Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, I have been privileged to be able to work remotely. My department switched to working from home on the 12th of March and all of us have put a lot of effort to stay in touch and not loose sense of community. One thing that everyone was encouraged to do is to share a short video about how are they coping with quarantine. I've been asked to do that three times and three time is a charm, I eventually agreed. The reason why I was resisting was that I knew if I actually record a video, it would have to be done my way - probably turn into a short film, with a voiceover and some pretty shots. I simply CANNOT create something visual without at least trying to make it mine and make it pretty.
In the nutshell, creative distractions are my way to deal with anything. The text that I am reading in the video is a passage from my diary that I wrote during one of my frequent depressive episodes (duh) but still resonated with me today.
In times of doubt - turn to art.
This video is a bit of a self indulgence. I wanted to make something for a while and an excuse presented itself. Take it with a pinch of salt - I am not a screenwriter nor do I aspire to be one. I can capture pretty views and make videos about nothing... This is one and only experiment and it teased my appetite for creating more. Though, next time I put my time into it, I hope to actually have a story to tell. And creativity, good or bad, masterpiece or a cliche. This is how I deal with crisis.
Victorian buildings are splattered with the spots of light. Golden patches illuminate the sandstone balustrades, brighten red rusty bricks, highlight handsome arches. Tired buildings come alive. Young glass towers that know nothing about the city life, catch the sun and share the light around.
Nearly 4 years passed since I published my last blog post and decided that blogging isn't really for me. And it's true, blogging probably isn't. Especially not the strange form of it that I was trying to exercise those few years ago. But writing for me and so is sharing photos and telling stories, sharing experiences opinions and inspiration.
Straight and easy is not the only path to success.
I often get asked a seemingly simple question - How long do you do photography? When did you start? Before I spill out the answer I get awkward like a lover with a complicated history of friendship interwoven with sex before love happened. I want to be able to give a simple answer, because the one who's asking, is probably asking out of politeness but the answer to that question is not simple.
How do you define a starting point? Does owning a camera already make you an amateur photographer? Or is it actually the point you start caring? What if you don't even own a camera and you care a lot? What if you have one and don't actually care about quality photos?
Well, as much as I would like my story to be more straightforward, photography wasn't a love from the first sight for me. When I was younger this profession in my head always belonged to the realm of dreams impossible to achieve such as becoming a president or an astronaut. For a very long time even taking breathtakingly beautiful photos seemed to be in that territory as I could not afford a DSLR until I turned 21. I believed that you can take nice photos with a basic compact, but as you can imagine, my aspirations weren't very high. Just as much as having nice profile picture or holiday snapshots. Keep in mind that was way before Instagram era and mainstream smartphone, when everyone who owned one was automatically given a simple tool good enough for an amateur photographer.
I got my camera with the first the money I saved from my first job as a waitress in Italian restaurant in Glasgow in the only in the autumn of 2012. So when I finally started taking photos with a nice camera, shit started happening and the satisfaction of creating good imagery motivated me to learn more and more. Finally, in autumn 2014 I knew enough about photography and had enough confidence in my craft that I dared to believe that one day I could become a professional photographer.
Don't get me wrong, I would be the last person to claim that you can only take good photos with a proper gear. I believe my on an off interest in photography for years before I touched a camera with interchangeable lens has precisely been the reason why I found it easy to control a DSLR. Having only used crappy contacts before forced me to practice composition, as this was the only way I could control the image. Also never underestimate how much photography education happens behind the scenes, when you're not holding your camera or editing photos.
But let's come back to the beginning. Wherever it was. Maybe you can find me help the day when I started being interested in photography.
I am 8 years old and I am going for my first school trip in Solina holiday resort by the lake. My parents give me the family camera with abundance of as many as whole 32 exposures of film. I take photos of trees, flowers, buildings, friends and get scolded by a teacher for getting to close to the edge of dam elevation trying to get a shot o gigantic artificial waterfall. Other offences include climbing a roof of a hostel and scaring other children with stories about ghosts and a snake. After I'm back from the trip and the film gets developed and my parents share their disappointment about the lack of photos of me in front of monuments. I think some of the photos are good but I don't understand why in my artistic shot of a bottle the backgrond isn't blurry and the bottles aren't sharp. But I don't get the chance to touch camera often enough to actually care. This pattern repeats every school trip or summer camp once or twice a year until 2007, when my parents finally give up on film and get bored with their digital compact they got in 2004 and let me play with it.
