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In this month’s edition of YKRA Faces we welcome our friend Botond Wertan, the photographer behind our monthly interview series and brand campaigns. We’re excited to discover Botond’s inspirations behind his art, how he spends his days at his studio, and what he gets up to in his time off. Stay with us as we dive deeper, and take a look at what he keeps in his YKRA gear! Read on for more.

Hi Botond, this time around you’re on the other side of the lens in our YKRA Faces series! Now you’re in front of the camera, how would you introduce yourself?

I’m a photographer and filmmaker — and usually, I’m the one directing, shooting, capturing moments, and being in charge of visuals. It’s a strange experience being in front of the camera, it’s not something I’m used to. I’ve worked as a photographer for many years, and I’m known for my work in commissioned/commercial photography. Besides work, I spend my days with my wife Luca — she’s an artist, and our one-year-old daughter Léda.

How do you describe your work and visual style?

I’m always looking for exciting projects and brands to collaborate and work with. It’s especially nice when I can identify with the vibe and style of the project I’m working on — YKRA is the perfect testament to that! However, I’m not keen on setting strict boundaries on the themes of my work. I like to be able to think freely and on a project basis, where I can have a say in the planning and creative aspects, as well as being involved in the process behind the scenes. I don’t want to have to choose a certain segment or be a photographer that fits one specific mold. I don’t confine myself to being only a fashion, lifestyle, or wedding photographer.

In general, I think of photography as visual storytelling, and I’m happiest when there’s a story in a project, and I can articulate that through my work. It’s also why I like working on motion pictures, there's that extra factor of being able to portray a certain vibe or feeling through the way footage is cut, shot, the timing, and the added element of music. I can use the power of all of the aforementioned elements to convey a story and emphasize a specific narrative.

Why do you like working on the YKRA Faces series?

I get such a kick out of meeting the creatives interviewed for the series! It’s so good to have the opportunity to take a glimpse into people’s lives and see how their days are put together. I like the format too, it’s a bit like a detective board, where throughout the interview and on location we get to find out all sorts of details, and then together with the photos, the pieces fit together.

Tell us about Studio W.

I’ve been wanting to have my own creative space for a long time. Many clients think that my strong suit lies in “on-the-spot”, outdoor photography — unlike a lot of photographers who prefer working in well-lit, safe spaces. This isn’t the case with me, I like creating in all types of settings, be that indoors or outdoors in nature. Anyhow, I don’t plan on quitting taking photos in the great outdoors, but it’s been a goal of mine to create my own creative space, Studio W, where I can work on a variety of different things, including post-production, analog lab work, hybrid analog/digital processes, as well as printing, scanning, and design work. 

Opening the studio was also an important step to take with the arrival of our daughter, Léda. Since she was born, Luca and I have spent a lot of time with her, but as both my wife and I are entrepreneurs, with the studio, we’ve been able to make sure that neither of us has had to take a career break. We knew juggling work and a baby was going to be hard, but we decided to split our time in half.

My intention was not to have five photo shoots a week in the studio or for it to be fully booked, but more so to be able to come inside in a space where it's ideal to think about inspiring projects, brainstorm, create, and figure things out.


What does an average day of yours look like?

There are two types of days: the days when I’m with Léda, and Luca goes to her studio, and the days when it’s the other way around. 

Our schedule is that we wake up, the three of us have breakfast together and then Luca goes to the studio. She’s there around three times a week, and on those days I’ll take Léda to the playground, or the market, or the playground and the market, then we’ll go home and play some more, followed by lunch, and after I’ll put her to bed. On those days I work in the afternoons, mostly on post-production.

Then there are days when Luca is with Léda and those are the days when I take on bigger, location-specific shoots which involve a full day of photography and longer hours. If I'm shooting for YKRA or any other fashion brand, there’s also time spent preparing for the campaign. Sometimes we have to build a set, using the right props and lighting, and there are days when I spend a lot of time using my drone. 

The technological advancement drones have gone through is truly pretty amazing. Drones now offer a completely revolutionary perspective to everyone. Using drones was unimaginable 20 years ago, back then, you needed an expensive license and had to rent a plane and pilot to shoot from a bird’s eye view, so it’s no wonder there were approximately five books published each year focusing on aerial photography. Now, an endless amount of material is being produced using drones!

