May 6, 2013
Just checkin’ in with few pictures i commited while being on a May-day picnic. Whole thing takes place in a Krosno city at the biggest grass airport in Europe from what i know. It’s an an annual event with air shows, carousels, disgusting junk food and all that comes with things like that. For me the gem is an evening hot air ballooning competition which is always spectacular thing to witness. Unfortunatelly this time i got no luck capturing this colorful craziness over town as huge storm came through and there were no atmospheric conditions to fly. Did what i could in those two hours before the storm then i had to rescue myself (but mostly my camera) from being hosed down. Still i think i got few pictures i dig before escaping big waters. Gotta say, events like this are always great way for me to exercise my street photography techniques and pull my senses out of comfort zone. They have to be on the spot. In this game intuition, reflex, and photographic instincts are key. The rest, like operating a camera, has to be muscle memory. 360 degrees view spectrum, eyes looking for everything that might get a decent picture, elbows tight, finger on a shutter and pace. You have to have your own pace, otherwise you’ll end up being overhelmed by the crowd. Forget about getting your neck hurt by constantly looking around – this is given. Toughest thing is to make some sense from chaotic mixture of people, things, time and light. Sometimes when i’m not doing well i resort to, what i call, an elimination game. This is where i try to find little scenes in overall madness by excluding everything that it consist of. This is often by turning my camera away from the mob, foot zooming, changing perspective or simply by walking aside. I think you can easily spotted this in below images. Anyway, hope you’ll like the pictures. There’s also first part to check out here if you want: May-day picnic – part one
May 1, 2013
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yet already despair lurks everywhere
about the distant, the bygone and dear
speak up my heart or forever just cry
revive for a moment the beauty of those years
when watched the world with children’s eye
i went from there to the times of war
and won’t go back to town of mine
still i am pleased about the land
i think about when i go through life
there i have learned the words wherewith
i know how to love and suffer and fight.
Hometown, Władysław Broniewski
I remember a small railway station. Anxious people, clenched hands, welcome and goodbye kisses, horn of coming train and hiss noise of braking locomotive. Bricked building with wooden quarterdeck and concrete-slab platform, full of luggage and voyagers’ murmur. I remember a station that enjoyed every local train stopping here. It was always an event in otherwise tranquill day, a celebration. Occasionaly a fast train would come through, and it lived through even more proud and joyful moment, staying there motionless, with dignity, honoured by the fact while speaker announced the time of arrival and departure.
I remember the last time i got off the train on my hometown station. I was a student and i was coming back home for Christmas. I opened the coach door and stepped out into the wind and snow-flurry, invited only by the stark, winter evening. No lamp was alight, no people on the platform, only me getting off into the dark-plated edge of abyss. I stepped on the ground and noticed a padlock on station’s door and schedule torned by the wind, hanging on the last drawing pin.
Now, it’s been over a year of me trying to document my hometown – not the way it was but how it is today. What i’m hoping to accomplish is to collate what is still in my mind / what resisted the trial of time, with what’s in the present picture. I think it could be interesting encounter of words and memories on paper with current images of my town.
Above you’re seeing my personal edit that i selected with help of my friend editor. Selecting a small subset of one’s year’s work proved itself to be uneasy task. Still this is only a sliver of what i hope for this project in the future. Of course in no way i see this as finished piece, if anything this is likely going to be a long-term project. I’m also thinking about doing another piece titled “Faces of my hometown” as a next logical puzzle in which i plan to photograph fellow citizens. Maybe eventually i’ll mix them up somehow but that’s to be decided yet as i’m not sure of anything right now.
I’m also very thankful for Rear Curtain magazine that featured my photoessay recently on the website. You can see it here: Beyond any place. Hope it will shed some more light on what i’m trying to make here.
I also hope late Mr Broniewski will forgive me with my translation of his poem. I wanted badly to feature an excerpt of it here but i couldn’t find english rendition. I figured i’ll give it a try myself. I did my best trying to preserve original rhytm of the poem. Hope i haven’t desecrate it too much.
