There’s a certain air of sadness in Nishe’s portraits. More often than not, the faces of her subjects are either partially or completely hidden. Sad, yes, but undeniably beautiful. Melancholia, as well as loss of innocence and the pains of growing up, are recurring themes in the photographer’s body of work and she presents all these quite gracefully.
This seems to have all started when she began experimenting with self-portraits around five years ago, taking care to always obscure her face. From then on, Nishe tells Lomography, it has become her “obsession” to “portray a person, their soul, emotions, anxiety, [and] loneliness without showing their face.”
Nishe goes about this by staging her shots, although admirably, her work never appears too awkward or stiff. By way of explanation, she offers at length, "Most of the time, it’s just me and the model on the set. This way we can have a more personal connection. When I notice that we’re going in a good direction, I try explore that moment, ask the model to please stay that way. I look for the right angles, light, and most importantly a feeling that I can capture, that ephemeral beauty that only lasts for a few seconds.
“The models that I work with understand my aesthetic and we work well together. Lastly, the girls I photograph rarely have any make-up on which I find is a distraction from what is really important – the person and their emotions,” she says.
With every shot, Nishe admits that she intends to tell a story, whether it be otherworldly or rooted in reality. "I’ve always been recluse and introvert, spending a lot of time alone thinking, imagining things, [and] creating stories," she explains. “Photography [is] a way for me to connect to people, show them how I see the world and where my imagination takes me.”
Love at first sight
Nishe is the pseudonym of 29-year old Poland-based photographer Magdalena Lutek. She was 15 when she stumbled upon her father’s old Zenit 12XP in their attic. “Immediately, I knew it was what I wanted to do,” she claims.
Her early body of work was dominated by photographs of nature, “especially in the winter as everything died down.” She also used to shoot purely in black and white. Today, Nishe photographs digitally as well although she still works with analog cameras. Her go-to gear options include the Canon A-1, Canon 5D MKII, and Fuji Instax.
“I don’t have a set of rules of when to use a digital or analog camera but I do find that in difficult lighting situations, film is more forgiving. I still shoot film because it has better tonality and I love the natural texture of soft grain. I also just love being surprised with the results [and] not seeing the photos instantly at the back of the camera,” she says.
Asked to describe her own style, Nishe says that it is “personal, melancholic, and feminine… with a particular focus on nature, gestures and emotions.” Moreover, she finds inspiration from nature, emotions, and other concepts, as well as from works by other photographers.
“I am inspired by light, the season’s change, dying nature in the winter, emotional landscapes, anxiety and longing, sudden moments of ephemeral beauty, [and] childhood dreams. Artists that I find exceptionally inspirational are Sally Mann for the series of photographs ‘Immediate Family,’ Paolo Roversi and his fantasy worlds that are captured with large format camera on instant film, and Tim Walker for his unstoppable imagination. They are the masters of photography for me,” she shares.
Nishe currently works part time as a graphic designer, but she wishes to work someday as a full-time photographer “everyday for the rest of my life.”
Capturing lovers’ intimate moments on film
Aside from all mentioned above, Nishe also likes capturing the tenderness and sensuality between couples. In the summer of 2013 she began the ongoing series “Young Love,” her personal favorite, by taking photos of her friends Joanna, a writer and model, and Michal, a filmmaker who’s also known as Człowiek Kamera. Nishe says that he “felt so inspired” by the couple that she decided to continue the series by having other couples she knew, all artists themselves, to model for her.
“There is something magical about photographing couples. I witnessed so much tenderness and emotions [from them],” Nishe says. “Taking these photographs was a pleasure. I am forever grateful that they agreed to be in front of my lens.”
No matter what she photographs, though, Nishe remains consistent in exploring emotions through her craft and presenting them in the most beautiful way possible. In closing, Nishe offers this piece of advice: “Never stop learning and only photograph what you love.”
All information and photographs in this article were provided by Magdalena Lutek (Nishe) to Lomography and used here with permission. To see more of her work, please visit her website.