The Power of Portraits with Tereza Červeňová
Two years ago, Youth Arts Online had the opportunity to sit down for an interview with Tereza Červeňová, a young photographer who was beginning to make a name for herself by winning several photography awards. Since that time, Tereza has made great strides as a photographer. This year she was awarded the John Kobal New Work Award, a special prize for an artist under 30 whose work has been selected for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize.
Tereza was awarded £5,000 and a commission from the National Portrait Gallery to photograph someone connected to the UK film industry. Her winning portrait, “Yngvild,” is also on display in Tube stations across London.
“I didn’t know that my portrait would be included on the posters on the London Underground until I saw one in the morning after the awards ceremony,” Tereza said. “Every time I come across ‘Yngvild’ on my travels through London, it puts a smile on my face.”
The John Kobal New Work Award came after a particularly tough year for Tereza following her graduation from Middlesex University in July 2014.
“It wasn’t an easy year at all, both professionally and personally,” Tereza said. “The fact that I managed to work through it all, be innovative and hardworking and support myself financially basically purely from photography, assisting and gallery work has been a great accomplishment as well. So to then, at the end of the year, be recognised and awarded for my personal work in form of this wonderful news about the John Kobal New Work Award was a very rewarding and uplifting gift.”
When Tereza moved to London from Slovakia four years ago, she didn’t initially set out to be a photographer. She began studying fine arts, but the subject didn’t fit quite right, and it wasn’t until she switched to photography that everything fell into place.
“It is the fluency that I feel I have with photographs that makes me want to be a photographer,” Tereza said. “Images communicate on a different level than words, and even though I love drawing, I often find it frustrating as I can’t get the results I desire. With photography it is different; there is a kind of energy that works for me.”
Tereza also appreciates the power a photograph can have.
“We live in a visual world,” she said. “We see and share millions of images everyday. Our world is basically built out of photographs.”
Tereza mentioned how images can spark discussions, inspire empathy and change people’s attitudes to others and the world around them. Photography can also explore the nature of people and their relationships, which is why Tereza said portraits will always be an important part of her work.
While it can be hard to earn a living as any sort of artist in modern society, Tereza is an example of how young photographers can work hard and succeed at their craft.
“I would encourage young photographers to talk to their tutors, get assisting work and ask and learn as much as you can about how the industry works,” Tereza said. “Then be innovative about how you can find the place for yourself in it.”