Interview with Pavel Javor

#1 Please introduce yourself

Pavel Javor, it is my artistic name. I’m Polish. I live and work in a small, peaceful town in central Poland. By work I’m illustrator and graphic designer.

#2 How did you get interested in photography?

My father was the amateur photographer. Camera was our companion during every trip, journey or stroll. His beautiful silver Practica IV has always been an unattainable object of desire to me. I guess my adventure with photography started with his remarks and my observations of photos. I got my first camera in 1972. It was Soviet Smena 8, then Zenith and finally Yashica. My first pictures were made on low quality films, because that was all which was available for amateur photographers in Poland at that time. At the beginning I was mostly interested in landscapes.


#3 Do you have an artistic/photographic background?

Not at all. I am self-taught photographer. By education I’m graphic designer and typographer. I draw, previously I was also painting a lot. Image creation (I mean painting, drawing, as well as graphics) always fascinated me. My imagination was influenced most by medieval paintings, renaissance masterpieces and works of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. I think photography for me is the next, higher, stronger and probably the last level of this fascination. To have control over the real image as well as unlimited possibilities of interpretation and narrative implicates unique opportunity of creation. The valve for the imagination.

#4 Which artist/photographer inspired your art?

At the time when my sensitivity was forming it was much easier in Poland to see old paintings rather than works of modern, worldwide photography. I became familiar with well known works of great masters of photography just in ‘90s. Today, after many years, when I look at my pictures I would say without a doubt that it was Ruth Bernard who inspired me. Her photos and the way of perceiving reality are very close to me. It might be surprising for you but I also admire pictorial photographers – stately works of Rudolf Eickemeyer and magical, picturesque world of Robert Demachy’s photos. Nowadays because of the reality that surrounds us this kind of narration seem to be unreachable.


#5 What is it about nude photography that interest you the most?

If I remember correctly I did my first nude session in 1986, but my perception of nudity and what it can become for the photographer came to me just few years ago. What interests me most is the study of the body. Searching. Photographing act I try to avoid sexuality, eroticism and universal beauty and to present only interesting shape, detail which in the specific light and shadow becomes abstract and independent form. I show body deprived from emotions. My models don’t look at the observer. It is shape which should evoke emotions. It is fascinating for me to discover how many mysterious shapes and images are hidden in human body. Naked body is a great tool to provoke, make fun of, to fool, but also to disturb, shout and force to reflection.

Unfortunately stereotype of nudity is still very strong. In many societies it is still taboo or on the other side is seen only as a perversion. Nudity is identified with beauty or eroticism and every other interpretation is unfortunately misunderstood.


#6 How do you find the models to work on your projects?

Due to the reasons described above I must admit it’s not easy. I am very demanding in this subject because I expect model will have similar attitude. It doesn’t make sense for me to work with someone who expect completely different results. Misunderstanding and different visions of beauty cannot lead to the same goal. I try to work with creative, confident, brave models who understand that they are taking part in art process. I hope they would understand that photography should lead to satisfaction of creating and evoking emotions and not just to “cute photos”, beauty and attractive appearance. Many photographers work with many models. New body, new proportions, new opportunities. For me the basis is interesting personality and mutual understanding. It is the key to success but also it is the source of the problem.

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#7 How would you describe market for nude photography?

Nowadays nudity is everywhere and because of that it seems to be nothing special, original or brave. Nudity is no longer surprise or shock, but on the other hand doesn’t enchant. In this “naked stream” you can still find beauty and arts but in most cases we must confront with ugliness, perversion and daub. Nudity itself is not an art. It can arouse, enchant but it can be disgusting and simply dull… Once I’ve heard the old priest saying that “there is nothing worse than the dull sin”. I think that this sentence is excellent summary of this topic.


#8 What is the most important thing you can recommend to young photographer that is interested in nude photography?

I would recommend them to look at human body as to landscape. Emotions are great but not at the beginning. I would recommend them to find an answer for question why they are interested in nude photography and then to find ideal (according to this answer) model for co-operation.

Some time ago I watched the movie „Eloquent Nude” – very simple but touching story about Edward Weston and his model Charis Wilson united by the passion of creation. I recommend that movie because it shows unusual relation of mutual inspiration, fascination and made me believe that it is possible to find and express yourself in somebody’s need of creation. For me this is a picture of paradise. Paradise of shared love for creation and creation being result of love – a paradise of the other person, who become a mirror of our needs.


#9 We can see your photographs mostly in black and white, why have you chosen to present them in this form?

Black-and-white photography is calmer. Even dynamic picture is balanced. B/W focus attention on form and that is what matters to me. Color stains disappear, giving way to the light and shadow. The color is suggestive. Resigning from the color I leave everything in the uniform expression.

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

Before session I try to prepare sketches and drawings. It helps me during whole process, sometimes it implicates development or necessity of the correction of the idea. Drawings and sketches are very useful during work with model too. I usually work in my small studio and use mostly one, less often two light sources. Since 2001 I use digital cameras (Nikon), although lately I often take pictures with traditional, medium format cameras (Mamiya). I do the scan and printing myself. I spend a lot of time on post-production. What matters to me is an interesting image, final effect, not technique in which it was made. In my opinion, the best way to present photography is framing in passe-partout. I like to do it and I do it myself too. My favourite material for B/W prints is baryta Ilford Galerie Gold 310 g.


#11 What do you do in your life besides photography?

I draw a lot, read, ride on a bike, I explore my surrounding countryside. Mostly I’m trying to find time and possibilities to take photos.

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

I would like to do better pictures and definitely do it more often. I plan to organize few outdoor nude sessions. Something new but maintained in my convention of nude. I hope that I would more often work with traditional cameras and to try large format which I had never used (but better later than never).

I wish you all good light. Regards

Pavel Javor portfolio:

3 Responses to “Pavel Javor”

  1. Ghost

    Stunning photography! I like your recognizable style as well as ability to surprise the viewer by your unconventional ideas of showing human body. Wish you luck and lots of inspiration!

  2. Mike Stokes

    Hi Pavel
    I think you have a great eye for lighting and interesting subject mater I am in my 50s and my first camera was a Kodak 126 and many years later I started work for a wedding company which became Kodak Weddings. I am just getting back into shooting black and white film after more than 10 years

  3. Nathan Wirth

    Hi Pavel,
    You already know that I am a fan. I really enjoyed the opportunity to read about your thoughts and processes.

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