Zdenek Sindelar, a.k.a. CuriousZed is a freelance photographer known for his keen attention to detail and believing that in every image there is a story to be told.
Tell us a little about yourself and your photography.
Hi, my name is Zdenek and I currently live in the Netherlands. Recently, I decided to take my photography to the next level by moving from the world of an avid amateur photographer to the field of professional photography. I chose also to use the name ‘CuriousZed Photography’ to brand my services.
I now specialize in portrait and fine arts photography.
Why did you start taking photos?
I always admired art in general, particularly drawings and paintings. People who can pick up a pencil or a brush and create something that resembles reality always appeared like magicians in my eyes. Unfortunately, I’m not very good with drawing or painting.
Photography is a way for me to express myself in a similar way to those other art forms, so it was the logical choice for me to follow this path.
My grandfather was a very active amateur photographer almost all of his life, so perhaps the roots were already there. As a child, I spent hours with my father in a makeshift darkroom in our bathroom, experimenting with black and white photography. Having these familial influences made me naturally drawn to photography.
Your portrait photos are really showing the personality. What is your secret to photographing people?
As far as I know, there is no secret! In my opinion, many photographers over-think the process and put the emphasis on the technical parts. I’m not saying that the technicalities are not important, but what lens and what light setup to use should always be a secondary question. The most important thing to consider is the concept and the subject of the photograph.
How do you capture the character and story of a person?
Even though I know planning is important, the reality is that the shoot doesn’t always work out as you may have imagined beforehand. You have to be ready to improvise as a photographer. To capture the character of a photograph, there must be some sort of relationship and mutual trust between the subject and the photographer.
The person being photographed must feel comfortable, and that is why I always prefer to work on location, preferably a location the subject selects his or herself. It’s far easier to adjust or create close-to-ideal lighting conditions in any place than to have an uncomfortable and nervous person in a sterile looking studio.
If the individual is uncomfortable in a studio, I would end up with nothing more than technically perfect, but very impersonal passport like pictures, which is not what I’m after at all. I want natural smiles and relaxed appearances so the pictures capture the subjects in a true state of happiness.
You do a lot of magical stuff with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Tell me more about that.
I discovered Photoshop somewhere around 2006. At first it seemed frustratingly overwhelming, and I honestly thought that I would never be able to understand how it all worked. But with the help of the internet and a couple of books, I soon started to get a hand of it. Now I think of it like driving a car or riding a bike — it just comes naturally. Trial and error was truly the best method of how to learn for me!
Illustrator was a bit different, as I already had vast experience with vector graphics and design before I picked up photography.
What are some other photographic projects you enjoy working on?
I would say fine arts and travel photography are something I really enjoy. When I’m abroad, I especially love to disappear for a whole day and just wander through the streets observing life passing by and capturing images. For some reason, being in an unknown, foreign city always allows me to spot things I typically wouldn’t notice at home.
What kind of a camera and lenses do you primarily use and how do you select your equipment?
Hmm…I guess that’s the dreaded question for most photographers. You know the one: “Really good pics; you must have an expensive camera. What brand is it?”
I believe it’s not the gear that matters. Obviously, I love new gear, as every photographer does, but the longer I take photographs the more I discover that owning the top of the line gear is not that important.
A couple of years ago, my camera and all my lenses were stolen. I felt absolutely horrible. I used to shoot with Olympus and Zuiko lenses. With the company at the time slowly going out of the DSLR business, it was close to impossible to replace all my original gear. So, I switched to Nikon.
Looking back, it was the best thing that could happen to me because I learned that it really doesn’t matter what equipment you use. A photographer’s equipment actually has very little to do with one’s ‘picture-making’ in general. A photographer has full capabilities to create amazing pictures with all types of gear.
For lenses, I much prefer to use prime lenses, mainly for the reason that you are forced to move a bit more, think upfront about the composition, and be more creative as a photographer.
Can you name some tips for those who want to start a photography business?
If photography is your passion, something that you have always desired to do, just do it. There will always be people discouraging you, telling you that it’s not the right time, or perhaps that you don’t have enough talent and the market is already overcrowded.
There is a quote from George Burns I really love: “I’d rather be a failure at doing something I love than successful at something I hate.”
I am so blessed to be spending my life doing exactly what I love.
Thanks Zdenek for giving us an insight into your philosophy and showing us your captivating photography,
Please check out Zdenek’s site for more…