Meet fashion phenom Michal Pudelka as we serve him a dozen questions about analogue photography. The Slovakian aesthete—known for highly-stylized shoots involving similar-looking models—lets us in on his imagery inspirations, like childhood hospital visits, garment designs, and disposable cameras.
NAME: Michal Pudelka
1. Hi, Michal. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in 1990 in Slovak Republic. I consider myself as a visual artist mostly working with photography, collages and videos. I live in my own dreamy world. My work helps me to filtrate my emotions and keep my mind balanced.
2. Why do you still shoot analogue?
Because there is nothing better. I love the film grain and sound of my old camera when it clicks. It is pure magic and I cannot live without it. Also with the film cameras the photographer has to think more, because there is certain amount of frames available – and that is what I like to do – think before I shoot, not afterwards.
3. What photographic equipment (cameras, films, and accessories) do you usually have in your bag?
I have none. I don’t shoot every day, all my shoots are very well planned before and I rather shoot less with high quality outcome. But I really love single-use cameras, or Polaroid for the preparation process.
4. Share a trick of yours that will always result to a great photo.
Thinking is the most important part of my work. I like when a photograph has more meanings – so you can stare at it for a longer time, or over and over again.
5. Which photographers influence your work?
None, I would say. There are plenty of those I admire but when it comes to inspiration, I rather take it from my own life experiences than from other photographers. My life is one hell of a bumpy ride and there is too much personal inspiration to just not use it. I think it is very important to have my own style by which I can be recognized.
6. We heard you originally wanted to be a fashion designer. Are there any parallelisms between your designing and photography aesthetic?
Yes, I wanted to be fashion designer for many years, since I was a little kid. But as I grew up, I realized that there are many other ways how I can express my self. I still design most of the clothing for my shoots. Me and my wonderful producer Katarina Gyu sew them together. Sometimes my visions are just too strong to shoot clothes from shops. I like to work on the whole picture – preparing scenes, designing garments, making up stories which are based on my own life.
7. Who/what are your favorite subjects? When/where do you feel most inspired?
I really love music, there isn’t a day without music. Work is like a drug for me; when I see that I have done something right, it makes me want more, go further and be better. Katarina sometimes laughs that I’m the fountain of ideas. We have so many ideas written down that there should be another lifetime to do them all. To answer your question – I feel most inspired when emotions are moving inside me – no matter if they are good or bad – I translate them into photographs.
8. Describe your first memory as if it were a still photograph.
I was three years old when I got serious inflammation in the brain. I was in hospital for a couple of months. I had to learn how to walk and articulate again. So my first memories are of doctors and nurses in hospital. Very first image in my memory from that would be me laying down on the bed, not knowing where I am, crying for my mom. It was night and this nurse was giving me some plushy toy to silence me. I still remember the nurse's name.
9. If you could hang as a camera around anyone’s neck, who would that someone be?
That’s a good question! Even I would like to know answer for that. There is no one particular for me, I like to see things through my own eyes.
10. If you could no longer see, what’s one image you’d like burned in your mind?
I would rather die than be blind. But probably the photographs I have made would haunt me forever.
11. The strangest, funniest, hands-down greatest, or most "unusual" photographic/Lomographic encounter that you have ever had.
The funniest would be my beginnings with photography. I started to shoot on film two years ago and I didn’t even know where to insert the film or what the exposure is. My first film I ever shot was a total mess, because I rolled it badly so it hasn’t been developed. Maybe it doesn’t sound funny, but when I think about it now, I laugh.
12. What’s coming up on the horizon? New projects? What’s in the works and what’s on your mind?
There are many projects planned, much more than I have time for! For example I’m very excited about collaboration with Czech music band Hugo and Zoe, for whom I will be working on the band look and then photos and music videos. I also founded art magazine Anonym two years ago and now we will go to print and will be sold worldwide. At the moment I’m looking for an atelier in London, so I will be moving there, hopefully soon. There are many wonderful designers and artists that are waiting for our collaboration.
Visit Michal Pudelka to see more of the artist’s work.