Articles, Blog

Bella Kotak: The Fabric of Fantasy – SmugMug Films

February 3, 2020

Oh lovely, turn your head tiny bit towards me, chin down beautiful, turn your right hand in a bit cause it’s facing, no, the other hand, left hand in soft, soft, soft , yes, lovely. You know that feeling when you look at a photo and you’re likethat’s the one, that’s the feeling I look
for, for everything, like for my dresses the clothes, the models, everything, I’m always
looking for like, that feeling lovely, I Iove that, beautiful I think creativity is about tapping into
the things that make us unique. It’s a combination of our interests
strengths and passions that create the uncommon. If we can find a way to bring
those things together, that’s special. My work, if anything, is unique to me because it’s these many threads of my life that come together to weave a tapestry and that’s the magic you want to hold on to. I’m Bella Kotak and I’m an artist. I think it’s a very English thing where you have like a dress-up box and all
your clothes go and then you can make all these characters up and I think when it
comes to my photo shoots I try and, I think that’s, that’s what I do,
I play dress-up. So, the first concept that we did was in
this beautiful venue called the Lost Orangery. I often say I’m a fine art
fashion photographer but really, I simply love to create these little worlds where I get to curate, assemble and capture a story. For this first shoot I wanted to
go with a very whimsical fairytale vibe so I decided to make a giant butterfly
from newspaper actually. So to go with the butterfly, I decided to use a soft floral whimsical dress. I thought that together, there was a beautiful visual. It’s the ideas and sketches in my notebook, knowing the models I like to work with, the props, the flowers, having clothing from designers on hand. It’s like a palette of paints, these are the bits and pieces that I bring together to create something and the act of taking a photo although incredibly important is just
one part of the process. Many of my shoots are very structured
and planned however others are more spontaneous. It’s not unlikely for me to
get a creative itch and call a model, put her makeup on, grab a bunch of stuff and go for a drive around and see what happens. I still like working like that. I want to
keep this fun and exciting, so it can be unplanned and casual and happen organically if I choose. It’s very important for me to keep myself as free
as possible to create. Yeah, we got it, we got it, you’re a vision, vision. So for day two we actually went and
shot at a local woodland, and I’ve created some of my most magical images in that place. So I want this to be a young guy, kind of growing up. I shoot a lot of women, like
girls blooming into womanhood Isaac is at that age, it’s like blooming into
manhood. And I thought it would be really interesting to see
how I would interpret that. That’s the concept for today. When I’m shooting I’m always looking for that one shot, if I come away with many, great, but I’m always looking at a location
thinking where’s the story and in that story where’s the hero shot. Taking photos for me is an escape, it always has been. In my previous career where I opted for
a more traditional path as an architect I became quite unhappy and unfulfilled,
but ironically, as an architect I needed to learn Photoshop
which in turn led me to photography. So we had all these flowers as I knew we would and I wanted to shoot a picture that was inspired by these beautiful floral paintings of women just floating in flowers by Zhang Hao. So I wondered what it would look like
if I interpreted that into an image of my own where I controlled exactly the flow
of her body and movements and we’d place the flowers around her
as if it felt like she was emerging from this world into this
beautiful character. And it was this artistic outlet that would take me away from my unhappiness. And so I want every image to take the viewer somewhere, to experience that escapism to some degree. If taking the photo is one step in my
creative process and the planning and curating is another post-production is
definitely where it all comes together. Photoshop led me to photography,
it’s my first love. Editing is where I can enhance the feeling I had on set or bring together the original vision. I feel so fortunate to have found the
path I’m on right now. Too often I hold myself back in parts of
my life but photography is the exception I’m not weighed down by thoughts of
failure, I take chances and I push my boundaries. I think if you can find something in life
that you can fully immerse yourself in, not hold back and be honest with who you are, then you’re on the right path . I’m Bella Kotak and I’m an artist.


  • Reply Aditya Sawant January 27, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    First like… have been following Bella's work for a while now. Love her unique style❤❤

  • Reply crismi144 January 27, 2020 at 4:28 pm


  • Reply About Creativity January 27, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    Very good, ´´I think creativity is about tapping into the things that make us unique´´.

