Fine Art Photographer Reveals the Enchantment in the Everyday

Fine art, fashion and portrait photographer Bella Kotak has gone from strength to strength with her photography this year, based between London and Oxford. Serving up opulent visual feasts with her fantastical floral visions of regal women on whimsical sets, submerged in blossom or draped in forest glades, Bella’s work deftly finds the enchantment hidden under the surface of the everyday.

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Bella’s always been a lover of art, but this solidified into a passion for art of the fine and photographic kind when she began a 365 project on Flickr. Her shoots are unfalteringly rich in texture and palette, but there’s nothing fixed.

Although she’s currently going through a painterly moment, she tells us, “I tend to let the image lead me down a colour path, and lately this is where it’s going.”

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The elaborate shoots are always executed on location, and can take anywhere from one to three hours, then anything up to five hours in post-production. Three hours on location in a flower bush might spook a less steady-handed artist, but Bella is a creative that thrives on challenges: “it makes the finished product more beautiful and valuable to me in the end.”

Her models are both friends and creatives that she reaches out to online, powerful females expertly directed on shoot to make each photo an assured and emphatic celebration of women.

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“Women are incredible, we create Life. That’s something so common now that I think we’ve forgotten as a society to recognise how powerful that is. Too many women are demeaned, slut shamed, degraded, told they are not, nor will ever be good enough, by society, cultures, and even other women. That’s not OK.”

Words to live by, in 2017. And, for creatives out there, here are some more…

THE PLUS: If your style as photographer had a moodboard, what three things would be on it?
Bella Kotak:
Flowers, leaves, and crowns.

TP: The models are a big part of these pictures – where do you find them, and what direction do you give them during a shoot?
BK:
I usually tell my models to give in to the character they have been styled to embody, but am also open to letting them move and shift in front of my camera organically. I know that magic hides in those free movements too.

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TP: You’ve used a lot of natural elements in your recent work; do you shoot this on location? 
BK:
Most, if not all, of my pictures are captured on location, usually by the side of the road or in someone’s front garden. I love to notice beauty everywhere, it’s helped me through rough times, just noticing beauty.

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TP: There’s something of the drama of fairytale in your work – are you a believer in magic?
BK:
I believe that there’s magic all around us, in the beauty of flowers, the way a model and I can be totally in sync, the magic that’s created when talented creatives come together… It’s everywhere, it’s recognition and escapism at the same time.

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TP: How can people get a bit more magic in their lives?
BK:
I found my magic through noticing moments in real life rather than living my life through a screen. Looking up more that looking down.

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TP: Something that photography is particularly good at encouraging…
BK:
I think that’s why people connect to photography so much, it encourages you to notice the world around you, to look closer, to look for longer, to wait for a moment, to recognise it when it arrives. That’s magic to me.

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TP: Your models are powerfully presented – what does a strong modern woman look like?
BK:
One who wears her confidence well, who is unashamedly herself, who lives life fully, who is control of her life and body, who cultivates a beautiful soul, and who brings out the light in others.

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