Steve took some time out from spooning his dogs on the sofa to chat with Radka Dolinska, a Manchester-based photographer who cut her teeth in the city of Košice in Slovakia. Her raw and downright quirky wedding imagery is causing quite a stir at the moment. The image above was a winner in the inaugural Photographers Keeping It Real awards.
So, you’re originally from Slovakia? We’d like to know more about your home city, tell us three things about Košice that’ll make us want to visit.
Yes, I am! My home town Košice is a beautiful city, not many people know that it was European Capital of Culture for 2013. Three things that will make you visit: Cheap beer, gorgeous architecture and the food is excellent. You should try the local Gulaš with dumplings.
How are you finding Manchester? Any particular reason why you decided to join us in the greatest city on Earth?
I love Manchester, it’s great! Not so much the crap weather, but for the cultural diversity, music history, and great Metrolink service. You will see what I mean when you visit Košice.
I believe you studied photography in Slovakia? Given the influences you may have had from your tutors in Eastern Europe, are their any photographers you particularly admire from that part of the world who we may not have heard of?
I studied photography at Art College in Košice from the age of 15 and I did my degree later on when I moved to the UK. But it was at college, when I was first introduced to work of Czecho-Slovakian photographer Jozef Koudelka and I madly fell in love with his images. His work is raw, gritty and full of melancholy, but there is also a great deal of hope in his photography. I also very much admire work of Hungarian photographer Andre Kertesz whose images have beautifully crafted compositions based on geometry and form. He truly painted with light! I love his work. I cannot forget Elliott Erwitt and his humorous street photographs and of course, the master of candid photography Henri Cartier-Bresson. I could go on forever.
Your work has a very “gritty” vibe. Your wedding images often have a real street photography feel about them. Tell us more about how you approach a wedding.
To be honest, I hardly ever plan anything when it comes to my wedding photography. I just wonder around on the day and react to what I see, the same as when I am shooting on the street. I observe and always try to look for a picture even in the most boring scenarios. I think I have a curious eye which I get from my mum. I also always try to remember this quote from Andre Kerstesz – “Events and mood are more important than good light, and the happening is what is important”.
You’re relatively new to the wedding photography industry but you’ve very quickly made a bit of a name for yourself amongst your peers. Can you offer any advice to anyone starting out?
Yes, I am fairly new to the wedding photography industry. I never thought I would ever shoot a wedding as there is often a stigma about photographers who shoot weddings. My style of photography has always been documentary but in the beginning I was afraid to embrace it because I thought that people would only wish to see traditional pictures from the wedding day. My advice is to embrace your style as you can’t please everybody, be a good observer, look for the obvious without making it look obvious. Oh, and enjoy the party!
Would you be brave enough to photograph an entire wedding on film?
That’s definitely on my bucket list! I think if I can find a couple who will appreciate film photography, and will trust me, than I would love to do it.
Talk to us about technical stuff, what equipment do you use? Is there a particular reason why you use specific cameras or lenses?
I never been a “technical” photographer. I think you can take a good picture with any camera if you know the basics and have a good sense for a composition. I’ve taken some great pictures with my iPhone! For professional work I use a Nikon D750 with 3 prime lenses, 35mm f/2, 50mm f/1.8 and 85mm f/2. I like to use natural light and will push the ISO to the max just so I don’t have to get the flash out. I also own a Ricoh GR with a 28mm lens which I use from time to time during weddings providing the light is good enough. It’s a great little spy camera though! You hardly notice it so it’s great for a candid moments.
A huge Mancunian high-five to Radka for taking the time out to chat with us.
All images are © Radka Dolinska – www.dolinskaweddings.co.uk