  • Reply Ashley Marie January 27, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    Loved this insight into Bella's work! Absolutely stunning!

  • Reply Tuan Doan January 27, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    Amazing works!!!. Love it

  • Reply gilles 35 January 27, 2020 at 5:34 pm


  • Reply Chris Hoult Photography January 27, 2020 at 6:48 pm

    I have no words to describe your work, I have been with you for a few years now and I love the way you work. Everything absolutely perfect, I'm your biggest fan, sorry for my English. From Brazil here for you Bella <3

  • Reply Enrique Avilés January 27, 2020 at 7:22 pm

    Love Bella's and her husband work. Congratulations. On a side note, where can I get those smoke bombs? I've seen a couple on amazon but mixed reviews

  • Reply Marina Chalom January 27, 2020 at 7:45 pm

    Amazing. She is an inspiration!

  • Reply Chris MacAskill January 27, 2020 at 11:17 pm

    Bella's photography is oh-my-God breathtaking. I'm so glad SmugMug put Anton Lorimer's cinematography on the case to do justice to her fantastical photos.

  • Reply Adamo Maisano January 27, 2020 at 11:42 pm

    That camera though

  • Reply fugitivephilo January 28, 2020 at 12:05 am

    oggles Phase One setup worth more than everything I own combined, car included

  • Reply Steve Phillips January 28, 2020 at 1:44 am

    Super creativity, lovely X

  • Reply Jensen J. January 28, 2020 at 2:11 am

    Well done Bella, I love your work.

  • Reply ziggggy53ify January 28, 2020 at 2:22 am

    Really gorgeous technique, processing and results. Fearless in execution yet believable tonality.
    I do wonder if you have considered a PhaseOne XF V-Grip to make the portrait orientation a bit more comfortable, as well as providing the extra grip for overhead and ladder work.
    Would like to see more of your work, Bella. Please always feel welcome at, (Shameless plug.)

  • Reply Ron Cooper January 28, 2020 at 3:40 am

    She is an inspired artist and I feel honored to have been given a glimpse into her creative consciousness. Keep dreaming the big dream, Bella!

  • Reply WeWild Scot January 28, 2020 at 4:20 am

    Nothing like good tree parts for your eyebrows, I got this video through spam email asking me to view it

  • Reply cbxade January 28, 2020 at 9:24 am

    This usually isn't my thing at all but i have to say that their work is amazing. Love it

  • Reply Adedotun Ajibade January 28, 2020 at 9:39 am

    I think I get the most inspiration from photographers/creatives that don't even shoot my genre. What I've just viewed is a paradigm of fantasy. Absolutely 💚

  • Reply Petr Jan Juračka January 28, 2020 at 10:21 am

    Simply awesome!

  • Reply Hooked on Photography January 28, 2020 at 10:37 am

    Excellent work! Enjoy the journey you're on… 👍😊

  • Reply Sebastian Bevan January 28, 2020 at 11:55 am

    I luv these short films, really well put together, another great photographer too. I reckon you could make me look like a pro 🤣👍

  • Reply Judit Getu January 28, 2020 at 6:13 pm

    Bella Kotak is such a nuanced, inspiring, uniquely talented artist and story teller creating new worlds!!

  • Reply GregoryDPhotos January 28, 2020 at 8:29 pm

    The quality of those videos is just crazy to me! Definately one of the most inspiring channels I have watched so far!

  • Reply Roberto Ezequiel Badillo Gomez January 28, 2020 at 8:30 pm

    your work is magic and beautiful

  • Reply MaGro 100000 January 28, 2020 at 8:44 pm

    Beautiful . . .

  • Reply Сергей Барышников January 29, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    Talents are everywhere talented

  • Reply Arun a s January 29, 2020 at 3:15 pm

    I love you

  • Reply Ryuta Shimotomai January 29, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    Where can I find the type of smoke candle she uses?

  • Reply mrtgrizzly January 30, 2020 at 4:12 pm

    Can someone identify the image-editing program that appears around 6:25 in the video. Is that Photoshop or Lightroom or something else?

  • Reply Isaiah Headen February 2, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    Beautiful series. Beautiful subject. I am in awe that she does it all. I could never shoot and do the makeup?!

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