Become an emotional wedding photographer

emotional wedding photographer image

R: I have started discovering some kind of sensuality and emotionality in me quite recently. I have learned that in order to create emotion-filled things, one has to be emotional as well. Yet another way is to search for emotionality everywhere – in music, in film, in poetry – and to let it inspire you. It is not always all about photography. This year, I stepped away from photography-related inspiration. I have started looking for people who would inspire me with their music. Almost each photo-shoot I have organized has been accompanied by a neat music playing in the background. It has helped the photographed people, as well as myself, relax. It has also created a specific mood that made my mind forget about its boundaries. It is simply amazing what music can do.

J: It is difficult for me to imagine how music has been incorporated into your sessions. Have you been using an iPhone?

R: Yes. I have been playing music from my iPhone. Sometimes, I just leave my phone in a close vicinity to people I am about to photograph. I ask them to listen, relax, and enjoy the moment. They are left with music and are encouraged to listen to it. They are then close to one another and when I go back from my break, I start photographing them. I try to create a specific mood and not start the entire session from shoots. I want the models to focus on themselves at first, to let go of tension and stress, to forget that they will be photographed in a moment.

J: I see. Do you happen to wear headphones during photo-shoots?

R: It sometimes happen, yes. Sometimes I participate in a wedding wearing headphones, even while in the church. People may not notice that but it helps me forget about everything that surrounds me. In Poland, weddings are typically pompous and rather sad, which distracts me a bit. I miss a bit of frivolity and ease. Everything is so unbearably serious. What is more, oftentimes during coverage sessions, I wear my headphones as well. Thanks to that, I can go back to my own world.

J: À propos serious atmosphere during weddings – have someone reprimanded you during such ceremonies?

R: I have had several strange experiences. Even this year I was punched in the back several times while the newlyweds were exchanging their rings. It turned out that it was one of guests, who was taking part in the wedding and decided to make some photos with his phone.

J: As far as I know, you have worked for an airline, which has been connected with travelling a lot and staying away from home for quite some time. I assume that visiting many intriguing places has caused to you be eager to make photos of them and save them on your memory card. Could you tell me about the exact moment you have understood that photography is your true calling.

R: It is an interesting story. You have to know that I have done many things in my life, including travelling via planes. I spent last seven years working for various airlines. The last one was predominantly oriented towards charter flights, during which I had the opportunity to explore the world a little and became more open to the world surrounding me, to the people living there, to diversity, and to other cultures. The feeling was so strong that I noticed that I was behaving differently in places I did not know. It had all started rather innocently. During my initial flights, I had had a lot time to explore and walk about, so I had thought to myself that I had had to have something to make the time pass quicker. I had taken a camera and started taking photos. Afterwards, I decided that I want to learn how to use the camera better and started attending some workshops, as well as watching tutorials and listening to podcasts. At one point, I decided I did not want to fly anymore, that the job would be over sooner or later and that I had been walking in circles, failing to do something new. I felt that I wanted to do something for myself at last and I decided that photography would be that thing.

J: Ok. You have mentioned workshops. I assume that you have focused on technicalities and basics on composition.

R: Yes, it has been like that.

J: At the beginning, you did not know that you would eventually become a wedding photography.

R: No, I did not expect that. It all started in a bit of a peculiar manner. My life is a series of unexpected events that finally turn out to be a part of my destiny. It may seem strange for some. During my workshops, I tell people that in the case of the first wedding I attended, I had been invited to for I had shown the photos from a historical reenactment. My sister’s friend had noticed the photos and asked if I would like to come to France and take photos during her wedding. That is how it all started…

J: I see that we have something in common. I have written some time ago on my blog that I was talking to a client and at one point he asked me if I could show him some wedding photos. I did not have any portfolio of my own then, so I showed him some shoots from a journey I had been on. Then, he showed my some photos from his trip and that is how we came to an agreement. I see that it was similar in your case.

A historical reenactment…it had to be interesting. Did it involve some knights or something similar?

R: It was a kind of a reenacted battle. The January Uprising or something like that.

J: So the time period presented was different. I understand now.

R: It was a bit crazy, you know? But it is great that it is how it all started and then continued. I had some time to prepare for the wedding, so I decided that I had to master the basics at least. Therefore, I participated in Adam Trzcionka’s workshops, which gave me some basic understanding of the craft and helped to grasp how a photo-shoot should have looked like.

J: You mean that Adam educated you in a way. Was it before the very first order?

R: Yes, exactly.

J: I see. So you was professionally prepared for your first big deal. Did you start to feel the true passion then? Did you then understand that it was something you wanted to do?

