Photographer Beta Bajgartova “I want to keep capturing emotions and creating short stories in one frame”.
Beta Bajgartova, 39, Dublin, Beta is originally from the Czech Republic and has been living in Ireland for ten years. Woking as a journalist for local newspapers in her home town of Uherske Hradiste and then worked as a reporter for the Czech Radio in Brno, Zlin and Prague and also for China Radio International in Beijing. After seven years in journalism Beta changed her career and started working as a commercial photographer in Dublin in 2004.
I liked being journalist but photography was always a much bigger passion and love of mine. My father is an artist – ceramist and sculptor so naturally my home environment was my art background.
What motivated you to deal with the subject of women and their emotions in your art?
Initially I wanted to create a collection of strong portraits in this stunning location I found in Dublin. But as the idea developed I decided I was going to create not only portraits but also a whole story in one picture. I used long exposures to achieve the ‘ghost effect’ and reveal what people are dreaming about and longing for. The whole collection of eighteen photographs is called Dreams and although it’s not exclusively women matter there is dominance of female models and stories.
These are part of the collection “Dreams” that was created in Dublin in April and May 2012. “Dreams” is a series of eighteen photographs about the wishes, hopes and secret desires that we all might have but are too embarrassed to share with our closest friends. I’m trying to tell a full story about the subject of each photograph. The ghost effect, which is achieved by getting the object off the frame in the middle of exposure, evokes something hidden and too personal to share. I would like the viewer to feel that the subject of each photograph has confided in them.
Tell us why you chose this submission?
The pictures I have submitted relate to women universally. Women in each part of the world dream of love, having a baby, being able to run away from a place that they are not happy in, they dream about having a different body, about a closer relationship with their daughters and about their departed husbands. All of the pictures have potential to communicate with women on a personal level as well as with the audience.
Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?
Photography is my livelihood. I take pictures for clients almost every day. But I don’t want to burn out so I’m trying to challenge myself with new non-commercial projects all the time. It keeps me warm and loving and appreciating all the commercial jobs I do. Photography to me is an amazingly versatile medium. All the aspects from working with the light and technique through the post-production process to the final print are very exciting to me.
What is your process when creating?
The beginning is simply an idea, which is settling. During these times, which can last months, I wouldn’t do much, just dream and think of the pictures I would like to see. I would also talk to close people about the idea. It helps me establish details of the theme and the style. The next step is production – organizing the shoot, getting models, getting props, finding location, sorting out timings and logistics etc. Once the production is done and days are set I work efficiently and rationally. I shoot with digital camera and I tend to treat it like the analogue camera. I have the picture in my mind and I know how to get it. The Photoshop post-production is usually quite simple – colour corrections, levels adjustments, white balance correction etc.
Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?
What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?
Feminism to me me means respect to women. Respect in the whole important meaning of this word. Respect, protection, and of course equal rights – these aspects should be part of our lives no matter what age, sex or education we are and in this sense I consider myself a feminist. Women are amazing and I’m convinced it’s women who really rule the world. Unfortunately men get most of the credits.
What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?
I love art and I think art is important; I try to enrich my world and my children’s world with art because I do believe they can learn from art and they can express their feelings through art when words are hard to find.
Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?
Sadly yes in many parts of the world. But I think it’s common in all societies – if you don’t conform to social norms and want to be taken seriously you have to work a lot harder to prove yourself. And women have to work double harder.
Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?
Men and women are not equal anywhere in the world. I was lucky I was born in a place where women in the past have fought for our rights and as a result I can vote, I can go to work and nobody has any reservations to me wearing trousers and cutting my hair short. I can choose my life partner; I can choose when I would like to have kids, I can go to college, I can make money and I can be opened about my sex orientation. However I also still live in a society, that doesn’t help me bring up kids and doesn’t appreciate managing, logistic and organizing skills that I have developed as a caring parent, in society that doesn’t support my creativity where women make less money than men for the same work, in a society that is characterised by gender imbalance and in a society that can be very sexist. I am personally always attacked when I come back home to Czech republic and get surrounded by billboards and advertisements with teasing pictures of young women selling tyres, building equipment or stationery. If you really start thinking about it the list of personal experiences of all women would be quite long even if in our relatively comfortable western world, many of us fail to see it.
What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc…..?
I am passionate about women’s body perception, about bringing up girls in western societies and about any form of physical or psychological violence against women. I would volunteer for any cause that would make women’s livelihood better in any part of the world.
What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?
Yes, I think art can save lives because art can heal our minds or provoke us, art can get people to talk, get people together, art can motivate us and make our lives better, art can be created for philanthropy causes and art can educate. A planet without art would be a completely different place.
How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?
Yes, of course! My submitted photographs can be used as a strong communicator between audience and for example charity organization. I believe they can appeal to audience and get people talk and think.
What are your goals as with your art?
I want to keep trying capturing emotions and creating short stories in one frame. In the Dream collection I wanted to make my audience to get the sense that they are not alone. That there is someone who understands how they feel and someone they can share stories with without talking.
What is your next project or piece that you are working on?
I’m travelling back home to Czech republic and I’m going to be working on a collection called Memories From the Childhood. I don’t know much about other art than photography but I would like to try and create mixed media images. My aim is to create a series of abstract, visually beautiful and emotional pictures which will hopefully make people think about their own childhood emotions, colours and glimpses and which will remind to parents that it probably won’t be the amount of toys or sweets or trips to fun parks and playgrounds that children will remember when they’re grown up.
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