A wonderful summer of my life. I am 15, listen to unhealthy amounts of punk rock, I dream about becoming a rock star and dress like a seventh child of a janitor that escaped from circus (my father's words). I get invited to spend summer in Toronto to stay with my uncle and his family to practice English. Luckily my uncle is cool, he shares my love for good guitar distortion, takes me to my first music festival, buys me an acoustic guitar and lets me use his hybrid digital camera. This is the first time I discover that actually I am taking some really cool photos, contrary to my parents opinion, and that actually photography could be a nice hobby for me. Nevertheless, I spend way more time "jamming" on my new guitar, having a crush on the boy next door who was teaching me first chords and writing songs. After all I am destined to become a rock star.
2007 - 2008
I finally get to use family digital compact and I use it a lot. As per usual I get blamed for its death in summer 2007. But then the camera gets replaced by a newer model and I continue to share it with my sister. My photos are mainly experimental but no one cares because hello, they are digital. I use photography to enhance my coolness factor on sprouting social media by posting heavily edited photos. By the way this is about the time I discover photoshop, my editing style can be sumarised as a mixture of bw, heavy contrast and saturation occasionally spiced up with selective coloring. I still believe in my future as a rock star.
I read an reportage about street photography in a Saturday cultural issue of national newspaper ("Duży Format" if anyone is interested, but I don't remember the title of the article anyway). The interview with the photographer inspired me to try to document strangers on the streets. I am very scared that people would shout at me, when they notice I am pointing a camera at them. Elderly strangers in small times aren't very friendly to teenager. Stealthily I capture some good shots. I start to frequently carry around the family compact in my bag and take photos of whatever interests me.I start a photoblog under a nickname dazedandconfused, where I publish the more successful of my photos along with my poetry and thoughts. I get old Zenit as a gift for my 18th birthday but the shutter is broken so I only use it on one film and never again. Around about this time I get interested in street fashion. I throw away my converse covered with ink and dirt and I hit second hands in search of quirky and unique outfits. Around about that time I discover lookbook.nu, which back then was full of alternative and second hand wardrobe and an invitation only community for people to share their style across the globe. I also use the blog to sneak in my outfits and receive the invitation to that secret community which would soon blow out into a international fashion phenomenon and hub for professional fashion bloggers. My unshakeable faith in becoming a rock star finally starts to crumble as years of practice on guitar don't show any signs of talent. But not all is lost yet. At the age of 18 I start opening up to music that does not use divine guitars. I start exploring electronic music and discover that maybe there is more to music than guitars. Inspired by newly discovered truths and a solid argument of straight As in hard sciences to win a battle with my parents and apply to all the Audio Technology related degrees at University.
2010 - 2011
I get accepted to study Audio & Video Engineering at University of Glasgow. My degree is a lie and it turns out to be Electronics with a fancy name. I want to quit uni but my parents convince me to stay at least one more year and eventually I stay till the end. Thankfully, I discover Subcity Radio. I become part of technical team and start my own radio show about trip-hop. I try DJing a bit but nothing I create seems cool, so I never share it with anyone. I meet a lot of talented musicians and DJs during my time in a radio station but not many close friends. Maybe I just don't have what it takes. During that time, I completely stop taking photos.
University workload becomes so heavy I temporarily stop my involvement with Subcity Radio. Temporarily eventually becomes forever. My interest in photography is limited to collecting pretty pictures on Pinterest and running a bohemian tumblr.
