Monday, February 27, 2012

Photography | FOCUS | Pawel Wodnicki

Model: Agnieszka Knap

Pawel Wodnicki was born in 1977 in Krakow. His first contact with photography as a kid in the late 80s when he stumbled upon an old camera called the "Smeyena" made in the Soviet Union. Though not the greatest camera in the world, he was hooked, fascinated with it. With a little help of his uncle, a photographer and filmmaker, Pawel produced his first images, Together they spent many hours working in a makeshift darkroom formerly known as the bathroom. For 9-year old boy, it was pure magic... just put a piece of white paper into some liquids and… viola! A few minutes later… a real photo and made all by him! Unfortunately after a few months, he lost his beloved first camera – it got smashed during a bicycle trip... And sadly, he suffered first divorce with his new love… photography.

The "Smeyena"

A new love quickly took her place… computers. At first, it was a simple Atari, then his first PC in high school. Soon he was immersed in computer graphics, photo retouching and collage. Self taught, he began designing his own web sites and started landing real client for real money.  By the end of high school, Pawel handed landed a gig with a youth magazine and found a copy of the book "Photography" by famed British Photographer John Hedgecoe, which became a huge influence and inspiration. His first love was back and a new camera, too… the Canon 500N.

Pawel continued his work with the magazine through the end of high school and during his studies at university. Teamed with a journalist friend, they began covering movie premieres shooting celebrities interviews. He began working with models on his own and soon had an exhibition of his work an art gallery. Freelance work in advertising soon followed.

At the end of his studies, he started working for a dotcom as a marketing specialist and soon rose to marketing director. The demands of his job left little time for photography.  His Canon was left collecting dust on a shelf and rather than go to waste, it was sold. So most unfortunately, there was his 2nd divorce with his love… photography.

Model: Kaja Sonik

As the next few years came and went, his ambition grew and Pawel started his own small advertising agency.  He missed photography. From a distance, Pawel observed as the digital revolution in photography swept in. He knew this was the future but at the time the costs were too high and the level of quality not quite there. He bided his time, he married and soon after the wedding he decided to by his first digital camera. His love of photography could no longer be denied. It was advanced compact camera by Fuji - yes, it was betrayal of his beloved Canon, but thank fully, the romance was very short.

The rapid advancements in the new digital world soon made the Fuji obsolete. Pawel bought his first DSLR – made, of course, by Canon. The inspiration was back. He started buying every book he could find. Learning everything he could, along with many discussions with photographer friends, his passion grew. Still, it was only a hobby. His main source of income was computer graphics and especially web design. Then it came, the first real gig as a photographer, then a second, a third. He began investing everything he could into new photo and studio equipment. At the beginning, his wife could only raise her eyebrows but with every step, every job and every picture, she saw it was this that made her husband happiest and even sometimes… money. She became his biggest source of support and encouragement – some of his best lenses were gifts from his wife. 

Model: Miriam, Make up & Stylist: Daria Bielicka

In 2009, he opened his own photography studio and started working more as a photographer than a web designer. With the arrival of a baby boy to his family, Pawel started experimenting with movies as well - using his trusty DSLR to the fullest degree of its capabilities. Pure magic.

Nowadays Pawel spends his days on a variety of photo shoots - portrait, artistic nude, glamour, fashion and, of course, advertising. He’s a member of the Royal Photographic Society and takes part in many photographic contests. He was won an International Portrait and Nude Contest Aphrodite award in 2010, and was featured in FIAP International Salon of Digital Photography - Exposed 2011. His work can be seen in many magazines, newspapers, websites and gallery exhibitions.

Pawel is currently setting up shop in a new studio located in the heart of Krakow, a district popular among other artists, students and tourists. He shoots with two cameras depending on need, the
Canon 5D MK II and 50D. And this time, the love affair looks to last a lifetime.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II | Image: Alexander Frank

In His Own Words

“My philosophy of photography is simple. First craft then art. I think that before you start experimenting and developing your ideas, you should become a very good craftsman. Know your equipment in and out. Controlling light, depth of field and focus is the foundation for everything.”

“My heroes are classic photographers like Newton or Leibovitz but I also appreciate the works of David LaChapelle. They all inspire me.”

"Photography is for me above all… passion, an attempt of creating better world. Being 35 years old I'm experienced enough to look at life with a little wisdom and practicality but I'm still young enough to have a lot of enthusiasm and energy seeking new experiences. I love to shoot people and I always try to capture them at their best. Always looking to find the best light setup, the best camera position, etc. for every photograph, searching for that beauty in each subject, for each has its own unique way.”

Model: Monika Gebala, Make up & Stylist: Daria Bielicka

Renata & Jonathan: First off, Pawel, thank you very much for sharing your time with us. I was wondering with your experience in graphic design, do you think that helps you as a photographer? If so, how?