R: Yes.

J: You wanted to tell the story of newlyweds, of people being in love.

R: Back then, I did not know what I wanted to do and why I wanted to do that, but it all felt right. I felt something pleasant inside. I understood that I could work anywhere I wanted. I was responsible for my fate and for the direction I would decide to take. Then, I decided to give myself about two years to purchase photo equipment that would allow me to take professional photos and to master more advanced techniques during workshops and on my own. My first season was spent on travelling and taking photos of newlyweds. After some time, I reached a point when I had about twenty agreements concluded for the next season and decided to give up flying in order to focus on photography only.

J: You decided to become a professional.

R: Yes, indeed.

J: You have said that you gave yourself about two years to learn the craft.

R: Yes, yes.

J: I wonder how many inspiring people you met during that timeframe. I am talking about people who showed you a different direction, inspired you, and helped you reach the place where you are now. Could you tell me about at least some people who supported you on your way?

R: To be perfectly frank, at the beginning I looked for inspiration in people who were considered to be inspirational by definition, so in other photographers. I tried to learn how to imitate or copy someone’s style. While travelling to reach one of my workshops, I listened to a podcast featuring Kamila and she said something about Wolves photography workshops.

J: You attended them as well, am I right?

R: Yes, you are. It is funny, because I wrote something about those workshops and after some time, four other Poles got in touch with me, so we went there as a group. Kamila was there as well. What is more, I met great photographers, among others – Ed Peers, who… You know what? During the workshops, I learned maybe a dozen useful things and started using them in my work. Even though they were all snippets of information, they changed my life. If it had not been for the workshops, I would not have achieved what I did this year.

J: You have said about several snippets. Could you share at least one of them with me?

R: Sure, why not. I can tell you about something I remembered from a simple conversation with Ed Peers. He told me that while preparing for a photo-shoot, he had always tried to make the frame and hence the entire picture very clean. In my time, I had tried to capture several layers in my photos. Then, I decided that there was no need to do so just because the majority of Polish photographers had followed that approach. I had always enjoyed cleaner, more minimalistic shoots.

J: Several layers are perfect for coverage-specific materials, am I right? Then they fit the mood better.

R: Yes, exactly. I am wondering…

J: I feel that you are more of a creator in your works.

R: Exactly. I would not call myself a reporter. Even now it is difficult for me to specify how to call myself. I have to say that I am predominantly oriented towards creating and arranging stories.

J: It can be seen that the projects you realize are your authorial visions and ways of perceiving the world around you. Finally, we have reached the topic of style. I would like to ask you something. I cannot help but notice… For the first time, I met you during LooksLikeFilm in Cracow. We met for just a moment and there was no time to chat for longer. There were many people and it was impossible to talk to everyone properly. However, what I want to say is that I perceived you as a very nice and outgoing person. You were even a type of a joker to me. You are not a type of person telling jokes all the time, are you?

R: No, I am not. Definitely not.

J: I then noticed that you were rather in the shadows for the majority of time. For me you were…

Rather focused on your own business. I have to say at this moment that your style and the photos I have seen on the Internet…it all contrasts with the perception of you I assumed. I think that it may be connected with your multilayered personality. There may be that specific type of darkness in your soul, a type of dramaturgy that is then transferred to your photos. How is it in your personal opinion?

R: I will try to explain that it to you, but I have to come clean and tell you that I find it extremely difficult to verbally express what is on my mind, what is in my soul, or what is in my heart. I am perfectly frank with you now. As you have noticed, I fell a tease when I am at the back, observing people and drawing my own conclusions. I am surely not the life and soul of the party. Do not get me wrong, I love people and I simply adore talking to them, but I feel the most comfortable when I am surrounded by small groups of people. I feel blocked, limited, and afraid when I am at events where there is the need to speak in front of hundreds of individuals. Then, I am stressed and very nervous. It is difficult to grasp all that. As I have told you, this year I have reached a new level of emotionality. It is troublesome for me to express it exactly, because it has been the synergy of various factors, but in many ways I have been affected by a specific type of music I have been listening to. I was brought up by my grandmother and mother rather than by my father, so I have spent much more time with women. For me, emotionality is nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, I consider it to be a great thing. That is why I explain to couples I work with that they should express emotions, especially men should do that. It may be that I have some darkness in me, but I have to tell you that it is simply impossible for me to describe it in detail, believe me.

J: I have to tell you that my approach is different. When it comes to photography, I have not categorized you and have not considered you to be a person taking dark and moody photos only. Yesterday, I was going through your portfolio and noticed that there were many bright shoots made by you. It can be concluded then that you have not been completely captivated and captured by darkness.

