Kati Rudlova - Interview by Juliana Voloz "ART PHOTO AKT" ( N° 3/2004 )

How did it happen that you became a model? When did you realise that it's exactly what you want to do? Were there any special reasons for your becoming a model?

That's a difficult question. I just remember that since I was young I liked to be photographed. The other reason was certainly my passion for photography. When I was about 12 years old, my parents gave my sister and I our first camera - black and white 12-exposure film, black plastic body, with three small pictures - sunny, half cloudy, and cloudy. We took our first photos during a winter day that we spent with our friends sledding in the mountains. I remember that there were only 4 good shots that time. Already then I liked very much to be photographed. I often asked my sister to make photos of me. I would arrange place and props, choose a pose - she just had to push the button. When I was 17 I participated in my first casting for some beauty contest but I was unsuccessful. It was a few years after the revolution of 1989. As there were no more restrictions, beauty contests mushroomed everywhere. Many newspapers organised beauty contests to have their own Miss So-and-so. I discovered that the local newspaper was looking for girls wanting to participate in such a contest, so I came to the casting. It was nothing special. Only a short presentation of each girl, then they took two photos - a portrait and a body shot in a swimming suit. Though I was not chosen, I was very glad that I now had two photos of me that I found stunningly beautiful (even though I don't find them that stunning anymore…).

Was there any event that accelerated your career as a model?

Once I saw an announcement in the newspaper that an agency was looking for models for a new calendar. I sent in my photos, and they invited me with other selected girls to the agency for an "interview". The photographer there, Pavel Danel, explained to us that the calendar would be of a promotional nature, that it would be distributed to photo agencies, modelling agencies, etc. If you wanted to be in the calendar, you needed good photos, which most of the girls did not have. He said that for "xxxx" Czech Crowns, he would make us a portfolio and then we could choose a photo to put in the calendar. For me it was a lot of money!!! But...when I finished university, my grandmother gave me some money to buy me some gold earrings as a present from her. You can imagine that I did not buy anything. I added some money from my own savings and I went for the shooting. It was my first “real” shooting - in a real studio, with real background, real lights, a good camera and a “real” photographer. It was quite different from our “photo-sessions” with my sister, amidst wild flowers, or from the two-minute snapshot session to get a portrait and a body picture. That shooting with Pavel Danel who made photos fro my first portfolio was the event that helped to kick off my career as a model.

Do you remember your feelings when posing for the first time?

I was very happy to finally pose in a “real” studio, but I was quite nervous, too. I still remember that my chin was shaking when I had to smile; my hands were shaking when I had to strike some pose... It was not easy for me at all.

When posing, do you like to improvise, or do you prefer to get detailed instructions?

I can do both. There is just a small preference to work with photographers who know what they want - either they give me detailed instructions or they let me do what I want within the context of their ideas.

What inspires you during the shootings?

I think I get inspired by the role or the character that I should play. If there are no "descriptions" of what I should be or what I should express, I just try to be natural and have a natural attitude, keeping in mind that I am modelling for fine art nudes.

What do you prefer: to be photographed in the studio or outdoors and why?

I pose both in studio and outdoors, but if I would have to choose, I would prefer outdoors. I feel more inspired, and more comfortable in a natural setting. I think that the naked body is more natural in nature than in a closed room. In a natural setting I can become a part of it. I don’t have to invent too much. Whatever I do - walk, sit, lie, or strike a pose - I am still a part of nature and my body goes well together with the surroundings. In the studio I feel that I am just a human in a room and it is a bit more difficult for me.

It can be cold in the winter and there can be insects in the summer. Does this not bother you? There are some photos on your web site where you were pictured in the snow…

These winter photos really look a bit frightening, but the photographing was not so cruel, as it took only about 6 seconds. As for the insects, even if there are some, I still prefer to work outdoors. But it's not the insects that are the most uncomfortable things for me. I have more trouble with the stones and all the sharp stuff on the ground. It hurts!

Could you tell me more about your own photography. Is it work or a hobby? What are your favourite themes to photograph?

Photography is my main hobby. I do portrait, fashion, nude glamour, landscape, brush art and my self-portraits. I think I enjoy all themes, no matter whether they are landscapes or nudes. But if I would have to choose my favourite themes, I would say: fashion, portrait and my self-portraits. There are many photographers whose work I like.

You mentioned writing poems for a book. Could you say more about that?

In 2000 I went as a model to France to be photographed by Baudouin de Rochebrune. Since then we’ve worked together a few times. He’s published a book called "Balade autour de Katka...et autres flanerie" ("A Walk Around Katka... and Other Strolls) that has images of me and my texts. Some of them are quite short and straightforward; some are longer and more abstract. Sometimes it was a certain photo which inspired me. They reflect my feelings and my momentary experiences.

Who was your first model and who are your models now?

My first models ever were my cousins, then my best friend and her two daughters, and then myself. Since I was posing for nude photos myself, it was quite logical for me to progress to taking my own nude photographs. I did my first self-portraits in April 2002. Now I do both - I continue to take photos of other models and also self-portraits. I enjoy both very much. I am lucky because I don't have to look for models, although sometimes I do look for some on the Internet. My cousins are very photogenic and I can work with them almost anytime. I also have many friends - models from the agency, so I can I work with them.

You have been photographed by so many different photographers. Were there any of their photos that inspired you to photograph yourself, or did you feel moved to show your own approach to nude photography?

I don’t think I started to make my self-nudes because I was inspired by the photos made by the photographers I worked with. I think it was more like an “evolution” of my own photography. First, there were the pictures made by my sister. I think I could consider them as my first and very special way of taking my own photos of myself. Then, when I was a teenager, I remember taking pictures of my hand... Time passed, and I was posing for nude photos. I think making my own nudes was a quite natural and logical extension of my own photography.

When photographing nude, what do you want to express with your photos: the beauty of the body, the personality of the model, your own ideas...

I don't have any special concept before I start shooting. I just want me and my models to be happy with the images. When making my photos I want people looking at them to say, "wow" or just to keep looking for a moment because they like what they see.

Does your modelling experience help you when you photograph other models?

Sure. I can imagine what the model in front of me is thinking about. I know what to say to make her feel comfortable. If the model does not know what to do, I can help with the pose by taking her place and showing what pose I would like her to take. I know the feeling of being nervous in front of the camera when one has only posed a few times. In that case I can tell model about my own experience. I think it helps the model to know that sometimes I have felt the same. I always tell the model not to care about me, not to worry about her body or facial expression because I will let her know exactly when I will be ready for a shot. I also suggest to her not to think about the camera, but to think about something else.

What is important for you in the model? Does she have to have some special qualities? Does the model necessarily have to have a beautiful body?

Not really. I don’t think that it is the most important thing. For me an interesting face is more important than a great body. I think that the face is the thing that influences me most.

On which side of the camera do you feel yourself more inspired?

It depends on whom I am working with and on my mood, but in general, I think that I am equally inspired on both sides of camera.