Alicja is one of the photographers whose work we have a chance to see on every Annual Competition B&W CHILD. Every single time, her works stands out. This time, she took the 1st Place in The Fine Art Category at B&W CHILD 2016 – 3rd Annual International Competition in B&W Child Photography.
Q: Hello Alicja, we are honored to having you once again in our competition. You won the first place in The Fine Art Category in The First Half of B&W CHILD 2016. How does it feel to be a winner this year and competing for the 1000 EUR Cash Award?
A: Winning definitely offers a huge positive stimulus. If you had doubts about what you were doing before you can believe that it makes sense once again. There are many very talented photographers taking part in this contest so I think choosing the winner will be extremely difficult.
Q: We’re happy to have a chance to talk to you again, are there new things you would mention when having been asked “Who is Alicja Brodowicz?”. Anything new since our last interview that you would love to share with us?
A: Well, I’d like to say that a few of my photos were selected for an exhibition during TIFF photography festival in Wrocław, which is going to take place at the beginning of September. This year’s theme of the festival is “Rivers and Roads” and I am going to present my photos from the “Learning to Swim” series. I am also working hard on my photography studies and hopefully I will graduate in September. So this is quite a busy time for me.
Q: Can you tell us who were your favorite photographers and photos from the First Half of B&W CHILD 2016? What do you think of competitors this year and First Half Winner’s gallery?
A: I absolutely love Alicja Pietras’ photo entitled “Boyhood”. The title is perfect too. The little boy with a fragile naked body and a funny facial expression that makes you smile is standing among beautiful leaves. I adore it. I also really like two of Kelly Tyack’s photos that were awarded in the competition, “The Moth” and “Leaves”. There are great photos in every category. I enjoyed looking at photos from the Documentary category – they let you take a glimpse into the intimate life of other people in different places around the world.
Q: Winning photographs is a part of your ongoing series ‘’Learning to swim” can you tell us more about the whole series?
A: Originally, I was just taking photos of my daughter and I did not think of them as a series. In the course of time, I realized that they form a certain pattern. It is obvious that they are about my relationship with her, but they are also about looking at your child grow and become independent and about the cutting of the umbilical cord in a more metaphorical way. It is about letting your child go and live in the world, stand firm on the ground on her own. You can no longer hold her in your arms and protect her, she has to go and live on her own and experience everything – the good and the bad things that happen in life. The parent can have very mixed feelings about it: I feel very proud and, at the same time, very scared. The series is accompanied by a poem written by a friend of mine. The poem explores the themes of water and gradual transformation from an aquatic creature (tadpole maybe?) into a terrestrial one and I found that it fits the idea that I wanted to convey in my pictures perfectly.
Q: You also take self-portraits, do they have significant value for you?
A: I take self-portraits every now and then. However, they are not about documenting physical appearance and changes in my looks; they often mark some significant moments in my life. Even though they may seem completely ordinary to the rest of the world, yet for me they are worth remembering. They evoke memories of very specific events, persons, smells, weather conditions, etc. Together, they make up a specific self-portrait diary where every photo is connected to a particular event in my life.
Q: You are someone whose work has been recognized on many competitions. In which ways quality photo competition influence your work and your career?
A: I am often not really certain if the things I do are good enough. I often feel discouraged and full of doubts. When you get positive feedback like, for example, a prize in a competition, you definitely feel more self-confident and believe in yourself more. It is a great stimulus to continue working.
Q: How do you imagine your perfect day?
A: I would love to go on a trip to some big city, like New York or Tokyo and take the camera and explore it, wander around all day long, without any specific plan. It would be great to get on and get off buses or underground in places that strike you as interesting with nothing else to do but just walking about and seeing new things. I have been working a lot recently and I really miss travelling – so that is probably the explanation for a perfect day that would look like this.
Q: What is the most inspirational thing you’ve ever seen?
A: As far as photography goes, I still think that the thing that inspired me most was the work of Sally Mann. I love her photos from the “Immediate Family” album. I think it also makes you aware of one important thing: if you want to photograph, you do not have to look far for subjects. The most interesting people and places are the ones right next to you. I think that Annie Leibovitz also mentioned it as her piece of advice for aspiring photographers: “Stay close to home. Start with your friends and family, the people who will put up with you. Discover what it means to be close to your work, to be intimate with a subject.”
Q: How and when did you realize that fine art photography is “your thing”?
A: I do not really think that there was any specific moment. I just keep doing what I like. I do not do photography professionally, I treat it more as a hobby and something fun to do and I want to keep it this way. This works best for me.
Q: How involved are your subjects in the whole process of one photograph?
A: I take photos of people who are close to me: my family and my friends. So there is always a close relationship between me and my subjects. However, their involvement in the whole process is quite a different thing though. When I ask my daughter if she could pose for me, she is often too busy doing other things and I simply have to resolve to bribery. When there’s more than one person involved – like for example the photo that won in the Fine Art Category – my father and my daughter – there’s usually a lot of laughing and everything goes horribly wrong: either I am unclear in giving instructions or they are not really following them closely and we have to repeat the same photo a number of times until the result is somewhat satisfactory – and my daughter usually starts laughing at the wrong time, so we have to try once again. Anyway, the final result is rarely as I have originally imagined it.
Q: How much of your story comes to life during actual shooting, and how much during the editing?
A: It really depends on the photo. In some cases you take a photo almost unaware and realize later that it tells a story, only after you see it on your computer screen for example. Sometimes you are an observer and a story unfolds right in front of your eyes and all you have to do is to capture the right moment.
Q: What are your goals you set in photography that you are yet to archive?
A: Well, right now my primary goal is to finish my photography studies. I study at the Institute of Creative Photography in Opava in Czech Republic and in September I am going to defend my BA thesis. I am going to spend the rest of the summer studying history of photography for the final exam and I have to print some photos too. So these are my immediate goals.