R: You know, when a person finds something new in his or her life, he or she tends to focus on it too much. It was the same with me, especially at the beginning, when I started shooting with tilt-shift or focusing on dark photos. Now, I try to reach a kind of balance. When my photos are dark, I try to provide a context for the darkness rather than make gloomy works for gloominess’ sake. I try not to follow popular trends.

J: I see. You have said that you have replaced your tilt-shift and…

R: I am very sorry, but I have to interrupt you here for a while. I have told you a bit about my experiences with Ed Pierce earlier. I have also discovered, rather by accident, that by hiding people in the dark, you can also hide everything that is around them. Even if the scene is crammed and messy, all you have to do is to make the photo darker in order to create the atmosphere of a mysterious and interesting place.

J: It is an intriguing approach. You can also experiment with focal ratio, right?

R: Yes, you can.

J: Then everything is a bit blurry. I am sorry, but I have to go back to the topic of the aforementioned tilt-shift. I have talked to a press photographer once and he has told me that after buying a new lens, a person typically uses that lens for a half a year or so to take photos. Is it true?

R: Yes, indeed.

J: You have touched upon the topic of tilt-shift, so I would like to ask you something. It may be interesting for photo amateurs…what was your starting equipment while beginning your journey with photography?

R: Well, at first I had many lenses, one could say that it was way too many. I started using 24… Gosh, what lens was that? 24…

J: 70?

R: Yes, exactly. I had a 14-24, I had a 50, my set included 70-200, and also – 85. It was way too many lenses. I have to tell you that now, I just have 35, 58, and 85 lenses. I used the last one while in Iceland, but I take advantage of it sometimes to create unique compositions. I do not use tilt-shift lens anymore, for I am not fascinated by it now. If I was asked to specify what lenses I use in percent, I would say that it would be 85%-95% for 35 and 10% for 58.

J: I have to ask – what is the 58 lens? It is a…

R: Full frame.

J: I am truly intrigued by that 58.

R: To be precise, it is Nikon 58mm. it may seem funny to you, but I use it due to the fact that so many photographers tend to opt for 50s, so I want to be different. I have always been a bit different, so I have decided to purchase the 58 lens rather than the 50 one.

J: As far as I remember…

R: Aside from that, it is a truly great lens, it has to be said.

J: As far as I remember, it is closer to what we see with our eyes, right? 58 is more faithful than 50, am I right?

R: Yes, you are.

J: I do not know why, but I have always considered you to be the user of Canon cameras. However, it turns out that you are a Nikon fan, aren’t you?

R: Yes, I am, exactly.

J: I see.

R: To be honest with you, Nikon entered by life by accident. It was used by my then girlfriend and my present wife. She had a basic Nikon SLR camera. I took it with me to one of my trips when I was still working for an airline. I started taking photos with that Nikon camera, so it was then easier for me to purchase additional lenses to it or to make amendments… I have to say that when it comes to dark photography, Nikon is absolutely spot on. I especially like my Nikon D750, for I can get a lot out of it.

J: Allow me to change topic for a while, for I would like to ask you about your journeys. I know that you are accustomed to such a way of life. I do not know how it was when you had a girlfriend, then a fiancée, and finally – a wife. I am interested in how you manage to combine your work and your life. It is not a secret that is difficult to find a balance between being a family guy and being a photographer during destination weddings. It may be a remarkable difficulty sometimes. I have to ask about your wife. As far as I know, your cat misses you as well.

R: Yes, my cat feels extremely lonely during my journeys, but we manage somehow. Both my wife and myself are accustomed to travels, as she is a flight attendant.

J: Then it is understandable.

R: We met while we were both working for an airline. To be perfectly honest with you, she has been travelling more than I have been. However, we do our best to arrange trips together as well. Quite recently, I have been asked to take photos during a wedding in the United States, so I have taken her with me and we have organized a neat road trip. We were also in Iceland together when I was working on an elopement project. We travel together quite often. I do my best to take her with me and make her forget about her world at least for few days. It can be arranged, I am serious! I just want to add that the profession of a flight attendant is remarkably unusual for the schedule of such a person is different every single month. It is possible to work only 10 days a month and rest for the remainder of it, so there is always room for arranging some trips together.

J: It can be said that she has a job quite similar to the one of a wedding photographer, who has…

R: Yes.

J: He has all weekend booked, but then, he can rest during the week.

R: Exactly.

