A deep appreciation for nature and classic aesthetics permeate the work of Lukáš Dvořák. The Czech photographer has won the hearts of many with his timeless black and white images, immortalising female beauty sculpted by the light of the sun.
Interview by Demetrios Drystellas
How would you describe Lukas in three words?
Creative, Love, Nature
You entered the realm of photography in 2004 in quite an accidental manner, when a friend asked you to shoot the cover of his music album. How did your photographic approach develop over the years?
My photographic approach developed over the years and visits two worlds. The world of fine art nude photography and the world of fashion photography. My first attempts to shoot were beauty images, I was trying to photograph women and depict them at their most beautiful.This was naturally led me to fashion photography. Fine art nudes came later, in 2009.
You joined Instagram less than a year ago and your account is blossoming. What are your thoughts on the medium, the opportunities, and the traps?
Thank you very much. I was a little bit against Instagram because it was the product of consumer generation and I had some problems with its terms and conditions. But last year some people convinced me to begin with it. I was happy after 3 months because I find it challenging for me. Instagram challenged me to become a better photographer, to shoot more and so on. But there are some traps. It is not possible to show every day some great content. Instagram wants new and perfect images almost every day, which is very hard to do. And second and bigger trap for me, was when my account started to be bigger and I focused on a black and white style, people started to think that I’m only shooting nudes. So I have started to add my fashion photography as well, even if I knew that black and white gallery would be better.
You have spent them in mountains in Czech republic when you were younger with your parents and you have also lived in New Zealand, a country famous for its landscapes and nature. Given that most of your personal work is produced in natural settings using sunlight, is there a correlation?
Yes, of course, there is a correlation. I’m the guy from the mountains, I love nature and I always escape to it and this my need of nature is imprinted into my works. Every time I’m producing something, I always first think about nature. If I had lots of money I would be shooting landscapes with nude models only ☺ Studio is so cold for me. I can tell you that I’m trying to achieve some style in the studio for so many years, but I still haven’t found it, I guess it’s hard for me without the sun ☺
Quite often, the subject dominates the image in photography. This is especially seen in landscapes and nudes alike. What are your thoughts on it and what are the biggest challenges you face especially regarding nudes?
In my early photography was necessary to develop a great style. You are shooting more technically, trying to find how the things work. It takes a long time to achieve great style. It took me 10 years. Last year, I had to start thinking about photography in a different way. Now, I know that my style is developed and that I need now to add a lot of creativity and do not take technically great pictures, but timeless images. You can see it now in the series of fencers, the nuns or the last Algarve pictures, where I focused more to on the landscapes. Next year, I want to become even more creative. I have prepared a lot of ideas for which are more complicated to realize, but I feel more challenged as well, and I’m happy for that.
You have mentioned Peter Lindbergh, Bruce Weber, Helmut Newton as influences and their style is reflected in your personal work, famous for their black and white work. Were they a visual focal point before you got introduced to photography, or did you discover them along the way?
For my fine art, these three photographers were always my inspiration. I created my style based on their books I have bought. I have discovered them along the way when I took interest in fashion photography. You know there was empathy working when I opened their books; I feel like I understand them. I can feel what they have felt at each picture. When I opened books from other photographers, I didn’t know what’s going on there. So that’s the way I have selected them.
A lack of time-specific elements in seen in your photos, there is a timeless quality to them and the models are all classic beauties. What is the relationship between time and photography?
I think that is a combination of many factors. It’s not so easy to describe it. I’m not trying to be contemporary in terms of popular culture. I’m driven by this need of nature, my topics are simple as they were in past. What is more, I’m influenced by 70s and 80s photographers.
How much does your approach differ between your personal work and advertising/fashion and where are they similar?
The approach was different in past, but I’m trying now to make a fusion of both words and I’m working on a new way of photography. I would like to develop my fashion photography now and influence back my nude art with new knowledge.
Before transitioning into photography, you were involved in painting and music production. Do you still practice any of these?
No, I don’t. If you want to do something great, you need to focus only on one thing.
When you started you moved to Milan in order to pursue fashion photography. However, you returned to Prague later on. Would you like to speak about this change?
This is very complicated, or at least it was. As I mentioned above, I am person attached to nature and there is kind of dualism in my head. I balance my whole life between the world on futuristic techno culture and a longing for nature. Believe me, my biggest goal is to merge the two. So imagine the young boy from mountains getting in Milano and starting to shoot Vanity Fair next to Demarchelier and Meisel, entering the world of fashion photography which is full of strange people, lacking any sense of empathy and whose only aim is fame and money. I have found myself so lonely in Milano. My heart wanted to go back to my friends, to the mountains. I couldn’t live under this pressure of high fashion industry. I didn’t believe it during that time. But I get older and after 7 years I’m more sure about things I do, so I’m coming back to Milano and starting again with fashion.
Given the sensitive subject of your pictures, the element of trust is of paramount significance. How do you establish this trust?
Photography for me is paramount. When there are naked women standing in front of me, it is not a virtual perception of her nakedness. It is my particular work of art, the ultimate feeling of photographs and also the reflection of the beauty of a woman.
You had mentioned how crucial it is to meticulously cast your models, and that you might have to wait until you find the right one. Which are the main traits you seek when selecting with whom you will work with?
To find a great girl is hard. To find a great girl who would be willing to shoot nudes is crazy hard. I have shot about only 30 girls nude for my projects during the last 8 years. I’m very selective. When I select a girl, I’m glad to shoot with her more projects in Raw. But most of the time it is refused by the girls. But I understand it. If somebody would ask me to shoot me nude, I would say no. Because it’s not so easy, it’s more challenging. And to be on the way is making you happier than to have everything easily done.
Regarding the models in your images, do they depict you, themselves, or a character?
I like the characters of people, I rather work with people who had some live experience. I can’t portray hollow people.
Was there any defining moments in your career so far, that in retrospect changed you?
Entering the Leica Gallery, assisting fashion photographer Ondrio Koh, moving to Milan, entering Lumas Gallery, meeting my girlfriend Martinka and starting with Instagram.
You have mentioned that you really enjoy philosophy, science fiction literature and rock/punk music, even if they are not reflected in your work. Would you like to mention some philosophers, sci-fi authors and music bands that you hold dear?
My dream is to shoot the sceneries of different planets with beautiful naked girls ☺ There is no spaceship for me to help me with this. ☺ My favourite books would be the Hyperion series from David Simmons. I’m more into my own theories in philosophy, so I do not follow any particular philosophical schools. And for the rock bands – actually Highly Suspect, Manchester Orchestra, Royal Blood.
One little-known fact about you, which would perhaps come as the biggest surprise to people who think they know you well?
I think that people know me well, I have no secrets and I’m very open to all. Maybe people who don’t know me will be surprised. I’m normal guy, who has problems with a speech defect and who is more philosophical than fun.
Do you ever get disappointed with photography?
With my commercial works all the time. ☺ I do this to get some money and I know that I can do it better if there are better conditions and people let me implement my style.
If you started all over again, would you have done something differently?
No, I would go the same way. Because I have found myself, I have found my girlfriend. This was a great way and I know there is another now for next years.
What is your greatest fear?
The death of the people I love.
What would you do if you were invisible for a day?
Heh. I would go to the best photographers to watch all their techniques and learn.
What should we expect to see in the future?
More complex works for sure. I don’t want to only be shooting naked girls anymore. And more fashion photography as well. And I hope some works from NYC ☺