February 23, 2013
Ugliness is a strange beast. Is it just the opposite of beauty ? Is it simply a lacking of elegance and harmony, something ripped out of attraction or aesthetic ? I’m not sure. For an artist it’s a tough thing to define as ugliness has its different faces and origin. As an aesthetic category describing reality it was always widely used in art world for expressing artistic truth and defying banality. It is strange though because in our surrounding reality it is the ugly that is the most commonplace and ubiquitous.
We often say that the beauty isn’t so obvious and we have to look hard to find it. We can find it in the ugly; in fact it may be the other way around as well. We may not realize it though, that just as much the charm and harmony shape our life, the same happens with the overhelming hideousness of daily ambient – it influences our perception and us as self-realizing individuals. All the landscape we are identifying with translate to our life – places we are waiting like bus stops or railway stations, places we rest, dine or simply come around on daily basis. Each of these places is the frame for our experiences, external package of our internal world.
The question arise – is the ugliness a quality of our surrounding actuality or in fact a real ugliness of our inner self making its way to the surface through architecture and shitty city scaping ?
Surely it can be both but as i struggle with these questions from time to time, i try to ask myself if i should so easily allow for the vicinity of my everyday attendance to be ugly as it is or maybe i should do sth about it. Of course lacking the real tools to change this neglected, grey and sluttish architecture of my town i try to shape and mold it with the only tool i got in my disposal – my camera. As photographer i try to force myself to find the beauty in the city of progressive monstrosity. It is an exercise of the mind and soul, it’s hard and is not always achievable but i figure it’s the least i can do to not allow my (sometimes) hideous perception superimpose and enhance already hideous environment.
January 5, 2013
Thought i started this year with some food for thought. Just yesterday i finished one of the best books i have ever read : “The agony and the ecstasy” by Irving Stone. It’s about life and work of Michelangelo and it’s the kind of literature i would love to stumble upon more often. I long have been a big fun of the divine Michelangelo, in fact one of the most memorable thing for me is my solitary trip to Rome and my little adventure in his footsteps.
The guy was a genius – capital G – i have no doubt in that but the book is a precious little gem on its own term. It gives the opportunity of getting to know Buonarroti not purely by his work that one might’ve seen, but by his way of thinking and attitude towards life, art and process of creation.
Anyway, mighty M and the book got me thinking. About the talent, devotion, perseverance, self-confidence, about immersion, imagination, intelligence, knowledge, versatility, craziness and many many things – things that i now believe may constitute the definition of true artist for me (damn book !)
Then i realized there is a distinction between pure genius and artist. If you’d ask me i’d say the case for the first one would be if all those magic properties aligned together. That rarely happens though – it’s a case of few in the century i would say. Certainly those must have been the cases of such as Michelangelo, Leonardo, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Picasso, Dali, not to mention scientists like Newton, Einstein or Tesla – list goes on. This sure can make us mad the more we think about this stuff and make inevitable parallels to ourselves. It’s a slippery slope probably but once in a while probably every one of us question our abilities regarding something and ask the questions along the following:
Do i have what it takes ? (to be an artist of any kind and caliber)
Do i got talent ? Hmmm, i don’t know… maybe….some tiny fraction, rather modest, not significant i suppose.
Self-confidence ? Some times, some times not.
Am i fully and truly devoted to what i do ?
Yhmmm, not really… not in a “bleed me of photography, and there won’t be enough liquid in me to spit“ kind of way. (writing this i haven’t touched my camera for a month ! i’m not craving it, have no idea why, maybe it’s a winter coma of some sort ?)
Perseverance ? Beeep ! Wrong again.
Just before yesterday i’d hesitate but probably describe myself as an artist of some sort. Now browsing through the list i feel stupid even thinking about it.
So i started wondering. Surely photography must have some deeper meaning for me, otherwise i wouldn’t be going back to it over and over again. But what about the frustrations and new found expectations that Stone’s book installed in me ? Is there’s something i can do about them, something that would help to improve my score on the list ? This got me thinking even further. What could be the one medium that could propel most of the things on the list ? You know – kind of like artistic Higgs boson particle that could give a mass to the other massless artistic particles. And that’s when it hit me. It’s work.
Yes, i believe it all comes down to this rather trivial idea of working. We just have to work our way up the artistic slope. Now, don’t act surprise. Art is work people ! With a good reason we have a term work of art.