J: In the opinion of friend of such a person, he does not do anything during that time. I would like to ask you about a different matter connected with destination weddings. As it has been stated, you have been travelling around the world a lot and meeting a ton of new people. Thanks to that, you have been creating an extensive contact database allowing you to take part in such events, so …

R: Interestingly enough, I have not had a database of contacts. I have just been travelling around the world. I started my adventure with wedding photography in Poland. After few years, I wanted to expand and do the same abroad. That was the plan. It was rather difficult to become well-known outside Poland without any contacts whatsoever, but I have to say that if you truly want something, you can achieve that no problem. What is more, in my opinion it is relatively easy.

J: Ok.

R: The first thing you have to do is to properly analyze the style opted for by the photographers from abroad and understand the preferences of people there.

J: I am sorry, Rafał, but I have to interrupt you. Could you tell us a bit more about the so-called Polish style and then take the subject further. It seems that we have had some technical difficulties here.

R: Sure, not a problem. I think that while approaching Polish weddings in a typical manner, I would not create a decent portfolio for myself, for the focus here is on presenting several patterns. People from abroad would not like to hire such a photographer to take care of shoots connected with their weddings.

J: Ok, but…

R: And you know what? It was the right choice. When I created my portfolio, I wanted it to look…it may seem stupid. I do not want to cut myself off from Poland, because I love this country and people living here. However, I wanted my works to convey the idea of an international wedding or one taking place abroad.

J: I do understand your point of view. Some time ago I listened to someone – it could have been Marko Markowicz or Petar Jurica, but rather the latter. He said that it was all about the way people from the east are perceived by those from the west. I do not want to stigmatize anyone, but such people will surely think twice about whether to hire a photographer from Poland or from Croatia. Petar said that he did not provide the name of the newlyweds. He did not want to…

R: Yes, I get that.

J: He did not want to tell anyone that it was a wedding of Zdenko and Marina, right? Rather, he signed the photos as A+E. That was his thing.

R: It is a sensible observation. I have done it many a time. I remember that once there was a remarkable outrage on my blog, as people asked me why I called the newlyweds Dorothy & Peter, rather than Dorota and Piotr. Names should not be changed to their English equivalents, but I am more than sure that no one was truly offended that I made such a decision. My website is in English, so it would look strange if I provided such names as Zbyszko or something like that next to my photos. The major point of focus is to create certainty that you are an international photographer. I have tried to take many trip-related photos with people from abroad. I did not take Polish people to Azores, but rather – some individuals from Portugal. While in the USA, I tried to look for Americans rather than for Poles. It is simple and enjoyable. What is more, if people like your photos, they may post them on their Facebook. Afterwards, you may receive a random friend request and your database of clients may slowly yet steadily develop. The most recent wedding I have been to has been in Los Angeles. I have met a great woman, the mother of the bride. She asked me if I had any plans for 21st April next year. I replied that a week earlier, I would be to Los Angeles for I would be taking photos during a wedding. She invited me to go to Florida afterwards and arrange a photo-shoot for her daughter. I think it is the best way of getting some recognition abroad. You have to make several photo shoots for random, nice people, even for free. Especially focus on those you consider to be fantastic as prospective clients.

J: Right. Recommendations are exceptionally valuable for they generate conversions, as marketers would say. I now would like to jump to yet another topic, which is creating portfolio from scratch.

J: Could you tell me when did you understand that such a way out is necessary and if it was a professional earthquake for you?

R: Yes, it was a bit of an earthquake, for I had to decide to distance myself from everything that I had done in the past. However, I did not approach it in such a way that I switched my computer on one day and deleted all the photos available on my website. It was different. I decided that did not need to show people everything. I was of the opinion that people might see some of my past works only and then I could proceed to making new, interesting and truly intriguing ones. I tried to mix it all a bit and present people something new: fresh, bright, and colorful weddings. At the same time, I removed those I was the most disappointed with from my website. That was my approach. I gave myself a half a year to demolish and rebuild my portfolio. I invested a lot of my time, effort, and obviously money, especially when it comes to funds spent on trips abroad. Nevertheless, it all gave a satisfactory result after some time. It was one of my best investments.

J: You said about worse photos. Did you mean worse in the technical sense or the ones taken in a style that is now not acceptable for you?

R: I was talking about the style.

J: Ok.

R: I have to tell you, Jacek, that I am not truly interested in traditional weddings. I try to avoid those taking place in churches as well. As I have told you earlier, I consider them to be a bit too stern and too sad. I prefer photographing happy people in a looser atmosphere. That is how I roll. I definitely prefer outdoor weddings.

