Her underwater photography is unusual, mesmerizing and exquisite. She captures the tranquillity and beauty of human-life suspended in aquatic silence. Gabriela Slegrova is an ex-model from the Czech Republic who fell in love with the warmth and the Jacaranda trees of South Africa. We find out more about her journey to starting a surreal underwater photography business.
Q: What brought you to SA?
I was born and raised in the cold Czech Republic. I left my country to travel the world as a model when I was 20 years old. I was always searching for sunshine and adventure. Eight years later I visited a Czech friend of mine, living in Johannesburg. I was smitten by the game parks and sunshine. So, I decided to stay. A few months later I found out that there was an even nicer place called Cape Town and moved down here. I now call it home (but I can’t say it in front of my Dad).
Q: What work have you done?
During my modeling years, I developed a curiosity about being on the other side of the camera. At the time I didn’t have the means to follow this ambition and continued working as a model and adventurer. Sport has always been a hobby, which led me to become a fitness instructor and a Table Mountain guide. I love spending time on the mountain and it’s always a great pleasure for me to share this beauty with others.
Q: What was your inspiration to embark on underwater photography?
The real starting point for my love and interest in photography was shortly after I met my husband. He is one of the smartest people I know. He started teaching me everything about the camera, photography, optics, and light. I went through different stages in my photography. Photographing landscapes, self-portraits, artistic portraits, night photography and eventually underwater photography.
The start of my underwater photography was a complete coincidence. I was going away with friends for the weekend to a venue with a stunning lagoon. As an experiment, I bought a simple and cheap underwater case. My female friend, who is model, was very keen to experiment. However, the water was far too cold and murky. A week later we were all playing in a swimming pool. The moment my stunning friend dived underwater and exhaled a little bit of air, leaving a trail of sparkly bubbles and her hair and dress flowed effortlessly around her – I was hooked. It was such a surreal beautiful sight, that I just knew I had to explore underwater photography further
Q: What specialist equipment do you need for underwater photography?
I use my Canon 6D, Tamron lens 24/70mm and still very simple underwater housing from Dicapac. I use only natural light so no extra flash or equipment needed. I like to keep things simple.
Q: What do you love most about underwater photography?
My underwater photography takes me to the dreamy surreal worlds, full of sparkly light and bubbles, long hair and flowing dresses. I love beauty, its simple and creating beautiful ethereal images makes me happy.
Q: Have you photographed any famous people yet?
No, but I’ve had the privilege of photographing some very beautiful and talented girls.
Q: Does underwater photography have any challenges?
Underwater photography has plenty of challenges. Starting with the clarity of the water, the temperature, and background of the pool. When it comes to the model, there are about a hundred things you must remember. I am always there to remind them.
Q: How has South Africa responded to your work?
I am quite happy with the way South Africa is responding to my work. I have been interviewed by many local and international magazines, had several photos published in magazines, which is always great for me. My best work is permanently exhibited and on sale in the Exposure Gallery at the Biscuit Mill. The only disappointment is that none of the galleries were interested in a solo exhibition. That was my dream and ambition two years ago…so I eventually stopped looking. But maybe that time is still coming.
Q: Who would you most like to photograph?
Any gorgeous mermaid
Amanzi thinks this is an amazing gift idea for a special friend. Or why not expand your underwater horizons and immerse yourself in this surreal aquatic world.
You can find out more here: www.gabrielaslegrova.com
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