“I am trying to avoid chaos in my photography. The way of my work is very loose and unstructured. I suppose it’s based very much on instinct.”
Michal Solarski (born in 1977) is a photographer currently based in London (UK). He studied photography at London College of Communication.
Michal Solarski is a London based photographer. His interest in documentary photography stems from his background in Political studies, where he developed the passion to adapt his thoughts and observations of the world in a visual manner.
Michal Solarski divides his professional career between advertising and documentary photography, traveling extensively between the UK and Eastern Europe, where he produces the majority of his work.
Interview with Michal Solarski
Michal, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
I remember when my uncle gave me my first camera. It was a Russian 35mm camera called Smiena. I photographed my mum and my little chihuahua dog in our kitchen. I was maybe six or seven at that time, but the memory of it is very vivid and probably one of the earliest I can remember.
Why did you become a photographer?
Photography allows me to get into situations I would never be able to experience otherwise. I know it sounds kind of cliché but that’s how I feel. Apart from that, good images are sort of trophies that I collect. Besides, it has something to do with a vanity in me.
What does photography mean to you?
I feel very privileged that I have a clear understanding of what I want to do in my life. It always gives me something to look forward to. Photography is certainly a passion, that at the times turns into obsession, that my life would be much poorer without.
Which photographers have influenced you most?
There are many photographers that I was strongly inspired by. Perhaps an American colour photography and names like William Eggleston or Steven Shore when it comes to aesthetics. When it comes to subject matter, I shall say Lee Shelby Adams or Sally Mann or Rineke Dijkstra.
“Often people ask what I’m photographing, which is a hard question to answer. And the best what I’ve come up with is I just say: Life today.”
Your favorite photography quote?
“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense and is thereby a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.”
How would you describe your photographic voice and creative process?
My photographic language translates into simplicity and peacefulness – if I can put it that way. I am trying to avoid chaos in my photography. The way of my work is very loose and unstructured. I suppose it’s based very much on instinct.
I think every photographer has, to some degree, a unique photographic voice as each of us is a different person. Some are lucky enough to have it more distinctly than others.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work?
“I am also a purist when it comes to my pictures.”
Colour is very important to me even though I started taking B&W photographs. It was kind of a natural process to me. Now most of my photographs are very vibrant. I am also a purist when it comes to my pictures. I still use film and very little manipulation in the post-processing.
In terms of conception of my work I really believe that the best photography happens when an artist is emotionally attached to the subject that he or she photographs. Therefore my photography is strongly based on my memories and personal experiences. I would like to keep it that way for many years to come.
What qualities and characteristics does a good photographer need?
It’s hard to say. I know so many photographers and each of them is different. I guess the most important factor is a drive to be successful in what we do.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
The best ones are definitely the ones that make us think.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
I can say here without any hesitation that my work so far, is based on my personal experience.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
For my personal projects I use mainly a 6×7 Mamiya or 6X6 Hasselblad. For my commercial work it’s a Nikon D3S/D800.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
I can’t name just one that I like most. I like many websites dedicated to photography. To name just a few I would say: lensculture.com, americansuburbx.com, burnmagazine.org, foto8.com…
What photography book would you recommend?
“Ghetto” by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin. Great photography and brilliant artistic concept.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
Prepare to work very hard.