Szymon Kobusinski is a Polish photographer with an impressive portfolio of work, but one of his passions is underwater photography. We asked him to answer a few questions for our readers.
How would you describe your style as a photographer?
It is hard for me to talk about my style as a photographer. I have always tried not to categorize it, hoping that there are still plenty of dreamed-of photographs ahead of me.
It is easier for me to talk about my inspirations – a beautiful light below the water surface, bizarre Tim Barton’s movies, and an expression in Vermeer’s paintings or artwork found online.
Sometimes I feel like a little kid in a candy store, many things inspire me. The problem is to find matching elements and create something unique. It is simplicity that has the most of power. This may seem obvious, but this is what I strive for.
In addition to taking still shots, you also shoot video. Tell us about your recent “Metamorphosis” project.
The “Metamorphosis” pulled me in, submersed me and engulfed me. I had worked on it a year ago due to the 1st edition of Nikon Film Festival in Poland, where I was also a jury member.
Nevertheless, I wanted to interpret my participation in this project my own way. Thus, I decided to tell an underwater story that shows emotions connected with a birth of the new project, and by doing so, inspire others to accomplish their projects.
The 1st day of photo shoot was set at a professional swimming pool. The production featuring an actress, two divers, a scenographer, make-up artists, a costume designer, a lifeguard, and three assistants. It was a hard nut to crack, but we had a lot of fun.
A few days later the production moved to my favorite studio in Warsaw, Studio Bank, where I worked with distinguished FX specialists, thanks to whom I obtained an amazing effect of drops and color “dancing and spinning” to the rhythm of the music.
During two days of shooting I produced both still shots and a short film using Nikon photo equipment. It wasn’t the easiest project, thus I am glad to get credit for it. The most important appreciation came from New York. I received a Lucie Award Moving Image Photographer of the Year nomination. It was an honor for me to join the greatest personalities such as Nan Goldin and Nick Ut at the gala in Carnegie Hall in Manhattan.
You have taken some great shots of medalists. Please share an image that you’ve taken and explain why you’re passionate about this project.
Working as a photographer gives me a pretext to meet many interesting and intriguing people. Being a man with a camera helps me shorten the distance between people, and I even gain new friends.
The “Medalists” is a project created in 2008 in which I had the pleasure to photograph Polish medalists from the Beijing 2008 Paralympics. People I met were full of passion, optimism and positive attitudes. The project was exhibited in several venues and it was exciting to see them again during opening days.
You have also take some great shots of notable people. Share a photo from your favorite shoot and explain why working with that particular person was a good experience.
I am very enthusiastic about using different types of cameras and photo equipment, working in changing conditions and finding new solutions. This is what develops and empowers my skills.
Although, people’s words of approval and excitement about being photographed is the biggest motivational kick for me. Especially when the photographed person has stood in front of camera thousands of times and is widely recognizable. That is always a great compliment for me as an artist.
Photographing Roman Polanski during his stay in Poland was a significant event in my career. I am glad that despite his busy agenda he found some time for me.
I will always remember the day I met Professor Edward Szczepnik, the former Prime Minister of Poland. It was 2005 when Szczepanik invited me to his beautiful house in Lewes, England. While he was showing me around, I took pictures of one of the greatest figures in Polish and European politics. He’s an amazing man.
I also photograph my friends and loved ones. A few years ago, my good friend Bartek Świderski was working on a music album. I followed his work from an idea to the very end of the creative process. We started to talk about pictures that should complete the project. We created a series of great photos inspired by Bartek’s music. I realized then that working with friends could be a lot of fun.
In addition to shooting, you also teach. What do you think is the one skill that young photographers need to work on most to be successful?
In my point of view, learning photography is all about finding balance between one’s technical skills and having a fresh approach to a new media market. As a matter of fact, having a solid academic background and extensive portfolio can help aspiring photographers reach their dreams.
There are probably as many methods of learning photography as schools in the world. I live in Poland and this is where I learned photography. I was very lucky to study at The Leon Schiller National Film, Television and Theatre School in Lodz, Poland. It was all about a hard work, practicing and studying.
There is one more crucial thing to do before making a decision to become an independent professional photographer, and this is working as an assistant. Working on set with experienced photographers helps to develop practical skills and helps photographers find their niche.
Share an image that you recently took that was for yourself or a personal project not a client. Explain what the photo is and why you took it.
A few months ago I produced an underwater project called “(un)fulfilled with color.” In the series of photographs I bind classic photography techniques and some special effects together. I’ve been thinking about this project for a long time and am glad I finally accomplished it.