Today we are introducing you incredibly talented Alicja Brodowicz. Alicja is a fine art photographer from Poland. Her photograph “Rebeka” took 1st Place in The Portrait Category on the First Annual International Photo Contest devoted to B&W Child Photography (see all the results of B&W CHILD 2014).
Q: Hi Alicja! You won the first place in the most competitive category on B&W CHILD PHOTO COMPETITION! You were competing with some of the greatest talents. Can you tell us how did you feel when you find out your photograph “Rebeka” took the first place?
Actually, I had already lost hope, because I checked your site a day or two earlier and it seemed to me that the results were there… So when I got the message with “Congratulations” in the subject line a day later I was pretty shocked and also very, very happy.
Q: Can you tell us the story behind this powerful photo? When did you take this photograph and where?
The photograph was taken a while ago in the botanical garden in Cracow (Kraków). I went there one Sunday morning with my daughter. We went inside the orangerie to see orchids and other exotic plants, but after a while she got quite bored and started complaining about the heat. I caught her still inside, behind the glass door with drops of moisture trickling down.
Q: Can you tell us more about you? Where you were born and raised?
I was born in Cracow and I have spent a major part of my life there, except for a couple of years in Utrecht (the Netherlands) where I studied English literature. About four years ago I moved to a smaller town, around 30 km east of Cracow and this is where I live now. I hope that this is temporary, because I enjoy bigger cities more.
Q: Do you have an official education in photography? Where did you learn photography?
I am a third year student at the Institute of Creative Photography in Opava (Czech Republic). Before my starting my photography studies, I completed a course on photography in a cultural centre in Cracow.
Q: Are there any photographers you admire?
Well, just to mention a few: Sally Mann, Jacob Aue Sobol and Anders Petersen. I also really like Vivian Mayer, Diane Arbus and Bill Brandt, Joel-Peter Witkin, Francesca Woodman and Robert Frank.
Q: You sell your work on a prestigious website such us Saatchi Art and Art Limited. Are you a full time photographer? Do you work with clients as well?
No, actually I work as a freelance translator and photography is something that I do for pleasure.
Q: Do you shoot film or digital or both? Can you tell us more about the equipment you are using?
I started with analogue cameras, but now I also use digital. I have Nikon D90. Last summer I bought a 50 mm lens with f 1.4 and I saw the huge change that a good lens can bring. For analogue photos, I use an old Canon EOS 500N camera. I also got an old Kodak Brownie camera for Christmas and I am very interested to see the photos I am going to get with it.
Q: A big portion of your portfolio includes photographing children. Can you tell us why you are drawn to child photography? As an artist, what are you trying to capture and convey when you photograph them?
I photograph my surroundings and people who are close to me. To be honest, I find it difficult to ask complete strangers if I can photograph them. So I mostly focus on my immediate family and my immediate family happens to be my daughter. She has been my best model for a number of years, but she is reaching the age when kids usually do not like to be photographed. So I sometimes have to resolve to bribery.
Q: It seems like your heart belongs to B&W Photography? Why is that so?
Yes, it seems that majority of my photos are B&W, but I also take colour photos. I am not quite sure why. Colour has to be really striking to draw my attention. Some photos would have not worked without colour at all.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve received about photography over the years?
A couple of years ago, I read “At Work” which is a book devoted to Annie Leibowitz. At the end of the book, there are ten most-asked questions. And the first one is about the advice that she has for young photographers. Annie said: “I’ve said about a million times that the best thing a young photographer can do is to 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. I guess what I am really saying is that you should take pictures of something that has meaning for you.” I think that these words are very true.
Q: Photography is all about constant learning. Can you tell us how and where do you learn?
As I said before, I am a third year student at the Institute of Creative Photography in Opava in Czech Republic. The teaching programme there is very comprehensive, covering theoretical and practical aspects, history of photography, computer manipulation, nude photography, black and white photography, commercial photography etc. So I do my assignments and year-end projects and learn. But according to me the biggest part of learning about photography is looking at pictures of others, and this is something that I immensely enjoy – looking at photo; I could do that for hours.
Q: What is your biggest challenge when photographing?
There are a lot of challenges… Having the wrong lens on the camera, forgetting the tripod… The most frustrating experience is as follows: I see something worth taking a photo of (be it a shadow, a reflection in the window or simply an old armchair left in the middle of the pavement) and I think to myself: “I’m in a hurry now, I will come back here later and take a photo.” When I come back, it turns out that the thing/ scene/ item is gone… It has happened to me several times now and I promise myself never to put off taking photos. Especially street photos.
Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment as a photographer?
Winning a competition is a great accomplishment and it offers a huge boost of energy. You gain a lot of self-confidence and new faith that what you do is right. But I have also drawn great inspiration from various positive comments I received from complete strangers.
Q: Do you often participate in photography contests?
I have started to send photos to contests on a regular basis relatively recently. Before that, I did it occasionally, when the theme seemed interesting for example. Nowadays I am more methodical about it, but I still choose contests whose profile matches what I do in photography.
Q: What’s the importance of entering quality photography contests?
I am not sure it is going to apply to every photographer – I know that there are photographers who dislike contests and are not willing to participate in them at any cost. But it is a good way of promotion – if you want to have your work promoted. Even though the Internet is a very powerful tool, it is kind of hard to do self promotion if nobody has ever heard about your work before. Contests can greatly help with that. It is also a good way of looking at others photographers’ work.
Q: What would be your message to other photographers?
I do not really have any special message to other photographers. I think that it is important to enjoy what you are doing. It is important to stay true to yourself. I am against following trends and fashions at any cost. I think everybody should do what they believe in and be consistent about it.