Patrycja Marciniak

Patrycja Marciniak is a photographer and graphic designer based in Warsaw, Poland. Patrycja describes photography as a way to communicate emotions and wants her viewers not to just see her images, but to feel them. She bases the majority of her photographs on personal experiences, feelings, emotions, and fantasies.

 

Photography is my rabbit hole - a way to escape from plain reality into the world of dreams and nightmares. I consider visual arts a form of storytelling and attempt to apply this theory to my photos - each of them an illustration to an untold story, story that can be both dreamy and uncanny. One of my main inspirations are fairy tales and folk tales - often hiding cruel and disturbing elements under the coat of sugar. However, my main goal is not to reproduce the stories themselves, rather to reconstruct them and ask questions about the feelings they invoke.

 

You're a graphic designer by day, but what led you to photography and is there any interplay in your work between design and photography?

I've always enjoyed taking photos, but it was my university which helped to transform it into a passion. I've been studying graphic design. Most of our classes were computer ones, but some included traditional art, like painting, drawing, or photography. I've discovered that photography is a medium which helps me communicate my ideas most freely.

Normally, there's not much similarity between my work and my hobby (I guess not many clients would be happy to see gloomy, dark logotypes and posters), but happily most visual arts share the same set of rules, therefore I'm able to use everything I've learned about colors and composition both in graphic design and in photography.

Patrycja Marciniak

You tend to work in a series. How do these conceptual ideas come to you and what are the stages of execution?

It's very hard for me to tell where do ideas come from; sometimes I get inspirations from art, music, poems, fairytales or stories, but mostly I just follow the stream of thoughts and associations until I say to myself, "hey, that would make a great photo". Many ideas came to me when I was trying to explain my feelings, especially the ones caused by mental illness, to others; since it's very hard to express them in simple words, I started using metaphors and comparisons, many of which turned out to be a great base for creating photos.

Patrycja Marciniak

Patrycja Marciniak

Your work is formed from an intensely personal place, including your experiences with medication for depression and your diagnosis with dermatillomania. I’m curious about how it feels to make such personal work? Is there a therapeutic process?

It feels really good to be able to transform negative feelings into something of artistic value. The most therapeutic stage, however, is not creating - for me it's getting feedback, especially from people facing similar problems. It's very reassuring to feel supported and understood, and to show the support and understanding to others. I feel very pleased when I hear that people identify with my art - maybe it will give them the sense of comfort and feeling that they're not alone.

What it is like to share works which say a lot about your experiences and difficulties?

To be honest, I've always been very nervous to share such photos. Only my closest friends and family know about my difficulties. Since there's a strong stigma concerning mental health in our society, I was afraid I might get negative reactions from more distant friends. However, none such thing has happened so far; I hope that my stress will fade away eventually.

I think that speaking about mental health is very important, since there's such a negativity, lack of understanding, and so many myths concerning mental illnesses. I hope that I can change at least some minds and raise awareness - every big change starts with a small step.

Patrycja Marciniak

Patrycja Marciniak

Patrycja Marciniak

Patrycja Marciniak

Patrycja Marciniak

Has creating works about your mental health experiences helped you to connect with friends and family to help them understand your difficulties?

Fortunately most of my closest ones showed a lot of understanding since the beginning of my illness. I wasn't able to create art when my depression started - most of the time I was too weak and sad to even crawl out of bed. Creating art sure helped them understand my feelings more, but I think it had more impact on more distant friends who knew little about my problems and feelings.

What are you working on now?

I'm constantly trying to develop my skills in photography by creating art, and I'm planning to make more series concerning mental health. I do have some ideas that still need execution, and I'll likely come up with several new ones.

facebook.com/patrycjamarciniakart


Nicolette Clara Iles

Nicolette Clara Iles is a photographer and writer based in London. She uses her experiences of borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder to influence her surrealistic photography. Her photography is "inspired by the surreal and turning the real into the surreal, along with early photographic inspirations (such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Pictorialism etc)." She uses colour and form to illustrate feelings and tell a story in image-form.

What is your background in photography? How did you get into it and how would you describe your work?

I always loved taking pictures but I first got into photography during and after a 6-month stay in a psychiatric ward as a teenager. I snuck a disposable camera into the building and took film pictures of my surroundings etc. When I left, I started doing self-portraits on a little pocket digital camera then got a cheap SLR soon after. It was then I started doing portraits and more artistic ‘work’ with my photography. At 16, I began doing test shoots with agency models and friends etc. I would describe my work as surreal and based in colour with emotion mostly.

