Jaqueline Vanek

Interview with Jaqueline Vanek

– Please introduce yourself

My name is Jaqueline Vanek, I was born on August 27, 1984 in Villach, Austria, and I currently reside in Madrid, Spain. I am a Photographer and Senior Visual Designer. My photographic work is mainly focused on fine art with a conceptual self-portrait thematic, fetish and landscape photography, the first and second being my most personal and preferred facet. My photography seeks to be sensual, dark but sophisticated. In short, it would be a mix between temptation and art.

I have participated in exhibitions around the world, including a participation at the Biennale Fotonoviembre together with artists like Dave McKean, an exhibition at the Long Night of Museums in Austria “ORF Lange Nacht der Museen” and a participation as round table member of the Digital Photography Meeting “Macaronesia”. I also participated in international charitable projects such as “Made for Japan” in 2011, all the profits were donated to the Japanese Red Cross for helping the victims of the earthquake/tsunami. A sponsorship by Datacolor (The World Leader in Color Innovation) is also worth mentioning.

– How did you get interested in photography?

I have lost count of how many times I have moved in my life and that is why, forever, photography has played an important role for memory. I have always clung to getting photographs that narrated part of my life, even hiding those that I found scattered and half lost in corners of my parents’ house for fear that they would lose them. Today, I have a box full of photographs of my childhood that I keep as the most precious.

When I was about 10 years old, I got my first reflex camera, I don’t remember how or what model or brand it was, and I became obsessed buying reels and taking pictures without stopping. The photographs I took were disastrous, but at that time I did not intend to take anything beautiful, but only to capture moments.

Somewhat later, as a teenager I managed to install my first Photoshop, the Adobe Photoshop 5.0 that was launched in 1998. It came with a number of new features including Editable Type, Multiple Undo and Color Management. All that had a big “wow” effect. I spent hours experimenting with images, many times I scanned my own photographs badly and made collages and meaningless compositions. Little by little I became more interested in image editing, at that time something quite limited digitally speaking and if we compare it with today’s media.

– Do you have an artistic/photographic background?

My creative studies began in 2003 led to Sculpture as a Senior Technician in Fine Arts, Casting and Moulding. In 2005 I became involved into the magical world of Photography ending three years later as a Senior Technician in Fine Arts and Artistic Photography and with an MA Degree in Digital Fashion, Portrait and Advertising Photography. At the end of 2011, I began my studies in Design with a MA Degree in Graphic Design, Web Communication and specialization in Art Direction; trying to specialize later in the field of UX and UI Design.

When I think about my photographic studies, I feel proud to be able to say that I have been among the last ones that have started studying in school classrooms with photographic enlargers and chemicals, then moving to digital. I remember the smell of the developers perfectly and I still have buckets, red light and some other utensils from the dark room.

My family environment has not been anything creative, but since childhood I have always been quite a lot. I spent my days doing crafts, drawing and occupying my time with anything that was supposed to create. I was not a very sociable girl, I did not like playing with other children and I always preferred to entertain myself, even at home, being an only child. When the other children in kindergarten or school were desperate to go out and play, I sat in my place painting or cutting out figures. The truth, I changed little hehehe, I’m still not too social. I suppose that the passage of time and experiences have simply led me to be reserved, to continue creating and going through new means of creation.

– Which artist/photographer inspired your art?

Honestly, I don’t have artists or photographers who inspire me today for what my current personal work is. I like to visit at least 2 or 3 exhibitions a week, discover artists in general and see new works of all possible styles. It would be impossible for me to imagine not going to see an exhibition in a whole month or none in a period of two weeks.

Of course I have had artists in the past that have motivated me to create in general. When I started studying photography in 2005, my favorite artists were Joel Peter Witkin, Jan Saudek, Shana and Robert ParkeHarrison, Hans Bellmer… I’ve always been attracted to the unusual, the “not too accepted” by general society, for the dark and the surreal.

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– How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph?

