Rfotofolio is pleased to share the work of Christopher Tamas Kovacs, photographer and
co-creator of Adore Noir magazine.
Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in Edmonton, AB in 1976. I moved to Vancouver, BC in 1999, mostly to escape the cold winters and the monotony, I needed a change. Besides photography, I love music and playing the drums.
How did you get started in photography?
I bought my first computer in 1997, and I was looking for things to do on it besides MS Word and Corel Paint. A friend of mine had a CD with a program on it that he insisted I check out, he knew that I loved art and couldn’t wait to show me this program called Photoshop. I was blown away! I would scan in photos and create all kinds of crazy digital art, I don’t have any of those images to show you, but I remember one of these creations was titled “Lipsicle.” It was the first digital creation I ever produced; it was a combination of a popsicle that was mirrored and blended in with something else, in the end, it ended up looking like lips with red lipstick–needless to say, I was hooked.
I learned Photoshop long before I picked up a camera. Photography went hand in hand with the birth of my first son in 2005. I was photographing him non-stop with my 4-megapixel point and shoot camera. I set up a little studio on the kitchen table with blankets and lamps, and I would create portraits of my son, I experimented with different lighting setups and props like stuffed animals. I would process the images in Photoshop.
In 2007, I discovered the work of David Burdeny and Michael Kenna, I was blown away by their long exposure black and white images, I had no idea how they created images like that, and that’s when things became more serious for me. I purchased a Nikon D80, a tripod and some ND filters for the 18-70mm kit lens and got to work photographing seascapes and landscapes. After photographing long exposure landscapes and seascapes for a while I had an urge to create something unique, something that would set my work apart, I began experimenting with multiple-exposures and custom-made filters in 2014, which is also when I became interested in street photography. Currently, I am experimenting with mixed media where I use photographs, paint, and other markers to create images which resemble paintings rather than photographs.
What was the inspiration for “Adore Noir” magazine?
The very first iPad was the catalyst. Back in 2010 my wife Sandra and I bought the first iPad; I was especially excited about the iPad because of the ability to store many magazines and books. Unfortunately, at the time there were no digital magazines in the App store that focused on black and white fine art photography. I was explaining my frustration to Sandra one night and she mentioned something about starting her own magazine, it wasn’t photography related, I think it was a lifestyle magazine, but that gave me that idea to start a black and white photography magazine for the digital realm–the first issue came out in April of 2011.
You see the work of so many inspirational photographers. Does it affect your own art work?
Absolutely, I am inspired by almost everything from music to nature to visual arts in all mediums. Inspiration is everywhere, however, the hard part, sometimes, is creating something that is unique, there is that line between inspiration and plagiarism that I am constantly aware of.
Please tell us about your “New York” series.
I have wanted to photograph in New York for quite a while now; I got a small taste in 2014 when I went from JFK airport to times square and back again in about six hours, this was during a layover to Europe. I managed to get a couple of interesting images using my iPhone 5s while riding in the taxi. But finally, in November of 2017, Sandra and I had an opportunity to go back to New York for four days. I brought my Nikon D810 and one prime lens, the Voigtlander 28mm F/2.8 Color Skopar SL II. The lens is entirely manual, I was a little nervous bringing just that, but I love a challenge, and that’s all I ended up needing. I photographed the same scene over again for quite a while and used those images in layers to create the multiple exposures. I used multiple exposures mostly for the people and vehicles to create a sense of motion and flow; it was a nice contrast to the architecture. I created a few different custom filters in Photoshop that had a Sepia tone mixed with a Cyan tone, something about those two colours really appealed to me, that set the stage for the whole series, it gave it the consistency I was looking for.
If you could spend the day with another photographer living or from the past who would it be?
That’s a hard one because I would love to hang out in a tranquil setting with Michael Kenna, but I’m going to have to say David Burdeny because he gets to fly around in helicopters!
Would you share with us an image of your own that you gave you that “ah ha” moment?
Sure, I would have to say “Vessel” from my 2014 series “From Divergent Lands” because that was one of the first images I captured using the in-camera multiple exposures setting on my iPhone 5S, at the time I was using a photo App called “Hipstamatic” which has the multiple exposure setting. That was the first image I produced where I saw the potential for using an iPhone to create high quality, multiple exposure images and although I now use a D810 I still use multiple exposures in my current work, and it’s all because of that “ah ha” moment back in 2014.
Would you tell us about your workspace?
There really isn’t much to say about my physical workspace, I can pretty much work from anywhere because I produce all of my images on my 2015, 15-inch MacBook Pro, I have the fully maxed out version, so I can run my various image editing programs along with publishing programs that I use for “Adore Noir”. The only other hardware I use is an LG 30-inch 4K monitor which I use to proof images before printing. When it comes to programs I use Photoshop for almost everything, sometimes I use Nik Software’s Colour Effex Pro 4 to experiment with cross processing colours. All of my black and white work is done manually in Photoshop using standard level adjustments on the original grayscale image.
What challenges do you face as an artist?
Creative block is a challenge; sometimes it’s as if I have so many ideas running around in my head at the same time that I just can’t get anything done, but that usually doesn’t last that long. Another one is originality; it can be incredibly difficult to create one’s own style without getting caught up in current trends, it’s difficult sometimes because I am always exposed to great work that I receive as submissions for “Adore Noir” magazine.
What do you hope the viewer takes from your images?
I hope that the viewer experiences some kind of emotion while viewing my work, whether it be from the subject matter or even the colour palate. Recently Susan Spiritus of Susan Spiritus Gallery shared the image “Flatiron” from my “New York” portfolio on her Instagram page; she said: “Those of us who hail from New York will, of course, recognize the iconic Flatiron building. I so clearly remember my grandmother’s iron which was a heavy black cast-iron iron, identical in shape to the Flatiron building. This memory of 70+ years is as clear in my mind as ever!!”
Now that’s what I’m talking about.
What’s on the horizon?
I’m currently in experimental mode. I’m trying out new things and experimenting with mixed media photography. I’m thinking about continuing some work I started in 2016 where I would make marks on white paper with paint, crayons, chalk, etc…. and then photograph those marks, thousands of random marks, and then arrange them in Photoshop, each mark had its own layer, in the end, it would look like a Cy Twombly inspired painting but made entirely of photographs.
To learn more about the work of Christopher Kovacs please visit his site at Christopher Tamas Kovacs.