Free to Create a Fantasy
Fine art and fashion photographer Bella Kotak uses Photoshop on the iPad to transport audiences to another world.
A decade ago, Bella Kotak was studying to be an architect. Now, she’s a popular fine art and fashion photographer. The connecting factor between the two career paths was Adobe Photoshop.
“I quickly discovered that Photoshop was an incredibly versatile program,” Bella says. “I was able to both realize my architectural designs and use light and colors to achieve my photographic visions.”
Bella has always taken pictures, but it wasn’t until she entered the world of Photoshop that she began to consider herself a photographer. “Now, my love for photography has overtaken every other passion I’ve ever had,” she says.
Like many photographers, Bella’s craft takes her to a variety of locations — typically anywhere, it seems, except the studio. “I need to create imagery pretty much everywhere. I’m often creating either on the side of a road or in a park.” But when the time came to edit photos, Bella always had to move to her desktop.
Enter Photoshop on the iPad. Now, Bella can edit her photographs and achieve her unique portraiture style anytime, anywhere, moving seamlessly from her desktop to her iPad.
A feminine, floral fairy tale
The three terms Bella uses to describe her work are feminine, floral, and fairy tale.
With her camera and editing techniques, she creates imaginary worlds and brings fantasy into reality. Each piece of art is meant to help viewers forget their troubles and whisk them away to a magical place.
Photoshop plays a huge part in that journey.
“When I capture a picture on set, I also add other elements. Sometimes those elements all come together naturally in a single photo, but often that’s not the case,” Bella says.
Many of Bella’s photos include elements like smoke, wind, water, flowers, and intricate costuming. “When I’m working with something like smoke, the wind blows and smoke goes everywhere. I end up running around like a frantic person taking a hundred photos, and I have to stop and tell myself, ‘Girl, it’s OK. We can put this together in Photoshop,’” she says.
That crucial step used to mean finding a place to sit down and work on her desktop. Not anymore.
Photoshop on the iPad gives artists the ability to begin the editing process before they even leave the location, while inspiration is still fresh and creative juices are flowing.
Bella’s piece “Silent Dreams” was created in a bright yellow summer rapeseed field near her home. A friend contacted her wanting to do a photoshoot that celebrated her Chinese culture. Being a fan of Asian dramas and anime, Bella agreed.
“I wanted to create another world where the viewer could be transported to a land of quiet daydreams,” Bella says. “I composited the image and enhanced the colors on the dress to complement the colors from the field, all on my iPad.”
Nothing new, except the iPad
Bella’s work depends so much on the use of colors. Color grading and layer masks are essential Photoshop tools for each piece. As she tested early iterations of Photoshop on the iPad, she wondered if these tools would be just as effective as they were on her computer.
“I was really, really impressed. Everything I’m doing is not new, except it’s on the iPad,” Bella says.
Artists like Bella that are already comfortable using Photoshop on the desktop will find that Photoshop on the iPad has brought many of the same default keyboard shortcuts into the mobile version. Bella recommends that artists and designers familiarize themselves with the various touch shortcuts, as they make the workflow even faster and simpler.
Photoshop on the iPad also has shortcuts for gestures. Users can undo any adjustment with a two-finger tap on the screen and redo an action using a three-finger tap. “I found those two gestures to be incredibly helpful, as well as the touch gestures to zoom and pan,” Bellas says.
Never waiting to start creating
Using Photoshop on the iPad, Bella has been able to create whenever and wherever inspiration strikes. She has even edited while in the air. “It was really amazing. I didn’t have to pull down the tray table. I just sat there, on the seat, with my legs up, editing the photo,” she says. “I love to transform the ordinary into magic, and to be able to do that on the go now, that’s really exciting for me.”