How do your own experiences with mental health (you mention your BPD diagnosis) manifest in your work?

Well I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder first, then BPD so technically it’s a co-morbid diagnosis that I deal with. I never used to see that it manifested within my work until I was told that my photographs were very ‘emotional’, then I realised that indeed how I feel corresponds with how images turn out, and even the ideas behind them, too. I recently did a shoot that was a gentle nudge towards my symptoms, with scissors to represent ‘cutting off’ and I think my common usage of hands within my work shows a lot of personal things. I also created a ‘demon’ character who was supposed to be the version of myself I fight with.

Nicolette Clara Iles

Nicolette Clara Iles

How important is process to you? What is it like to create the work for you?

Process, especially recently, is quite important to me. If I feel a certain way, it almost always shows in the images. I find the build-up to creating an image exciting but also exhausting, in the way that it takes up a lot of energy to be excited and the worry of getting it ‘right’. I like to have a calm atmosphere when I’m shooting for everyone involved, all the while pushing to get the shapes and forms the way I initially imagined them to show through.

Where does the value lie in your work — in the creating, or the final piece?

If I can say both, then yes both! Sometimes it feels as though, once a story or image has come into fruition, that it’s like ‘right, I can move on from that chapter now’ and sometimes it’s something that never ends and continues to be a theme within my work and life. I like seeing the final result and it being how I imagined, or even different in a better way, but the creation of that is part of it, too.

Nicolette Clara Iles

Nicolette Clara Iles

What do you hope viewers take from your work?

Feelings, I just want people to feel ‘something’ when they view my work. Whether that be disgust or love or even a relatable, familiar feeling, just something that takes away from the sometimes-dull aspects of life - colourful emotion, that’s how i’d put it perhaps.

What are you working on now?

I currently would like to venture into more self-portraiture and also creating characters from other people, based on these real and unreal selves - a series of these would be ideal. I also am hoping to work into doing art therapy for people, combining my experiences with both art and the mind to help others fulfil expressing via creation.

nicoletteclara.co.uk
@nicoletteclara


Zaklina Anderson

Zaklina Anderson is a photographer based in London. In her work No one could save me but you Anderson combines double exposures of both the figure and landscapes to explore cultural displacement and the memory of war.

What is your background in photography — how did you get into it and what are your main interests?

My grandmother sold a cow in order to buy a camera for my father. My mother was one of the first female photographers to have her own studio in Serbia. Later, my parents moved to Slovenia, and established themselves as leading printing experts.

I grew up surrounded by photography. I had decided early on that I wanted to be a photographer, and signed up for a Secondary School of Design and Photography at the age of 15. I fell in love with fashion photography, and I still remember seeing Richard Avedon’s photographs for Italian Vogue. As there was no way to continue my studies at home, I moved to Chicago to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree. I started out as a commercial photographer, but when I moved to Paris to get another diploma, I started photographing nudes, which led to the fine art exhibitions.

I came across your work No one could save me but you at FIX Photo Festival and was immediately drawn in to the work. Can you give a brief outline of the work and where its title came from?

This artistic work is inspired by the political events that ended up in dividing Yugoslavia and resulted in a horrific civil war. It deals with identity, belonging, memory and loss.

I photographed this series after a difficult time in my life, a challenging couple of years. I was looking for a new series to do, but struggled with getting started, so I set myself a goal of doing a triptych, which resulted in a proper series. The mood of the photographs reflects my state of mind at the time. But it also connects with the deeper issue of my history.

The title is from a song I had in my mind when I took a first photo that started the triptych, it was something about a dark and stormy mood that connected the project.

Zaklina Anderson

Zaklina Anderson

You write that the work "explores the displacement and memory of war, portraying a sense of loss and mourning for a space and time now past." I find a real sense of nostalgia and longing in the images that make me pine for a place I've never been to. Can I ask how the use of double exposures came about?

As I started to explore photographing landscapes after focusing on the body for so long, I didn’t quite know how to view my landscapes, which seemed very vast and empty, so I experimented with double exposures to be able to include a figure and be more comfortable with the image. Also, the image of landscape on its own didn’t produce the feeling I always look for, which is a sort of melancholy loneliness. I found that I could achieve that feeling and also create a story within the image by using more then one image, either by double exposure, or collage. I always kept my nudes very subdued, because I wanted them to appear as an afterthought.

Zaklina Anderson

Zaklina Anderson

Zaklina Anderson

When we think of grief we often think of the loss of a person. Can you describe the feelings felt in mourning for a cultural identity, and how does the absence of a country impact on a person’s identity?

