Bella Kotak

Gaining inspiration from Gustav Klimt’s painting “The Kiss”

Phase One sat down with Bella Kotak to find out more about the inspiration and equipment behind her emotional image “The Kiss.”

What was your inspiration?

The Kiss was inspired by a painting that I love called “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt. It features a couple wrapped in a romantic embrace, surrounded by patterns of gold. At this point in my life, I too was wrapped in a romantic embrace, soon to be married to my best friend, and since we still do the long distance relationship, every day we’re together feels like a fairytale.

This feeling was the inspiration behind this picture. I wanted to create something that captured this feeling, this point in time, a feeling that I’m sure many people can relate and resonate with. After all, who doesn’t love a happy new beginning?

How did you go about styling the models?

When it came to the styling of Maria, I reached out to designer, Agnieszka Osipa, a woman whose creative, detailed craft I admire. I selected a dress that had beautiful intricate gold detailing and elements of green, as I knew this would work beautifully with a foliage-rich background. I chose a crown that she had also designed – one I felt suited the look best.

 Since the outfits were richly-toned, I wanted Maria’s hair to be neutral. I decided to go with white as it would then work quite nicely with the white of Jeremy’s shirt and keep the colours in the picture balanced.

Jeremy’s styling came together a little differently. A few weeks prior to the shoot, I came across a robe in Zara that was made of a beautiful gold-toned fabric. I knew immediately that I wanted to use it in a shoot, but I didn’t know when or where. As this shoot came together, I pulled out the robe and discovered that it paired beautifully with the dress from Agnieszka. It was then a case of putting together the rest of his outfit. I picked up the shirt on Amazon and replaced the previous string laced rope with red velvet for a more romantic style. The leggings are also from Amazon, which I lightly spray painted gold for a more cohesive feel. The crown he wears is from eBay. I loved pairing the delicacy of it with his masculinity.

Something that I like to show with my work is that creating beautiful images is accessible to everyone. Like Jeremy’s look, it is possible to pull together affordable pieces and shoot in an ordinary location and create a bigger impact.

Why did you use a Phase One camera for this shoot?

It did exactly what I needed it to do, which was everything. I always find the image files from the Phase One to have a certain quality to them that you can only achieve with a medium format camera. There’s a sharpness and texture that I feel takes an image to another level.

Something that everyone has complimented this image on is the quality of the detail and the colour toning. It’s no secret that I like to experiment with colour grading, it’s a huge passion that in fact sparked my colour shop, Fine Art Actions, a place where I also offer Capture One Styles.

The information in Phase One image files allow me quite a lot of freedom in pushing those colour toning boundaries, which you can really see in the processing of “The Kiss”.

What’s your best photography tip?

Keep shooting, keep sharing, and keep learning. Never be satisfied. Always be open to experimentation and keeping the love of photography alive in your work.