Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey to where you are today.
Hello! My name is Łukasz Spychała and my artistic pseudonym is “Koneser”. I am 27 years old and I have lived in Poland, in Wrocław, since I was born. In fact, photography is my whole life. My parents were passionate about photography. Dad had his own darkroom, and Mom still creates beautiful digital landscape photos on her mountain trips to this day. The camera quickly found its way to my neck and just as quickly I realized that I was closer to analog than digital photography.
I have been taking photos since middle school, which is about 14 years. I started my adventure with a digital camera. During my studies, I decided to buy my first analog camera, which has been my primary camera ever since. This is the Mamiya RB67 Pro-S camera. I graduated from the Wrocław University of Technology. I am a Master of Science in Computer Science and I work as a programmer on a daily basis. During the third year of my studies, I joined the Agenda of Culture of the Wrocław University of Science and Technology and then I made a conscious decision that I wanted to deal with analog photography. I love the unpredictability in it, as well as the ability to work carefully on each frame. I think it’s the most beautiful kind of photography ever made.
Q: Why did you choose to submit this specific work to the IPA?
This particular frame captivated many people close to me not related to the photographic world, and this is the greatest compliment for me as a creator. The greatest achievement for me is the moment when the recipient sees a part of himself in my photos or when he is reminded of some unusual memory or story that once happened to him. Sometimes it is a story in line with what I wanted to tell, and sometimes, thanks to a conversation with the recipient, I see that I have unknowingly told more than I intended with a given frame. There is no greater achievement for me than heated discussions about my photography. They are always a source of further thoughts for me. I believe that they develop me as an artist and often become an inspiration to tell another story. This is exactly what happened with this photo, which is why I decided to share it with you.
Q: What does winning this competition mean to you?
Winning this award is, above all, a great joy for me, but it is also a sign that other people like what I do and it is worth continuing my adventure with photography. It confirmed to me that I am on the right path. In moments of weakness, it also gives me a motivating kick forward.
Q: You won Analog/Film Photographer of the Year with your stunning work, “Avenue of Stars”. Could you share the concept behind your winning firm?
I approach each frame I create as if I were taking my best shot. I did not expect that my work would be noticed and would be “the winning one”. To be honest, the most important thing for me is to create in harmony with myself and, above all, to be satisfied with the effect myself. I tried to make this particular frame resemble an oil painting, not a photograph. So I consciously reached for a suitable film that helped me achieve this effect. The model has been anonymized so that anyone looking at this photo can recall another person from their memory and associate this photo with them.
Q: What other photographers have impacted your own work, methods, or style?
I think that all the photographers I met on my way had a greater or lesser influence on me. I always try to gain a lot from meetings with other people, and not only those with people from the photographic industry. What’s more, I think that the models, not the photographers themselves, were and are my greatest inspiration. The most important thing for me in the frame is the man, his energy, the way he is affected by the place of the session or my idea of who he could become.
Everything that our eyes absorb has a more or less conscious influence on us. Therefore, I believe that the creators of films and series, as well as artists of all kinds of visual arts, have a great influence on my photography. Maybe it’s unreal these days, but I try to create something new so that I can look in the mirror and call myself a real creator, not a re-creator. However, I try not to inspire and not look at other people’s photos. I believe that they can get stuck very quickly in our subconscious and make us try to recreate them, even involuntarily. I get my greatest inspiration from painting. From images and their colors, textures, contrasts. I really appreciate the works of Edward Hopper.
Q: What do you feel are the key steps to achieving great images?
The process of thinking and planning before pressing the shutter button is crucial. I take a picture only when everything at the moment seems to me to be what I want to achieve. An important step that, in my opinion, cannot be skipped is to watch and analyze each frame you take and learn from your own mistakes painfully. A photo is good as long as you, as its creator, are fully satisfied with it, especially after a long time after taking it.
Q: How did you develop your personal style?
I try not to pigeonhole anyone, especially myself, artistically and privately. Regardless of the coherence of my work, I always try to tell with frames what is most important to me at the moment.
My personal style is an honest mix of what moves and inspires me at the moment. I don’t stick to one style. I have the impression that in photography I enjoy the constant search for myself and exploring unknown areas.
Q: What do you find to be the most difficult aspect of becoming a photographer?
The hardest thing about being a photographer is that we will constantly encounter new, unknown difficulties, and some of them we have to deal with additionally in a short and limited time. I also think that it is difficult to become a recognizable photographer or make a living from photography, due to the fact that there is a lot of competition in this medium due to the ease of taking pictures. Now everyone has a camera in the form of a smartphone, and it has long been known that the best camera is the one you have with you, to paraphrase Chase Jarvis. At any moment, tens if not hundreds of thousands of photos are created and it is very difficult to break through with your artworks.
Q: What are the elements that drive your photography? What motivates and focuses you?
I think that many things motivate me to take pictures at once, both the shadows of our past and the light of the greatest memories. There are many elements in our lives that, despite their diversity, cannot be separated. I believe that the world and what happens in it affects what we feel internally and spills out of us, consciously or not, in our work. Without a doubt, I believe that the staff can tell more about us or the emotions we feel than the conversation itself. Words always seem less precise to me than the nuances immortalized in a photograph. It’s the best way to express myself. I pay special attention to the surroundings, which become the background for my photos. I often have the impression that these places evoke memories and emotions strong enough to create my own frames. I am greatly influenced by a wide spectrum of art installations, paintings, sculptures, music and films. After each session, I have many frames in my head that I could still take, and this also makes me want more and more all the time.
Q: What would your ideal photography project be if you could do anything or travel anywhere?
My ideal photography project is the one waiting for me just around the corner. Each new project is another step in my self-development and I try to make it better than the previous one. I approach all my photos as if they were my best photos and I spend a lot of time and a large piece of myself in each of them. If I could travel anywhere, I would literally travel wherever the wind takes me. Each new place means new inspirations, new emotions, a new story to tell. One of my secret dreams is the possibility of carrying out a photo session in space, against the background of the Earth.
Q: What’s next for you? Are you currently working on anything exciting?
I am working on exciting projects all the time. Whatever I’m involved in, I’m there with all my heart and soul. Unfortunately, I can’t reveal more details at the moment, but soon everyone will be able to see the effects in my portfolio, so I cordially encourage you to follow my photographic work, e.g. on Instagram – @koneser_fotografii.