5 minutes with fine art photographer Jovana Rikalo and her magical fairytale portraits

Jovana Rikalo
(Image credit: Jovana Rikalo)
Jovana Rikalo

Jovana Rikalo

(Image credit: Jovana Rikalo)

Jovana is a fine art and portrait photographer and director from Serbia, whose images are based on magic and dreams. She started shooting in 2012, and now works as a professional offering photography prints and workshops. @jovanarikalo 

Tell us about your journey. What made you start taking photos?

In 2012 I discovered the photography site called Flickr. I immediately fell in love with the vision and there were so many talented people. I loved how every piece I saw has some emotion and story behind. I gave myself a chance to try the same.

What was your first camera, and what kit do you shoot with now?

My first camera was the Canon EOS 600D and now I use the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. I am in love with this camera as it gives such great colors.

(Image credit: Jovana Rikalo)

What are some of your favorite camera settings and techniques?

I love to shoot at wide apertures such as f/1.4 - f/2. I love the blurriness that this gives behind the model and the focus only on the model's face. That's why I enjoy using portrait lenses the most. In terms of techniques, I play with shadows and use props to show emotion.

Your portfolio is very magical. How do you come up with your ideas and who or what inspires you?

Thank you so much. Nature, people and life inspires me the most. Everyday I face so many things and situations and I turn these situations into pieces of art. I see my life and the lives of others when I look at my photos. 

Do you spend a lot of time editing your work and are presets involved?

I’ve made my own presets which I apply to the photos. Because of this, I don't waste time changing tones every time I open a new image. Depending on how complex the concept and image is, it can take from 20 minutes to 3-4 hours per piece.

(Image credit: Jovana Rikalo)

What advice would you give to readers who aren't confident with directing models?

Meet the model, follow the body language and don't try to force them to make poses which aren't comfortable for them. Always introduce the model to the concept and prepare them for the shoot.

How long does it take you to plan a shoot?

It really depends if making props is involved. Sometimes it can take one day and sometimes a few weeks. The bigger the project, the more time I need to prepare, as I always pay attention to every detail.

(Image credit: Jovana Rikalo)

Where do you find the right props and locations for your shoots?

I travel or find them on instagram, sometimes by accident, sometimes somebody shows the location and so on. About the props, it is always about searching. Some of them I've found on eBay and online and some of them come from people who specialize in making them.

Do you enjoy teaching others in workshops?

Yes! So much. Because of Coronavirus, I had to stop traveling, but I've previously held workshops in Germany and Serbia. I love how people want to learn and I love seeing them in action. My heart is full when we finish and they say how much they learned and how this workshop  was important to them.

Lastly, what are your top five most used photography items?

1. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Sigma 105mm f1.4 Art lens
Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art lens
4. Remote control
Lume Cube LED panel pro

(Image credit: Jovana Rikalo)

(Image credit: Jovana Rikalo)

Read more: 

5 creative indoor portrait ideas
The best portrait lenses
Tips for fine-art family portraits

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Lauren Scott
Freelance contributor/former Managing Editor

Lauren is a writer, reviewer, and photographer with ten years of experience in the camera industry. She's the former Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, and previously served as Editor of Digital Photographer magazine, Technique editor for PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, and Deputy Editor of our sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine. An experienced journalist and freelance photographer, Lauren also has bylines at Tech Radar, Space.com, Canon Europe, PCGamesN, T3, Stuff, and British Airways' in-flight magazine (among others). When she's not testing gear for DCW, she's probably in the kitchen testing yet another new curry recipe or walking in the Cotswolds with her Flat-coated Retriever.