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Why are the Polish photographers so good?

Pete 21 18.8k 97 England
18 Apr 2004 11:10PM
I don't know if it's just me thinking this, but there's a growing number of Polish photographers joining this site and they all seem consistently very good. There's a similar style, but one that stands out in the way the photos are lit, exposed and superbly compositions. It may help that many of the photos are of beautiful models, but the work really does stand out.

You will no doubt be familiar with the work of longer standing members gosia barta
and staszak but take a look at Topol, Izabelinda and malcolm_x

I seem to recall when working on Practical Photography that the Polish magazine we received featured similar style superb portfolios.

Oh and I'm not saying photographers from everywhere else aren't as good... before I start getting hate mailWink

What is it that makes these photographers light in such a compelling way? Do they have access to different gear? Is it their minds that work in a different way? I would love your views and, hopefully if any of you five (or any I missed) are reading this I'd love to here from the Polish contingency.
Carabosse Plus
20 43.3k 270 England
19 Apr 2004 12:10AM
Well, I think we know who'll be in line for the next batch of EC awards! Lol!! Grin
Pete 21 18.8k 97 England
19 Apr 2004 12:17AM
They already have some
Carabosse Plus
20 43.3k 270 England
19 Apr 2004 12:21AM
I'm sure they'll get more!! He he!! :o)

Welcome back, Pete. Smile
pj.morley 20 947 United Kingdom
19 Apr 2004 12:35AM
Hi Pete

Nice holiday?

It's interesting that you should mention their access to different gear.

I firmly believe that the equipment isn't the most important thing in taking a good photo and the question isn't really whether they use different gear at all.

I think it's more to do with how easy it is to access any gear at all. Now times may have changed in Poland but it's still not a nation where people have easy access to the latest technology or anything else expensive for that matter.

I reckon the answer lies in that those who do take the time and effort and expense in Poland to acquire decent equipment (not the best) are the most dedicated to photography, therefore they probably have fewer camera owners but those that are are dedicated to the cause if you like and are more determined to make the best of their equipment.. I know of a Polish girl living here now but her parents most prized posession in Poland is their fridge.

In the UK, Developed Europe and USA, technolgy is relatively cheap and easy to come by, this means that anyone on a whim can go and buy a camera. (every household must own at least one camera in the UK)

Now with that many photographers (Interesting that you only mention 5 Polish photographers) the good ones outside of Poland are hidden amongst the multitude of snappers that bought cameras out of 'pocket money' thinking they could be the next David Bailey but without any real conviction..

In short it's quality v quantity and that is determined largely by the socioeconomic state of the country.

I'm sure every country has a good number of fine photographers, it's just that richer countries also have a much larger proportion of bad photographers because they can afford it which seemingly dilutes the overall output...

Dunno if that makes any sense though Wink
IanA 19 3.0k 12 England
19 Apr 2004 3:25AM
Welcome back Pete.
I think that the question is a matter of taste! You obviously prefer this type of photography and subject matter. It leaves me cold. For the most part, it is studio shots of pretty girls which can be reproduced over and over again without too much difficulty.
You cite examples, but look at the portfolio's. Topol has loaded 7 photographs, of which 5 are pretty girls against a black background and 2 are Black and white pretty girls against an indeterminable background. Of those 7, you have given EC's to 4 of them! They are no better or worse than the 3 you haven't given EC's to! All of the photographs are re-producable in a basic studio, given a supply of pretty girls! Polish girls are pretty, and because of some of the reasons given above, it is quite possible that if you approached a polish girl in a polish street and asked, showing her a couple of examples, you are more likey to get a positive reply.
Any half reasonable portrait photographer, given the same subject matter could turn out the same thing all day long!
I think that they are only "consistently very good" in your eyes because it is a style of photography that you personally like.
If anyone else on the site was asked to pick 5 photographers that they liked, no one would come up with the same five! So in answer to your first point, it is possibly only you thinking that! (or maybe you and a handful of others with similar tastes)

Nice to have you back!!

(P.S. Ask a Fox to stand still while you adjust your lighting to get it just right and then stay there while you bracket the exposure to make certain of the correct settings! There have been some brilliant shots of Foxes on this site, but none have ever got an EC! As I pointed out once before, you're own portfolio is virtually devoid of Animals/wildlife photography and it shows in your choice of subjects! (Statistics: Photos loaded, Portraits and People 6272, EC's 192.
Photo's loaded, Animals and Wildlife 6288, EC's 96. I.E. less than half!)
(rant over!)
19 Apr 2004 5:08AM
Could I mention Aglaja who does those stunning flower shots. She currently lives in Canada (and I have an idea that some of the other recent Polish photographers also live outside Poland), but as to lighting, she mentions using a black sweatshirt as background, tiny flashlights bought at airports for reading, an office desk lamp, and natural light from her kitchen window. Hardly studio/specialist equipment, which makes her results all the more remarkable.
kit-monster 19 3.7k 2 Singapore
19 Apr 2004 8:52AM
A new member post 7 shots, make 2 comments, is awarded 4 ECs and then has their work highlighted by the editor! Something must be pulling at your heart strings . . .
kit-monster 19 3.7k 2 Singapore
19 Apr 2004 8:54AM
It's a shame none of them contribute to the forums. We can only hope they read this and reply. Unless they do, we can only speculate.

