Interview with Maciek Lesniak
Taking self-portraits can have as many perspectives as a number of people who take them. Some treat it as a habit. Some challenge themselves. Some just want to document things. For some it’s a ritual. For others a way to show of. And for some it’s a special way to show feelings.
There are thousands of reasons to take a photo of ourselves and to stop that little moment forever.
As an young artist I am constantly searching for new experiences. For this year it will be the 50 Weeks Project. Today I would like to present you someone who is almost at the end of his 365 Days Project. Maciek Leśniak is a passionate photographer and 354 days ago he started his journey with a Photo-a-Day. For most of this time he was taking auto-portraits. I asked Maciek a few questions:
Marcin: Why have you started 365 Project?
Maciek: Right at the beginning of my adventure with Flickr I came upon photos by Kip Photographie, it was the first such project I came across. I liked the idea and decided to try it. It was more of an impulse, I suppose that if I had thought through how much time it will consume and what I’m getting myself into, I would have probably never done it:) Thou I am definitely not regretting it.
Marcin: At first it seemed that there would be self-portraits only, however, you came out of that pattern a few times. You had no time or you just had enough of yourself?
Maciek: Indeed, in majority of photos it is me, however, the purpose of the project was never to take auto-portraits. My intention was to take a photo everyday, and such that I’m happy with (which didn’t succeed every time, but I’ve always tried my best). Contrary to all appearances it isn’t so simple as it could have seemed. And self-portrait because it is easier, you don’t have to make any arrangements, you have always yourself handy and that’s exactly when you have time. And the time is what I’m pressed for. From the morning to 1-2 pm I take care of my daughter. Then my wife comes home, I have a lunch and go out to my job. My daughter goes to bed at 8 or 9 pm, that’s when I get down to shooting. Taking a photo usually takes from 30 minutes (very rarely) to 3-4 hours (depends on how much photoshop is needed).
Marcin: What have you learned during that year?
Maciek: The beginning of the project is also the beginning of my experimentations with strobes, being overwhelmed with strobism. And I think it works pretty well for me now, if not the everyday practice it would probably be much worse. Working with strobes, learning arcana of lighting, that I also completely differently look at available light (sunlight, cause when it comes to available light I have a rule that “available light = every light that is fuckin available”), I didn’t use to care about it so much. I have learned also to search for ideas and inspirations literally everywhere.
Marcin: If you were to start this project now, would you do something differently?
Maciek: Probably not. I’m sure I will not start such project again any soon. Maybe in a dozen or so years:)>
Marcin: Thanks Maciek for your thoughts.
As you can see, photo-a-day can be overwhelming. It takes a lot of time, patience and perseverance. Big grats to Maciek for keeping up with the project even with such tight schedule.
My experience with auto-portraits is relatively poor. I’ve taken a few I’m happy with but never had that modeling talent. Discovering my own possibilities can be very encouraging, as I am up to find out this year. As I said before, starting a Photo-a-Day is not an option for me. Carmi inspired me to start a Photo-a-Week, where I will be creating self-portraits exclusively. I hope to learn a lot and most importantly, stay creative the whole way!
See you guys on Monday but now go check Maciek’s 365 Days Project. It is worth it!
Btw: Why do many photographers like to take self portraits with a camera covering their faces? Is this some kind of fetish I don’t understand or what?