I think that most people who look at my work do not imagine what it costs to create it. Usually, the day I intend to take some pictures, I think I’ll be busy all day with it, I’m not worth an afternoon during the week or a couple of hours on the weekend. And on the other hand are the clothes, I wish I could say that I can afford to buy all the latex clothes in the world, but that is not the case. For those who also have, you know how expensive it is, for those who do not know… tell you that it is a pleasure that makes your pocket suffer. In addition to personal fetishism, sometimes I have a photographic idea and I spend months saving to buy a certain piece. On the other hand, there are accessories that I aspire to have and not even saving for months I could get to afford them, so there are many photographic ideas that are impossible for me to achieve.

Since I started with photography, I have always tried to do my best with the means available to me. For example, I remember that when I started studying photography, I was the only one in the class who did not have a digital camera during the first year. I managed to borrow a camera available and provided by school or lent by friends. I still have my first digital camera saved, it was a Canon EOS 350D… it still works, badly, but it works, and it brings me good memories even though I haven’t been using it for about 10 years.

– Could you please tell us something about your technique and creating process?

When I prepare to take a self-portrait, I first prepare the photographic background, position the spotlights and place the tripod with the camera. I get a shower, I put on makeup, I get dressed. Putting on latex clothing is not like putting on any other garment, it takes time to put it on and leave it shiny. Yes shiny, I always have to laugh when people tell me “oh, I thought that latex shines on its own”, hopefully hehe.

Once I and the background are ready, I connect my camera to my computer. I have my computer placed in such a way that I can see the screen in front of the pose. I leave everything set for my camera to shoot about 20-30 photographs with 15 seconds in between. Between shot and shot the shot is shown on my screen and I am correcting the pose, the framing, the light. This suggests infinite patience. In the end I end up making about 100 photographs, just to select one or two of them all.

After the photo session, it is time to look at all the shots and select, this is usually the least fun part of all. For each selected image, I usually dedicate about 3-4 hours of photo retouching (depending on the image)… touch up fluff, dust motes, in short, a job to the millimeter.

As for my equipment, I am currently working with a Canon EOS-1D Mark IV using mainly two lenses, a Canon Zoom Lens EF 16-35mm and a Canon Zoom Lens Ef 24-70mm. I use a couple of Profoto lights, two Profoto D1 1000 Air with Air Remote and two Profoto HR Softbox 3×4 ’RF (90x120cm). A Mac computer with a 43-inch screen and a Wacom to retouch.

For limited edition prints or for exhibitions, I usually work with a Fine Art Inkjet, Mineral pigments, K3 Ultrachrome system using an RC Photo Luster Premium 310gr paper.

– What do you do in your life besides photography?

In addition to my photographs, I spend my time with my own clothing brand called Obnubil. It is an alternative clothing brand with illustrations inspired by the occult, the beauty of the dark, of the forbidden, of rare and persecuted. Within the clothing brand there is also a section dedicated to music bands, where I carry out interviews with bands of genres like Death Metal, Doom, Post Metal…

I am also working for some years as a Senior Visual Designer in a well-known gossip and fashion magazine, a world that does not fit much in my tastes and my philosophy of life.

For the rest, as I mentioned earlier, I love visiting exhibitions and I love traveling, especially the more to the north, the better. I take advantage of all my trips to make landscape photography and documentary photography, where I generally try not to have any presence of people in the image. To get this, I usually get up while traveling around 5 in the morning and take the photographs first thing just dawn. This not only has the plus of suppressing people, but also the first hour light, which I love.

– What future plans do you have? What projects would you like to accomplish?

Currently I have two main goals to achieve, first I would like to get an individual exhibition of my last project “Exposure”. It has been many years since I did not do an individual exhibition and I would be very excited, especially because I consider this project one of the most personal one I have made. And on the other hand, I want to be able to edit a book with that work. The assembly part will take time, that is what worries me the least. What it will cost is to get someone to edit and publish it. In any case, if I can’t get someone to do it, I will try to do it myself.

In the long term, of course I also have other goals, such as trying to find a way to be able to live economically from photography. Maybe giving classes? I do not know. The future will say. I only know that I am very excited to keep growing, keep moving forward and get my work to an audience that values ​​what I do and love.


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