A long time Flickr member, Swiatek has traveled the world and taken some truly remarkable photos. It’s a pleasure to ask him our 5 Questions.
1. Swiatek, we know it’s a tough question, but if you had to pick just one camera to shoot with from now until the end of time, what would that be?
Swiatek: There is no such camera. I am not fetishist, don’t care about brands, I use what there is around, and those things just get better and better, so I see no reason to make that choice.
I shoot now mostly with Canon 5D, but that could be medium format tomorrow, or anything that happens. It is not a tough question, just very obvious one, although I never know why when I was drawing comics in the past, nobody ever asked me what crayons or pencils I use.
2. A (possibly) tough question… Tell us your favourite photos on Flickr, and why you like them. First, a favourite from your photostream?
Swiatek: It is a photo I took in Niger, of a man cramped in between legs of fellow passengers on a truck traveling trough Sahara desert. I like it for a very simple reason, shooting this made me win a National Geographic photo competition, and then both financial rewards related to it as well as publicity that I got have helped me to go full time pro, so now I can just take photos. I am still in Cambodia now, where I came on free ticket I won in this contest, one of many prizes, so there is no need to hide the fact that it is nice to be paid for your work this way or another, especially if you don’t need to change your style, make some silly compromise, only simply your work gets appreciated as it is, so you know you do the right thing. But of course, I like a lot of other photos, not all for such materialistic reasons.
And from another Flickr member?
Swiatek: I had to look into my favorites, and there are quite a few of them. Answering this kind of question is a little bit like answering if you prefer coconut juice or brunettes, so I just chose random one, that I like — Lady in Ma’aloula by yanseiler.
It just works for me, I used to do a lot of such stuff myself, I like to work with shadows, with strong light, I like symbolism, Muslim art, strong graphics, (I grew up fascinated and influenced by comics books), and it is all in this one. Plus, it is a natural black and white. I always shoot colour but it is so nice to find black and white in nature.
3. What’s one tip that you would share with someone who’s just picking up a camera?
Swiatek: Depends why they use it, what they want to achieve, some people document their family, their life, holidays, so let them do that and be happy, and not to worry too much about quality and composition, I don’t want world to be perfect and nice images everywhere, I love amateur crappy photography.
But for those who want to get better and better, for whatever reason, be it need to make living from photography or just thirst for beauty, I can not think of any other advice than to keep on shooting. Just like a boxer needs to train, a piano player needs constant practice and rehearsals, the more you shoot the better and more skilled you become, but on one , very important condition. You have to love it, to enjoy it, otherwise you might do decent stuff, but it will be soulless, it will be devoid of passion, and as such useless to me, as photography in my opinion is all about emotion, any art is supposed to stir that unrest in your brain, make you feel good, or depressed, or whatever. Does smiling family from insurance commercial does that? All the rest is technical advise, related to style of photography, and there is so many of them, each human is
individual, so how could I advise them what is good for them?
4. When we interview peeps for employment here at Team Flickr, we always ask: “Kittens, babies, sunsets or flowers? Pick one.”
Swiatek: I would like one day to shoot all of them in one picture, to make ultra-kitch image of a baby stroking a kitten in front of a flower vase in sunset over tropical beach, image worthy of hanging in an roadside chai house or mountain restaurant somewhere in India. It is important to understand that this kind of images is what the world really loves, this and nudity and celberities, possibly two in one, and all this artsy fartsy stuff we discuss here is a game for a definite minority of public.
This was my answer if you asked about photography, in life I choose kittens, in any sense you might understand that word.
5. Which Flickr member should we ask these 5 questions of next?
Swiatek: I choose Bart Pogoda. Our paths have crossed in many places, we traveled a bit together, he is one of few people in Poland doing that kind of travel photography that is visually attractive, but not bloody boring stock illustrating the world as it sits in travel magazine editors’ imagination. I also know that he might have some interesting answers to your questions.
Heather: Thank you, Swiatek. It’s been a pleasure. 5 Questions will return shortly with our next interview featuring. Bart Pogoda.