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MYGNR interview with rock photographer Kat Benzova

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Earlier this month I interviewed leading rock photographer Katerina Benzova. Kat has toured with and photographed many leading bands and artists including Guns N' Roses. Below she shares some of her thoughts about photography and working within the music industry. Check out her website here for some amazing photos http://www.katarinabenzova.com/


MYGNR: Did your interest in photography start early in life? What inspired you to make the leap from modeling to photography?

KB: Yes. I left Slovakia when I was 13 and started to travel. I didn't have a mobile phone or computer at that time, so the only way to tell stories from my travels when I got home were photographs.

I was doing modeling even after I started to shoot professionally. I had to quit when I didn't have any more time for it and wanted to fully concentrate on photography.

MYGNR: Do you have a defining moment that you feel established your career as a photographer or is it something that's happened gradually?

KB: I think it's happening gradually with every show I shoot, with every new band/musician you get into your portfolio, with every new fan or follower.

MYGNR: Your work captures some of the biggest names in the music industry. Have you always had a passion for rock music? Who are some of the artists that inspire you most?

KB: Rock music was never introduced to me by anyone when I was a kid. My mom was a figure skater and I was dancing ballet so there was a lot of classical music in my life. But when I found rock I fell in love with it and started to understand music way better than before.

I get inspired by people in general. I get inspired by their passion for what they do, what they feel when they are doing it and I'm trying to capture it. So every artist that has passion for their art is my inspiration.

MYGNR: You have toured with quite a few well-known rock acts, how did you first get involved with them and spending so much time on the road?

KB: The first band that took me on tour was Guns N' Roses and I will be thankful for that opportunity they gave me forever.

I first met them in Vienna, Austria in 2010. They were looking for a photographer and gave me a chance to shoot two tryout shows in Spain. I passed the test and stayed with them on tour until now. Then I started to shoot more bands and more opportunities started to present themselves.


MYGNR: Much of your work focuses on 'in the moment' portraits of musicians and has resulted in some amazing shots. Is it easy to capture a natural yet interesting photo? Who is your favourite artist to shoot and why?

KB: It's not easy. It's about jumping on a wave the performing artist is riding. Being connected with them, the music, the energy around. It’s hard to explain it. Annie Leibovitz said once: "A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people." That's exactly that feeling. Its love and connection. And you feel out the right moment to press the shutter.

MYGNR: You photograph many people in the public eye. Is it hard to capture something new in such widely photographed individuals without being intrusive?

KB: Good question. I feel that a lot of photographers make that mistake and become intrusive. I don’t think it's that hard to capture something new. Every day is a different venue, vibe, audience, light, artists are in different mood, etc. It's a constant challenge and I love it! You are there to capture what's going on. Not to push yourself next to the artist on stage, make them uncomfortable just because you wanna get your close up of a guitar with a fisheye lens. Or shooting inappropriate situations backstage. You might get "that" shot but it might be the last one you ever take of that band. It's about building a trust, feeling out the vibe and knowing if it's the right moment to shoot or rather put the camera down and have a conversation instead.

MYGNR: Rock music and photography have traditionally been male dominated arenas, do you feel there are opportunities for women to find success within the field, behind the camera or in front of it?

KB: Where there's a will, there's a way! There's definitely less women than men in this field but that's why they are even more special. Look at legendary female rock artists like Lita Ford, Debby Harry, Joan Jett, etc. or female photographers Lynn Goldsmith, Annie Leibovitz, etc. You can find success in any industry if you have talent, work hard and have passion for what you do. Doesn't matter if you're a man or woman.

MYGNR: We have a number of keen photographers posting on mygnrforum. What is your essential gear list?

KB: Currently I travel on tour with Canon 5D mark II and mark III and Canon 24-70mm L and 70-200mm L lenses and fisheye. GoPro for some videos. That’s pretty much it. Keeping it simple.

MYGNR: You have an interest in art photography and have some beautiful shots on your website. Where do you draw inspiration for your art photography?

KB: Thank you. Inspiration comes from sacred geometry. “Sacred geometry involves sacred universal patterns used in the design of everything in our reality, most often seen in sacred architecture and sacred art. The basic belief is that geometry and mathematical ratios, harmonics and proportion are also found in music, light and cosmology. This value system is seen as widespread even in prehistory, a cultural universal of the human condition.” (www.crysalinks.com)

MYGNR: What do you have planned for the future? Is there anyone you would really like to make the subject of your work if you could?

KB: There is a lot of plans for the future, but I will keep them for myself for now.

I would love to work with Led Zeppelin if they will ever reunite, Iggy Pop, The Rolling Stones and I would love to bring Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix back to life and tour with them both.

Many thanks to Kat and her PR for this interview.

photographs courtesy of Katerina Benzova

Edited by alfierose
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