Po zdobyciu pierwszego miejsca na świecie wśród fotografów ślubnych w całorocznym konkursie AGWPJA w 2009 pisarka Lorna Gentry przeprowadziła z Marcinem wywiad dla WPJA (Wedding Photojournalist Association). Dziś skrót został opublikowany na stronach AGWPJA(zostaliśmy dodatkowo zaskoczeni nagrodą):
“The WPJA is honoring a member of the Artistic Guild of the Wedding Photojournalist Association (AG|WPJA) with a Photographer of the Year (POY) award. Marcin Labedzki of Gdanzk, Poland, has earned through contest points the title of AG|WPJA POY 2009. In addition to the title, Labedzki will receive a $1,000 cash prize and a trophy with his name engraved on it.
“Winning this award is a very special distinction and I’m happy that my work has been honored like this,” says Labedzki. “I think being a wedding photojournalist is the greatest thing in the world. Not many people have the luxury of turning a passion into a profession. In photography nothing is impossible. The only limit is our imagination.”
Since becoming a member of AG|WPJA four years ago, Labedzki’s award-winning images have attracted international attention. He is well known for his avant-garde style and visual playfulness, particularly in trash the dress (TTD) photos. “I let my imagination flow freely and that’s where I am my most creative,” says Labedzki, who photographs couples in urbanscapes, water and visual fantasies.
Labedzki began photographing weddings in 2003 when the photojournalism style was in its infancy in Poland. Until then all Polish wedding photography was staged and posed, so Labedzki’s reporting style was fresh and exciting, winning him awards and a steady clientele that grew through word of mouth advertising.
Labedzki gets inspired by looking at the work of master photographers, including Helmut Newton and Richard Avedon, he says, and by reading fashion magazines. Although he never pursues couples during a wedding, “I’m also not the kind of photographer that hides in the corner. I like to be very close, so my favorite lenses are Canon 35mm f/1.4 and fisheye 15mm f/2.8. I always have the camera next to my eye so I observe everything through the lens, because sometimes the most important moments can disappear just when you are about to lift the camera.”
A tak wyglądał cały wywiad:
- How long have you been a photographer?
I’ve been a photographer for 8 years now.
2. Did you start your career doing weddings, or doing reporting and portraits? Tell me a little about your background.
My adventure with photography began when, as an amateur, I won a few awards in different competitions for amateur photographers. The competitions were mostly for vacation and landscape photos but for portraits as well. Thanks to the winnings, I could afford to buy better and better equipment and the awards also encouraged me to keep shooting and it fueled the passion for photography. Therefore, together with my at that time fiancé, now my wife, decided to do a second major – photography. From that moment on I was hooked – photography became my life. I’ve realized that when even in my daily living, without my camera, I would take pictures in my head of everything I saw. The truth of the matter is, that from the beginning I was most interested in photographing people, and that is how it stayed till this day.
3. How long have you been photographing weddings? Why did you decide to be a wedding photographer?
The first encounter I had with wedding photography was during my best friend’s weddings, that was about seven years ago. It was at a time in Poland, when wedding photojournalism was at its infancy. The only mementos from a wedding where pictures taken at a photographer’s studio, next to a fake fire place, with a mural wall-paper as a background, and plastic Champaign glasses filled with gelatin. It produced very cliché and superficial pictures.
Back then I would take reportage photography of my friends from wedding day using only available light and I would usually take them for a few pictures on location- first TTD sessions. I made something novel and innovative, so I came to find out that more and more people were impressed by my pictures and wanted to hire me for their weddings. Since from the beginning I enjoyed participating in the most important day of a young couple in love, I figured, why not turn my passion into profession and make money of what I love to do? Not many people have that luxury :). I think being a wedding photographer is the greatest thing in the world. I have been shooting weddings professionally since 2003.
4. Your photos have a very contemporary sensibility and sense of humor. How do you keep your artistic eye fresh? Are there magazines, web sites, etc., that you look at on a regular basis?
Thank you for the complement. I always strive for my photos to be unusual and original, I like for them to have a creative freshness and to be artistic, as well as to capture those beautiful, happy couples in the best way possible. The photographs should tell something about them. I think my best future is that I really try to get to know the couples the best possible, I talk to them and ask what their interests are, hobbies, passions, dreams. In addition, I meet with them a few times before the sessions, and then during the wedding I get to know them even better, it creates some sort of bond between us and that helps me, for the on location session, to choose the best ambiance and place that will fit their personalities.
In addition, in Poland the big plus is that wedding season starts in April and ends in October, after the season there aren’t really any weddings, I guess because of the weather. But I think it’s a plus, since during that time off I can educate myself and foster my talents. I can find new ideas, and find new interesting settings for the photo shoots and to just regenerate my batteries with fresh energy and with new ideas began the new season.
Quite often I get my inspirations from movies and literature, sometimes from art and paintings. I love to visit photography galleries and notoriously buy albums of the masters, like Ansel Adams, Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon, Jan Saudek, Jean Luis Sieff and others. I also love (mostly Italian and French) Vogue magazines, since in my sessions; I’m often inspired by the fashion photography. My favorite is the Black & White Magazine and till this day I regret that in Poland they discontinue a great photography magazine called “Pozytyw”.
5. How many weddings in a year do you photograph in Poland?
On average I photograph around 30 wedding plus about 20 sessions of “trash the dress” a year.
