Many people are fascinated with darkness and shadows in photography but very can flesh that fascination out through imagery like Mirjana Grasser (@mirjana_grasser). Creating beauty that reflects emotion and movement via shadows and contrast is a gorgeous art form that we took notice of long ago. Her feelings and her inspirations are tangible in every image. Recently we at Mextures had an international chat with Mirjana to delve further into what pushes her to create. We'd love it if you'd read along and get a behind the scenes perspective of her work!
My name is Mirjana Grasser. I am 35 years old and I was born in Belgrade, Serbia. I currently live there still with my French husband and our two lovely daughters, Nora (age 11) and Amelia (age 6) . They are my whole world and my greatest love. France is my second home and we often travel there to visit my husband's family. I enjoy speaking French.
Before I became a mum, I worked as a journalist. Now I help run our family business in Human Resources on a part-time basis. The rest of the time I spend with my children and I enjoy my hobbies.
Most of all I love to travel and I wish to see the whole world. Although I enjoy seeing famous tourist attractions, my passion is to visit parts of cities where locals live and get to know their habits and culture. I'm strongly attracted to Eastern cultures and their philosophical ways of living and I am planning to visit Morocco and India very soon. I am intrigued by the spirituality of these countries.
I may seem unique in that I don’t like the summer sunlight. I much prefer the autumn and winter - darker shades and early morning runs when there is a lot of mist and quietness. I run even in the rain or snow and that fully recharges me. It is usually then that I take my nature pictures.
I am more introverted than extraverted as I am quite sensitive and shy. I feel that my photos are one of the mediums in which I can express myself. Also I love to write but I don’t think I will ever have the courage to publish.
How did you first begin taking pictures and what was it that really attracted you to photography?
I've always loved photography. Most of my pictures were taken on holidays and road trips. I have always been fascinated by darkness, shadows, and details and I like to express the deepest emotions in my work. I became an Instagram fan and this is when I started uploading my photos. My friend, Ana Markovic (@ana.mar), has taught me, encouraged me and supported me. It all started as curiosity and became my main hobby. Most of my photos have been taken by my iPhone but I recently bought a camera and I really enjoy using it.
I feel so contented when I capture a moment in life on camera. Be it a movement or still scene, a tree or a women, a haunting passage in the woods or a beautiful flower, when I see them with my own eyes with my own objective and my heart skips a beat. My photos are a pure expression of my feelings and current inspiration.
I know you said your photos are an expression of your feelings. How does that lead you to choose how you will create a piece?
On the majority of my photos you’ll see silhouettes of a woman surrounded by nature. And sometimes you can only see the landscape or a macro perspective in dark color or black and white. I love to photograph scenes of nature which look like you can get lost in them. I take pictures in the early morning when all is still dark and misty. Sometimes I leave them like that or I add an image of a ghostly woman. She represents my inner feelings and vision of the world in that particular moment
All of my photos have something in common: I think it's the atmosphere, depth, and a sense of loneliness.
I am inspired by various things: other artists, photos, movies, music, women and their stories, and my personal circumstances. Also, as I said, I feel much better during the autumn and winter, so I cannot imagine taking photos in the summer. All is developed spontaneously and I feel that the darker the image is the more it can send a message and tell a story.
I imagine you have a very distinct editing process. What does that editing process typically look like?
While I walk through the woods, I try to capture atmosphere and light. After that, I ask my female friends to pose for me in my garden. Sometimes I leave photos as they are but usually I blend them together. After that, my editing comes spontaneously so as to feel personal and I never know how it will look in the end.
I play with different brushes in apps like Pixelmator and Art Studio, sometimes making women seem unreal. I use Snapseed for contrast and light, VSCO for black and white and sometimes colour, and at the end of my process I always use Mextures for the final touch. Grit and Grain, Emulsion, Atmospheric, and Intensity are the overlays I use in most of my pictures.
What is it that you’re generally trying to accomplish using texture?
Mextures definitely allows me to enhance the overall atmosphere of my photos. With overlays like those in Grit and Grain, Light leaks 3 and sometimes Anomaly, my pictures get that unrealistic and magical effect. And my favorite overlays are in the Intensity pack (especially Pompeii). I use these to give my pictures to a more artistic feel - sometimes like a painting. There are no rules for blend modes depending on how it looks on the original image. But my favorite blend modes are Darken, Soft Light, Screen and Overlay.
What has been your favorite image to create so far?
This is one of my first illusory photos with which I played with Mextures and other apps. The girl is on the stairs in the original photo and I have removed them. It's my favorite because it reminds me of my learning curve. It was difficult for me in the beginning and now it’s challenging and more and more interesting.
Who are the people who have most inspired your photography and editing style?
Instagram gave me a completely different view of images and opened new possibilities for me as this is the only social network I am on. I found wonderful, talented, creative and very funny people with stunning photos that I enjoy looking at every day! On Instagram, as well as in art, it is very hard to be different and distinctive.
I prefer photos where I can recognize personality and some interesting theme or story, so this is a list of people who are very special to me.
@ana.mar - My best friend and my "Instagram soul mate". Of course, for me, Ana is the best artist on Instagram. She has the perfect technique, composition and story in her photos. Can you imagine how much imagination she has? It is incredible! She combines incompatible things but in the end they always look like a painting from another world.
@prozdrljivac - Masha's photos are something in between photos and paintings. They are so emotional, deep, haunting and different in style. A real artist!
@_little.wings_ - As someone who has and loves kids, I enjoy watching her world full of love, beautiful children and a beautiful environment where they grow. I like her energy and also her editing style which is cinematic!
@kelly_m_photography - I do not know much about her, but I adore her retro style. Each photo is like a scary fairy tale; very creative, sentimental and tender.
@eljacker_ - Beautiful colors, beautiful women, fantastic atmosphere with sensuality and emotion.
There are so many beautiful pictures of nature, and it is very difficult to choose a favorite, but if I have to choose:
@huseyintaskin - Fantastic life energy, movements, colors, landscapes and atmosphere. Every time I see his pictures I wish that I was there!
@anna28h - The big blue! Beautiful macro photos that are very tender, sophisticated and peaceful.
Dig in to more of Mirjana’s beautiful art here!