Interview: Photographer Kamila J Gruss (Poland)
Can you tell us a little about you?
I was born and grew up in Poland. I studied and lived in Berlin, where I did my master degree in New German Literature, Spanish Literature and General And Comparative Literature Studies. At the same time I did my master degree in German studies in Szczecin, Poland. When my father fell seriously ill, I returned home and started working in a family business. To this day, I work and live here, with my husband and our two wonderful children.
How and when did you get into photography?
It was shortly after the birth of my second child, almost five years ago. I wanted to be able to photograph my children beautifully so I started to learn how 😊
What does photography mean to you?
Photography is my passion, way of catching my breath. It is a part of me, which I love to get lost in, be surprised by, part, where I do get to create versions of realities that resonate with my sensitivity, most. It is precisely when I enter this sphere, I rest the most. It’s always the photos, I am in a process of creating that are the last thing on my mind, just before I fall asleep. Being “in the moment”; observing the nature and all that is around me, seems to be an endless source of an inspiration. Little details I focus on, somehow end up being a content of picture growing and maturing within me, I will pain one day.
Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.
I have been struggling with depression for several years and photography is a kind of therapy for me. I pour out the feelings that I have inside me on pictures, creating stories that allow me to work through the emotions that torment me. I try to play with photography, often giving another dimension to normal scenes. Sometimes they are colourful like in fairy tales and sometimes very dark and whimsical like in Pan’s Labyrinth. Photography opened my eyes and allowed me to see more of the world around us but also inside us .
Through the photos, I also express my dissatisfaction and disagreement with the actions of the current government in Poland. For Example with the picture ´Ophelia 2020´ (Model: Nadia Krawczyk) I tell the story about LGBT+ youth in Poland. In a country where, according to President Duda, LGBT+ persons are not people but ideology, in a country where LGBT free zones are created. In my beautiful Poland, the hatred fueled by the Catholic church and PIS government pours into the lives of these kids and they drown in it. This picture is a hommage to Michał, Kacper, Wiktor, Zuzia, Milo, children who have committed suicide.
Two other pictures ´Committee for Perinatal Care I´ and ´Saturn´ (Committee for Perinatal Care II) concern the situation in the Polish health care and the ban on abortion, which was introduced despite the protests of the majority of the society and with the support of the Catholic Church. At this point, I must mention the amazing artist who sews costumes for Polish theaters and the man who made the ruff that my model Gigi has around his neck: Adam Machul the Greatest.
Where do you get inspiration from?
I find an inspiration everywhere: in literature, art, film, music, in smells, colours, feelings, in the light and in the dark, in paving or a drop of water.
Do you think in advance what you want in the picture ?
It can really be different. Sometimes I photograph an idea that I've had in mind for a long time. I know exactly what the final photo should look like and that is my goal. It also happens that the photo I take doesn't come to life until post-production. Suddenly an idea comes up and all previous plans go to hell ;).
Studio, on location or both?
At the beginning of my photographic journey, I took pictures wherever I could, but lately it's only a studio. I am slowly beginning to miss the space in my photos, so I may be leaving my four walls again.
Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?
What has been your most memorable session and why?
The session at the children's oncology ward was the most memorable and emotional. My cousin's little daughter was also at this station, so together with another photographer Kamila Celary we decided to give the warriors a day of relaxation so that they can forget their struggle with the disease for a while and have a nice souvenir. On my way out of the hospital, I peered into the room and saw tiny feet on the hospital bed. To this day I have this image in my head and I think it will stay there forever.
What is your proudest moment as a photographer/artist?
I have more but let me tell about five :)
1. “Krasny Ludek”: final of Sony World Photography Awards 2018 in the open category: enhanced.
2. “Reach for the peach”: one of the 100 best photos of the Year 2018 on National Geographic Your Shot.
3. Publication in the Szeroki Kadr magazine:
4. "Dark" The Winner of B&W Child Photo Competition in the Fine Art Category 2019
5. Invitation as a speaker in 7th Jurassic Photo Festival 2020
And today I´m so proud to be here...
Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?
Canon 5D Mark III, sigma art 50 1.4, but I dream about sigma art 24 1.4 for portraits.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?
I believe, the most important thing is, to analyze both, your own work and work of others… Testing what does work? What doesn’t? Where can the improvements be made? Without analysis, it is hard to grow, learn and move forward. I spent a lot of time contemplating, studying, analyzing the details of work, of the photographers whos work I love. I analyze possible reasons and aims of technics used, wanting to get to the bottom of the way they think and conclude. I wonder what light they have used and why? The same applies to accessories, clothes, hairstyles, backgrounds and colors. Photography shows me a piece of the soul of a photographer. Kind of a fingerprint that cannot and should not be copied but used as a pointer, directing towards a source of an inspiration of the particular author and source of a beauty, one can feed their wondering soul off.
What do you think of our new magazine?
I was glad to discover for myself ModellenLand Magazine and I find it being a perfect platform for photographers to share their passion. I think that the team of ModellenLand Magazine does a great job! Thank you for an invitation!
The Moth Model Wiktoria Pytlik Photo Kamila J Gruss
Beauty and the Beast Model Nadia Reclaw Photo Kamila J Gruss
Self-portrait in a yellow jacket Kamila J Gruss
Reach for the peach Kamila J. Gruss
The Lamp Lighter Model Gigi Photo kamila J Gruss
Longing Model Ala Zakrzewska Photo Kamila J Gruss
Pphelia 2020 Model Nadia Reclaw Photo Kamila J Gruss
Nadia Model Nadia Reclaw Photo Kamila J Gruss
Madame Butterfly Model Nadia Reclaw Photo Kamila J Gruss
Krasny Ludek Photo Kamila J Gruss