Jana Styblova’s Chemical Romance

ADC Member gets macro with chemical reactions

Photography Month continues here on the ADC Blog, a chance to showcase the shutterbugs within the ADC community, sharing both their work and their stories. Photographers aren’t the biggest segment of creatives amongst ADC Members, but their passion more than makes up for their numbers. Whether they’re veterans with years of experience, newcomers just starting to make a living, or just people who love to shoot on the side.

Next up: a San Francisco-based art director who combines a love of art and science in her photographic creations.

Art Director + UX/UI
San Francisco, CA




How old were you when you became interested in photography? How did that interest come about, and how was it fostered?

I didn’t really begin exploring photography in an artistic way until university. My first class was a B&W Darkroom class: I was really intrigued by the tactile and near masochistic nature of developing your own film and photos. Starting in film was key for me; I was quite used to Photoshop by then but the ability to use only my hands and eyes (and some chemicals) to produce photos is what kept me captivated.

Do you remember the earliest photograph you ever took that moved you?

As any artist/semi-narcissist would probably say: yeah, it was of myself…sorry about that.

What type of photography would you say is your specialty, and how did it come to be your specialty? Can one be transient — starting in one area of photography but evolving into another?

Currently, I’m exploring the use of a camera as one part of an extensive process. As you’ll see in some of my photographs, I’m capturing moments that literally last milliseconds and are very much not in my direct control. Mixing chemicals and substances to create reactions that nearly always look awful under a lens…but now and then produce something relatively aesthetically pleasing…or so I tell myself.

Can one be transient? I certainly think yes, and would push to say that it’s necessary. For me, once a concept is executed, I move on to the next, and that may require using the camera in a completely new way.

Define your photographic style in a single sentence.

Can I do a word? Grotesque.

What’s your favorite camera to shoot with? What’s so awesome about it?

I probably shoot most with my phone, at this point. It’s amazingly easy. But for detailed macro shots of some of the stuff I mentioned, I use a Canon 5D Mark III.

What is the hardest part about making a living as a photographer? Any advice on how to overcome that challenge?

Well, I suppose the hardest park about making a living as a photographer is making a living as a photographer. I haven’t gotten that far…

Is there a particular project of yours of which you’re especially proud?

I think probably my latest acrylic reactions: they’re an on-going experiment utilizing acrylic and chemicals to form ephemeral paintings in small containers. I document with macro-photographs to celebrate the small universes created in unexpected places, while also exploring the dissociation of the artist and the final creation.

What would be your dream client/project/collaboration?

I think any musical artist that I’m a big fan of: in general that’s a realm I’d love to get into. What Michael Cina does for Ghostly would be absolutely incredible.

Nowadays everyone has ‘cameras’ in their pockets and Instagram on their phones. How has this changed the photography game? How has this changed your photography game?

I don’t think anyone can argue with the benefit of putting a camera in everyone’s hand: people should be able to express themselves/document with any means necessary; the easier the better for some, for other’s I’ve seen a drift back to analog techniques. I think I’m somewhere in between: I love the ease of using my camera phone, but more importantly I love the way it makes me feel when I pick up a film camera.

“So, you’re a photographer?” What’s the strangest question you’ve received when someone learned what you do?

Honestly, I can’t think of anything specific, probably because many people don’t know that I consider myself a photographer. But I’ll throw it back to the previous question: it’s not that interesting anymore, is it? Aren’t we all photographers?

What are your other creative outlets and sources of inspiration?

I’m a musician and I design for a living, but I began in a scientific field: I think a combination of all of those things drives me to continue experimenting and exploring.

Fill in the blank: “When I’m not shooting, I am…”

“…I am pushing pixels and clacking on the old ivories.”


Which professional photographers do you look up to, whether from afar or as mentors?

At the moment I’ve been really into Alec Soth especially the stuff he does on Instagram. It’s casual, but the concepts behind them are amazing. I’ve been following his work for several years, and there is always something new to discover. If I can use the techie word “disruptive” to describe his work, I would.

When all is said and done, what is it about being a photographer that gets you up in the morning and drives your passion?

For me, personally, it’s my paintbrush, and that’s how I use the camera: I get to create worlds within worlds. Some that are so specific that they cannot be recreated to any degree of accuracy.

Photography Month takes place throughout March, and is open exclusively to ADC Members. Not yet a Member? Join today!