Interview | Marta Syrko

Lighting truly is everything in the work of Marta Syrko. The Ukrainian artist, based in the city of Lviv, sculpts unique images with a painterly and cinematic feeling, captivating the viewer. Drawing inspiration from different fields of art, architecture, conceptual and traditional art, Syrko focuses on portraiture and editorial assignments.

According to Marta Syrko, portrait photography should not be limited to just a recording of the face. She aspires to create a story which describes the person’s character, their profession, feelings. Therefore, in order to render a complete portrait, Syrko has to make a series of photos capturing the various facets of the sitter.

Interview by Demetrios Drystellas

Interview by Demetrios Drystellas

Describe Marta with 3 words.

Unexpected , confident, funny

What would the soundtrack to read this interview be?

I don’t know by BADBADNOTGOOD


Someone may describe your style as effortlessly shifting between the cinematic and the painterly. How would you describe it yourself?

Yes I agree, now my style is shifting into cinematic, I’m trying to make movie but in photography.

How did it all start, which was your first camera and how did you begin in photography? What attracted you to the medium and how did you develop your style?

My first camera was Canon 50d.

Ι started with making portrait of my friends and nature. I was inspired friends and nature. I wanted to make my photos look like paintings , so this way I developed my style.

Where do you draw inspiration from? Are there favourite artists or works of art, books, films, music, that you hold dear?

I get inspired by completely different kind of photography that I make , it is conceptual art. This art helps make e realise that art is not only about feelings but also thinking .

My favorite artists are Sally Mann, Marina Abramovic, Marc Shagal, Egon Schiele.

Early bird or night owl?

Night owl.

What do you seek when making a picture?

I’m looking for the right light and beautiful lines.

The light in many of your pictures is direct, very detailed and precise, do you search for it in specific places, do you craft it, or a combination of both?

I prefer natural light because it is the best way to show the details in the picture. The light in my pictures is mostly natural, but if there is not enough sunlight, I can use artificial light.  Also if we need to shot outdoors it can take a lot of time to find the right place with good light.

How spontaneous is the photographic process for you? Do you do spend time pre-planning, story-boarding etc or do you rather let creativity flow during the session?

If the shooting is commercial I like to have everything planned beforehand and to control all the process, but if it is art shooting for myself, I can just let the creativity flow.

What are your thoughts on Instagram and in general the visual culture of social media when it comes to the creative arts?

At first, I underestimated the importance of social media, but now art is created by social media. And now there is a huge competition, talent is not enough, anything can become popular, you have to find your own style that might be unique.

Regarding the models, do they depict you, themselves, or a character?

They depict a character that I crated for them, but when I make a portrait I want to show the person I see.

What’s the meanest comment that made you laugh?

It was a comment and it wrote: “You don’t have to be a photographer to take pictures of pretty girls. For me, it was funny, because I do not only take pictures of models. Among others, I had social projects with military veterans and homeless pets.

If you could take lessons from any expert, who would it be

I don’t know who it would be, maybe some directors.

When do you feel the most creative?

I think it’s during the shooting process .

What TV show/cast would you like to join for a day?

The TV show Black Mirror.

What does a typical day in the life of Marta look like?

Do you need the true story? 🙂
I spend most of the day in my studio, either I’m shooting or I’m retouching.

Name five things you can’t live without:

Coffee, sweets, my camera, phone, and my cat.

Favourite lenses you use?

I’m using 35 mm / 85 mm.

What do you seek when depicting the female body?

When depicting the female body I want to find their confidence and and make them feel confident in their own body.

What are your thoughts on male gaze versus female gaze discussion when it comes to the depiction of women in art?

To be honest, men see the female body as a sexual object so they depict it in this light and female photographers see more the artistic beauty of the body if we are talking about nude pictures. In general the difference between male and female photographers is almost invisible .

What’s the best advice ever someone else gave to you?

The best advice was: do what you like, don’t overthink and it will come to you.

Are there any personal traits of yours which you think might annoy people?

Yes sure , I don’t want to be a burden to people, so they think I’m antisocial.

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

I would make social project with blind people.

What little-known fact about you would perhaps come as the biggest surprise to people who think they know you well?

That I like to watch videos with car crashes before sleeping.

You wrote that fashion is so indicative of the political and social climate in which we live , what we wear will always be a symptom of our environment. What is your take on the fashion industry?

As I’m not part of fashion industry, I can’t objectivity judge it.

What do you look for when searching for your next project?

I’m looking for Utopian buildings in Ukraine.

A guilty pleasure?

I like to eat chips and drink beer.

How would you define beauty?

The unique and not standard beauty captivates me.

What is your most treasured possession?

My camera.

Where would you like to live?

I could try to live in Paris.

What do you do on your down time?

I love painting in my free time.

Do you ever get disappointed with photography?

Yes I’m often disappointed with it, we have a love/ hate relationship.

Is there something else you would like to try in photography?

Yes, I would like to do more social photography.

Is there a talent/superpower you would you like to have?

I wish I could stop time.

What would you do if you were invisible for a day?

I would spy on people.

what does fulfill you as a person/ what makes you happy?

Love and photos.

What do you feel when you look at your photos? And what would you like your audience to feel?

I feel that I have still a lot to learn . I want the audience to feel something , everything.

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When you aren’t working, where can we find you and with who?

With husband and cat at home.

What should we expect to see in the future?

I will try to create some videos.