For people like Mateusz Wiglinzki, turning vision into reality can look like an easy task. He has that certain understanding of what he wants to do as well as a strong commitment to his vision. We reached out to him to get his views on different topics and he gracefully shares them with us. Read on to learn more about him and his process.
Hey, Mateusz. Welcome to the Lomography Magazine. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a filmmaker and photographer from Berlin, currently based in Vienna.
How would you define photography? Could you tell us your first memorable encounter with it?
Sculpting with light! Although I have been using cameras already as a child, it has never happened with a too conscious idea of it. Sometime after I graduated from school I bought a used Canon AE1 on eBay. Somehow I liked the classy design of those old analogue cameras. That was the point where I started to teach myself the basic concept of exposure and generally how to use a camera beside the automatic mode.
What's your favorite thing about taking photographs?
When it comes to photography I love the spontaneity and independence. Basically, you can work almost in many cases all alone if you like. Of course, if you plan to do portraits you are going to need someone to be photographed. But mostly I am free to grab my camera anytime and get out and spent hours all alone on the streets or wherever not getting bored. It is a pacifying experience. Whereas producing a film tends to be almost always a very stressful and long procedure where you are dependent on a good team.
Let's talk a bit about your work -- how would you describe your photographic style/approach?
Well, that depends on whether already I step into it with a certain idea of an image or not. For years I have been photographing totally randomly without any thematic consistency. Rather the kind of voyeuristic street photography approach. Observing. Being there and capturing the right moment. That is why I always try to carry a camera with me. In most cases the Canon AE1 or at least my mobile phone. I love the spontaneous element of randomness, it always carries a kind of authenticity. Taking photographs isn’t just an internal experience for me. The camera as a medium gives me the opportunity to rediscover the world around me, to look closer than I do in my sedentary everyday life. Since then the chase of what I would call a personal (or maybe just a facet of) truth became my approach to photography. It is about to capture the essence of the subject, object or situation. I also love to “misuse” the camera and experiment with it. Find alternative ways of use, or just to see what happens if I do so and so. Sometimes abstract and dreamy images may develop from that. It is an intuitive process which can be accompanied by experience or just a feeling!
Who or what would you say was the biggest influence in your work?
Since I derived somehow from the film corner it was the work of a few film directors such as Krzystof Kieslowski, Andrej Tarkowski, and many others…
How do you stay creative?
I don’t think there is a certain formula for that, at least I haven’t found it yet. But what has helped me so far was always to surround myself with inspiring people, get stimulated by artworks of all kind of other artists and especially to get around and gather impressions.
We love the way you compose your shots. It's clear that you have a good understanding of the visuals you want to see in your photographs. How did you achieve that particular style?
I think there is something I would call the rule of maximal stimulus. A somehow intuitive process in my eyes. In a posed or let’s say artificial situation, I tend to alter the composition until I feel a kind of ease and release the shutter. If it is not possible to achieve which can already be in the phase of determining the right framing I tend to skip the shot. I can be very picky sometimes when it comes to that.
What ideas/emotions are you trying to get across with your photography?
I think emotion is already the right keyword for that. If it’s a snapshot, for example, I usually feel for a moment a kind of inspiration when I observe something or someone. A brief moment of truth where I feel to capture this authenticity as fast as possible. Often there is not much time to accomplish that. Whereas with portraits which often tend to be posed slightly I think there is a need for trust and a flair for the subject. Portraits which I find to be turned out good are often shot of people who I already know for some time or which are close to me. I know them and their characteristics. And if not, talking and getting to know them often helps a lot to get a feeling for someone personality. The most crucial thing is to capture the essence of it.
We've learned that you make films as well. How does that area of your work intertwine with your photography?
Well, actually I started out with film. I have been shooting short films for the past 7 years and I’m also working on other film projects as well. At some point, people increasingly started to approach and encourage me to invest more time into photography. That is probably because of my ability of virtual visualization. I find it easy to picture or imagine all those sceneries in my head which also helps a lot with photography.
In your opinion, what makes a 'good photograph?'
No matter whether it is abstract or certain in content an image should have a stimulating component. If you stop by and your sight catches something you are not able to define straight away.
Define your style in 5 words.
Dreamy, abstract, authentic, random and ambivalent
Who are the artists that you follow on a regular basis?
What I like to follow on regular basis are articles on Lomography or other sites/platforms about artists. There are no particular names but I find it a helpful and interesting way to observe what other talented people are doing.
What advice would you give to aspiring photographers and creatives out there?
Stop thinking. Get out and shoot.
What do you think matters more -- talent or skill?
That highly depends on the situation and the purpose. I am not really sure whether the difference between talent and skill actually matters in the end. Of course, skills are acquired and talent is somehow given by birth. But if you work hard you can reach a level which is probably comparable as good as the one of a talented person. But maybe with talent, you are still able to stay spontaneous because you can follow impulsively.
For you, what is the biggest challenge that an artist could face in this day and age?
I think we reached a new level of pictorial inflation. We are flooded with images over the internet and different media. It poses some advantages but also new difficulties. To stand out of the masses seems impossible but that is actually the challenge. In general, you do not become an artist because you own a super fancy DSLR or some brushes to paint. Find the one defining special criteria about your work and be good at it!
Does gear matter when it comes to putting out creative content?
Never. I learned to work with only a few tools. Of course, at some point, you will reach certain limitations, and that is a process which can take some time and also be very creative in itself. Just to get along with what you have and stress everything out of it. When you reach that point of limitation I guess it’s alright to expand then. Seen from a technical point of view, gear might support the production of a “good” photograph but will never replace a unique idea or the creativity in a photograph.
If you weren't a photographer, what would you be?
I have no clue. As a child, I wanted to be a chemist, astronaut, and pianist.
How does a perfect day look like for Mateusz Wiglinzki?
That always turns out at the end of the day. A sunny weather may help.
What's next for you?
At the moment I am developing some new ideas for a short film and also for a photographic series. I don’t know what will happen first yet as all of this work I always an unpredictable process. There is no need to rush.
Any last words for our readers?