J: Ok. Nobody can force you to do something that you truly do not want to, so I agree with you that one should show people something that he or she wants to photograph in the future as well.

R: Yes, indeed.

J: That is the way of luring clients in. I remember that during LooksLikeFilm you were talking about the process of working with a couple to be photographed. I remember that you highlighted that such people had been typically telling you their stories and it had not been all about meeting in McDonald and engaging 10 days later. You said that they had been telling you much more engaging and thrilling stories.

R: Yes.

J: I have been wondering how much time Rafał Bojar spends on the so-called research. Do you gather key pieces of information via Skype, phone, e-mail, or a contact form? How does it look like in your case?

R: I follow my rules and constantly try to find my perfect client.

For me, ideal clients are those, who are artists themselves, so who are engaged in music, photography, designing, and so on. I found Danielle and Connor on the Net and wrote to them. I told them that I was in the USA and if they wanted, they could come and visit me in California, in Oregon. Then, they would have photos of them taken for free. The only thing they had to do was to come to me. I frequently write such messages to people. I have to say that is a very pleasant task. Not only do I then have the opportunity of photographing interesting people, but they also willing to express themselves, as well as publish the outcome of the shoot on Facebook. It is also easy to extract emotion from such people. They do not question my ideas and are not against a given mood I want to create. This year, I have been focusing on asking people what they are interested in, what their hobbies are, and how their relationships started. I have been listening to them very carefully. At some point, I have noticed that their stories can serve as a big dose of inspiration. All you have to do is to ask a person to tell you about his or her experiences, passions, or thoughts, and then – to be able to find most valuable information to focus on during the shoot. For me, it comes naturally. I quickly learn that someone is into music, likes poetry, is in love with walks in the forest at night, and so on. It gives you a head start.

J: I remember that you showed some photos with quotations.

R: That is correct.

J: Do you refer to that during photo-shoots? Do you focus on those pieces of information? Or is it rather your personal thing happening inside your mind and telling you what to do in relation to a particular quote?

R: It all starts from a conversation, really. I typically receive a text, familiarize with it, and then – we just spend time together, drinking wine and talking about the upcoming shoot. During such a conversation, I can discover that the couple I am currently with like music, poetry, as well as drinking alcoholic beverages together and walking in the park. Then, an idea is created in my mind. I then tell such a couple that my concept is to start the day with a pleasant and intimate session in the bed. If they like poetry, said motif is also brought up at some point. The same goes for music and many other aspects of life. Thanks to that, the session has its own flow and can go in many, sometimes unexpected, directions.

J: So you say that from time to time you have to opt for some gadgets or accessories that are so despised by a remarkable group of photographers?

R: I would not call them gadgets, for they are personal belongings of the couple.

J: I have called them gadgets, but what I have wanted to refer to them as personal stuff.

R: I think that such an addition is simply great. Those are their belongings. For example, Connor has his own music band and creates great music. The music that was in the background of the video clip was the one he recorded. The poetry presented was the one they used to read. Why not to take advantage of such things? They were strongly connected with such stuff, so it was even more pleasant for me to utilize said items.

J: Such accessories are really desirable during such sessions. However, I would like to refer back to what you have told about Polish photographing style. I do not know exactly when you started your adventure with photography. When I started it, it was almost a custom or a standard to bring some items, you know? For example…

R: Yes, I know that.

J: We brought some fans or beach balls to make the shoot more appealing.

R: I had similar experiences. But it has to be stated at this point that such gadgets have never been and will never be the main point of focus in the case of such photos. They are just an addition. They give us the reason to make particular photos. They are of exceptional use, but one has to know how to take advantage of them skillfully not to ruing a promising shoot.

J: What about films? When did you come to a realization that you want to make films as well? I am a bit afraid that wedding photography may lose one of its best creators, who will decide to focus predominantly on video making.

R: I think it will not be like that. I started making video clips, because I wanted to show the backstage of my work, to show people how I worked and what mood I had been trying to create. My aim was also to show prospective clients that sometimes they might struggle with fog or rain, but is should not mean that a photo-shoot could not be organized. Sometimes, photos taken in the rain are even better than those shot during a perfectly sunny day. It is all very unpredictable then and people may react differently to various stimuli. That is why I started recording short films. It has to be also said that there have not been many of them. Currently, there are about three or four of them. What is more, they are not professional in any way, for they have been recorded in an amateur fashion and then edited by using the LightRoom software. Interestingly enough, I have received a number of requests to make similar films for my clients as well. Then, I have had to explain the nature of my profession to some people, but I do not consider it to be a troublesome issue.

