This is a guest post from 500px photographer Milan Vopalensky, a self-taught photographer from the Czech Republic, whose work has been published in Czech and British magazines. He currently studies at the Graphic School in Prague.

I am passionate about surreal and conceptual photography, and self-portraits. I am always discovering interesting locations, mainly around my hometown of Novy Rychnov, in order to express my complex visions through photography. My last series, called “Colorful Memory”, was a final project at school, where we were asked to complete a photography series with color as the main focus. Here is the story of how it was created.

About the project

My first instinct was to do a series of self-portraits and to use my hometown. I started thinking about colorful places around my village. A yellow slide into a pond came to my mind first. Suddenly I realized that almost every childhood memory I have is associated with a color, whether because of the place, the objects in it, or the feeling it evokes. And that is how the concept of this series was born. I wanted to connect colors with memories of my childhood — that is why I decided to call this series “Colorful Memory.”

I created two photos for each color. These two photos needed to have a continuation. First, I took the yellow one as a memory of the days when I went swimming during the summer with my family. I always admired this slide, but I was so afraid of the diving that I never used it.

The second color was red. These images represent the place around my house where we played hide and seek.

The third color, blue, is connected with my grandmother and with the factory where she worked. I often visited her there, but it was forbidden so I climbed through the window or crept under the fence.

The last color was green. I chose it because green was all around me when I was a child: in the fields and in the forests. Nature is a big part of who I am even now.

Some tips I learned while shooting this series

Push Your Limits
For this series, I used my DSLR Canon EOS 5D Mark II primarily with my Canon 28-70mm f/2.8 lens. Of course I couldn’t use it without a wireless remote and a tripod. Usually it is quite funny to see how I take photos, because I do strange things. That is also partly why I take self-portraits by myself using a wireless remote: I can do anything I want without feeling ashamed. It’s a good exercise to push your limits in this way, and it is a great kind of therapy to learn to express yourself photographically. For the photos in yellow, a friend of mine assisted by holding the tripod on the slide just to avoid the tripod falling into the water.

Planning & Pre-production
I recommend thinking about what you want to achieve photographically before you go out shooting. You can draw a few sketches and ideas. Being prepared and having a vision will make it much easier when you arrive at the place you are shooting. Even if the reality is a little different than your vision, at least you have an intention to work from. Don’t be afraid to try unexpected poses and compositions; sometimes the best photographs are created when you don’t expect it at all.

Also very important to this series was the postproduction. I used Adobe Photoshop and Camera Raw where I highlighted the saturation in every lead color in the photos. I had to set the right shade in every photo, because I needed the whole series to be uniform in color. I did this with the Color Balance tool. My intention was to have my body a little brighter and whiter, so I reduced the saturation on those parts. In the end I played with the Selective Color tool in every photo for a gentle final touch.

My best advice is to be creative, be brave, express your feelings and experiment!

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