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Best of Behance: Evelyn Bencicova

By Jenny Carless

Who: Evelyn Bencicova

What: Portrait photography

Where: www.behance.net/evelynbencicova

Behance member since: 2013

In a world of cosmetic surgery and photographic manipulation, it’s no surprise that many of us fear aging. Evelyn Bencicova, a young artist from Bratislava, Slovakia, is facing and exploring this fear—her own and society’s—with an ongoing project called Ripe.

“Even though I’m very young, I feel huge social pressure around aging,” she says. “If we are to believe commercial fashion and beauty magazines, women above the age of 40 almost don't exist. Wrinkles and other natural signs of time on the human body are considered unwanted and shameful…. We can’t wonder that under this influence many women end up depressed and melancholic, rejecting their physical appearance or its display.”

photo of a beautiful older woman in a black hat, by Evelyn Bencicova
black and white photo of a beautiful older woman by Evelyn Bencicova
black and white photo of a beautiful older woman, by Evelyn Bencicova

The experience of shooting the images in this series has helped Bencicova feel more at peace.

“I decided to show proud female characters who are not only beautiful but also active. They are artists, businesswomen, mothers, grandmothers, or even great-grandmothers,” she says. “Their inner strength and beauty even exceed their graceful looks—and prove that time can play in your favor, if it is time and life well spent.”

Ripe means “full of taste” and “top quality” to Bencicova. She says that it’s about deciding to grow and develop, refusing to subject oneself to what society considers a standard of youth and beauty. She selected models whose powerful personalities shine through their photographic images.

RIPENING TALENT

“I portray women of great courage and character—ladies who aren’t afraid to display their natural beauty and aging. The focus of the photos is on the personality of each muse,” she explains. “They are proud of who they are; that’s the secret to their beauty.”

Bencicova took a documentary approach to this project. Although she often stages her photos, in this case, she tried to avoid strong stylization and complicated postproduction. The models chose their own facial expressions and gestures, as well as makeup and styling.

color photo of a beautiful older woman in a strong pose, by Evelyn Bencicova
color photo of a beautiful older woman with white hair, by Evelyn Bencicova
photo of an older woman in profile, by Evelyn Bencicova

She doesn’t like mass production, so with portraits she never shoots more than one or two people a day. The Ripe series has been photographed in different spaces and studios that are chosen in collaboration with her muses. She shoots the portraits with a Canon 5D Mark II and uses Adobe Photoshop CC for her minimal edits—in this case, primarily experimenting with taking color photos into black and white.

SHARPENING FOCUS

Bencicova is in her fourth semester at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria. Her photography career began just three years ago, with digital photography. Her first experimentation with analog photography has come in recent months.

“I typically prefer digital, because it allows me to focus more on the meaning of the picture rather than on its technical setup,” she says. “That means more control and less magic, but the process of photography itself is not my main fascination.... In each project, I'm trying to develop my skills and learn something new and innovative, at least for myself. Whether it’s trying out a fresh lighting technique or a Photoshop tool, there’s nothing better than learning on something you really like and care about.”

 Ripe is one of Bencicova's three currently ongoing projects:

photo of men on a staircase, by Eveyln Bencicova
photo of a stairwell with women, by Evelyn Bencicova
photo of four woman on a staircase,  by Evelyn Bencicova

Asymptote (above) is based on Slovak history—in particular, the era of socialism.

“I'm influenced by brutal architecture in which people appear as nothing more than patterns,” she explains. “This transformation of individuality into strict order, as well as many other psychological factors represented in the pictures, serves as my own interpretation of my country’s previous regime.”

photo of a red-haired girl, by Evelyn Bencicova
photo of a red-haired girl, by Evelyn Bencicova

Testset (above) is focused more on the technical side of photography, comparing analog and digital techniques, using precise lighting techniques, and experimenting with different material and textures.

FINDING HER OWN WAY

Although her evocative, polished images show great skill, Bencicova is hesitant to offer advice to others.

“Find your own way; create the world you want to live in,” she says. “Put everything into your art and work.”

But even that sentiment is tricky for her.

“I’m uneasy with the terms ‘art’ and ‘work’; I see my photography as somewhere between these two expressions,” she says.

Looking forward, Bencicova is eager to experiment with virtual reality and digital techniques that can influence human perception and consciousness. In addition to photography, she also wants to explore moving images.

For more of Evelyn Bencicova’s work, visit her Behance profile.