Shots Magazine – Interview
How did you first become interested in photography, and who was the most significant person (or what was the most significant event) that was responsible for you becoming a photographer
Bathroom doors were always shut at my family home and behind them there was a unique, unknown world. I remember the evening when my father took my hand and introduced me to its secrets and magic. They are still with me today, whenever I look at images appearing on paper in the glow of red right, when I sense the smell of developed photographs. And although the process is no longer a mystery to me, it continues to be astonishing, cryptical and bring great uncertainty. My father is no longer with me, but encounters with photography form a bridge between mine and his world.
It seems you enjoy working in a number of different processes. Do you presently have a favourite? [also explain why and what you like about it, how you feel it best suits your work, etc.]
I am most comfortable with analogue photography. I use rolleiflex or the primitive pinhole camera with the small aperture. I’m most fascinated by two techniques. The first one is lomography, for which I use a simple, plastic camera sealed tightly with adhesive tape (to make it light-proof). I consciously choose it to create blurred black-and-white images to reflect the phenomenon of the dream, the mirage. The reflection of moved frames doubles the image. My second favourite technique is the ambrotype. It’s a very old method of creating images on glass plates, dubbed the wet-plate collodion in photographic jargon. Pictures on glass plates are challenging in storage, but I value them immensely. Portraits created on plates are unobvious. With long exposure time lasting 20-30 seconds, portrayed people begin to behave naturally; they relax and resort to their inner world, what makes final result intriguing both for models and me, their author. Ambrotype may be used to achieve extra high exposure level of fair fragments contrasted with impenetrable black ones. It creates the illusion of tri-dimensionality.
What ideas and themes do you find yourself addressing repeatedly, regardless of what series you’re working on?
Ever since I remember I’ve been fascinated by photography coming from the depths of my soul. Many of my works illustrate dream fantasies, shards of memories which probably appear in everyone’s dreams. Those records are products of imagination, volatile, ephemeral memory. They are not meant to be explicit; they should create room for free interpretation, free reception to enable everyone to add on their own story. My photographs are also tales of real-life people, their wealth of emotions, longing and anxiety, loneliness and inner joy. Of the innermost self, often shyly hidden from the world.
I’m not documenting the reality. I am portraying it as I see it and feel it. From my own perspective.
If you were to teach someone photography [perhaps you do?], what would you most want to impress on them?
What I find most important in photography is the message and the symbolism. It is meant to stop us and stir emotions. Photographs are always first born in my mind – I can clearly picture them, their frames, and selection of technique. Pressing the shutter button is only a formality.
Do you consider your work to be an escape from reality? [why or why not]
It’s my great passion which also allows me to enjoy solitude. It gives me shelter and a whole different living space. It enables me to take a peek into the irresponsible aspect of the world. It puts me closer to people, but also protects me from them. When a hard day comes and I have no strength to express myself with words, photographs offer silence and space. And step by step, I am arranging tiny pieces to form my own world, which I express with images. I grab the camera in my hand and the whole world, including my own problems, shrinks down to a petite frame and the moment when I press the shutter button. Photography also allows me to be someone I am not: a magician able to freeze this one selected moment.
What do you love most about the medium of photography? And what do you find the most difficult or challenging?
When you talk, sometimes you have to scream to be heard. And when you’re presenting an exciting image, everyone gets silent. A photograph enables me to depict a pure world abounding in tender gestures and even more tender glances, which never perish in the rushing clock of time. It will also make people who are close to me live forever.
What do you find the most meaningful about being a photographer?
Unless it’s destroyed, a photograph is often a record of no longer existing places and people. Every time we look at it, we breathe life into them.