PROFILE

Eliška Sky

A circle of dancers connected by a long blue silk scarf which is wrapped around their faces.

"This photograph is part of a series called Two Metres Distance for 1883 Magazine and was inspired by Covid-19," says Canon Ambassador and visual artist Eliška Sky. "I had the idea of a connected mask to represent how we are all in this together. It reminds me of a 2020 version of Henri Matisse's painting, Dance." Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens (now succeeded by the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM) at 32mm, 1/200 sec, f/6.3 and ISO100. © Eliška Sky

Visual artist Eliška Sky's work, as both a photographer and art director, is colourful, playful and visually arresting. Bold and often surreal, the Canon Ambassador's images and videos show her models in outlandish designs and dramatic poses.

In the world she creates, it's not unusual to see a man in a sharp suit with a handbag over his head, or a naked woman covered in multi-coloured body paint. But behind her playfulness, there is an ambitious and technically accomplished artist who often uses her work to make a point about issues such as diversity and climate change.
Born and raised in the city of Brno in the Czech Republic, Eliška first discovered her passion for photography when she entered a competition at high school. "I borrowed a camera and really loved creating stories and visuals and playing with light," she remembers.

"I entered the competition for three years, and in the third year I went really wild and cast all my classmates as models and assistants in this crazy photoshoot. I loved working with people and it really filled me with joy. I thought, 'Wow, I'm doing this in my life, this is going to be my career.'"

Eliška got her first camera, a Canon EOS 40D, when she was 18. One month later, she was given her first commission – some portraits for a friend of a friend – and she has been freelancing ever since. After completing a photography degree in her home country, she moved to the UK at the age of 25 and took a master's in Fashion Photography at the University of the Arts London.
Canon Ambassador and visual art photographer Eliška Sky.

Location: London, UK
Specialist areas: Visual art, fashion
Favourite kit:
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM
A woman wearing a white dress with puffball trousers poses against a blue backdrop.

An image from Eliška's series A Beginner's Guide for Eco Warriors: Fight for Cleaner Air. "This project represents, with a certain level of exaggeration and humour, tips and inspiration on how to lower the ecological footprint and contribute to the slowing of global warming and the protection of natural habitats," she says. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens at 32mm, 1/125 sec, f/9 and ISO100. © Eliška Sky

Two models in tights and polka dot tops and with their faces obscured hold tennis rackets in the air.

An image from Eliška's Team Spirit series. "It was inspired by the movement and uniforms of team players," she says. "The team cohesion and sense of belonging, typical of sport games, is captured with the element of humour and exaggeration, all in connection with colourful sport scenery. This was a very small production: it was only me, two assistants and models on set. I did the styling, set design and photography." Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV) with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens at 73mm, 1/1250 sec, f/4 and ISO100. © Eliška Sky

While still studying, Eliška steadily built up a range of regular editorial and commercial clients. To date, her work has been featured in publications such as Vogue Italia, Vogue Czechoslovakia and 1883 Magazine, and in advertisements for brands such as Puma, Zalando and Preciosa Crystals.

Her style is consistent across her work because she is usually given free rein to interpret the client's brief as she chooses. "Most of the time, the clients that come to me are ones that like my work, so they trust me, they give me more freedom," she says. "A lot of the time, the clients say, we love what you do, so we want you to come up with your idea, your concept. That's the best kind of work you can get."
Two models dressed in blue wearing blue latex gloves and masks made of plastic water bottles.

An image from Eliška's Two Metres Distance series for 1883 Magazine. "I was inspired by the coronavirus pandemic and the creativity of people who make their own face masks," she says. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens at 58mm, 1/200 sec, f/7.1 and ISO100. © Eliška Sky

 Two models wearing colourful eyeshadow and elaborate neck pieces lie down with their heads together and their eyes closed.

"This photograph was shot in New York as part of a fashion story inspired by famous American painters," says Eliška. "It's an homage to Mark Rothko's painting Green, Red, on Orange." Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens (now succeeded by the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM) at 40mm, 1/60 sec, f/8 and ISO500. © Eliška Sky

When asked where her distinctive approach comes from, she says, "I honestly don't know, because I just do what I enjoy. Maybe it's my weird mind! I wasn't taking these images at first, I was just doing whatever I pleased, but after a couple of years I developed my own style."

However, her work isn't about style over substance; for Eliška, what she is saying is as important as the way she is saying it. "I think one of my personal messages is to give people joy, give them confidence," she continues. "I didn't lack joy when I was growing up, but I definitely had struggles with my self-image, and a lot of that is to do with the kind of images we see in advertising.

"For me, fashion is about experimenting and not being afraid of who you are, and I think that's what I want to tell people. You don't need to look like somebody else, you can be you and it can be great, it can be fun. There's a lot of positivity I want to spread."
How much do you previsualise your images before a shoot?
"I do a lot of preparation and most of my images are previsualised; I'd say maybe 80% are prepared. I do sketches and mood boards for whole shoots and sometimes even for just one image. At the same time, I go for improvisation as well. For example, if there is a crazy wind on an outdoor shoot, or maybe the model does an amazing pose, I use that, but usually it comes out of the prepared idea."

How much do you work on your images in post-production?
"Most of my images are created in-camera. I do the minimum amount of post-production. I enhance colours and saturation and things like that, but I really like to have everything in front of the camera. I have the designers build elements such as props and backdrops. To me, photography is a lot about capturing that moment when the light is perfect. You have a great expression, and all the elements work together. It's a great feeling when you get that shot and think, wow, I have it."

Is there one body of work you're particularly proud of doing?
"I photographed body-painted women for my series Womaneroes. It shows them with their different shapes and forms, and challenges this view that women have to fit a particular image. For me, that project is quite personal and quite powerful."

Do you have any specific aims you'd like to achieve?
"Yes. One is to have a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The second is to have a full cover story in Vogue Italia."

One thing I know

Eliška Sky

"Lots of visual artists give up when they don't get the results they want, but I think being successful is a lot about endurance and pushing through. As a freelance photographer, there are days when you are getting great clients and there's a lot of things happening around you. Then there are times when there's nothing happening and you're in front of your computer editing, or sorting out your admin, and you can feel a bit down. You have to keep going to get where you want to be. Don't let the low times put you off."

Instagram: @eliskasky

Website: www.eliskasky.com

Eliška Sky's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Eliška Sky's kitbag containing Canon cameras, lenses and accessories.

Camera

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Designed to perform in every situation, the EOS 5D Mark IV is beautifully engineered and a thoroughly accomplished all-rounder. "The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is a very versatile camera," says Eliška. "The 30.4MP resolution is great and the Dual Pixel RAW function gives a nice sharpness to the images. The video function is great too – I've used it on a couple of designer campaigns."

Lenses

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM

The successor to the lens Eliška uses is favoured by those wanting to carry a single lens on location, and delivers stunning image quality with advanced image stabilisation. Eliška says: "I use this lens for 95% of my work. For me, it's a great lens because it's both wide-angle and telephoto. Sometimes I like to photograph people with a wide-angle because I love how it distorts them, how it gives them long legs, a big head and things like that. I just love this mix."

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

A wide aperture lens for high-quality portraits and low-light photos. "I use this lens for its wide aperture," says Eliška. "It allows me to get great shots in low-light environments. I like it because of the shallow depth of field."

Accessories

Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT

The successor to the Speedlite 580EX II that Eliška uses is engineered for fast frame rate shooting, and performs in the most demanding situations. Eliška says: "I mainly use studio lights, but sometimes I really like using a Speedlite when I'm on location, or if I want light somewhere specific. It works really well and it's very useful to have in my bag.”

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