How do you spend your time outside of work?

Since our daughter Léda was born, we spend almost all of our time with her, although once a week in the evening we’ll go out with my wife, just the two of us. We also just got back from our trip to Sicily, where we spent two days without Léda. It was our first time, so that was exciting…but equally, I simply can’t imagine my life without Léda anymore.

Of course, life was different before our daughter was born, I was taking on a lot more work and we had more of a social life. We also went to exhibitions and traveled a lot, for example, we spent an extended time in Asia. Luca and I both dislike the cold weather, so we skipped the winter season for summer instead. We once spent a month and a half in Asia, and after that, we drew inspiration from our time there for around two years! It was so refreshing to see how people live in a different culture, the pace of life, the mood, architecture, transport, everything. It wasn’t about rushing through all the tourist spots and taking “obligatory” Instagram shots. We soaked everything we could in.

What’s in your bag?

MATRA BACKPACK - This bag has been on trips with me to Greece, Italy, Armenia Sicily, and Vietnam. I carried a lot of gear with me in it — my laptop, camera, at least two lenses, a drone with two batteries, and even a point-and-shoot camera, not to mention all my clothes for three days! This bag swallows everything, it’s just the right size to take on the plane, and security seems to forget about checking the side pockets which are useful for packing too.

Cameras - I have a large collection of cameras, all sorts of types and brands — analog, digital, point-and-shoot, Olympus, Nikon, you name it. I have a couple more on the way in the mail that I snapped up, they were too good to resist. 

I also like the simplicity of small cameras, they’re easy to take along with me instead of using my mobile, and that’s important. Unfortunately, as a photographer I often skip carrying large cameras with me to places, it’s just too much of a hassle. 

Grandma’s Camera - This was my grandma’s camera, she worked as a photographer for 60 years, and I also inherited a lot of lab equipment from her. 

National Gallery of Art Album - I’m keen on soaking up imagery, the older the better. I find prints from the 1930s to the late 90s so inspiring, there’s something special about photos from those times when you simply didn’t know what the image would turn out like once printed, you couldn’t check the status beforehand as you can nowadays with digital cameras. I love that you had to have true skills to get a good photograph. There’s so much classic knowledge accumulated in these old prints.

Batteries - I've done an awful lot of battery charging in my life. After every photo shoot once I arrive home I place all my batteries on the counter so they’re in sight and I don't forget to charge them again. It’s an integral part of my life!

Stamp - I found this stamp when I was walking around the Forte factory, which closed for good in 2007. It’s a nice memory — I like checking out abandoned places and there’s always that opportunity of finding treasures. 

Photograph - This black and white photo was shot in Berlin. A lot of times I'll have an image printed or developed, I’ll draw on it, and then scan the result. It’s my way of experimenting and mixing photography and graphic design. 

Red Light Meter - Since I started taking photos, a lot of my friends and acquaintances have brought me items relating to photography, this piece is more of an ornament, I’ve had it for around ten years.

Sunglasses - I wear glasses every day, and it’s a pain of mine that I’ve had to say goodbye to sunglasses, as I don’t wear any with prescription lenses. I found this one at a friend's house, and one of its arms was broken off, but I restored it and replaced the lenses too.

Tools - Over the years I’ve collected a vast amount of different gadgets to help me with my photography and I've had to innovate technically to keep getting excited about what I'm doing. The wide variety of optics is a consequence of that. Otherwise, there’s nothing that would justify having such a large collection of tools just to take pictures, but by experimenting and increasing the error factor, I've found new little nooks and crannies in photography that excite and motivate me.

Swiss Army Knife - This knife was a gift I got for my first communion in third grade. Someone I knew already had one and knew how much I liked it. I have a soft spot for objects with good design, I even have a wall of pride at home where I keep my little collector's items — if it's an aesthetic, tiny object, then that’s enough for me to feel good. 

Matchbox Catalog - I’m a big fan of Matchbox cars and I have a collection at home. This little red Lamborghini is my daughter’s favorite.

Blackmagic Camera - This camera is my biggest one. It's fun because I can make super high-quality videos with it, and even though photography plays such a big part in my career, this camera has given me a new perspective. I've shot over 100,000 photos to date, and I’ve reached a place where I need slightly more space. I feel the next couple of years will be about finding my path in videography.

photos by Botond Wertán

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