J: At the beginning of our interview, you said that you like to be deeply inspired by fields of art different from photography. You said that you try your best not to be inspired by photography per se and not to follow current trends too strictly. I assume that you have been inspired by films and clips on many occasions. Could you tell me about at least few creators that truly motivate and inspire you in your work?

R: Sure. You know what? I think that my dark style originated from Gordon Willis, who worked on „The Godfather”. I also very like Terrence Malick, who created unusual and abstract movies. He shows a kind of a surreal world. Also, there are Wes Anderson or Kubrick. I spend a lot of time watching film or editing analyses. Gosh, film is truly a fascinating thing, for it incorporates a lot of psychology and people seem not to be aware of that. For example, I have recently started watching video blogs on YouTube, such as „Every Frame a Panting” or „On the Branch” and have started listening to those people talking. I have learned a lot about analysis, story creation, and filmmaking. Quite recently, I have stumbled upon a MasterClass tutorial with Werner Herzog. In the video, he was talking about amazing things. I would also like to learn how to write scripts. On MasterClass, there are some tutorials and lessons, including those relating strictly to scriptwriting. It is amazing that you can then proceed to creating stories by taking advantage of your knowledge in various fields. You can get inspired by music, art, film, and so on.

J: That is really great. Thank you that you share such personal stuff with me. I think that it will be a great tip on what to follow if one wants to become truly inspired. One should not limit oneself just to looking at photos by others creators to draw some inspiration. Sometimes you can even may feel really down while looking at them. One of wedding photographers, I think it was Jonas Peterson, said that he had not been browsing other wedding photos and did not want to know what orders had been accepted by Nirav Patel not to feel down that he had had better projects to work on.

J: Many people from the LooksLikeFilm group focused on that topic during our meeting in Cracow. Some of them stated that they thought that they had been entrusted most underwhelming jobs. For a part of the group, it was shocking that the things they saw on the blog did not reflect reality completely. Not only me but many other photographers show the audience only a part of what they do. Could you provide us with an estimated percentage of how much we really see when it comes to photography and your photos?

R: To be perfectly frank, I think that about 30 % of all my work is presented to the audience. However, it has changed this year. I have reached a moment in my life when I know that I do not want to do something that I do not like or that does not feel right. Therefore, I have started rejecting some orders. I always explain people why I do not want to take part in a given project, that my style is different, and that I do not like classical weddings. Nevertheless, I always recommend them photographers, who will undoubtedly do a great job on that front.

J: I see.

R: I have to admit that people value honesty above all. I am also of the opinion that honesty is awesome, you know.

J: I totally agree. At this point, I simply have to ask you about the Rangefinder award. To go back to what can be seen on your website…don’t you think that due to the reception of the award and the increase of your popularity, more people will be interested in you and you will be required to make even stricter selection? Is it in any way horrifying to you?

R: Not really. I spend an awful lot of time creating my stories. I edit my photos relatively quickly, but story creation can take up to 3 days, which is pure madness. I think that many people find it difficult to arrange their photos on the blog properly. In many cases a given photo simply does not pass into another one, which results in the failure to tell a cohesive story. It takes some experience to create a set, in which every element complements one another or in which there are certain intriguing transitions. There are many effects that can be used, but I think that many photographers arrange their photos in a random order. Some of their photos are even askew. I am a true passionate of straight lines and geometric shapes. I focus on them a lot. When it comes to Rangefinder, it started a bit of a spike in popularity, but I try not to focus on that to a significant extent. I do what I was doing before that. I engage in many of my private projects and shoots that fill me with energy. I can certainly say that it is a positive thing for me. The award may not grant me invitations to new weddings, but it may be the other way round. Thanks to its reception, I have become more recognizable abroad and started receiving more requests and invitations to foreign workshops.

J: You have touched upon a thing I wanted to ask you about. Have you noticed any change with regard to the way couples have been approaching you after receiving the award? Have they been bringing it up during your conversations? As far as I know, for people who are not familiar with the world of photography, Rangefinder is just an award like many others, am I right?

R: Yes, you are.

J: Has there been any change? Have people started noticing your achievements or is it all about respect among other wedding photographers?

R: Well, I have to say that the award is especially respected by other wedding photographers. I do not want to focus too much on what I have won, but rather show other people that I am an interesting person capable of creating unusual stories. It is the key. It is what makes me stand out from the crowd. I have become accustomed to the fact that there is the so-called wow factor right after the publication of photos. There is always a lot of hype and excitement. However, on the next day, nobody seems to remember about my work. The case is a bit different with photographers. Thanks to the award, I have received invitations to many foreign workshops, where I will be granted the opportunity of meeting new people and establishing new relations with them. It is simply great!