It doesn’t happen out of the blue, and it surely doesn’t happen overnight. We have to trash and swim through meanders of our own fears, doubts and procrastination voices in order to reach the shore of our own creativity. This won’t happen if we’re gonna lay on the couch all day. We have to help our own art emerge from our creative self. Artist who melts more and more in his own medium, tends to work and sweat, and then work and sweat more in the name of it. It was also the case of Michaelangelo. He would put aside all and just work – do what he had to do in order to breathe and live. He was in love with the marble, the human and the simple act of sculpting. So should we be with our own art form. There’s a great passage in the book:
Art is hard, brutal labor. One should not become an artist because he can, but because he must. It is only for those who would be miserable without it.
Michelangelo had to work his magic otherwise he felt unbearable emptiness ! If you feel this kind of urge too – i’m happy for you. If you don’t – you should try to work and climb the slope anyway. It is only through work that we discover our ideas, creativity and love for what we do. Through simple act of labour and “trying things” we may actually strike the fire we didn’t know we had in us. Most importantly though we incite and power the rest of our artistic particles. We mature and grow and evolve. So i decided this whole idea will be my only resolution for 2013.
Simple as that.
Now, with that notion i suggest you shut this page right now and go work your own magic !!
December 12, 2012
I’ve been photographing Old Town of Lublin, on east border of my country for a few months, and it still strikes me how close from wealth and glamor of the city one can find poverty. One time i was having portrait session with model, and at the end of the day we decided to find some dilapidated and dirty buildings to act as our backdrop. Not so far from the Royal Route we spotted some set of tenements with perfect rusty walls to do our shoot. Towards the end i noticed a woman pulling a cart filled with firewood and a little girl besides her. Woman asked what we were doing there, so i explained we were looking for some old, condemned buildings to take couple of photographs.
Well, if you’re looking for condemned you just found it – she answered with crooked smile and she offered to show us the place.
As i was photographing she would come and look at my camera to see the result and when i finished she approached me and asked if i wouldn’t mind taking picture of her granddaughter. I agreed. Partly because there was something about that woman, partly of the fact that when i’m not shooting for a buck i’m usually out there photographing city anyway but mostly because i was definitely interested in the story here. I was going to excuse my model for awhile but she offered to stay and help with the girl and her portrait.
The girl’s name was Pauline and the woman was, as i mentioned earlier, her grandma. We found out she was geography and economy teacher but she lost the job when communism ended. Since then she was having trouble to make a living and somehow ended up living in hardship. She told us about her teaching years and how all of her pupils have made it in their lifes and businesses. I sensed a little pique in her voice, even though she was talking with so much elegy about them. I asked how is it that none of them haven’t offered some help, after all, they owe her education and partly their success. Turned out most of them are scattered around the world and forget about her, but there was this one guy who is now living just few cross-streets from her.
It hurts, that he would see me and my granddaughter almost everyday on his way to work and pretend to not remember or recognize me – she said.
Fortunately the local church helps us regularly providing food and clothes for winter. We must take care of the rest
So everyday they would go out to gather some wood for tiled stove that was still running in one of the rooms in the building. I remember being so angry thinking they have to live in place like that. I also asked about Pauline and her parents. She wouldn’t say much about them but it was obvious for us she was raising her on her own. Everyday she would also find some time to teach her granddaughter.
- I think i got teaching in my blood, and what’s better than teaching my own granddaughter ? She’s the apple of my eye you know.
Not even she would find the time to teach but to have fun with the girl too. I was genuinely impressed by her fortitude. At the point when i was photographing Pauline, she encouraged her to told us about her birdhouse. She must have noticed the girl was shy and little untrusty. I finally saw a smile when she walked us toward a tree nearby. Kate – my model – started to ask her more about it. Turned out her grandma build the birdhouse for her. She managed to get some paint left-overs from local shop and together they painted it as in the picture.
From all the photographs i’ve made that day, the one with the girl standing by the tree, with her precious birdhouse hanging above her, is my favourite. Not the dirty ones, not even my model shots but the one with shy smile on girl’s face and little sparkle in the eyes. It reminds me of simple children’s need of having some joy and a woman, who knowing that, decided to give her granddaughter a glimpse to a childhood she should have.