When you enter Eliška Sky's website, you can tell she has an eye for photography and a mind for creativity. From the age of 16, Eliška has viewed the world through the lens of her camera, using shadow and light as a way of exploring her thoughts, feelings and motives.
As a visual artist and Canon ambassador, Eliška's work is bold, playful and engaging. It's also often surreal and driven by deep-rooted issues she's passionate about, including climate change and the environment. Her images challenge gender roles, fashion and form in a way that is both powerful and thought-provoking.
Never shying away from all creative aspects of her photography, Eliška likes to involve herself in the styling, set design and of course, concept of her images. Her work has been featured in Vogue Italia, Vogue Czechoslovakia and the British Journal of Photography.
With exciting new projects in the pipeline that explore technology and connection, Eliška is as busy as ever, but she took the time to have a chat with Digital Camera World about her creative process, what it means to be a Canon Ambassador and what camera kit helps her to create at her best.
Czech-born, London-based Eliška is an award-winning visual artist and art director, who uses the medium of photography and film. Her bold, colorful and unique style explores themes such as consumerism, beauty and environmental activism.
How does it feel being a Canon Ambassador?
It feels great to be part of the brand which I use for 14 years! I enjoy being an ambassador and travel promoting art and photography, have various workshops, talks and exhibitions. On a personal level, it’s great to meet fellow photographers and students, and be part of the photography community.
What inspired the series Parasites and what images are you most proud of?
Parasites was inspired by UN sustainable development goals. My long-term theme in photography is sustainability, environment and the SDGs represent the focus for a better future for me. That’s why it was a great inspiration for this project, and I would love to continue it further.
It’s hard to pick the most favorite images, but I’m very proud of the group shots, where dancers created one sculpture together. That sends the message of unity and collaboration for me, which is a need for accomplishing the UN sustainable development goals.
Talk us through your creative process, from initial idea to final photo?
The idea comes first and then I work on the research and preparation. I usually make the mood board from inspirational photographs and illustrations and then make my own sketches. In this particular project, I also worked on creating the set design.
I resourced the wooden panels and painted the sky with clouds on them, made the wooden windmill from garden fences and braided the hair headpieces. The important part was to find the team. I connected with the choreographer Jorge Antonio who cast the dancers and worked on the poses and movements. The stylist Medhini Kar then worked on finding sustainable young designers and included the ‘white collection’ from Central Saint Martins fashion design students which is all based on recycling and upcycling.
Who is the most exciting client you've ever worked with?
It’s hard to pick just one, as each collaboration brings something new where I can grow and push my creative skills further. There were definitely a couple of milestones in my career. One of my first dream collaborations was with Vogue Italia and my online editorial Elves stories which I shot in Iceland with model Niko Riam. Incredible Icelandic landscapes, natural light 24/7 and an amazing team.
Next was an editorial for Vogue Czechoslovakia, the cover story for Numero Russia with Martha Hunt shot in New York and photographs of actress Rose Leslie. My big success is the project Womaneroes which celebrates women and diversity of body types. It got featured by the British Journal of Photography in its Ones to Watch issue and was exhibited in large format at Phest Festival in Italy.
Have you got any new projects in the pipeline?
I always have something to do. I’ve just finished the extensive work on a new installation piece Technology, where I collaborated with 3D artists to create 3D scans of real models placed in the digital environment. The project questions the connection between people in the current time, where most of the communication happens via the screen of a mobile phone.
It was just presented in Prague and I would love to offer this to other galleries. I’m also currently preparing to work on more photographs for the Womaneroes series. My aim is to capture 100 women and create a photography publication. On top of this, I prepare and work on multiple editorial fashion projects, music video and workshops and talks.
How important are events like the Global Good Awards Canon Young Champions of the Year to engage and inspire young people to drive positive sustainable change?
I think it’s important and necessary to inspire and engage young people so there is more focus on sustainable change for younger audience – the future of our world. I think that young people are very strong and dedicated and they can drive change. We can see that in today’s leaders such as Greta Thunberg.
What role does photography play in the wider sustainable narrative? How powerful is this as a tool to spread awareness?
I think photography and other types of art represent the visual bridge between the message and the viewer. Art offers a new perspective and can really carry the sustainable narrative in a more artistic way that reaches a wider audience.
When did you first discover your love for photography?
I was 16 and applied for the photography competition in my high school. The possibility of transforming everyday items into more surreal worlds via the play of light and shadow got me very excited about photography. My main passion also came with the idea of capturing my thoughts, emotions and message into one photograph.
What's been your biggest hurdle in getting to where you are now?
Being a professional photographer is about everyday challenges and hard work from planning projects, and marketing to photoshoots and filming. But that’s exactly what I enjoy. I am a problem solver and I like to keep busy. The hardest is always to keep working and pushing myself to new challenges and leave enough time for personal and family connections.
What comes first, the desire to create beautiful images or the need to explore important, personal themes?
I think this goes hand in hand. I do desire to create some striking and powerful imagery, but part of that power comes from the message. And the important themes bring the value of photography for me.
Can you give us a little bit of background info, where you grew up, you inspired you when you were younger, have you always been pulled in by visual arts?
I grew up in the Czech Republic in Brno. I was always a creative child and I had lots of hobbies and extra classes/workshops every day – ceramics, painting, dancing, singing, and acting. I think that was an influence on my style and photography now. On many weekends, we would visit my nan in the countryside or go for hikes with the family and that created my love for nature.
What equipment do you use and what is your dream camera?
I currently use Canon EOS 5D Mark IV which gives me great resolution and details. My Canon lenses include a Canon 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM, a Canon EF 11-24mm f/4 USM and a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L Macro IS USM. I really love to work with wide-angle lenses and create some distortions and new perspectives. I also use some film cameras such as large format Sinar and medium format Bronica. My dream camera would be a digital medium format, but I would love to try also new Canon EOS R5.