Third year starts and finally I get that one course that I thought entire degree was supposed to be about - Audio & Video team project. I get to direct one short documentary and become a director of photography of a short fiction film. I get involved with side projects and assisting one of my professors, Bernd Porr, who apart from being a researcher is also an independent filmmaker. He's a living proof that when creativity meets science great things happen. He becomes my role model till the end of my degree and inspires to learn more about cameras. I finally start believing that maybe all the things that I'm good at will eventually come together with things that I love. I finally get that damn first job waiting tables and save some extra money. I buy Canon 550D with intention of shooting my own films but the degree is so intense in the third year that I barely get to use it. I only take photos at occasional parties. I start playing with photoshop again, nothing better for hangover than photoediting. I am adding zits on faces of people who annoy me.
I buy an m42 adapter and mount the old Helios lens from the broken Zenit. The magic begins. All the photos start looking the way imagine. I get more and more hyped and I start taking my camera everywhere. My friends get annoyed but eventually they get used to it. After all no one makes them such cool profile pictures on Facebook.
Me and my camera become inseparable. I start identifying as a photographer and become an active member of Flickr community. In the summer I travel and extensively document my journey with photographs.
I start a graduate job as a software engineer working on Video Encoder Team. I move to Watford alone to start an adult life and earn some money. I don't know what to do with my life so it makes sense to accept an offer after my summer placement in 2013. I leave my boyfriend and all my friends behind in Glasgow, needless to say, the transition from freedom of University to a full-time job in a company full of geeks in a small town is rather painful. Photography and frequent visits to London keep me sane. I need hope that things will get better because frankly I can't see myself living like this until retirement. I am clueless about what to do with my life, so I choose photography, as this is one thing that I love and I am really good at. On a dark rainy night November 2014 I decide to pursue photography as a profession.
A very active year. I build my first portfolio, launch a website and socialmediaplatforms. I start blogging and collaborating with other creatives. I am still not entirely sure what direction in photography to choose. I contemplate on wedding and reportage photography but as I crave more and more creative control over my work, I start drifting towards portrait and fashion photography. I move to London but I am still working at my day job.
"When routine bites hard and ambitions are low and resentment rides high but emotions won't grow." My unrealistic expectations about how fast I can build a career as a photographer finally get confronted with reality. I get frustrated with the quality of my work and lack of progress and I feel clueless about my actions and their results. I experience a major creative crisis and a breakdown in general. I take 2 month break from photography and nourish my tortured soul with chocolate, wine and therapy.
May 2016 - now
I am back in a game, but this time I am going slow and steady. It does not matter how long will it take me or whether I will ever get there as long as I get to create some beautiful photography on the way. However, to my surprise, my effort finally start bringing results, first freelance jobs, first publications and more interest with collaborators.
It's been over a year that I am blogging now and I am still experimenting. It seems like I still haven't found my path. I stop and I start over again. I am proud of my photographs and then I am embarrassed of them.
I feel trapped but the pressure to publish often and I am pressured to always publish well. I need more freedom and in the same time I need more structure. I have learned and tried many things along the way and I am still constantly reinventing and re-identifying myself. When creating I always long for the stable ground, however once I reach it, I get bored and overly ambitious.
That's what happened in the beginning of this year. I did arrive to the point where I felt rather satisfied with the level of my photography but in the same time my expectations rose. Looking from perspective I know this was a time when I produced some of my best work for now but I could not appreciate it at the time. To the point that I criticized myself for every not fully sharp photo in a batch of thousand from the photos. I forgot how to tell a story.
There were so many thoughts that I wanted to share but I didn't know in what form I wanted to publish them. I wanted to share which so many visual stories which I felt shouldn't require a commentary.
The previous form of this blog put all the photography in the spotlight. That made sense. I didn't know how to blog but I knew how to photograph. It's the photos that I wanted to share. But that also put a lot of pressure on me to deliver highest quality photos very frequently. Even if I didn't feel like it or if they didn't turn out the way I expected. I kept publishing posts which I was disappointed with.