6. How many destination weddings do you do? Where are you most often asked to photograph weddings?
Very often I’m asked to do a wedding overseas; however, sadly I have to decline the offers since the dates are usually already taken. In Poland, the good photographers are usually booked even two years in advance, and the questions about overseas weddings usually come half a year before the planned ceremony, when I already have my list closed for the whole year. Last year we had a destination wedding in England, in Ely and TTD session in London. A couple of years ago we also had an unforgettable session Trash the dress in Paris. I have fond memories of all the trips and I am open for any unusual offers – like Cuba, China or Thailand. But I still think that great photos can be made anytime and anywhere.
7. You do a lot of Trash the Dress sessions and from the look of the pictures, you really enjoy it. What was the most outrageous in terms of location and fun Trash the Dress session you’ve ever done?
Thank you. I absolutely love to shoot those sessions, and I’m glad it shows since with them I can really let it out artistically. I have the full control, I let my imagination flow freely and that is when I try to be the most creative. I’m creator of session TTD, and If a couple decides for a session like that, I know that with them, I can do anything and they will be open to my suggestions and will agree to what I ask for. Although, sometimes you get couples that come to me with concrete ideas and they know that if they have a really crazy idea, I will go with it. Because for me, in photography, nothing is impossible – the only limit is our imagination. And actually one of my couples from last year came up with the idea to have the session in a freshly dug out graves. The story was short – the young bride kills the groom, digs the grave in a forest, says her goodbyes by throwing her veil and wedding ring into the grave, and buries the new groom, then with a winning face, she lights up a cigarette and walks away. This photo session aroused the biggest controversy with photographers as well as with other, better behaved couples. I believe that in art, there are no boundaries and you have to take risks to create something new, something that never been done before, plus I like when my pictures provoke, when they don’t leave people indifferent.
8. You have two books: Egypt and Stockholm. Do you and your wife travel a lot and shoot for publications or mostly for yourselves? In your wedding photojournalism do you draw from your travel photography sensibilities?
We have two different passions, other then photography; traveling and cooking. We love to travel; however, we weren’t able to do the photo-books from all of the adventures yet. When we travel we photograph usually for ourselves and our pleasure. That’s how it is with us now, we never leave the cameras at home, and we relax by visiting new places and taking pictures of things we never saw thus far. And what we see – no one can take away from us; all of the view, flavors, and aromas will stay in our memories forever, which is why we love it so much. We happen to sell some of the photographs of landscapes to private people to hang on a wall or as a photo-paper. Does travel photography help us with wedding photography? Well let me answer this in Marcel Proust’s words: “The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes”. And exactly from our travels we bring to our common, everyday reality, our “new eyes”, ton of photography, kilograms of spices, and new receipts for new regional dishes.
9. How long have you been with AG/WPJA?
I think about 4 years in both.
10. How do you keep yourself in the moment during a wedding? After all, weddings go on for hours. Do you have a special strategy?
Being a wedding photographer, we have to realize how responsible this profession is, that we can never disappoint the couple in this one, most beautiful day, for which they were preparing even two years some times. We have to remember, that those are the never to be repeated moments, which is why for a wedding I prepare myself very meticulously and I always show up rested and ready to work at a full speed for the next various hours. I put 100 percent into every wedding. I never push myself on the couples during the wedding, although I am also not the kind of photographer that hides in the corners – I try, with my presence and my experience, to relax the couple, who usually are very stressed during the wedding, since usually it’s their first time J, and my wife and I, have been to hundreds of weddings, and know how to react in challenging situations. Thanks to our preparations, the young couples are used to our cameras, and thanks to that, for the rest of the day they even sometimes forget about our presence, and our always watchful eyes. Definitely the big plus is that my wife and I always work together, and because of it, every couple can be sure that every important moment will be captured. Special strategy? – I guess the most important thing is to always have the camera next to your eye, to observe everything thought the lens, since some times, that most important moment, can disappear just when we are about to lift the camera to our eye.
11. Are you digital? What camera do you have? What lenses do you use most often?
For weddings’ photojournalism I usually use digital, since that doesn’t limit the number of pictures I can take, neither do I need to change the film in the most important moment and allow me the freedom of my artistic expression and vision. However, often for my own pleasure I also take the analog camera with me, and with TTD sessions I sometimes use medium format cameras. Starting this year I’m planning to introduce as one of my offers, portrait photography done with classic old large format camera – I think this will be an interesting offer for people who are interested not in a quantity, but the quality of their pictures, and for those who love black and white analog photography. My favorite lens is Cannon 35mm/1.4 and Canon fisheye 15 mm/2.8., because I like to be really very close.
12. How do you think this award will help you in your business? How has being a member of AG/WPJA affected your business?
This winning is a very special distinction for me, and I am very happy that my work has been rewarded like this. I am still aware of the fact that I can still achieve more, that I have still more to learn, that I can still be better and that I am still far from masters like Ben Chrisman or Jeff Ascough, or the master of “trash the dress”- Matt Adcock. Thanks to this award my company can only gain of course, I can become better known – not only in Poland but also around the world. Until now, thanks to AG/WPJA I had quite a few propositions from oversea clients. Therefore, I am hoping the number will increase and I will be able to fulfill both of my passions – photography and traveling.
Again, thank you very much.
Gratulacje 😀 należało się Wam…