Ildiko Neer: Contributor Interview


1- Tell us a little about yourself, and how you became interested in photography!
In my forties, and after more than twenty years working in an office, I got the idea to buy a DSLR and try to make some photos. I just wanted to try it for myself! I really enjoyed shooting flowers in a field, flowers in a vase, grass in the garden…
I then went to a photography school to learn the basics. I started to shoot forests – lot of forests!
Processing my tree images was an escape from reality and I found myself at home with them. I found my peace. But when I bought that first camera i never thought it would change my life!

2- What gives you ideas and inspires you to create such amazing imagery?
I always want to express feelings or create feelings with my images. The objects may change, but this is my main motivation.

3- Your work has evolved from amazing landscapes to detailed and curated shoots. What was the process of this evolution? Did anything in particular drive you to branch out?
With my forest shots, I created a dreamland for myself, and it turned out that this world was appreciated by others as well. After few years I had a lot of followers and fans, and I was asked by an agency to sell my forest shots for book covers.
That call inspired me to try myself out as a portrait photographer, but the evolution came after a lot of work. I am quite a determined person – I am not used to giving up on anything that I really believe in!
So I shot thousands of images, and over time they’ve been getting better and better.


4- What are your favourite sources of objects and costumes? Where do you usually find your locations?
My favorite themes are historical shoots. I love the time-travelling. I particularly admire the elegance and grace of the last century.
For historical shoots I have to find locations without cars, for example, or any sign of the present day. I used to look for my locations via Google Maps before shooting.
I used to cycle 100-200 km every weekend, and when i was on my bike there were a lots of occasions when I found beautiful lakes with piers, or just fields without any big electricity pylons or billboards.

5- Your historical shoots are absolutely gorgeous! What advice would you give photographers wanting to start shooting in this genre?
Historical shoots are never about the model. They are telling a story from the past. The model, when appearing on my historical images, is never a beauty – she is always an actress.
This is the first thing that I have to keep in mind when I look for models to shoot historical pictures with, and it’s essential that the model understands this as well.
Beyond that, we have to be accurate with clothing, hair and makeup styles. It’s not always easy, but photographers can check the internet for advice, or study original pictures from the relevant century.

6- Do you carefully pose your photos or do you take a more candid approach? How do you direct your models, if at all?
I like to make lots of moving shots, when models are walking, running, turning or dancing. The playfulness helps the models to relax and they can behave more naturally and easily.
I usually tell them – just be natural! I will also try to show them examples of the poses I need from them.

7- How important is Photoshop in creating your finished images?
It’s a very important aspect. I often tell people that when a shoot ends, that’s only half the work done – the other half is the digital processing with software and graphics tools.
The images I’ve created over the last year have all used digital elements alongside traditional photographic techniques.

8- What has been your funniest or most awkward moment on a shoot?
On photoshoots we always laugh a lot, because the costumes draw a lot of attention on the street! Passers-by always want to take selfies with the models…
Once, we were shooting around an old railway station to get some retro images of a couple. The carriages were closed, but there was an old man who had keys – when he saw the couple, he thought they were getting married and that I was there immortalizing them for the wedding album!
So he opened up the carriages for us, and gave his best wishes to the ‘husband and wife’!
Another time there was a little girl who saw my model in costume, and thought she had found a real princess. I think we made her dream come true that day… It was a really heartwarming moment for all of us.


9- Personal projects can be so beneficial to a photographer’s growth and creativity.  Do you have any you’re working on right now?
I think of all of my images as personal projects. I usually wait for an idea to come to me, but I think next time I will shoot some studio shots. Maybe some close-ups with beautiful details of an old costume, with a little scent of a woman…

10- What do you think the challenges are for the stock photography industry at the moment? What changes do you foresee over the next few years?
I think the best covers are the cleanest, the simplest ones. New digital solutions have had a big impact over the book cover industry in the last few years.
In the coming years, I think the freshest, newest ideas will rule the world of book covers! I’m excited to see more quirky cuts, more varied use of depth-of-field, astounding concepts with objects, and unexpected model poses.

Have a look at Ildiko Neer’s entire portfolio.