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my first portrait photography experience

There was a moment in my life when I felt street and landscape photography were beginning to give me less joy than usual. It was a good experience going to places I knew but wanted to re-explore and to places I had never been to. Yet I somehow felt it was not as rewarding as working with another person. I had, of course, taken some pictures of my family members and friends but it was not as professional (if I can even use this word as an amateur) as meeting with a stranger and trying to picture them without feeling any deeper, blood- or time-related bond. In other words, I lacked the feeling of being a craftsman/artist behind the camera, acting through it and creating a deliberate barrier between me and the photographed. A barrier that was essential to achieve effects I would never be able to achieve with a relative or a close friend of mine on the other side of it.

It took me a while to gather courage and search for an opportunity. I was afraid (and still am) of my insufficient skills, technical shortcomings and a lack of understanding between me and the model. In a way, portraying someone else makes one feel more exposed as if one were in the spotlight, not the other way around. I do not think I managed to discard these fears but at least I kept them at bay.

The occasion that came my was was a couple living and studying in the Polish city of Toruń. Gosia and Kuba were enthusiastic and eager to cooperate. It helped that Gosia had modelling experience which clearly showed during the session. Kuba, on the other hand, turned out to be a natural companion of Gosia although he was initially meant to be an assistance and perhaps someone whose task was to make sure I was someone they could trust.

That was another aspect of the whole project I was mindful of. Since it is usually easier to find a female model and the photographers are still predominantly male, it is essential to create an atmosphere of safety and comfort, especially when being photographed by someone who is unable to present any significant portrait portfolio or any other credentials. In this sense, I felt probably as at ease as Gosia, being accompanied by her boyfriend and working in a publicly accessible place. If you, by the way, happen to be in Toruń and are on the lookout for stylish interiors, check out Klubokawiarnia PERS. I can highly recommend them as they were helpful and enthusiastic about my project.

How did the photos turn out? I would like to say they are great but it is not up to me to judge. For once, I can say I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It felt almost instantly rewarding and mobilising. I was satisfied with my choice of lenses for the digital part of the session. Not only did I use autofocus lenses, but also some manual focus one. I am particularly fond of the Voigtländer Nokton SE 50mm f/1.2. It is a was, optically very good lens that is capable of delivering outstanding results in dim light.

The photos I uploaded here are only digital. I also used my Contax 167MT but have still not found the time to develop the film. I guess I will share them in a separate post.