Judging by the consistent quality of some of the portrait work and variety of models, I would speculate that a couple of them, at least, are professionals. I wonder what they get out of contributing?

I personally, think the Canadian photographers that contribute to the gallery also are consistently good. Maybe it's just something different?

As for ECs well Pete, they are yours to give. I personally think, there needs to be more than one editor / judge. Love them or hate them ECs do dominant the gallery. If you get an EC, it dominates your portfolio, that shot is promoted to an exclusive gallery. For me, it just highlights that no matter how difficult, original, technical, brilliant a shot is, unless it appeals to one single person, its not going to be highlighted or promoted.
mucharska 19 23 United Kingdom
19 Apr 2004 9:50AM

I am Polish, but I hate portraits, nude also B&W it is not my favourite.
Im just only amateur and I am not a very good in photography, but I loved it.
So I think for now I'm safely in this topic.

Sorry Pete, but I also think one editor / judge is not in of.

Pete 21 18.8k 97 England
19 Apr 2004 12:18PM
Well judging by the comments so far it's highlighted this EC thing again which I don't want to go over here because we have covered that in detail in other forums. Let's keep the EC attacks in the two enormous EC threads please.

Re the equipment comment, I wasn't thinking they would have better gear, I was actually on the lines that it may well be older manual kit and basic lighting so they are having to think harder about what they do.
One of the best shots I saw in a competition once was on a Cosmic Symbol (basic Russian 35mm camera with fixed lens)and it highlighted that you can have the best equipment in the world and dish out junk and the most basic but deliver masterpieces.

I only highlighted these five photographers because I could find them quickly.

I'm not saying other photographers aren't as good, it's just something that used to be noticeable when I saw the Polish magazines and I thought it would be interesting comment.

Yes I like good portraits, yes these are portraits, but look at Gosia's flowers! Look at the lighting!

The fox shots are not always well composed, well lit or sharply focused and a studio version would no doubt be better, and if the fox stood still, etc etc. If I see a good wildlife shot I'll give it an EC. If anything, I should be giving ECs more to wildlife because it's not a subject I'm good at, but a subject I love and I appreciate a great image from the likes of Frans Lanting or Ariadne Van Zandbergen.
kit-monster 19 3.7k 2 Singapore
19 Apr 2004 1:00PM
Topol has hundreds of photo's on a similar site to this, and is a very active member. Let's hope he puts in as much effort here. He's certainly made quite an entrance.
keithh 19 25.8k 33 Wallis And Futuna
19 Apr 2004 1:31PM
I know one thing, when I was in Poland two years ago, pretty models were, to coin a phrase, ten a penny. On the shoot we had countless young girls asking if we could take their photographs, "It will help me become famous," said one young girl.
As to the question why so many good Polish photographers. It is a style you see a lot over there. A style taught and practised. And one which often suits B&W yet can appear cold in colour. Personally, some I like, some I don't but no more than any other work from any other country.
SuziBlue 20 16.2k 10 Scotland
19 Apr 2004 8:50PM
Just my opinion, so not suggesting this is right .. but for me there's something recognisable as an eastern european style .. the overlying accent seems to be on mood and usually feels dark, intense, full of undercurrent. There's cultural difference too, and different historical echoes - I'm sure that must inform many artists' work. Interesting though to see Keith's comment about Polish photographers being taught this particular style ..

I really like this style of gothic looking photography although I don't have the skill to attempt it, simply because it feels so multilayered and you can read meaning after meaning into it.

And I think it does come down to taste. Pete - you love the work of Simon Marsden so I don't find it surprising in the least that you like the work of the people you've highlighted as examples.
Carabosse Plus
20 43.3k 270 England
20 Apr 2004 12:36AM
I have to agree 100% with Characterboats. None of the work in the portfolios mentioned by Pete would grab my attention from a photographic point of view - which is not to say they are no good. Just a bit predictable.

Sorry to put our esteemed Editor to the usual CB-test, but I ponder thus: if the pics in those folios were of scantily clad Eastern European males would Pete have even started this thread??!! Grin

I fear the subject matter may have influenced the enthusiasm... just a tad!! Wink

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