An interview with Photographer and Sophie Hulme collaborator Tereza Červeňová.
Award-winning photographer Tereza Červeňová has collaborated with the Sophie Hulme team, creating a portfolio of images of the brand, its studio, stories and Creative Director/Founder, Sophie.
How did you come to be a photographer?
It was an accident, but probably the luckiest of my life. The first time I grabbed a camera was only four and a half years ago. After travelling away from my home in Slovakia working as a model, I ended up at Middlesex University studying fine art. The course wasn’t right for me, so I started applying to other universities to study history. In the meantime, I thought I’d transfer to a different course at Middlesex to finish off the year. I heard photography was pretty good, so I transferred to that course and by the end of the year I realised I loved it.
Portraiture came naturally to me as I am interested in people and gesture. I am also very inspired by painting and the painters who inspire me are not landscape painters, they are always people painters. My very favourite, because he’s just so unique, is Van Gough. I also love Renaissance painting - Ingres, Delacroix – and Dutch painters. I love Francis Bacon as well, but he’s in a different class as a 20th century artist.
How do you choose a subject? What draws you to them?
It’s a combination of visually interesting people and people close to my heart. There is always something that pulls me towards them, that I am interested in. Usually I shoot friends or friends of friends, so there is some kind of connection, I very rarely approach a person on the street. I am very interested in interaction, what happens between me and the subject - it’s almost not just a portrait of them. When I first photographed Sophie for the Telegraph she was very sophisticated, but what really made it wonderful was I could feel that she trusted me with film. These days people are very conscious when they can’t see the pictures. But Sophie just trusted me and enjoyed the process. She didn’t know me, so it required a mutual understanding and trust.
Do you always shoot on film?
If I can. Editorial budgets are sometimes incredibly low, but I try to squeeze it in. There are many reasons why I love shooting on film. It’s the quality and the process, because you are more focused on the person – you don’t just click away, it’s much more of a cooperation. You really consider every single image and before you press the shutter you have to be happy. I sometimes get that moment while shooting when you think “I’ve got it” and you get goose bumps. I love when that happens, but sometimes it is a complete surprise which image you like. I process my images, too - I love using the darkroom. When I was at university it was my second home, they couldn’t get rid of me. I was the first one to come in and last one to go away.
You won the prestigious John Kobal New Work Award (awarded to a photographer under the age of 30). Tell us about that image.
It was one of those moments when you take a picture and you know you’ve got it. The subject, Yngvild, is a friend of my dearest friend lekeliene. It was the first time we met and she’s so beautiful, so obviously I was going to take a portrait. I just took one roll, 10 pictures, and this was the last one. And then suddenly it won the John Kobal award. When I was submitting images, I thought this one was not a typical Taylor Wessing image - it’s too poetic, too subtle. But I thought I’d try it and in the end it won. So whenever they ask me, I advise young photographers deciding what to submit to just go with their gut and submit what they believe is a good image.
You’ve achieved so much before 30, what’s next?
It’s funny, I compare myself to other people who are 25 and feel like I am an under-achiever! In September I am staring a course at the Royal College of Art to study photography. I don’t need to have a Masters, but if I don’t study I will just keep on going the way I have so far. The course will be a challenge and it will definitely move my work in a different direction. I am excited to see where it takes me. And at the same time I want to keep on working - there will be collaborations with Sophie Hulme that will show some other aspect of working commercially. Ideally I’d like to combine commerce and art and find fresh air and try to bring the depth that is in my personal work into commercial work.