It has a great impact on a person. One of the first questions we are often asked is “where are you from?”, and for me that question is impossible to answer. I was not aware of how many of us were actually affected by this collective wound, as I tend to call it, but generations of people became "orphans" because what was their homeland was erased from a map. What used to be one nation with shared values turned into hatred and distrust.

Slovenia used to be part of Yugoslavia, and just as I was coming of age, the system collapsed and the country divided into separate republics. This was traumatic for many because a lot of families were from different parts of the country and were now at war. It was hard watching my parents come to terms with their loss of this identity, as we are defined by the place we grew up in. Now that I'm a parent, I struggle to explain to my children my roots.

What is the significance of the landscapes and figures chosen?

There's a theory in photography that says every photographer always takes the same photograph, over and over again. It is the same here. I’m constantly looking for a certain feeling of empty space and particular light, and my contact sheets look almost exactly the same, spanning over decades!

It might be an innate need to get that one perfect shot that makes us go back to the same place and try to capture its essence.

Zaklina Anderson

Zaklina Anderson

Zaklina Anderson

The work from this series is quite different from those on your website which are primarily nudes. What was it that prompted you to begin working on this project?

This series is a result of a wonderful collaboration I've undertaken with Laura Noble, my mentor. We discussed techniques and artists, which made me look at my own work differently. More importantly, she raised the question of "why?". Why does photography matter to me and what is driving it?

What are you working on next?

My next project is trying to answer a simple but complex question, “Who are you?” I want to look at my family history more closely, because only with passing time have I realized how special my family was and is, and how I continue the family tradition that started more than 50 years ago. When I was growing up, the family stories and anecdotes, always revolving around photography, seemed so banal but now I realize just how special and forward-thinking both my parents were. I want to pay tribute to them and to my aunts and uncles and cousins who were and still are involved in photography.

zaklinaanderson.com


Giacomo Fierro

Giacomo Fierro is an Italian photographer specialising in landscape and photo reportage. Through his projects he investigates the ever-changing relationship between man and landscape and the traces he leaves in it.

"Led by hope for tranquillity I move carrying with me a longing for innovation. The desire to explore the unknown now overcomes the desire to return, which fades with time. The instability of what the future will be does not worry me; the consequences, whatever they are, are part of the discovery that is to come. Research is made through movement, fighting the immobility and at times leaving uncertainties behind. Movement and change become a mental state so that all that counts is progression and departure from a condition of stagnation. Thoughts at nighttime are at their most spontaneous and the sky is their catalyst."

How did the theme of mental health become a key part of your practice?

Mental wellbeing unexpectedly became the focal point of my first works. Until the age of 18 I used to live in a place where I didn’t feel at ease and, only once I left, I realized I wanted to start rebuilding a bond with that place.

How did Symptoms come about?

Symptoms originated spontaneously, just like the whole “Ataraxia” project. In this work, nothing was premeditated and nothing was born with the intent of taking part in the series. All of the shots were put together afterwards as they had a common feel to them and the project started as a description of my life in that period.

Giacomo Fierro

Giacomo Fierro

Giacomo Fierro

What is it that attracts you to photographing at night?

Nighttime has always fascinated me, and in particular, photographically speaking, the possibility to capture a partial reality thanks to light (and its absence). The images were shot with flash or long exposures, technical expedients that helped reproduce my feelings in those moments. Another reason that led me to choose the dark is the fact that at night there are no people around that somehow may interfere, and so I can focus on the relationship I have with a certain place and make images that relate to those specific feelings.

Have you found creating this work therapeutic at all?

I can definitely say this work has been therapeutic for me, but this process is not over yet. Symptoms is part of a larger body of work whose aim is to describe the progressive phases of my journey towards a state of ataraxia. In the beginning I wasn’t aware of what was to come nor what I would encounter: it all surfaced in a very organic and spontaneous way and I can say that taking photos has turned out to be the best therapeutic instrument for my research.

Giacomo Fierro

Giacomo Fierro

Giacomo Fierro

What do you hope viewers will take from this work?

Photography has been very important to me in this period of my life: the resulting images were born from deep feelings that I hope will be accessible to the viewers. To those who will see them, I would like to suggest a reflection on life starting from my perspective. In particular with Symptoms I would like to stress how hard it can be to feel at home in a place that isn’t really home.

What are you working on now?

Right now, while I continue with my therapy, which is now in its third phase, I’m particularly interested in the theme of Creation from both personal and mythological points of view. I am working on two separate still life series on this theme. At the same time I work as a commercial photographer in Turin, Italy, my new home.

giacomofierro.com