Last month Lemonade and Lenses reached out to Canadian photographer Nadya Ekler about sharing her 2+ year old Self Portrait project for our February’s Inspired By feature. This new monthly feature, which started last month with Jenny Cruger’s Tatoo Project, was created to showcase inspirational stories, projects, and talent in our photography community. This feature is part of our new venture, titled Inspired By, which includes inspiration in sharing, teaching, and in events around the country. Currently Inspired By includes a monthly feature on an inspirational photographer, weekly inspiration from images shared on our Facebook wall, and events around the country. To be kept up to date with all of these make sure you sign up for our newsletter.
Nadya Ekler was born in Ukraine and moved to Canada in 2007. She fell in love with the art of photography at about the same time. She learned the basics of photography with a simple point and shoot camera, capturing mostly macro world images, and many landscapes. She admits to being absolutely captivated by the emotive, artistic portraits which she would gaze upon while perusing various photography sites, she knew she had a learning curve ahead of her if she were to aspire to such craftsmanship. In 2009 Nadya received her very first DSLR as a Christmas present, which was when she fully immersed herself into the art of portraiture. Nadya prefers natural light, the golden hour being her absolute favorite time. She always tries to capture a frame of elegance within a dreamlike state of emotion.
Nadya is currently in the initial stages of re-branding, the new business name being Mirrored Muse Imagery. Coming soon will be a brand new website along with new and exciting collaborations with various world class artists, musicians, as well as multimedia releases. Nadya is truly looking forward to the ever evolving adventures and the plethora of directions her flourishing career is taking her.
We asked Nadya to share with us a little bit about her project, why she started it and when.
” I started this project in January of 2011. At that time I was fully invested in being a stay at home mom. My daughter was approaching her ‘terrible 2′s’ and it was hard for me to find as many opportunities for photography as I would have liked. I had the odd request for a portrait here and there, and a few gigs, but it was not enough to sustain, much less, satisfy my passions. Many photographers were doing 365 day, or 52 week projects. I decided that this was what I needed in an effort to keep the dust off of my camera. A close second to working behind the lens, has always been my passion for modelling. I had attempted self-portraiture before, therefore with this project, I was able to aptly apply both of my passions. ”
We also asked Nadya if this project had made her grow as a photographer and if so how?
” The goal of the project was to challenge and motivate myself. I wanted to try new techniques, different modes of lighting, styling ideas, editing, etc, without any undue pressure. I felt that since I was embarking upon this project solely for my personal enlightenment, doing so gave me complete freedom. If I didn’t like an image, or a pose, I simply considered it a lesson in personal growth, or an experience which I might like to try again at some point, learning from what may not have worked out in the past. Posing in front of the camera gave me a broader appreciation of perspective. It helped me understand portrait photography from a subject’s point of view. Moreover, lately when I tell someone to pose I can also shadow model for them, depicting exactly what I’m looking for, instead of trying to explain the emotion. Doing this project freed my inhibitions, helping me think creatively, finding ways of achieving my personal best results, regardless of the limitations of equipment and circumstances I faced when at first starting out. ”
Nadya also shared with us how this project changed and evolved over time.
“ This project was supposed to be a, ’1 self-portrait a week’ idea. Well, be that as it may, although 52 self-portraits manifested themselves within the first year, once again, the responsibilities of motherhood didn’t seem to afford me the quality time to take decent self-portraits every consecutive week. However, I soon realized the merits of using more than just one image from each self-portraiture session, so I toyed with the idea, which evolved into posting choice images as a series on my blog from each session. It’s hard to believe that it has been over two years since then, and I truly doubt I’ll be putting this project to bed anytime soon! Doing the sessions became second nature to me, as I discovered creative ways to balance my responsibilities with my passions. “
As a lot of us know self portraits are not easy to capture. Nadya shared some advice to someone who wants to try doing self portraits.
“ Self-portraits can be easy, but often can be close to impossible due to lighting conditions or the shooting angle. Of course, a tri-pod is the “must have” apparatus, and most any will do just fine. Some people use remote control, others use a self-timer. I started out by incorporating a self-timer as well, until I discovered a neat little feature called ‘Interval Shooting,” which, needless to say, made my craft far less complicated, enabling me to focus more on the subject matter, than the robotics of the operation itself. In this mode, the camera shoots the amount of images programmed, all the while automatically re-focusing for each and every take, unless, of course, the camera is in manual focus mode. I had come to appreciate the finer merits of self portraiture in manual mode as well, using the technique quite often with my tilt-shift lense, or when shooting through the glass of a closed window, for instance. Self-portraiture takes time and patience, trial and error is to be expected. ”
I am sure a lot of photographers are wanting to know what this project represents to Nadya and how she wants others to view it.
“ This project happened to be a way of expressing myself, a little escape from reality, an ability to be free in my artistic endeavors, and also playing a hand in helping figure out, and subsequently shape my personal style. I think of myself as a conduit, a human element channeling the spirit of a body of work, being emoted through, but not necessarily ‘of’ me, rather, as the rendering of an artist’s vision, in this case, I am that artist, as Muse to a Poet, my heart, its own inspiration!
I tend not to over-think how others will view my creations, as in my opinion, there is really no objective way to judge an art-form, its intangible, and therefore quite unearthly in its nature. I suppose how I’d like others to see the works, would be in a way that they might find personally, or even spiritually edifying. I think I’d also like others to see that there are truly no limits to creativity, perhaps inspire others to do likewise. The wisdom to realize that the spark which ignite the flame of creative passion, is already within all our hearts, its gumption found upon the palms of our hands.
I’d take this opportunity to encourage those who dream of such matters, to simply pause for a second, and begin with one small step, without which, experience cannot be gained. I’d advise aspiring models, photographers, and artisans, to cast aside their fears of failure, or self doubt, and aspire to find their voices through their respective lenses, in this remarkable journey of self discovery. “
Want to start your own personal project? Nadya also shared her view on personal projects and how other photographers could put their own together.
” Absolutely! Personal projects in photography are just about the only captures by which one might hone his/her talents without undue pressures or hindrance, enabling the artist to craft a style unique unto him/herself. This trademark is often the difference between a decent Image, and a true work of Art! It doesn’t have to be an annual project, nor does it have to be anything demonstrable, even putting together a session which knits together an idea, or expresses one’s emotion, feelings, or point of view, can motivate to tears, or for that matter, bring sheer joy! Projects like these, serve to indwell the artisan with a sense of fluidity, and the knowledge that they are truly making a difference.“
Nadya shared with us the contents of her camera bag because we know all the photographers would be dying to know.
Nikon D300 & Nikon D600, 50mm f1.4D, 24-70 f2.8, 85mm f1.8G, Tilt-shift 80mm f2.8 & a Nikon SB900 (flash).
Want to Follow Nadya’s project and work?
Nadya Ekler Photography
Mirrored Muse Imagery
Do you have a personal project of your own that you would like to share? Feel free to leave a link below so everyone can be inspired and enjoy it.