Interview: The magical world of Iwona Podlasińska
I’m so in love with the work of Iwona Podlasińska. Her photographs are a mixture of dreams and reality, and are very close to my heart. She shows us the world and the children in it in a magical way we might not be able to capture or even see. I was planning to hold interviews with famous international photographers who inspire me the most – and Iwona is, of course, one of them. She is going to be my first interviewee. As you already know she is conducting a workshop in Hungary in July, so I wanted to ask for a little teaser on what you can expect as well.
As I know, you are an architect by profession. How did you turn to photography?
I started this as a hobby. I was interested in children photography and very much inspired by other photographers work so I started learning how to take better photos of my own children. I never thought of it as a career. I was working full time as an architect; we have a family business in the building industry. When I got recognized around the world I had a lot of requests for giving workshops and took it as a challenge and an extra income. I quit architecture when I realized that giving workshops was my dream job.
Photos: Iwona Podlasińska
I adore your images as they fall between dreams and reality. What is your secret behind that?
Thank you so much. It’s really difficult to say because it’s a lot of factors all together. I put a lot of attention to the light I’m using. I have a very specific taste when it comes to the lighting in the photo. Also the poses are important to me. I love to see the kids very relaxed or expressing certain emotions. And editing might have some influence on the look of my photos, but people are sometimes convinced that it’s only editing while it’s just a last step on a long way of producing a photo – so I would never say that knowing my editing will explain it all.
You have two beautiful kids who you photograph quite often. We joke a lot with my photographer friends about how hard it is to take pictures of our own kids, and how they cooperate with other photographers but not us. How do you do it? And in general, what is your approach to taking photos of children?
I explain my approach to working with kids on a workshop but I can give you a little teaser here. With my own kids I never asked them to pose for me or even communicated that I’m taking a photo. I always tried to stay somewhere in the back and tried to become almost invisible to capture the best poses and scenes. I believe that photography is an art of capturing a moment. My work was to put myself in front of those moments. I had to help it a little bit. Arrange a game for the kids, take them to places I find beautiful. But never force any particular poses on them. I believe the problem of most photographers trying to work with their own kids is that they expect them to pose or behave when the camera is up there. While the kids either don’t understand why they have to, or understand that they are not getting anything from this situation. That approach was great for my own kids, but did not work so good on workshops.
Photos: Iwona Podlasińska
When looking at your pictures, it seems that your images involve a lot of Photoshop magic, some might think that they are composited heavily. What is your view on that? Is post-processing as important as taking the image?
Some of my images are composites. Maybe 1 out of 5 has a different sky added or a moon added or something like that. But I edit mostly in Lightroom. So if I don’t add anything or remove something from the original photo I do not use Photoshop at all. As I said before it all comes together. I have a vision of a final image when taking a shot so everything matters. If my idea is somehow unachievable in camera I take extra photos to combine it in photoshop and achieve a desired look. But most of my students are surprised with how much I can achieve with using just Lightroom.
What is your main inspiration nowadays?
I love to watch animated movies and book illustrations. I also love to search for inspiration in photography. I really find inspiration in portrait photography, mostly in fine art, landscapes and composites. I love to watch moody images. My recent discovery is Frantistek Konopka who creates amazing moody series of photos that are very inspiring to me.
You earned several photography awards during your career. Is there one you are particularly proud of?
I’m a huge fan of Flickr. I started my photography journey there and it helped me a lot during my first years so having my photo as the most popular image among the whole Flickr community in 2017 was my greatest joy.