Iwona Podlasińska is a Fine Art Portrait Photographer from Poland. She is an architect by profession and a mom for two boys. Iwona style is something between dreams and reality, she loves to capture her kids on a swing, running, and playing at home, etc. Iwona also conducting workshops and sharing her knowledge with other budding photographers.
In her words about photographing her kids, “Working with children is nothing similar to working with models. I feel closer to the people that photograph dogs or other animals than to those portrait photographers. Mostly because when you work with kids between 1 and 5 years old- they can’t pose or fake emotions. They can smile at the camera but no photographer will call that posing. I want to see lovely emotions on their faces and relaxed bodies. This is something that has to be captured and it takes a lot of work and patience. I think this is actually the most challenging thing here and it was from the day one that I started taking photos. I can control what kind of light I’m using, what composition I’m creating. But I’m not in full control of children and this is what I love about this the most.”
Thanks, Iwona for accepting the invite. Please read on…
Few words about yourself?
My name is Iwona Podlasińska. I live in Poland. I’m an architect by trade and a mom of two boys. I started taking photos of my sons when they were little (when my younger one was just a few months old and the older one wasn’t even two at that time)- it was in 2014. I fell in love with photography and was really crazy about taking new shots. Thanks to that I was able to learn fast. One more thing that surprisingly helped me was… lack of funds. I couldn’t afford to buy an expensive body or lenses. I had a crop sensor Sony A-77 and I was using analog lenses with it. I couldn’t use all the features of modern cameras and had to do everything, and I mean everything, manually. Combining this with children that move fast and my love for difficult lighting conditions that was a great challenge for a newbie in photography.
What first drew you to photography and how did you discover it?
I had some kind of a camera for all my life and I was always thinking of it as something that would be great to master some day. But it wasn’t until I had my own children that I really took it up. I think mostly because before that I didn’t have a good subject to photograph. I tried bugs, machines, interiors or friends but it didn’t move my heart.
Then one day I came across stunning children portraits online and fell in love immediately.
How would you describe your style of photography?
I usually say that my style is something between dreams and reality. I photograph scenes from my kids lives- them on a swing, running, playing at home, but I want those shots to have a little bit of magic, something mystical to it. I use light in most cases, sometimes do some more advanced post-production to achieve my goal. But those photos have to look real and magical at the same time.
Your photos of kids are very inspiring and stand between Fine-art and Photography. Could you please explain?
Working with children is nothing similar to working with models. I feel closer to the people that photograph dogs or other animals than to those portrait photographers. Mostly because when you work with kids between 1 and 5 years old- they can’t pose or fake emotions. They can smile at the camera but no photographer will call that posing. I want to see lovely emotions on their faces and relaxed bodies.
This is something that has to be captured and it takes a lot of work and patience. I think this is actually the most challenging thing here and it was from the day one that I started taking photos. I can control what kind of light I’m using, what composition I’m creating. But I’m not in full control of children and this is what I love about this the most.
There is always an element of surprise, a reward for all the time spent and a treasure in a form of an amazing portrait- that unlike model’s portraits has something real in it. My best photos were either taken spontaneously without much of a preparation or were carefully planned- and not in terms of setting the light but in terms of arranging the whole situation that it would be fun for kids and plan on when to start the game and how to run it so that at a certain moment I could take a photo.
Few words on your Post Processing techniques?
When I have a photo in my camera I take all my files into Lightroom and then the most consuming part starts. Because as I want to capture a perfect moment I take a lot of photos. My first challenge is to find the best shot and always keep in mind that I can change a lot of thing in post-production- crop, add a missing part, remove objects, combine images, but I can’t change a pose or an expression. So my first look is concentrated on posed and facial expressions. I’m looking for perfect composition, light, mood, story and a pose. In some cases, all those things come together and this is what makes me very happy, but if there is one thing I can do to save a photo- for example, remove a distraction I won’t hesitate.