Pawel: It's a pleasure for me to be your guest. And of course the previous experience in graphic design is very helpful. First of all you don't need to pay for retouching ;-))) Digital photography without graphic programs is not so exciting. If you want to make creative pictures you need to do some changes on your file. Comparing it to the analog photography - if you don't use any postproduction it is like making a film and giving it to the nearest photolab. They make prints using typical, default settings and as the effect You get borring pictures. But if you take the film to your own darkroom, spend a lot of time experimenting with masks, chemistry etc the efect is much more interesting and sometimes spectacular. Today, graphic programs have the same functions like darkrooms in analog age. And some kinds of pictures (beauty, fashion etc) must be edited and retouched - it is the requirement of the style.

Model: Amanda

Model: Amanda

Model: Karolina

Model: Pamela

Renata & Jonathan: It is clear you love your Canon. What is it about them that make them your camera of choice? With the Canon 5D MARK II, what is your favorite feature?

Pawel: I think the situation with choosing your photo system is similar to choosing your favourite football or basketball team :) If you started to support Clippers there is a small chance that you might become a Lakers fan. But if you are a FC Barcelona fan you will never be a fan of Real Madrid :) The same is with your photo system. In the moment when you buy your first DSLR you choose which company gives you the best solution to meet your needs. And then you buy flashes, lenses and other accessories. Everything works usually only within your system. So, of course, I know people who changed their system but it is very uncomfortable and uneconomical.

When I bought my first camera, Canon had the widest range of lenses, that's why I decided to choose that system. I have always been satisfied with the performance of all my Canons, I use them everyday and will always recommend them. I love my 5D MK II especially for it's vivid, picturesque quality.

Renata & Jonathan: The revolution is over and we are now part of the digital age, the darkroom has been replaced by a desktop. What tools do you use once a shoot is over? What tools would you recommend to someone just starting out?

Pawel: To say it in one sentence we should say that darkroom has been replaced by Lightroom :) So it is much, much brighter situation. Of course, there is a big difference between professional and amatour photographers. If you want to edit a lot of pictures in a short time and in the highest quality you need powerful tools like Lightroom or Photoshop. But there is a lot of other, cheaper or even free software. I.e. You can replace Photoshop by Gimp and you can use the software added to your camera to process RAW files. For managing pictures you can use i.e. Picassa by Google or Flickr.

Actor Michal Lewandowski, Stylists: Anna Seligowska and Ella Gajewska, Make up: Daria Bielicka

Actor Michal Lewandowski, Model: Monika Gebala, Stylists: Anna Seligowska and Ella Gajewska, Make up: Daria Bielicka

Actor Bogdan Kudlek

Movie Director Kazimierz Bihun

Renata & Jonathan: Pawel, what is the biggest challenge for you when work on a project? 

Pawel: The most important thing is the satisfaction of the customer so the biggest challenge is always to get to know your clients expectations. This challange is universal for all kinds of pictures. And every type of photo-job has it's own challenges and difficulties. Making a portrait you have to try to catch your model expression and emotions. Making nudes you must gain the trust with the model - without it the pictures have artificial and spiritless look. Nude model must be sure that the aim of photographer is only the great picture of her/his body and not the nudity in itself.

Fashion photoshoot is also always very big challenge because of the responsibility of every team member. There is a lot of work of make-up artist, hairdresser, stylist, model and photographer is at the end of the long journey.
 The risk of spoiling the work made by so many people is really big and You have to be fully focused from the beginnig to the end of the photoshoot.

Model:Monika Gebala, MUA: Daria Bielicka, Hat: Ella Gajewska, Dress: Imunzi

Model: Magdalena Gaj, MUA: Daria Bielicka, Hat: Ella Gajewska, Dress: Imunzi

Renata & Jonathan: Okay, if you could shoot anything, anyone, what would be your dream photo shoot?

Pawel: It depends on what kind of photoshoot. So let’s start from the models... Fashion photoshoot: Elle Macpherson, Claudia Schiffer (they aren’t now on the top but still very interesting) or Anna Jagodzinska – great face!
Portrait photoshoot: Robin Williams – absolutely fantastic facial expression or Scarlett Johanson – pure beauty 
Location: at the top of very high skyscrapper or on a desert. 
Styling: by Jean Paul Gaultier

Renata & Jonathan: Just want to thank you again, Pawel, for sharing your work and thoughts with us. I hope everyone reading will enjoy this and welcome any thoughts or comments. Bye for now!

Model: Magdalena Gaj, MUA: Daria Bielicka, Hat: Ella Gajewska, Dress: Imunzi

To contact Pawel about a future project, please visit him at his web site:


Jade said...

wow, those pictures are gorgeous! Thanks for the great post and in depth interview!

Renata and Jonathan said...

Hi! So glad you enjoyed it, Jade, and thank you for saying so :)


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