria’s photographs is more or less a prop, without individuality or emotions. As part of a careful composition, beautifully alien figures create still, dream-like scenes with ordinary objects. There is a silent tension, the drama is hidden under a clean, smooth surface.
Even in her more ornamental, nostalgic works there is a sense of cold detachment. Everyday actions such as sports or doctors visit are frozen in a moment and through Maria Svarbova’s eyes, given a new meaning. Soothing pastels, geometry and visual purity give a sense of otherworldly order, undisturbed visual pleasure that is unattainable in real life. Through her photographs, Maria stops time and shares her vision: she is not afraid to address loneliness and isolation; nevertheless she chooses to celebrate its still, calm beauty.
-How did you first become interested in photography?
I started to photograph 6 years ago and gradually, as time went by, my work became better and better. Now, craze has become my job. When my photos were better, interesting offers came by but up until then, I never wanted to be a photographer.
This changed when my sister gave me my first professional camera. I was thrilled. I took pictures of absolutely everything. I took pictures of nature, details and people. I remember how professional photographers said that I learning very quickly l and will outrun them soon.
-How would you describe your style of photography?
In my series, my subjects act as emotionless mannequins. Through blank stares, stiff poses and total absence of emotion, the series challenges the viewer to question the ingrained roles people play in society.
Every image flows into another scene forming the overall narrative of the series — the emptiness and mindless inability to change one’s predetermined role in life in the absence of emotion. Complex and dreamy, my photos present an imaginary world, inspired by historic artifacts and environments of Communist Czechoslovakia. The series has been complied through several of the artist’s photographic series.
-Is there a theme or concept that runs throughout all of your work?
Yes, there is the SWIMMING POOL. I’ve been doing these swimming projects since 2014. It fascinates me, how many restrictions you can find on swimming pools. You can’t do there many things, on the other side you should relax there. Also, the architecture of swimming pools is great for photos.
-What is your typical camera setup on a shoot?
I shoot with a Canon 5D Mk IV and Sigma 50 mm and 35 mm Art lenses… and Canon lens 2.8 24-70 mm. I prefer bright places, which are clean. Then I adapt my technique. Other is know-how.-How do you promote your work?
I promote my work on social pages (FB and Instagram) and visual platform like is Behance and Photovogue for example. After that, there are publications in magazines and presentations of my work on exhibitions.
-What is your post-production workflow like?
The photo should first look great in the camera. I choose locations with my team and we do the setup. I have 3 scenographers on my team. I don’t use a lot of Photoshop, it’s my know-how.
-What is your dream project?
I would love to make a big scene according to my idea. In the future I would like to have a book of my artwork.
-How did you go about developing you own, unique style of photography?
Believe it or not, the first spark of inspiration came from the rather stark architecture of my local swimming pool. The building is 80 years old, and dates back to a time when swimming was more a social duty than a sport, which is maybe why they’re such sterile spaces, all white tiles and ‘No diving’ signs. I was struck by the calmness of the water and its mirror-like reflections. That and the signs – there were so many! For a space designed for exercise, they certainly like to tell you what you can and can’t do.
-In your opinion, what makes a truly great photograph?
-What is your top technical tip?
Take many pictures.
-Do you see your work as documentary, commercial or art based?
My work is conceptual photography. There are themes of life, often recurrent activities – dining, swimming, a visit to the doctor – give them a strikingly mundane aspect. Although the lack of motion and sentiment generates a disruption, detaching the viewer from the real world to experience the absolute void, the silent scream, the overwhelming loneliness within the group and the self as well, the sense of loss and alienation defining the characters, to ironically evoke a haunting vision of a potential future.
-What was the best career advice you were ever given?
Don’t give up!
All projects have their ups and downs, and you won’t always get the results you want first time. But trying again and trying differently is the best way to learn and improve. If you get stuck in a rut, try another new project, or put the camera down entirely and go take the dog for a walk to clear your head. Frustration is only temporary – never forget this.