Editorial Submission INTERVIEW WITH RADOSLAW REDZIKOWSKI – captured by Polish fashion photographer Radosław Rędzikowski for Flawless Magazine.
INTERVIEW WITH RADOSLAW REDZIKOWSKI
Q1: Radosław Rędzikowski first off, can you tell us about yourself and how you got started in photography?
There is nothing extraordinary about my story. First camera I played with when I was seven was my brother’s Smena (made in USSR), then my father’s Zenith(my first SLR), dark room set up in my parents’ basement and that was basically how I lost my head for photography aged 14. I went to photography school but I left it after just two years mainly because of straight rules set up by the teachers. I was always interested in portraits and unfortunately the portrait classes were the biggest disappointment focused on techniques and no tips how to look or think about photography. After I had left the school my baby daughter became my only model and later, for many different reasons I had to forget about photography for a few years. When I finally got back to my passion, it was already a digital age and I had to start from scratch. Although I still miss my darkroom and all the excitement involved in the developing process it was a digital technology that eventually allowed me to earn a living.
Q2: How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it?
I always try to look at my subject in a simple and open way, I like classical way of framing, not looking for oddity or surprise, I just want my models to look good. I like playing with light that allows me to introduce magical, almost fairy-tale-like ambiance.
Q3: At what point did you realize that photography is what you wanted to do as a career?
Photography has been a part of me all the time, I simply couldn’t figure out how to turn my passion into a career. I left all my stuff back in Poland and moved to the UK to start doing something completely different. After work however I couldn’t help myself visiting photographic shops and staring at cameras and accessories which at that point I didn’t really need.
And one day I just made quick and hasty decision to go back to Poland and open a studio having no job, no money, equipment or connections. I put all my eggs in one basket, came back, got married with my girlfriend and we started from scratch together. This was a very difficult but quite exciting period when I finally realised I couldn’t do anything else.
Q4: What are the biggest challenges of working in Poland?
Polish fashion world is a very hermetic circle, turning around the same names, reluctant to let anyone in. Although talented and hard-working, vast majority of currently world famous models, designers, photographers and artists in general couldn’t make a career in Poland, people simply tend to get acclaimed after they have been noticed abroad.
Q5: Your projects are a collaborative process. Tell us what is like to always be working with new stylists, models, and designers.
Work with artists, although fascinating, is quite often a huge challenge. There can be over a dozen people involved in one session, all of them equally important; having their own vision, their own ideas and ambitions. It is difficult to make them all feel appreciated and understood simultaneously not to mention organizing and looking after such projects. That’s why I always have a supervising art director, one person responsible for basically everything going on in the studio that can put her foot down when necessary. I like working in a friendly and informal atmosphere no matter how important the job is, where everyone can fool around and have a good laugh but remain professional at the same time. It’s important that people working together are on the same wavelength. I was lucky enough to meet my dream team, which I really love to work with.
Q6: What kind of impact do you hope to make in the fashion world in the next 5-10 years?
I like getting involved in independent projects. For over a year now I’ve been working on a showroom combined with a photographic studio that gathers young designers from all around the country. Now I am planning to enable photographers from all over the world to rent amazing and unique creations for the photo-shoots online. Hopefully I will be able to get through to a larger number of people with the work of young Polish artists. As I do not usually plan anything and make my decisions on the spur of the moment it is very hard to say what I will be doing in 5-10 years but wherever I’ll be I hope I will always have my camera on me.
Q7: What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is not just a business anymore, it’s a lifestyle, a way to express yourself, for me it’s art, that inspires, generates emotions, amuses and sometimes terrifies.
Q9: What projects are you working on now?
Currently I am organizing a big photographic workshops tour; I am going to travel around the country for a few months. I managed to get a few great people involved in the workshops such as a finalist of Polish Next Top Model, talented make-up artists, hairdressers, stylists and designers. I am hoping that really magical shots will emerge from this project.
Q10: How much equipment do you typically bring to a photo-shoot?
I don’t use too much equipment in my outdoor sessions as I tend to move a lot and carry my equipment by myself. Looking for a perfect spot I often climb trees, walk into the water etc. and too much equipment would only slow me down and prevent me from taking “the picture”. I don’t use tripods, softboxes or huge lamps, quite often it’s only one camera, 1-2 lenses and some small wireless lamps. However I don’t think there is such a thing as an excessive accessory for a photographer, that’s why I keep all this stuff I don’t use in my studio.
Q11: Talk about the biggest struggles you had when you first started fashion photography in Poland, and what are the biggest challenges facing you now?
Definitely the very beginning; no studio, no fashion portfolio, no connections of any kind, I really didn’t know where to start. For the first sessions my wife (my business partner, stylist and graphic designer) and I had to re-tailor second- hand clothes, we used to make some crazy accessories and hats often at night, we were looking for models via internet… crazy times. We never knew who was going to come for the session, how they were going to model and in fact what they really looked like. But it was that time when I met most of the amazing people I still work with: make-up artists, stylists, designers and models. Waiting for the first fashion contracts we made ends meet mostly on wedding photography trying to smuggle as much fashion into it as it was possible. Nowadays more and more people can afford digital equipment and there are more and more photographers on the market, many of them are happy to work for free to gain some experience. Large substantial contracts are reserved for a small group of famous names, smaller customers, on the other hand, are still not ready to invest in good professional photography. You can find good fashion photographs at social networks, some independent magazines, unfortunately not in your potential customers’ campaigns.
Q12: What photographers from the past or present have influenced you the most?
The first and the most significant “master” in my career was Henri Cartier-Bresson, the fashion elegance in his photojournalism changed my perception of photography forever. My second fascination was Jan Saudek’s work – huge package of emotions through simplicity, no enhancement or beautification, no puffed out sceneography – that’s what mostly seduced me.
One of my favourite photographers for many years now has been Erwin Olaf with his surreal and magical light and colour in contrast with often brutal and drastic content.
I also admire every piece of a great fashion photography master Patrick Demarchelier for their elegance, simplicity and subtlety.
Q13: What’s the most important thing you want potential clients to know about you?
It is a difficult question. I would probably refer a potential customer to the photographs; I believe that only they should speak to the customer directly. As long as someone finds my work interesting we can talk about all other, additional things, which are less important.
Q14: Lastly any advice for aspiring photographers?
The one and most important rule is – there are no rules! Don’t let anyone tell you that you need specific expensive accessories, or that you have to frame, light or edit your photographs in any specific way. Lots of people out there are ready to tell you, that your work is worthless, just learn how to tell criticism from viciousness and then… ignore them both!