Photography News Issue 53

Photography News | Issue 53 |

Interview 22

Paulina Duczman Profile From shooting family holiday snaps in 2014 to professional photographer, leader of fully-booked workshops and multiple award winner is Paulina’s remarkable journey. Read all about her career so far

PN: According to your website, your photographic journey started in 2014. So, first, what set you on the way and how did you learn the basics? PD: In the summer of 2014, my family and I booked to go on our first holiday in five years. My youngest child was just seven months old at that time. I decided that I would like to buy a ‘proper’ camera for the holiday because I was bored with photographing only with the camera onmymobile phone – I wanted to have good quality photographs from the holiday so that I could print them afterwards. So, that was when I bought my first camera. We bought a bridge Nikon camera, worth £50! It’s funny looking back on that now, but at the time it was a huge step. I had no idea about photography at all. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to take good quality photographs, and I was prepared to put in the work to learn how to use it. During the holiday, I was like the paparazzi, running around after my children and photographing everything. I had no idea what ISOwas, f/stop or exposure. I didn’t evenknow what DSLR stood for. But, after the holiday the photographs I had taken were not bad at all. There was something in there that I liked. But most of all, I noticed a feeling in my heart – it felt so good taking photos. I enjoyed it a lot. Right then, I told myself that I wanted to improve my photography and make it a part of my life. Learning was intense – I had three young children, was working an evening job, and pursuing photography as a hobby that I couldn’t really afford. But I noticed on social media that there were photographers who were earning money doing family and children portraits, and newborn photography. I began to tell myself that if I learnt all the basics quickly and if I practised a lot, I might also be able to start earning money while doing what I loved. That is how it all started. Since then I have been on a thrilling journey, learning as much as I can about photography, developing my own unique style, perfecting my skills and growing my photography portraiture and training business. You have come a long way in a short time and your list of awards and successes is impressive. Why do you think you have been so successful? First of all, you need to be in it to win it! You can’t expect that success will find you and come knocking on your door. Youneed to show yourself, your work and put yourself out there for scrutiny. There are many photographers who don’t take part in any competitions – some just don’t want to, some simply think they are not good enough. But I was always ambitious. For me, entering competitions is part of the learning process. I want to prove tomyself that I can do something right. I enjoy taking part in the competitions. Of course, I don’t always win. But the adrenaline rushwhen I do is amazing. If I don’t win, I very carefully analyse the reasons why and next time I try harder. It’s a very personal journey – it’s like a competition with myself. I never participate to win. I just want to take part to

see if my photography is good enough. I think that by analysing the competitions and the work of previous winners, my work suddenly became better and better. I started achieving third, second and then first places. Winning the top prizes just came naturally. But, I reallywork hard for all of that. It is not just luck or talent. It is the result of constantly working to improve my photography. What encouraged you to specialise in people photography? Is it because you are a ‘people’ person? Ha, actually, no! If I was a ‘people’ person, I would be doing weddings. And in fact, I am not interested in photographing weddings at all. No, I chose to specialise in portraiture simply because to me, faces are so amazing. Each face is different. From the beginning, I was drawn to painterly pictures, moody scenery and deep, rich tones. It was just a matter of time, I think, before all these influences came together and I created my own unique style. And I’m fascinated by eyes. The eyes can tell a different story. My favourite thing in the world is to capturemy client’s eyes. Forme, this is theway to touch and find their soul. Such a powerful connection is created between me and the subject if they look intensely into the camera. The result literally leaves me speechless. My photography has been described as captivating, striking, dramatic, graceful and timeless. I describe it as fine art portrait photography which captures the soul of the person I am photographing. I achieve that by capturing the eyes of my subject. You are based in Kettering – not in London, Manchester or Edinburgh. Is being in a small town away from a major city a hindrance or a benefit to your business, and do you find that people love your work so much that they travel from all over anyway? It is not easy to live away from the big cities. It would be more beneficial if I moved, and as a family we do actually have plans to move. But

at the moment, it works. My clients are either coming to me or I travel to them. I’ve a busy schedule this year and will be doinga lot of travelling. Iwill bevisitingalmost all corners of the world giving photography workshops. So, I’m going to give myself this year to see which direction my photography business will go, and then by the end of 2018 I will make a decision about where tomove to. If I do move, it will be with the intention of being more accessible to my clients. Do you have any idea of your subjects’ appearance beforehand, or is it when they first come through the door that you first see them? Yes, I do always ask my clients to forward me some photographs of them beforehand. I need to see how they look, and what facial expressions they have. I also am looking to see what hair style they have and to predetermine what styling and clothing I could offer them. Each session requires a lot of preparation. It’s important that I prepare so I can offer the best possible client experience on the day.

My lighting is actually very simple, which I think is the best way, and I love playing with light and shadows

Top left Paulina Duczman's photographic career is in its infancy, yet her captivating portrait work has gained recognition worldwide.

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