Jaroslav Monchak

A woman in a red dress and hat poses in front of a blue house on the island of Burano near Venice. Taken by Jaroslav Monchak on a Canon EOS 5DS R.
Canon Ambassador Jaroslav Monchak took this striking image on the island of Burano, near Venice. "We took a whole group of photographers on a special photo tour where I was the team leader. There, I used only the sunlight for lighting. I really like the colour combination at this location," he says. Taken on a Canon EOS 5DS R with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 1/2000 sec, f/5.6 and ISO250. © Jaroslav Monchak

Ukrainian portrait and fashion photographer Jaroslav Monchak plays with light to create natural shots, yet teases the scene with subtle storytelling to add an extra dimension of interest.

An attractive model wearing an expression imbued with layers of subtext, a well-placed prop that draws the eye, a backdrop masterfully illuminated to deliberately reveal specific aspects of interest; there's more to Jaroslav's portraits than first meets the eye.

Based in the city of Lviv, Jaroslav has cultivated a talent for creating superbly lit, posed, styled and captured imagery that has seen him become one of the country's most in-demand shooters, commissioned to produce hundreds of editorial images, many of which have appeared as covers for magazines in his home country and beyond, including Lviv Today, F'OLITIQUE, Egoist Lviv, BOOM plus TV and La Femme Magazine.

Canon Ambassador Jaroslav Monchak.

Location:Lviv, Ukraine
Specialist areas: Fashion, advertising
Favourite Kit:
Canon EOS 5DS R
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

"Growing up, I knew that I wanted to work with emotion and human beauty, and photography combines these," Jaroslav reveals when asked why he chose to pursue photography as a career. "My favourite genre of photography is portrait photography; I just love to photograph interesting faces and capture people's emotions. In fashion photography I like to convey the beauty of women, and set it alight with interest and colour."

Whether shooting within the walls of his fully-equipped 90-square-metre studio, or out on location, Jaroslav has garnered a reputation for being exceptionally thorough in order to bring his creative concepts to life, right down to nailing the smallest detail.

"The first thing I look for is an interesting location that inspires me. After that, I choose the clothing that suits the location with the help of a stylist. Then I select the models and all the additional details. In the frame I try to convey the atmosphere of the location, so the viewer who sees the photo feels as though they could be there."

A woman stands in a greenhouse peering out from behind a large leaf. Taken by Jaroslav Monchak on a Canon EOS 5DS R.
"This photo was taken for the Lighthouse photography school. It was our practice lesson, where I demonstrated how to work with daylight. I used only a white 180x90cm reflector," Jaroslav says. Taken on a Canon EOS 5DS R with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 1/320 sec, f/5.6 and ISO500. © Jaroslav Monchak
A woman in a floral dress, and with floral tattoos over her arm and shoulder, looks back at the camera. Taken by Jaroslav Monchak on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
"This photo was created for an ad campaign that makes tattoo body stickers. In this shoot I used only natural daylight from the window," says Jaroslav. "There were large windows in the studio which provided good light, and reflections off the floor filled the remaining shadows like a fill light. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV) with a Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM lens at 1/200 sec, f/4.5 and ISO1000. © Jaroslav Monchak

Jaroslav, who is completely self-taught, set out on his journey to become a photographer in 2008; since then he has steadily perfected his technique and honed a style that is alive with light, colour, emotion and energy. During his decade-long career, Jaroslav has ventured into other genres alongside fashion and portraiture. Most recently, this has been advertising; shooting high profile campaigns for dozens of brands, pointing his lens at everything from designer lingerie to digital notebooks. Yet since 2016, Jaroslav has found another love alongside photography. He established a photography school, known as Lighthouse, which has given a new generation of photographers the opportunity he once lacked.

"When I first started taking pictures all those years ago, this type of school just didn't exist. The purpose of my photo school is for self development, where students can gain a practical knowledge of photography. I like to talk with these like-minded people who come to us to learn. I get so much pleasure from teaching and being useful to them. We welcome the opportunity to teach beginners and enthusiasts. I just love working with new and exciting photographers."

A woman in a green dress reclines on a sofa with her hand on her forehead. Taken by Jaroslav Monchak on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
"This image is also for the Lighthouse photography school. The light is from the window, on the left of the model. I didn't want to use a reflector here, because keeping the dark was key, but I thought it would be better for the model to turn her head to the window, then the Rembrandt Triangle [a lighting technique characterised by an illuminated triangle under the eye of the subject on the cheek that is furthest from the light source] would be drawn better," says Jaroslav. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM lens at 1/160 sec, f/2.5 and ISO1600. © Jaroslav Monchak

What's been the most valuable lesson you've learned during your career?

"Probably that, in the photography business, it's important to find and maintain the right balance between commerce and creativity."

What do you do to your images in post?

"The first thing I do is correct the exposure and the white balance, and then if necessary, I select the contrast."

What's been the highlight of your career so far?

"I would say my main achievement was two years ago when I created my own photography school, Lighthouse, which teaches beginners and enthusiasts."

What's the biggest thing in fashion photography right now?

"In my opinion the biggest shift has seen poses become less contrived and much more natural, creating a feeling of relaxation and ease."

What's your secret for nailing the perfect portrait?

"I like to use an aperture between f/2.5 and f/3.2, and never put the shutter speed longer than 1/100, to avoid a blurred image."

Facebook: Jaroslav Monchak
Instagram: @monchak

One Thing I Know
Jaroslav Monchak

"Photographers who are interested in pursuing a career in fashion and portrait photography should ensure that they know the basics. They need to have a strong command of all the technical skills, and fully understand how aperture, shutter speed, ISO and all the other settings work, and how they affect each other. Then it's a case of understanding the light. Portraits with good light will always look beautiful. So spend time looking for the light. Usually I like to work with one source of soft light, which may be a regular window, or a studio softbox."

Jaroslav Monchak's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Jaroslav Monchak's kitbag containing Canon cameras and lenses.


Canon EOS 5DS R

A camera designed to deliver the ultimate in DSLR image quality, with an impressive 50.6-megapixel resolution. "I really like this camera; it has fantastic colour reproduction, which is obviously very important to me and what I do," says Jaroslav.


Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

A short telephoto focal length, combined with a large maximum aperture and fast autofocus speed, make this lens ideal for any professional portrait photographer. "This lens offers high quality at an affordable price, and I love the blur I can create in the background," says Jaroslav.


Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT

Powerful, versatile and portable. This flash can be radio-triggered off-camera, allowing you to get creative with your lighting in exciting new ways. "This flash has been with me for a very long time, it works just great," Jaroslav says.

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