Q&A With Photographer Milos Nejezchleb
The Glorious team speak to the award-winning photographer Milos Nejezchleb about his fascination with the symmetry and grace of women’s sport
Photography by Milos Nejezchleb
When perusing Milos Nejezchleb’s portfolio of work, it’s hard to believe the photographer first picked up a camera just ten years ago. Presenting an almost obsessive use of symmetry in surreal settings, from eerie desserts to drizzly car parks, it’s his flair for jarring contrasts and alien-like figures that won the Czech photographer the title of Fine Art Photographer of the Year 2021. As a leading name who is putting a unique stamp on women’s sport, we had to hear more:
Glorious: In 2021 you won the Fine Art Photographer of the Year. What did the award mean to you and has it opened up new opportunities?
Milos Nejezchleb: I had news that I was one of the winners, but it wasn’t until the last minute that I knew that I was the overall winner, so I was very happy after the announcement. Afterwards, I received a lot of media asking for an interview and I also noticed an increased interest in selling my photos. However, the impact of such an award is long-term. It is a prestigious award.
Glorious: I know you are responsible for the entire image – not only photography but also art direction, styling, props, etc. Please talk us through your creative process, from your initial idea to execution.
Milos Nejezchleb: For each project, the path is different. What matters is the first trigger of the idea, which is very often a location. As soon as I get an idea, I always make a note of it and return to it later. If it still looks just as good, preparations begin. Gradually, I look for the right faces, clothes and props, then I start planning the whole process. Sometimes it takes up to six months. Over 20 people worked on the last project in two locations. It was quite laborious to plan everything in advance.
Glorious: Do you come from a creative background? I know you only picked up a camera in 2011, what were you doing before being a photographer? How did a previous career prepare you for your new profession in photography?
Milos Nejezchleb: I don’t come from an artistic family. One of my uncles was a painter, but apart from that I’m a little out of line. I bought my first camera in 2011 and found out that I could transfer my thoughts and ideas to photography. I couldn’t sing, draw or make sculptures, but suddenly I found a way of expression which allowed me to convert my ideas and imagination into something real – using a camera. It was a wonderful feeling and I knew it would engulf me forever. At that time I was working as a manager. I was in contact with many people everyday, working long hours, and maybe that’s why I found a certain escape in photography. Escape from being busy to find peace, rest and creation.
Glorious: We read that you draw a lot of inspiration from surrealism. Are there any works or artists in particular that have inspired you?
Milos Nejezchleb: Actually no, I don’t have any great role models to look up to. But I’m fascinated by the atmosphere of surrealism. Mysterious, dreamlike, strange elements appeal to me.
Glorious: We love your work that features gymnasts. We like the symmetry, movement, grace and core strength that you manage to capture. Why have you taken so many pictures of gymnasts? Is it a sport you’re interested in?
Milos Nejezchleb: I see a lot of elegance and beauty in sports in general, but even more so in women’s sports and gymnastics specifically. I love the symmetry, purity and grace. That’s why I asked gymnasts to pose in some of the chosen locations. I also love racquet sports, such as tennis, badminton and squash – these are ideal inspirations for new ideas.
Glorious: What was it like working with Monika Vlckova, was it collaborative or was she happy to be directed in your series ‘Warm-Up’?
Milos Nejezchleb: Monika was the first gymnast I approached. We met by chance and I knew right away that I wanted to collaborate with her. She is creative, reliable, imaginative and has a great feel for photography. Some scenes were directly influenced by her but she designed her own variants too, which was great. I make sure I always prepare a variety of scenes to photograph. However, I very much welcome when the whole team is mentally present so they can react to what’s happening during the photoshoot and offer their own ideas.
Glorious: Some of your locations are quite unexpected, where do you find these places? Do you have a favourite place/ country to shoot?
Milos Nejezchleb: I actually find locations everywhere. I like to spend my free time discovering new places, and if I find an interesting or fascinating place, I remember it for future purposes. But what often happens is that I become interested in a place that I have seen several times and it suddenly occurs to me how to incorporate it artistically. As for the locations, I have a lot of them that are too far away to execute projects. But in the viewfinder, for example, I have Murano Burano in Italy.
Glorious: We discovered you through your series ‘Moon For Sale,’ which we love. What are you trying to communicate with this series?
Milos Nejezchleb: ‘Moon for Sale’ is a series where I try to touch on the topic of consumer society. The whole series is interconnected by balls that represent the moon. ‘Moon for Sale’ points out that nowadays everything is for sale. So let’s sell the moon.
Glorious: How does working on commissioned series compare with your own work? Do you look at these projects differently?
Milos Nejezchleb: I always approach every project in the same way, there is no difference between my own work and work with a commercial subject. I require freedom and the only thing I take into account is the message, which will be communicated by the project.
Glorious: Do you play or actively follow sports?
Milos Nejezchleb: Yes, I have been playing football for a long time, squash for a little while, and I like lots of other sports.
Glorious: What do you shoot on and where do you see the future of your art going? Everything is becoming increasingly more digital, do you think you will stay within this format or are you open to exploring other mediums? Would you ever create an NFT, for example?
Milos Nejezchleb: The essence of art is something that appeals to me and enriches me aesthetically and visually. I like putting physical art (sculpture, painting, photography, graphics, whatever) in the environment that surrounds me. I perceive art in this conservative and traditional conception and I do not think this will change in the years to come. I do not resist the NFT and if it continues to gain popularity, I might try it. In principle, however, it is only a business based on speculation. So it might be the future of good business, but not the future of art. In my campaign for ‘Fann Parfumerie,’ the models are dressed ready to go sledging…in the desert.
Glorious: What excites you about creating such visual contradictions within your imagery?
Milos Nejezchleb: In general, I like to use contrast and something unexpected. There is excitement in the unexpected. In this case, however, the main message of the ‘Fann Parfumerie’ campaign was in the background. The message was: something you don’t expect in the summer.
Glorious: If you could shoot any other women’s sport what would it be and why?
Milos Nejezchleb: I could imagine a great series with a team of women synchronised swimming. I find many sport disciplines, such as this, very photogenic.