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Interview: Photographer Piotr Cierniak (Disillusion Photography) (Poland) Winner of the month

Can you tell us a little about you?

Hey, my name is Piotr, I’m an adrenaline junkie, traveller and passionate photographer from Poland. Kind of maverick rebel and perfectionist also - which is my worst curse and my greatest blessing (laughing).

How and when did you get into photography? Well, I don’t even remember when exactly did it happen, but it’s been over 20 years since I started hanging around with a camera I guess. I’m really grateful it happened in times when digital media were still something new and emerging. So yeah, I’m one of those lucky, old school photographers, who had a chance to learn some skills in way more challenging environment – without an image preview and only 36 actually expensive frames available on the film. I remember, it took me a while before I had enough confidence to start working with models, but shooting people was definitely something that shaped my relation to photography and attached it to my life forever.

What does photography mean to you?

Honestly?... a lot. Really. It has become my very natural, personal way of emotional expression. I’m really glad I just let it evolve in me, and actually never been forcing it to follow any specific trend or style over all those years. At some stage I just crossed that point where I no longer need to seek for inspiration badly, in order to make a photoshoot happen. It’s actually exactly otherwise. It starts with a feeling, emotion, situation or experience – my own or people I meet in my life – which usually just moves my heart and makes me emotionally connected, and then all the images start to appear in my mind. The way it just happens is really magical. I love telling stories with my projects but also try to make it in way that actually still allows some room for imagination and interpretation when people look at my works. Either it is an emotional portrait, sensual nude or symbolic art, I’d love anyone looking at those photographs to feel emotionally connected. Be able to see a little bit beyond and just realize ...’Yeah, it’s so true, I feel the same’.

Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.

I’m not sure whether I already developed one. It’s constantly evolving. I rather prefer dark than bright and no longer desperately strive for pixel perfect, razor sharp output. I focus on emotional aspect and general look and feel which pretty often means downgrading technically perfect photographs during the editing process. I mostly shoot people and I’m in absolute love with a natural light. When I shoot…well I just try catch those faint moments, fractures of seconds that only happen once and never again. I barely give models any directions unless they clearly ask for it, or unless it is just a small correction such as moving the hand or turning the foot. Otherwise, I just love them to be natural. At the other end, I create a lot of symbolic projects as well. Those are different, much more personal. I want them to be minimalistic and speak through expressive poses, light, shadow and even certain locations. Models in this case are just a part of a bigger concept, not the main object. Weird, ugly poses, narrow crops, selective focus, bokeh – I’m truly fascinated about all those as they help my works convey strong emotional message.

Think you in advance what you want in the picture? It depends. In case of all those symbolic projects – yes, I do. Once I have a vision, I usually know how I want the result to look like in terms of pose, light, composition and obviously emotional message to convey…For those projects I also invite a bit more specific and experienced models as they usually require some certain skills. For everything else I usually talk the concept over with models I work with, so we know the mood and general ideas and then I just let them be natural. Relaxed, comfortable and self-confident model is the real treasure and key to success. And this is obviously all my responsibility, as a photographer, to let them feel so.

Where do you get inspiration from?

Well, there obviously is sort of an art that really moves me. And such a works happen to be kind of an emotional trigger in my mind sometimes. But I wouldn’t actually call them inspirations, however they usually give me a boost of extra energy to work on my own stuff. As I mentioned earlier, emotions, experiences and that faint, spiritual aspects of everyday life, are mostly where my inspirations come from.

Studio, on location or both?

Absolutely location. And mostly outdoor. Natural, ambient light. I do, of course, shoot with strobes as well, all depends on the concept but even then, I’d rather take all my equipment to the certain, carefully picked up location, not to the studio. I just find studio shots kinda ‘emotionless’ while natural environment offers a way more unique outcome.

Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional? I’d say both, however I definitely prefer to keep my photography at the passion side. It gives me a much more creative freedom, and doesn’t make me feel bored or tired. I consider what I do rather an art than a craft so I’m happy to be fulltime UI/UX designer for living and passionate photographer in my spare time.

What has been your most memorable session and why? That’s tough question. Really. Creative collaboration with people is something I put my whole heart into, so picking up just one example is difficult. I really enjoyed ‘Soulmate’ project mostly because it happened quite unexpectedly actually, as a part of another shoot. We were actually done for that day, it started to rain and we both, myself and a model, wanted a coffee badly. I just asked her to pose for few more shots on our way back. After a quick look at barely few frames we both knew they were going to be super cool and definitely worth continuing as a separate thing. So, we met again and made it happen. I still have few crops waiting for post processing and a big dilemma which ones to reject because they all are so fantastic.

What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work? Everyday life. Personal experiences, hopes, dreams. Interactions. Spirituality. People in general I guess…yes, I really enjoy those so called ‘difficult talks about life’. It’s incredibly inspiring in times, when people are more and more afraid to trust, so they hide their true, honest emotions behind the wall of never ending social media noise and posing.

Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?

Nikon. I mostly use 70-200mm and 50mm. This may change soon, since I’m on hunt for 85mm f1.4.

What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking

Be honest. And be patient. Be true. And be strong enough to do your own thing. This last one is actually the most important yet most difficult because of kinda natural tendency to seek for an acceptance all around. It obviously all depends on what does photography really mean to you.

What do you think of our new magazine? First of all I find it a great source of creative art to enjoy. I like the idea of giving creative people a chance to connect and feature their work, without any mandatory financial commitment. And I obviously appreciate having my own chance as well, thank you

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