J: I cannot agree more. I have checked a list of lecturers that will be present during workshops you will take part with and I have to say that I envy you that you will have the privilege of spending time with such renowned people. I have just noticed that we do not have a lot of time left. Allow me to ask you a brief question about Instagram, which seems to be exceptionally popular nowadays. While checking out your profile, I have not noticed a typically marketing-related approach. You seem not to be keen on adding 15 hash tags to a photo just to make it easier for people to find you.

J: I have browsed your photos and noticed that you added one hash tag here, three hash tags there…it has not been an awful lot. Nevertheless, you keep being popular and “hip” as the youth would say. What is your approach to social media?

R: I do my best to take advantage of social media to show people my true self. I am more than grateful that people support me. It is simply awesome. Without all those people, I surely would not be where I am now. They have shown me on numerous occasions that I do something exceptional and that I should do it further, even though I have been sometimes filled with doubts. When it comes to Instagram, I try to publish session-specific photos only and show others that I am an international photographer. There are no coverage-specific materials there. Even though my Instagram is partially addressed to couples interested in wedding photography-related services, it is also vital professionally, because thanks to using it I can receive a number of requests relating to foreign workshops.

J: Right, I see.

R: That is why I do not feel the urge to use hash tags. I have never liked advertisements, logos, and things alike. I do not want to clutter others’ lives with such things.

J: I can tell you that some time ago, I have written an article for Fotoblog, suggesting that people should remove logos from their photos. I have met with remarkable criticism and I have been bashed for my controversial idea. I agree with you that even if a logo is neat, it takes some space the photo should take and you cannot freely enjoy its message. All you can see is the logo, so the pleasure from looking at the photo is diminished.

R: I believe that if someone really likes your photos, he or she will find you that way or another. I am convinced about that.

J: Exactly, there will be some effort on their part. Listen, Rafał, we have to finish our interview here. I have a lot more question and I will be more than glad to talk to you more. However, I am sure that many people will learn a lot from what you have already said. Thank you very much for spending your valuable time with me and our audience.

R: Thank you very much as well!

J: If you are interested, we could arrange such a meeting in the future, for example at the end of next season. Maybe some things will change and you will be willing to share them with the world.

R: It would be great. I have to say that many things in my life change constantly, so it will be a pleasure to take part in such an interview once gain in the future.

Photographers, be a bit more humble!


Today we would like to have a chat with you about what we have recently heard about the practice of photographers who do not photograph families too much, but who focus very much on the main theme, even…

K: They even ignore what is happening around them.

J: Maybe, we can say that we certainly have also our vision when it comes to taking pictures of the wedding, but…

K: Everyone is already going to the wedding with some kind of concept and we also understand that everyone has some kind of artistic approach to the job, as Jacek said, he wants to make realise his vision, but we have the impression that “hello – something’s not right”.

J: Ok, but you have to consider also that photographing a wedding, you have certain vision, but wedding photography itself has a certain frame, which we have to fit in somehow. So, there are certain elements of wedding that we do not like as photographers. Surely most of us don’t like the moment when you have to take a group photo, at least that was my case. Me, for example, also do not like the moment when a cake is cut, because I don’t see anything exciting in the fact that a young couple is cutting the cake. However, I know that I have to take this picture and I will not evade this obligation. Also, …

K: And when we have cut the cake on our wedding, you were not excited about it?

J: I’m not saying that the young couple is not excited.

K: Well, that’s it!

J: I just say it’s not some kind of exciting picture for a photographer.

K: From the photographer’s perspective.

J: Now, one thing comes to my mind, when I was on Looks Like Film in Krakow, Kasia !! z mamy!! talked about taking picture of a pig.

K: Yes, it’s…

J: Didn’t I tell you?

K: You mentioned.

J: Well, that’s it. And a photo of a pig on a trolley, isn’t an exciting moment for the photographer. However, we are obliged to take such a picture and Kasia told me that maybe we should evoke such excitement at times and make ourselves a project, as she called it, the gallery of polish pigs. I think it’s a very good idea. I support it! And returning to the subject of photographs that we do not like to take, i.e. group photos or formal photographs with our family, perhaps each of us has such an ambition to take the most artistic pictures possible, and yet those moments of wedding, during which we take these posed pictures or those of the aforementioned pig, cake or group photographs are certainly not among the most artistic ones. However…

K: They are those pictures that are important for a young couple, and even if they are not important for them on their wedding day, because they think, for example: “these pictures are embarrassing, maybe we don’t want them”. In a few years’ time they will be very important for them. And this is something that I myself experienced after our wedding. Because when we were organizing the wedding, I followed fashion.

