Today we are introducing you Anna Ajtner from Poland. Anna is a fine art child photographer and many time featured artist in our inspirational blog post “Inspiring Monday”. She won the 1st place in the Conceptual & Photo Manipulation Category in The Second Half of B&W Child Photo Contest – 1st Annual International Photo Contest in B&W Child Photography.
Q: Hi Anna! You were competing with some of the world’s greatest child photographers. Can you tell us how did you feel when you find out your photograph “Birds” took the first place in The Conceptual & Photo Manipulation Category?
A: Very surprised. This was delightful surprise for me and my daughter Sandra. We are extremely happy and proud. Many thanks for this Mention.
Q: Can you tell us the story behind this powerful photo? When did you take this photograph and where? Editing process?
In general, I am a supporter of pure, classic photography – photography that doesn’t include manipulation and composites. However, sometimes I want to do something different. If I feel I am missing something, then I am experimenting and playing around. In this way, I take my time to reflect my emotions. I am looking for elements and backgrounds that “fits the moment” and compliment feelings, emotions and thoughts I want to liberate from myself.
For this particular emotion I needed birds. I imposed them almost everywhere until I felt I achieved the effect I wanted to. Birds are even in my daughter hair and on her dress. The image had to evoke anxiety, which was in me at that time. All I was doing in this picture was a combination of my impulses and Photoshop.
Q: Can you tell us more about you? Where you were born and raised?
I was born raised in Poland.
Q: Do you have an official education in photography? Where did you learn photography?
I studied artistic pedagogy at the Fine Arts Faculty of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun (Poland). I graduated and I got my Master’s Degree in painting. After the graduation I continued to develop as an artist in both: painting and photography. Photography has always been fascinating to me and many times it’s a starting point for Other arts I create.
Q: Are there any photographers you admire?
O yes…many. When it comes to child photography, photographer I admire the most is Sally Mann.
Q: Your work has been published in many prestigious photography websites and publications: Childphotocompetition.com, Vogue Italy, The Imaginuarium etc. What does it mean to an artist to be noticed and recognized in such a way?
It’s absolutely delightful feeling to be in the group of the world’s most noble photographers. Opportunity to have a conversation on different topics like art and technology is very important for me and many other artists. We also have a chance to get know each other, inspire and grow and jointly organize workshops and exhibitions.
Q: Do you shoot film or digital or both? Can you tell us more about the equipment you are using?
I started with film and darkroom. Now I work only with digital camera and edit my images in Photoshop. I miss “film days”, especially darkroom.
My current camera is Nikon D700 and lens 50/f1.4
Q: What inspires you?
I am inspired by nature and real life…and of course, my daughter is a huge source of inspiration.
Q. 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?
My model is exclusively my daughter Sandra. Sometimes, I photograph her with friends who are part of her surroundings. I want show how she grows up and changing. This is our evolution. We grow together – she as a child and my model and myself as a mom and a photographer. This makes a very strong bound between us. We show our private life, our emotions and we have a lot of fun along the way. It is our shared adventure and we get a lot of joy from the every small successes we achieve.
Q: Do two of you work easily together or you must force her to pose for you?
A: We do many posed shots. However, I am very respectful of her and I try to choose the days when she is in the mood and desire to pose for me. This is my little star and I try to listen to her. Sandra must rather have a good day for photographing because I am not able to force her.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve received about photography over the years?
You can’t do anything without emotions.
Q: Photography equals learning. Can you tell us how and where do you learn?
I’ve learned basics in the art school, but in general I am self-taught artist. I learn trough experience and I observe the work of others.
Q: What is your biggest challenge when photographing?
Working with my daughter is the biggest challenge in my photography.
Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment as a photographer so far?
Printing of my first book WERKDRUCK by Galerie Vevais and participating in FOTOFEVER in Paris 2014.
Q: Do you do exclusively personal projects, or you do commissioned work with clients as well?
Fortunately, I am reaching to customers who buy my visions. They absolutely put their trust in me and allow me to make what I like.
Q: How and where do you sell your artwork?
I am my own sales rep most of the time. I sell trough the website, but I am also working with galleries.
Q: Do you often participate in photography contests?
So far, it was uncommon practice but I am trying to change that.
Q: How important for every photographer is to participate in quality photography contests?
It’s important. It’s a great way to see where you stand comparing to other photographers. It is also a tribute to the work of the photographer and a good promotion.
Q: What is your message to other photographers?
Do what you love and what you feel. Through photographs, dreams come true.
You can follow Anna’s work on Facebook.