Freckles and blue eyes, creative portraits

Maja Topčagić’s style of creative portraits has generated a lot of online interest, especially with her amazing shots of redheads. You may have first seen her work when she entered her photos into the You Connect Gallery.

Watch Maja as she moves around her home towns of Bihac and Sarajevo, photographing her friends.

Maja Topčagić talks about her creative portrait photography

This is the first in a series of videos, showcasing Canon owners as they demonstrate how they took some of their favourite photos. During filming Maja talked about herself and her style of photography:

How did you get into photography?

"I started by using a mobile phone, but quickly realised I needed something better. Then I had the most unbelievable luck; I was sent a camera by someone I had never met. That was only 6 years ago, and I can't believe where I have got to with my photography."

Your speciality is taking portraits using only natural light, how did that come about?

"Portraits are my passion, thanks to the amazing friends I have around me. But I have always known that the best shots are with only natural light - plus a reflector, of course."

"The reflector enables me to channel the light to make best use of it - often that means to direct it into the model's eyes to give them that sparkle."

Does that limit when and where you shoot?

"Because of the way I shoot I have to be very particular about the time of day and the strength of the sun. I am most happy shooting in the late afternoon, the Golden Hour."

"However, we'll shoot in any weather at that time, even on a cloudy day the light is best then. In fact I like shooting when it is slightly overcast - the tones are more natural. But, on those days you definitely need a reflector to put the light into the eyes."

Do you find it difficult to control every element of the shot?

"There are more things to think about with portraits, but my friends who I shoot are very good at listening! We have this understanding; I only have to say one word and they know the expression I'm after. So, I can achieve several different poses in a matter of seconds, great when there is such a limited shooting time."

We saw you do that on the shoot, and were very interested by it. But what about all the other aspects?

"The small details are very important - for instance when I am shooting in so close, even my clothes can be seen in the reflection. And the background can be a distraction."

Is that why you like to shoot models from above?

"I love the perspective from above. It is a great view of the model, and for interesting shadows. I think it challenges the viewer - how is the hair staying across the face? I am free then to move around and play with the angle and the light."

So, how do you control the camera with all this going on?

"It is important to have control on the aperture and the ISO, switching it as you move around. I constantly look at these to make sure I have the aperture low enough and the ISO up high."

You are clearly so happy in Bihac and Sarajevo, but what are your next plans?

"I have lots of ideas and plans for the future, I'm just back from a trip to New York, more news about that soon!"