J: Sceptical approach.

K: And I was sceptical about such fixed points of the program, let’s call them that. And a few years after my wedding I can see that my favourite photo in the album is a group photo which I have everyone on, I have a grandfather who passed away, an aunt whom I saw the last time at the wedding and an uncle who is no longer with us… This is a photo with “wow factor”! If I had to open the photo album now and see only one photo, it would this group picture. Because we often talk about something…

J: So what, you’d spend the most of your time on this group photo?

K: Yes. It’s amazing, but yes. This also taught me to be humbler in photography, on how we approach couples. Even if our young couples don’t want group photos, we once had a situation when someone said they don’t want to, well ok, no means no. Thank you.

J: Yes, we didn’t push them.

K: Yes, we didn’t, as we used to say. And we also enjoyed it, because we did not like to do it. There were also times when there was no talk at all about whether or not they wanted a group photo.

J: So we considered it…

K: Yes, we considered it as not important for them. End of story. We don’t like to do it, they don’t want us to do it.

J: Yes, it was convenient for us.

K: But we changed our approach a little. And now we are also encouraging our young couples to take a group picture and to take a family picture. Maybe even more a family picture than a group photo. I mean a set picture with family members: “here you are, just stand in a row with each other”, five people, four people. We ask them to make a list of the most important people who are likely to be in these pictures. We understood how important this is after our wedding, but we understood it even more when we gave our couples the option to choose the photos for their album. At the moment, when another couple chose almost all of the posed photos and it took, for example, three pages in the album. At the beginning we were unhappy about it. “Well hello!? We do our best here, we take great pictures for you and you choose the posed ones.”

J: Well, that’s because it was the moment where… Oh, that was our dog. When we decided to pass competence to the newlyweds to choose their photos, we realized that the photos they choose seemed to make the album project not “ours”. Previously, when we designed it from A to Z and selected all the photos, it was our artistic vision of the album, how we saw this day. However, after some time we have realised that the most important in the album is what young couples expect. Also, when the young couples started to choose photos and we realized that…

K: And when those set photos started to be selected, what I talked about.

J: Exactly.

K: After another couple in a row, we understood that, that’s how it’s supposed to be. These are their photos. They will be watching these albums in two, three, four, five, ten years’ time and these will be their favourite photos, because in these pictures they have their own people. These are their memories.

J: Ok, maybe we can tell a situation where a young couple wanted a picture with every table at the wedding. There were probably 150 people there. And me, like I always do, of course…

K: This is my trauma.

J: I delegated Kasia to this task because she has stronger nerves and Kasia with newlyweds made such a trip around the room photographing a young couple plus each table separately. When the they were choosing…

K: There was about 150 people.

J: And when the young couple were choosing photos for the album it turned out that all the photos, literally all…

K: Every one I have done, a young couple with every single guest…

J: It ended up in the album.

K: All of them, just all of them. We were broken, but…

J: And we said: “oooh we have a problem!” But it turned out that it works a bit differently, because the number of these photos was just much bigger than the standard we had in the album, so the young couples enlarged the album. It means that these albums started to grow and it was also good for our company. And so, to make a short summary of our first podcast after a long, long break, we would like to tell you that it is worth to change a little your attitude and to realize that somewhere on the other side of your business there is a young couple and it’s them we take photos for. So, we want – I know that each of us wants to show this artistic vision-…

K: But, let’s be it straightforward, you can’t behave like diva.

J: Exactly. You can leave it on your blog and if you don’t want to show your photos from cutting a cake like we do, don’t show them, but these photos just have to be somewhere and it’s worth having it in your mind when you go to the wedding that ok, apart from your artistic vision we also make a documentation on that day. And what’s going to be in the album is a separate issue.

K: Also, dear wedding photographers, lets be more humble and less a rockstar.

J: Okay, that’s all. Thank you! New broadcasts are coming soon. I will not say for now, what will be our part in it.

K: Are we going to appear at all…

J: Well, one of us for sure. We strongly encourage you to follow us on our Facebook profile, as it will provide you with all the information you need. Hi, take care!

Thank you for listening to this episode of our podcast. I’m waiting for your comments on the “Niezłe Aparaty” podcast group on Facebook. If you know photographers who, for unknown reasons, do not yet listen to “Niezłe Aparaty”, please send them a link to this page.