After selecting my photos I edit in Lightroom. If I have to do something that can’t be done in Lightroom I will do it at the beginning in Photoshop and come back to Lightroom. Always when I start working on a photo I have a vision of how it will look in the end. I don’t throw different actions or filters to see what happens. I edit with a plan using Lightroom sliders and local filters to achieve a certain result. And this is an approach I teach at my workshops. For the same reason, I don’t use presets or coloring actions. I believe that they were made to make life easier but they make it more difficult in the end because you lose control over your edit. Although I’m not against actions overall- some, those that speed put certain techniques, not color the image- are very useful.
You are conducting workshops for budding photographers. Few words about that?
I already mentioned my workshop. I started running workshops in 2016- only two years after taking up photography. It was quite fast but to be honest, it wasn’t my idea- I got a few propositions and I took the challenge. Since then I have been running one or two groups a month and lots of one-to-one workshops. That made me clean up my workflow, establish what was important and what wasn’t and deepened my technical knowledge.
That’s when my work lost a bit of that artistic messiness but also got a new technical level. I run workshops in Europe, USA, and China. China was the biggest surprise to me. I never knew how popular my photos were over there. I found out after my friend helped me to start a Tuchong.com account. A list of my incoming workshops is on my website. I plan my workshops starting with an idea for the shooting. I like to visit new places and plan themed shootings- like the train shoot in Germany or winter wonderland in Poland or the haunted house shooting in the USA.
I’m also offering online editing videos. I know that not everyone can come to a workshop and still those people want to learn.
One moment you want to relive being a photographer?
I have that love and hate relationship with the pigeons’ photo. I remember when I posted this- a huge response from my fans. That was a great experience, yet hard to repeat. I think those moments when you achieve something are good and bad for you at the same time. Good because you obviously want to be rewarded, bad because you feel like the best may be behind you and I really want to believe that the best is yet to come.
My inspiration changes as I grow as a photographer. At first when I didn’t know much about how to take photos I used to concentrate on other photographers work. It was for the first couple of month, maybe the first year. And I still believe that this is a great way to learn. But after some time this started stopping me instead of making me grow. And that was the time I had to find my own source of inspiration. I tried painting and illustrations but my favorite one became: animated movies. This is a source of wonderful scenes with amazingly rendered light. So difficult to recreate in real life. But inspiration is just something that pushes me towards more work. I don’t need to recreate, I just need to be encouraged by it.
Still, a large number of the photos of my own kids I post was taken spontaneously. I don’t always need an idea first. I just need to keep my eyes open and a camera in my hands.
What is the best compliment you received so far?
I really don’t know which was the best compliment, but I’m mostly happy when I hear that someone discovered my photos and bought a camera and started shooting and it changed that person lofe. The idea of having a power to change somebody’s live it’s something I could not imagine ever before.
Any favorite photography books?
When I started I read a few books by Scott Kelby. And those helped me at the beginning. Later I read a few books that I don’t ever go back to. Right now I think that YouTube channels the best source of photography knowledge. Not because I think that books are not great but because it’s a process it’s just easier to show it than describe it.
Who are your real-life heroes?
I don’t think I know someone that can be a hero. We are all just people. But I’m drawn to and fascinated by those who have passion in their life, a real passion that allows them to work really hard without even realizing so, that makes them overcome obstacles and became great in what they do.
Whatever that is. I just love to be near those people.
What is Love?
Wow love… a tough one 🙂 I guess that’s when you can’t imagine life without someone. And I can’t imagine life without my kids and husband.
Thanks again for providing 121 Clicks with this opportunity to interview you. Any final thoughts for our readers?
Thank you for this opportunity to tell a few words about my biggest life passion and now a “dream job” 🙂 Being interviewed by your magazine was on the list of my wishes so I guess it came true. I hope the readers will enjoy and I’m open to communicating with them 🙂
You can find Iwona Podlasińska on the Web:
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted Iwona Podlasińska. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.