Bella Kotak works as a fine art, fashion and portrait photographer and lives in the US and UK. With her photographs she wants to take the viewer into dream worlds in which one can lose oneself. Her work appears in numerous magazines and has been featured in exhibitions in New York, London and Paris.
In this interview we talk to her about her inspiration, her way of working and the role that nature plays in her photographs.
5 QUESTIONS TO BELLA KOTAK
Can you tell us a little bit about how you became a photographer?
I have always loved photography since it connects the past with the present. Growing up we’ve always had lots of photographs in my home and so the camera was a tool I was comfortable with since I was quite small. While I was in university studying Architecture one of the main programs I needed to become familiar with quickly was Photoshop. To motivate myself to learn this program I found myself reaching for the camera. I’d take pictures and then learn how to manipulate them in Photoshop. Once I started to combine photography with photoshop I was hooked! I became more curious about the craft, the art, the ability to tell stories while creating and capturing moments that are really all too fleeting. I couldn’t put the camera down then and I can’t seem to put it down now, and that’s how I became a photographer!
Photo: Bella Kotak
Please share something about your images. What is your special interest? How do you choose the colors, composition, themes etc.?
For a lot of my personal work I love to create from a place I like to remind people that wonder exists, and that often it can be in nature, in the imagination, in the way we see and present ourselves. Shooting in nature allowed me to experience the world in a much more present way. I pay attention to the seasons more, to textures, how light shifts through the day and the year, how different places in the world have their own color palette, etc. I’m always looking and then try to bring together all the interesting things I feel into a picture.
Photo: Bella Kotak
Where does this interest come from?
Probably the need to escape? I’ve always been a bit of a daydreamer and love to indulge in stories in their various media forms. I love characters that face adversity and learn to overcome them. I think we’re all a lot stronger and braver than we give ourselves credit for and that’s something I like to bring into the pictures I create. I also want to show others the wonder and preciousness of nature and how we shouldn’t take it for granted.
How do you get inspired? And what inspires you the most? Films, books, or magazines? Or what surrounds you?
I’m always open to inspiration, and have a sketchbook where I like to note and collect ideas or phrases that have made an impact on me. I love collaborating with other artists and so try to have pieces in the studio that I can easily style. I keep my eyes open for a beautiful location (sometimes the best ones are literally on the side of the road!), and I stay active on social media to find interesting people that I would love to capture in my pictures. I try to bring everything I’m interested in and fascinated by together and that culminates into the art I create. It’s not always perfect and that’s absolutely fine. I try to remind myself that often the joy found in the process is just as important as the end result.
Photo: Bella Kotak
What are your plans for the rest of the day?
I’m in the studio editing a set of images. This can take anything from a few hours to a few days. I’ll also try to go out for a walk later too in the evening light. Who knows I might even come across a new location for a photoshoot 😉.