Interview with photographer Lukas Wierzbowski for Flanelle Magazine
Lukas Wierzbowski is a 30 years old self taught photographer currently living and working in Wroclaw. His work captures the relationship between the model and its surrounding in its purest form. Everything from his shoots happens on the spot as he does not plan any details beforehand. He gets inspired by the mood of the place and the models attitude, trying to catch the in-between moments.
Tell us something about you most people do not know.
I can’t swim.
How did it ( photography ) all started? Did you first shoot with digital or film?
As a third year student of social psychology I was bored and started taking digital photos of buildings and details of architecture as my creative hobby. Soon I switched to shooting analog photos of people.
What do you like about shooting in film?
It makes me more selective and focused as each frame seems precious. Besides. the feeling of anticipation keeps me excited.
What equipment do you use shooting film?
I use Contax G2, Canon Rebel K2 and Olympus Mju II, most of the time. I got used to all of them just as I got used to 100 iso films of various brands that I usually use.
Given your love of film photography, what do you think about the new photo cellphone generation where everyone can now be a photographer?
As long as it gives pleasure and shows the creativity of the photographer I’m ok. Of course buying a camera doesn’t make anyone a photographer much like access to paints and brushes doesn’t make one a painter. Talent helps, but it takes time and effort to master a skill. It’s hard – but everything worth doing in life is.
How would you describe your work to someone who hasn’t seen it?
I try to capture the interaction between humans and the surrounding. It’s portrait photography with a twist.
How do you prepare a day before shooting? How do you prepare an hour before shooting?
I don’t plan the details of my sessions in advance. I just get in touch with a model, pick a place and we explore the environment. No matter if it’s friends flat or deep woods. I guess my only concern one hour before the shooting is to not forget the cameras.
What do you like to photograph most? We often see an indescribable feeling in your pictures, like time really frozen in that mysterious action or place. How does this happen? Is it premeditated or you always like to take pictures in between poses?
It seems natural to me. I want my models to forget about any type of posing and just explore the possibilities of the movement. I give very overall directions and capture the models interpretation of it, that way the models expression and behaviour is crucial. As for what I like the most I would say: interaction.
Have you always been true to your style of photography, the one that we know now? What was it when you first started?
I first started by taking photos of city details, concrete structures and steel. Soon I got bored with all that and switched to taking photos of humans. I think I always had a very clear vision of how I want my photo to look like, it came naturally. Over the years it evolved but the core stays the same.
What is your favorite photo projects and why?
I don’t have a favorite one; each project is both fun and challenging. I’m currently gathering material for a next solo exhibition.
Do you usually find the poses and tell the models to do them, or do you simply tell the models to contort themselves?
I give overall directions and I’m totally ok with models executions. I don’t like typical model posing and simply ask the models to behave the natural way.
You have a degree in social psychology and got interested in Neuroaesthetics (which tries to define the way the human brain reacts to art). Any informative or interesting thing you have found about neuroaesthetics and being a photographer?
My first photo shoots were inspired by the neuroaesthetics. At that time I was reading a book by Malcolm Gladwell called “Blink”. It deals with fast decision making, which feels random to the person making them but turn out to be thought through and deliberate. Everything happens behind the scenes much like with my work. You don’t have access to my process of shooting or selection – but you can decide for yourself, while looking at the effect, if you like it and how it makes you feel. And sometimes our thoughts – mine as the photographer, taking the photos and yours, as the critic – will align making our feelings and thoughts very similarly. And sometimes you will add your own interpretation or meaning to a photo expanding it beyond its literal form. I tend to enjoy both of those states.
Do you try to pass a message through your photographs or is it usually more abstract?
I want to show how closely we actually interact with our surrounding, the relations we try to sustain, brief moments of being almost weightless. Apart from that I keep my photos untitled so that each person looking at it can have its own interpretation of the situations portrayed.
Do you prioritize the model or the background? Or sometimes a mix of both?
Getting lost in any given environment with a company of a model makes each session a kind of a journey where each element plays an equal role. The priory is to show different levels of a relation.
How important is color, texture and lines in your images?
I adore colors and patterns. I never really found an interest in black and white photography, it always seemed limiting to me.
What are your favorite hobbies besides taking photographs?
Currently I’m really hooked up with walking around cities. Getting lost and exploring.
Your favorite book? Your favorite quote?
Marcel Proust “In Search of Lost Time”.
If you could collaborate with anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and why ?
Salvador Dali. His imagination seemed limitless, I would love to chat with him for a while and taste his crazy.
Your goal(s) for the next year?
I dream about going to some distant place.
Any last words?
Keep it simple.
Interview as seen in our Vintage issue of April 2014. Purchase here