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From hobby to career | Interview with photographer Eszter Sára Cseh

Pastel, sophisticated shades, with simple and honest compositions. She didn’t plan a career in photography, yet her visual world is already quite unique and recognizable. The versatile Eszter Sára Cseh (working under the art name Eszter Sarah) creates elaborately detailed and carefully arranged portrait and fashion photos, but she wants to try her hand at many other fields. Interview!

You studied economy originally, and then you also got a taste of the world of graphic design, and finally ended up at photography. What made you decide to start this profession?

All credit goes to my husband, Miklós Kiss. He always supported me in pursuing a creative profession, whatever that may be. Graphic design wasn’t really my thing, and I was always more drawn to photography, but I though of it more as a hobby than a profession. I received positive feedback for my first shots, and this reaffirmed my idea that maybe I should focus on it more. The fact that my environment was so positive and supportive towards my new “craze” meant an awful lot. 

You have tried several branches already within photography, but fashion photography is what you feel the closest to. Why do you think you found yourself on this specific area?

I feel lucky because when I held the camera in my hands, two model agent friends of mine let me practice on their models in spite of the fact that there was no way for them to know what kind of pictures I would take. For me, it was somehow natural from the very beginning that I instead of objects, buildings or events, I shoot models. In spite of this, I have tried almost every branch of photography, because I wanted to know whether I was able do it, wanted to see what the end result would be like and also to find out if another direction fitted me more. 

For example I frequently receive inquiries based on the interior design photos I made about my husband’s works (once even Airbnb found me with an offer), but I rarely take them. What I enjoy the most is when I can arrange the things on the photos and I can influence even the tiniest little details.

Your photos have a very sensitive and sophisticated visual world. What inspires you the most in creating the concept of a photo series?

It varies. Sometimes I see something that turns my fantasy on: a movie, a street scene, a poster, or anything else. There are cases when I come up with the idea easily, for example that I want to create a material inspired by spring. At other times, I think a lot, and yet I still cannot put the project together in my head. I spend a lot of time with getting to know the work of other photographers, I am interested in the history of photography, and I love looking at the photos taken my famous photographers. This influences my perspective, too, for sure.

Fashion photography is a multi-player genre, which can always influence the end result: in addition to the photographer, there is a make up artist, a stylist, a model, virtually a whole crew behind each picture. Yet, your pictures are still self-expressive. How does each work process take place in your case?

The same as the photographer, the make up artist or the stylist also have their own established style, and I always take that into account when I assemble my team. It’s important that at the end of the project, all members of the crew feel that the output is a result of their efforts, too. Many times we brainstorm together: we think about what the material should be like, and sometimes ideas occur even during shooting, but the final word is always mine, because as a photographer, I am the one who has to see the entire picture. 

It’s always the signature of the photographer that dominates the final shots, because the photographer creates and edits them. The pictures receive their final form in the course of post-production. The crew only sees the raw images during the photo shoot, so they can’t know how I will change the details and settings in the course of retouching. In the case of my swim cap series, for example, I imagined much more realistic colors originally, but then the pastel colors fitted it so well that I ended up choosing them. 

You are a quickly developing autodidact photographer, who wants to try many other things. In what directions do you plan to continue?

I consider myself more of a portrait photographer than a fashion photographer. A really great fashion photographer must be familiar with all the current trends and fashion itself, and I was always more intrigued by the subject than the piece of clothing on them. I have the necessary basic knowledge, but I don’t follow this world passionately, which would be an essential thing for success. I am more and more intrigued by how I can capture the character and personality of the subject even more on the photos. In the future, I would like to photograph even more models in a traditional sense, and keep experimenting.

How does the epidemic influence your work, to what extent does it hinder your creativity?

For me, this period is about planning and systemization. With the introduction of the restrictive measures, I, too, as many other photographers, was forced within the four walls, and it’s hard to create anything this way. I try to spend all this free time in a useful way, but I wouldn’t say that I am bored at home. Now I have time for things I kept postponing, such as creating my website or selecting my images. My fantasy keeps flying high, I continuously plan my shoots, and when things get better, I will start their implementation right away.

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