It may seem that I have been idle throughout June and July. That couldn't be far from the truth. I have been working my ass off shooting stories for submissions and negotiating, shooting and retouching for my first client. I finally feel like my network has slowly started growing enough to be able to find people to collaborate on projects I have in mind. I can be more focused and intentional in my photography and I want to concentrate on quality not quantity. Therefore, I made a decision to separate my Internet content into two separate categories.
I managed to build a little portfolio of strong photographs in fashion and portraiture, which I am planning to slowly and steadily update with thouroughly thought through photography.
In the meantime, I would like to revert this blog back to more traditional form, which does not put that much pressure to publish photos only of outstanding quality. This would be a more casual and spontaneous space for me to share inspiration, talk about creative struggles and share stories. As always photography will be at the centre of the blog but in many more diverse forms aside from my work.
Oh! And comments will be enabled again from now on:)
One of my new years resolution was to keep publishing regularly on the blog. It's a few weeks into January and I am already failing. In my defense, I was moving flats. As usual I underestimated efforts it required despite my best intentions to downsize my belongings. Once I settle down, in a week or two, I am hoping to bring my posting rhythm down.
Several days ago, before we started moving out from Shepherd's Bush, I figured out that most likely I won't have many opportunities to explore this location photographically in the near future. My life happens too fast and I run for too much, sometimes I leave places without having a chance to look back. Unless, of course, I meet some cool people keen on photographic collaboration in that part of London. Shoot me an e-mail 🙂 So I decided to go for one last walk around the area with my tripod and a camera.
Shepherd's Bush is a weird neighbourhood, full of dissonances and contrasts. It will stay imprinted on my skin, in the story of my life forever. At the beginning of October we lost our Kentish Town flat after just over a month of living there. This is how our nomad life in London began. This city is beautiful and dazzling and over 8 million people want to be here as much as we do. There are many dishonest crooks her that don't hesitate to take advantage of. This is yet another way in which London resembles a beautiful, exploding with life but wild and dangerous urban jungle.
We had a couple of days to find a new place and in desperation we decided to rent a tiny, shabby, overpriced room above an abandoned pub Duke of Edinburgh. Three months ago with a shaking hand I signed the contract knowing I will regret this decision. After I left the letting agency I burst out into tears. I will not be getting into details about what went wrong and why living in that place has left us so emotionally distressed. After days of searching with an eviction notice hanging over our dishonest landlady we realized that early autumn is a season of high demand in the estate market and we will not find anything good within our budget in such a short time. I knew whatever decision we would make, it would be a wrong one. But we didn't want to end up on the street, so some decision had to be made. If we had to live somewhere crappy, let it be at least well located.
There is nothing wrong with Shepherd's Bush itself. It's a place that served us a shelter in the tough times. A place that motivated me to work harder, partly because I didn't want to spend much time there. Flats there are probably one of the best deals in West London when it comes to transport links and flat prices. Our horror house was just 3 minutes away from the Central Line, Overground and my train to work. From our window we could see the busy Shepherd's Bush roundabout, bustling with life shops and people rushing to work into the underground. Westfield ahead of us and Holland Park behind us. On one side of the road busy junctions and 24/7 shops stocked with anything you can imagine. On the other side quiet streets with white picket fences and beautiful doors and windows you could see on the photos. On the border with Kensington some of the houses in the neighbourhood were a marvellous sophisticated. I am sure there are plenty of affordable and gorgeous flats around there. Unfortunately our wasn't one of them. If it was, who knows, maybe despite my love for North London we would have stayed there for good.
As promised before I decided to show my face on this blog more often and some photos here was my first proper experiment with remote and tripod friends. Once again a portion of doors and windows for you, this time in Shepherd's Bush, which I am leaving with relief. Let these photos be the only thing that will be the only memory left after my time in Shepherd's Bush, after the years pass, wounds heal and I am a stronger and wiser person.
Today I will share with you my plans for 2016. Start of the year is a good opportunity to rethink your strategy and clarify the things that will bring you closer to your dreams coming true. I am deliberately not talking about resolutions because I think they imply some form of enforcement and change. As if you’re not good enough at who you are. Last year has been a wonderful time of growth for me and I have come to understanding that you are not becoming the person who you want to be by enforcement but by love. Cherish your values and pursue projects that reflect them. Even small steps will bring you closer to where you want to be than self-loathing and bullying yourself for being this or that way or not being cool enough.
