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Interview: Photographer Jakub Nowak (Poland)

Can you tell us a little about you?

I’m 40. Warsaw based, but also work abroad. I’m a huge “Lord of the Rings” geek (I read it 33 times) and could tell you distance from Bucklebury Ferry to BrandywineBridge in an instant (25 miles ;-) ). Vegan, minimalist, optimist, allyship.

How and when did you get into photography?

I’m 40, so I was born and raised in a communist country and when I had my First Communion at te age of 9 I got Russian Zenith 12xp camera as a gift. Of course it was analogue and of course I had no idea what to do with that at the beginning. So I photographed flowers, family members and our animals and those shots were awful... but I gained some experience. But only many years later, after two master’s degrees (journalism and Christian theology) and six long years of job I didn’t really like (news journalist) I decieded to concentrate on photography.

What does photography mean to you?

It’s my way of expressing awe with the people and a world around me. I know it sounds cheesy, but that’s the truth. I can’t play any instrument, can’t sculpt, paint, sing or do anything else creatively really so photography is my only way of showing how awesome and beautiful some aspects of reality are.

Where do you get inspiration from?

Usually form observing what location and model have to offer. Of course like most photographers I have thousands of shots that inspire me on my hard drive but I try to come out with my own ideas.

Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.

My style changes and depends on the project. I love shallow DOF portraits, static and (especially) dynamic dance photography. I’m trying to show how awesome and flexible a human body can be. I like warm tones, muted shots and contrasty B&W. I don’t think that I have a specific photographic style (when we talk about techical details or post-production) but I do have a specific approach – it’s full of enthusiasm when it comes to getting up at 4AM for a photo shoot and when tallking to people I’m photographing.

Do you think in advance what you want in the picture?

As a matter of fact I do. When it’s possible I like to have at least few shots in my head before the photo shoot. So I exaclty know what pose, what outfit and what location will be used for ceratin frames. I usually scout the location beforehand. Of course when photographing I improvise with my models and that’s the really fun part. Especially when I’m working with wonderful and creative people.

Studio, on location or both?

Both. I love natural light on location, but studio gives me consistency when the weather is bad or during winter months.

Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?

Photography is my only source of income, so in that sense I’m probably a paid professional. But the difference between hobbyist and professional IMHO lies not in money but whether your photos are good or not (and that of course in itself is a topic that could fill a small library). So I consider myself a guy that takes pictures, nothing more or nothing less.

What has been your most memorable session and why?

I don’t have a favourite one but the most extreme was a nude photo shoot with like 5 degrees Celsius on location. It took about 4 hours to finish and a model did an awesome job of not freezing to death ;-) (we had a blanket and hot tea just outside the frame, but it was still an extreme situation)

Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?

Everything that can capture the moment. I use Nikon but I don’t think that even remotely matters. I could be using Canon, Fuji or Zenith and get the same results. When it comes to gear I use fixed lens. I love my 85mm 1.8. My dream lens? Probably Nikon 200mm 2.0. Maybe one day… but for now I’m fine with what I’ve got.

What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?

I wish I could give any. I’m an awful businessman. I loooooove shooting. I love working in LR and PS and spending hours and hours in front of the computer but as sure as hell I hate social media, promotion on the Internet and don’t know anything about it. So if someone want to help me with that or be my manager, please send me a DM.

What do you think of our new magazine?

I think it’a a great place to find some inspiration and (if you’re lucky) to show your work.

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