Agata Tomasiewicz’s Plexus photo is featured in April of our 2019 Nature Calendar. Read on to learn about Agata’s inner mad scientist and see more of her wonderful work.
Where are you from, how old are you?
I live in Warsaw, Poland, but I come from a small town located in the east of my country. I’m 27.
Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be a photographer?
I wish there was something really interesting to tell you. I started shooting at 11-13, „borrowing” my parent’s digital camera and capturing myself (selfie nation dated back to the early 00’s, huh) in the front of the wall painted by me with oh-so-rebellious drawings and wiritings and stuff. But at the same time I was looking for interesting patterns and everyday situations worth shooting. Nothing engaging anyone’s attention, I would say.
I discovered photography as a way to express myself – but maybe rather as a way to capture an evanescent feelings – in the late teenagehood. I like to place my analog photography into somewhat zen-like thinking frame – at least in its’ Western, simplified interpretation.
Do you professionally work as a photographer?
No, and I never intended to do so, but I’m willing to develop my skills in this field. To be honest, I really wish I would have a proper space to build my own low-budget dark room. For now, it isn’t possible as I share my small flat with my flatmate and I don’t even have a suitable basement to do some manual film development. I’m not even able to rent a dark room since I usually work from morning hours till late evening. I used to have an amateur space back in my family house and I used to attend some some photography classes. Yeah, those were the days… Still, I don’t want to look for excuses. Sometimes I do some post-processing, such as film soaking and scratching. Maybe there is something of a mad scientist deep inside of me… All in all, it’s far from things I do on a daily basis. I work as a theatre critic, literary agent and an editor. I have a master degree in theatre studies and I plan to do Ph.D. studies in the near future, yet I have less and less time for photography. But I will never stop shooting, that’s for sure.
Why do you like to take analog pictures? Do you shoot digital as well?
Well, shooting „analog” has a very special significance for me. I can’t ignore the fact that only analog photography can give me that unique thrill – given the fact I can’t preview my shooting madness. And, obviously, you must restrain yourself to fit your personal story in 36 frames at the most. Of course you can load the next film, but… These „buts” are the most compelling for me. Think, rethink and then rerethink your next steps – and only then you could keep on shooting without pricks of consciousness.
Sometimes I shoot digital, yes, but mostly I’m loyal to analog cameras. It’s my personal choice and I’m veeery far from thinking that „shooting analog” is somehow more artistic or demanding than „shooting digital” whatsoever. In fact I wish I would use my digital camera more professionally.
Your work often has a dreamlike quality, how do you manage to achieve that and do you have a favorite subject to photograph? If so, why?
It’s kinda funny that you mention this subject. There is a recurring theme in my dreams, which I want to recall.
I dream about exploring foreign lands, full of eerie, dreamlike objects ready to be captured, such as broad, boundless fields with tiny silhouettes wandering through… Or amazing, almost unearthly light shining through the branches in the vast, enachanted forest… So I shoot, shoot and shoot. And in the end the film happens to be somewhat broken, usually overexposed. It leaves an uncanny feeling in me, almost like a feeling of a deep loss. Maybe I should delve into my unconsciousness more often.
Back to the question – I like to use special films (such as the ones from Revolog) and vintage cameras, and to experiment with the film both manually and chemically. Sometimes I do some digital post-processing. I enjoy taking abstract photography, but my most favourite subjects to shoot are the people. Which is kinda unfortunate, as I have major troubles to persuade anyone to pose for me. That’s the problem – I’m too shy to post a notice via social media and look for some strangers eager to participate in my projects. And my friends really don’t like to be photographed – or they immediately start to behave unnaturally in the front of the camera. I hope that will change in the near future – maybe I need to become more reassuring and confident as a photographer?
What’s your favorite analog camera?
I like vintage cameras found „in the attic” – Smena 8M, Zenith 12XP, Leica M3. Sometimes I use Canon EOS (I really can’t remember the exact model; it’s a good thing that it’s less capricious than the other cameras I mentioned before). I also have an original, magical Polaroid SX-70; too bad it’s currently undergoing an extended renovation. I want to buy a medium format camera soon, preferably a Hasselblad. It can be a pricey hobby, but truly satisfying at the same time.
Do you have a favorite revolog film?
I like all of them, but particularly Kolor, Streak (duh! it’s my favourite!), 600nm, Rasp, Kosmos and Laser. I usually buy them via shop located in Łódź (you should check this industrial city out, as the Łódź has an amazing Film School with many accomplished alumni). I’m very stoked about the Revolog-Dubble cooperation.
Any advice for other aspiring photographers?
Don’t hesitate to perform some experiments. My Instagram account was once called „accident.inc” (well, I’m certainly not a role model, but wait for the rest of my statement). I think that the key for the success of anyone’s development as an artist must consist of both artistic sense of purpose and experimenting. Don’t be afraid to grasp the elusive feeling, even at the cost of a perfect frame. People and their daily affairs (above all) are hard to control, over all.
It’s not my place to lecture anyone, but I know that it is somehow refreshing to think of the photography as an adventure. We have a tendency to overthink, but sometimes it’s better to rely on our guts. And I still have a trust in the good, old accidents.
Do you have any future projects you’d like to talk about?
Honestly? They’re all in my head, at least for now. Let’s hope I’ll manage to bring them to life. And I swear you’ll be the first to know.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, Agata!
Follow Agata’s work on her instagram.