I will share with you 11 plans for 2016 and the 12th one will keep secret for myself. 12 goals for 12 months, so that it’s easier to portion my workload and fully concentrate on one of the objectives each month. They are not in any particular order of priority but keep your fingers crossed for me!
Learn more about the business side of photography. 2015 was all about building a portfolio, blog and social media. Right now it’s crucial for me to understand the business side of photography, how to market it and seal the deal with potential customers.
This brings me to a goal number 3. – Make it easier for my potential customers to reach out for me. Soon you will be able to easily find on my website how to book a portrait session, what can you expect from the shoot and what are the prices.
Include longer and more in-depth articles on the blog about photography techniques, creativity and inspirations. Many of you have been asking me about an advice in these areas, so why not sit down and write it down nicely and clearly for all of you.
Redesign my website to be able to feature more versatile content without compromising the photography. You would be surprised how difficult it is to find an ideal WordPress layout when you have a very precise requirements. I would like my layout to be as good for photography as the current one. The main thing that discourages me from the layouts I frequently come across is that you have to scroll so much, especially when featuring photography in portrait orientation.
I would like to collaborate even more this year. I always wanted to write stories about inspiring people. I would like to support emerging talents and people who independently pursuit their dreams in the new Nation of Dreamers cycle of posts.
I am much more comfortable behind the camera than in front it. In the beginning of my photography days I was much more brave to experiment with some forms of self portraiture. I would like to devote some time to it this year too! Also I really like the blogs where you can get to know the person, who is behind all that texts, so I think it would be a good thing to show my face on my own blog every now and again too.
I have managed to establish a small presence in social media but it’s mechanics are still a mystery to me. This year I would like to strengthen my social media presence and discover new territories of the Internet promotion.
Start regularly submitting my editorial work to magazines. It has been at the back of my mind for entire year and I did have a go at submitting some of my photos but to really break through in the publishing world, you need to be very consistent. I would like to make it a habit to be proactive about having my photos published.
Take care of my health. Full time job, one hour commute each way every day, photography, blogging, coding, designing, networking, my head is exploding every day with thousands of ideas that I want to do. These things eat up most of my time and almost completely pushed out procrastination and all the other things from my life. Sadly this has taken it’s toll on my healthy lifestyle habits and every now and again they drag me to the corner of stress and sleep deprivation. This year, I would like to find time to regularly take care of my body, because in healthy body the healthy spirit lives.
I am learning a lot of theory about user experience an interaction design lately. I am fluent in Photoshop and have taught myself Illustrator and InDesign. Sadly, I have not sat down and design any interface myself yet. In 2016 to overcome my fear that I am not ready to build a graphic design portfolio, I will challenge myself to complete 100 UI Days Challenge.
As I mentioned above the last one is a secret that I will share with you once it comes true! In the meantime to keep the list complete, I would just substitute it with a plan to keep writing the blog. I had a hard time initially with writing regularly but I seem to have caught a momentum. Let it stay that way.
I would like to wish you all the best with your plans for 2016! Let them all come true.
The photos illustrating this post were taken on the last day of 2015. It was a lovely walk around Shepherds Bush, London, right before the nightfall. As usually the photos of me were taken by Ivan.
2015 has been a great year. It’s been hard, I admit, but I can’t say I regret any minute of it. It was a year of hard work and action. I challenged myself in a paradigm shift and change of my philosophy. This was also a year, in which I fully and boldly went for a run to chase my dreams. I am happy and proud of myself for a year of consistent work and not giving up.
In 2015 I completed a Graphic Design Course for the beginners at Central Saint Martins and build a photography portfolio. I soon started blogging, something that I always wanted to do. I photographed 3 gigs, did 21 photoshoots and published 26 posts. I challenged my shyness, approached and befriended many wonderful people.
