Atmosphere is everything for Canon Ambassador, Jaroslav Monchak. His eye is attuned to the movement of light, the opportunities afforded to him by space and the simplicity and complexity of the human face and body in front of the camera. Like a hunter, he knows instinctively when it is time to shoot.
“An appreciation of female beauty was probably a motivator in my becoming a portrait photographer. It was a good place to start, and it felt more natural to work with people, But when I bought my first camera – a Canon A400 – I didn't immediately start taking portraits. Instead, I began with landscape and macro photography. After a time, I attempted people and realised this was, indeed, my calling. Since then, portrait photography has become my favourite genre and I find working with people far more psychologically challenging than, for example, still-life. I sometimes wonder if this challenge, this emotional component, influences my work.
I began in a city where there were no photography schools or courses. I didn't even understand terms like ‘aperture’, ‘shutter speed’ and ‘ISO’. My Canon A400 did a lot of the work for me, but the feeling that I could achieve more inspired me to buy a DSLR and master the basics of exposure, autofocus and other settings. Textbooks, such as those written by Lee Frost, helped me to understand many aspects of photography and composition and, over time, I was able to open my own studio, where I then had the trial of learning to work with new equipment. A studio was necessary to continue to work to a high standard, regardless of weather and lighting conditions. This was incredibly important, as light is an essential tool for me and most of my portraits are created using just a single light source – even something as simple as window light – and its direction is crucial, even relegating other factors like intensity to the back seat.