Iwona Podlasinska, a Polish mother of two boys, has set out to elevate the quality of what otherwise could be generic family photos. As an architect by day, this mother dedicated herself to learning photography at night when her oldest son was three months old.
“Creating family albums was an important tradition in my family,” Iwona explained. “I like to make everything esthetically pleasant, so when taking photos of my own children I want them to be unique.”
As Iwona developed her personal photography style, shooting manually on relatively cheap cameras, she joined Flickr to create albums and galleries to share with her family. It wasn’t until nearly half a year later that she got a handful of followers and finally started to realize the creative power of the community on Flickr.
Now, with over 20k followers, she carefully crafts her children’s stories. “Creating that stream for me is like writing a book. My viewers know the background and the main plot – the story of happy, magical childhood. It’s also important to me that viewers see the same places, the same kids, but changing through time.”
Most of the photos in Iwona’s photostream are taken in Polish suburbia outside of Kielce, where she spends weekends and holidays with her family, a place she says is the best to take photos of the kids.
“I spend all evenings chasing [the kids] with my camera. I can let them run, even barefoot, sit on the street, or ride their bikes without having to look around all the time for any kind of danger. We feel safe there.
“To get meaningful photos of children I have to keep my mind focused on them. It’s much easier when I remind myself how I felt as a child and how I felt about the world.”
Most of her photos are candid, taken spontaneously as the boys run around and play. Iwona estimates roughly one out of every three or four hundred photos is good enough to publish.
“One or two years ago they didn’t realize they had their photos taken. Now I have to stay invisible to capture their real poses and emotion. I can choose the time, the angle, or sometimes give the kids some props but I can’t control their body language. They move a lot so I really capture moments that last sometimes seconds. I take lots of photos to have that perfect one.”
In 2015, about a year after joining Flickr, Iwona’s photos started appearing in Explore with regularity, as the charm of her photography resonated with her followers. Top positions of Explore, which at the time were mostly dominated by landscape and wildlife photography, started having a softer touch. She was able to resonate with different genres of photography by blending in natural elements from the suburban Polish village. One of her biggest achievements as a photographer and artist occurred towards the end of 2015 when Flickr announced the Top Photos of the Year. One of her photos ranked #5.
“We don’t have farm animals. Neighbors in the village keep chickens, ducks, geese, cows. They sometimes invite us and let the kids see their animals. I got a very nice natural frame from the leaves of the tree and bushes around,” Iwona explained, thinking back to the day she captured this image. “The light of a setting sun created a cozy and dreamy feeling … Because the light and the composition of this shot was perfect I didn’t have to do anything special in post production.”
That’s the magic.
“I remember how everything seemed big and mysterious. I try to capture that amazement. I love to see them soaked into their little children world or to see them daydreaming. This year while spending time by the sea I was reminded of the first time I saw the sea and how it felt. I remembered flying kites on the beach and want to capture something like that [wonder] with my kids.”
Iwona’s perspective and photographic mission are specifically to see and view the world through her children’s lenses. Her sense of wonder and beauty, as a mother, is magnified by their wonder.
That’s the magic of Iwona’s world seen with wonder, #ThroughHerLens.