I learned a great deal about social media, networking and branding. I gathered a lot of theoretical knowledge about design and skilled up in using Adobe Creative Suite.
I daresay that in 2015 I have done more towards achieving my dreams than throughout my entire 4 years of university. Everything started with admitting in front of myself that what I like, is really what I would want to do with my life.
I would like to thank all my fantastic friends and family. The close ones and the ones I haven’t seen for years, thank you for all the support you gave me!
Let the next year be even more productive and fruitful than this one! I am wishing you all in 2016 to go after your dreams! Happy New Year!
The first month of blogging is already behind me. Oooft, I have survived the first and most difficult step. I wanted to start writing a blog for such a long time and I was postponing it forever. I was scared of so many things, worried that I won't have any good ideas and my writing will be really bad and posts really low quality, that no one will be interested in reading it and that I won't have any ideas and above everything I was asking myself how on earth I am going to find any spare time to write regularly.
I published my first post accidentally. Not being that familiar with WordPress yet I accidentally allowed it to automatically share it on Facebook. Before I realized two friends of mine already started liking it and half-panicked about its unpolished condition and complete lack of preparation, I just decided to go with it.
After all the most important thing about blogging is being regular. I decided to relax and just go with the flow and let this blog grow on me. Let the writing turn into the habit and not try to force beautiful words to flow from my fingers. Let the vision form with time. Let it be about everything and nothing. Let it be about photography.
I was surprised with how many views some of the posts had, while I expected literally no views for the first three months. Thank you very much for all the interests you're showing, from likes to shares. I am hoping to be able to write even more engaging texts for you in the future and encourage you to conversation in the comments.
All in all in the era of professional bloggers it is intimidating to start a first step but once you start it becomes much easier. And the knowledge that someone is actually reading it is quite rewarding. So if you ever wanted to start a blog but you think your ready yet - just do it and let the readers observe your path of development!
This is not a post - more of a note to keep the consistency. I am currently going away for a long awaited holiday. Now that I am working full time an entire week off seems like a blessing. Oh how I miss those times when I had entire two months off for myself in the summertime. Unfortunately this is the paradox of our reality - when we have time to travel - we have no money, when we manage to save some money - there is no time.
To keep the tradition and my budget undamaged, yet another time I am traveling like a gypsy with a tiny bagpack which is in 70% filled up with my sleeping bag. Something like %10 is filled up with the documents and 4 disposable cameras, and the rest is clothes. Yes, you have read well, I decided to ditch my DSLR for this holiday and all I am left with is 100 exposures of crappy disposable film from Boots and my phone camera, which also isn't great.
You may wonder why someone so in love with photography as me would like to ditch their camera for travel. Well, that comes from simply pragmatic reasons. I am planning a trip to Poland and Slovakia. After 4 days of going back and forth between kool Krakow and my hometown Tarnow, I am jumping on a train from Poprad to Trencin to enjoy a three day festival Bazant Pohoda. The ticket costed too much to spend entire festival babysitting my camera and it is not a secret that festivals can be wild, so I'd rather not risk getting my beloved baby damaged, injured or stolen. Of course unless I am being paid for this, I would love to work as a photographer on festivals, for paid jobs you have my full photographic attention (not like these photos which were made on the run:P).
This is going to be my first holiday without a camera in a very long time and it seems like I will be traveling empty handed but in the same time it seems like a very liberating thing. Maybe this is going to help me refresh my eyes and see things in an entirely new light? I also decided to trust my composition skills enough and go back to the basics and try to capture good moments with extremely limited gear. I have seen some scans of photos taken with these cheap boots disposable cameras on flickr and obviously they don't produce an editorial quality photography like in fashion magazines, which is the level I am aiming at, but they still give some interesting retro feel to the photos.
I hope the results will be satisfactory and I will be able to share them with you here after I come back! Meanwhile, I am off for a wonderful adventure and you guys enjoy the sun and the summer wherever you are:)
PS. It's incredible how lame photos for the blog can be if you have only 10mins to take them and another 10mins to edit because you need to catch the plane. Please forgive me, I'm just embarrasing myself.