Interview: Erika Valkovicova
Luca Curci talks with Erika Valkovicova, winner of PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE MONTH – JANUARY 2022.
Born in Slovakia, Erika is continuously moving between the continents, exploring the world and capturing the beauty of our planet. She graduated in Management and Marketing and later gained her MBA degree in European Management in Berlin. Work opportunities brought her to Prague, where she has lived for fifteen years. Her photographic journey started in 2012 when circumstances allowed her to escape corporate life. She bought her first DSLR, and she followed her dream to travel and document her travel experiences. The more time she spent visiting beautiful natural sites in the world, the more she fell in love with landscape photography. Erika doesn’t hesitate to sacrifice sleep or go the extra mile for a unique shot capturing seascapes, Arctic landscapes or mesmerizing natural phenomena. Her work reflects her passion for travel and fascination with nature. Throughout the years, she developed her unique style and workflow. Each time she breathes life into a photograph, she celebrates the striking beauty of our planet. Erika won several prestigious international photography awards. While not on her adventures, she organizes small group tours for those wishing to see and photograph these extraordinary places for themselves. Her favorite place in the world is always her next destination
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Erika Valkovicova – Art is anything created by an artist as self-expression.
LC – What are you currently working on?
EV – I’m currently working on icescapes captured on Lake Baikal during my recent trip to Russia.
LC – What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
EV – At the beginning of my career as a photographer, I experimented with many photography styles – from macro to street and product photography, even portraits. When I left my corporate job, I started to travel and visited many National Parks in the United States. I was blown away by their beauty but I also learned about the legacy of one of the greatest landscape photographers and conservationists of all times – Ansel Adams. His talent forever redefined photography as an art form. I spent more and more time outdoors, and now I specialise in landscape photography. Nature became an integral part of me. I like to push my limits and get out of my comfort zone. Lately, I am shooting Astro landscapes, overcoming my fear of darkness and travelling to the Arctic to capture the almighty Aurora, often spending hours photographing icy landscapes in sub-zero temperatures. It all makes me feel alive.
LC – What is the role the artist plays in society? And contemporary art?
EV – Contemporary art is the art of now. It can capture dreams and hopes evoking emotions, provoking actions and reactions, or even picture nothingness and emptiness. An artist can decide to be a part of society or stay anonymous. There are no boundaries, no limits; the artist mirrors the current world and his own state of mind. Every artwork, even in the past, was once contemporary. I wish to make my art visible to the world.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
EV – I find my inspiration in nature – patterns, shapes, textures and colours. I feel attracted to natural phenomena such as the Northern Lights, Eclipses or Volcano eruptions. The camera can capture the invisible to the eyes – the movement of the water, clouds, light – creating an image between photograph and painting.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
EV – I usually organize my travels around a particular season when capturing my landscape images. I consider the weather forecast and plan the shooting time, angle and even the colour of the sky with the help of various applications, but nature can still be unpredictable. And this is what I love the most about landscape photography – to be spontaneous and creative and work with whatever nature offers me. I don’t mind shooting midday or even in the rain. Mother nature taught me patience. I often sit at the spot soaking in the atmosphere and admiring the beauty of the place before I set up my tripod. Sometimes, my images result from a quick decision and action or simply from a lucky coincidence. For me, the most challenging part is to process my images. I need my time working in the digital darkroom, and it often takes weeks or even months before I open the files. I have to be in the mood to work on my images. I enjoy the moment when a photographer becomes an artist. I like to step back and use my raw data on a digital canvas to recreate the mood and the drama of the moment so that the viewer can feel it from my image without reading the description. When the image is ready, I revisit it after a day or two and sometimes start over with the post-processing until I am happy with the outcome.