This week Crash Taylor welcomes Bartosz Jastal. This is a special interview for me because I have been following Bartosz's work for quite sometime now and we have become good friends. His work is supreme and inspires me big time. He was ranked one of the top 3 artistic wedding photojournalist in the world in 2008 by the [AG]WPJA.
Ranked No. 1 Trash the Dress 2008 contest by the WPJA and way too many others to mention. He is definitely what these interviews are all about, inspiring others and pushing the boundaries with passion and photographic skill to take this industry to the next level.
I hope his imagery inspires you as much as it does me. I'm really looking forward to photographing a wedding together, and as soon as you let me know, the plane ticket will be booked - Crash
Tell us a little bit about Bartosz Jastal?
I'm 32 years old, I live in Bytom in Poland and work as a photographer, I like good wine, movies, travelling, reading books and sport magazines (I'm crazy about football:).
Where is home?
Home is in Poland, Bytom, close to my family, friends and all well known places here. I spent a few months away from home - I always miss it very much.
If you could live anywhere in this awesome planet where would you build your dream home?
I suppose New Zealand could be my dreamland, but I haven't been there so far. There are so many beautiful places in the world so this is not easy to choose this dream one. But I'm sure I would choose some place near the sea or ocean, it always gives me a lot of energy!
What is your current state of mind before we continue with the interview?
My current state of mind is: why the hell is he interested in interviewing me.
Did you go to school to study photography?
Yes, besides I graduated normal study (Technical Academy) I've also graduated EAF (European Photo Academy) in Warsaw.
How long have you been a photographer?
I've been a photographer for 5 years. What is strange, before this period I wasn't even interested in photography! But one of my best friends was a photographer, he helped me at the beginning of my photo adventure. Before I started I had always criticized his works:)). One day he lost his temper, and lent me camera saying: Now, it is your turn to shoot and my turn to criticize:), show me what You can! I took a few photos of my dogs and cats, and found photography absolutely amazing! Since this magic moment everything has changed in my life.
How long have you been a wedding photographer?
I've been wedding photographer for 3 years, it will be my 4th season.
What or who got you started in wedding photography?
Shooting people has always been the most important for me and gave me the greatest satisfaction, First I was shooting portraits, fashion, but people all the time. One day I asked myself why not to try wedding photography? It was a very good question and one of the most important moments of my life.
How would you describe your style?
It is difficult to talk about ourselves but, in my photography, I like catching important moments, showing emotions and true situations (even if they are far away from traditional wedding photo style). In an open air session I always try to shoot something outside the box, something new!
How many weddings do you shoot average per year?
Do you have a few favourite wedding images you can share with us?
What type of cameras do you shoot with?
I usually shoot with Canon 5D.
What is your favourite photography accessory, other than your camera?
I very often use Cokin's filter system and large scope of different Cokin filters, Sometimes it helps me to achieve amazing effects during open air sessions.
If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
I think I would choose Canon 35mm/1.4, because I found it the most universal. I have 8 lenses, but to this one I have special attitude!
What lighting equipment do you take on a shoot?
Generally I love using natural light, I don't like using a lamp, but as we all know, sometimes there is no choice! But it happens really very seldom. I've got Canon 580 EX but usually it is in my photo bag. I also have study lamps, but I don't use them in wedding photography.
What is your favourite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer?
My favourite editing accessory is Rawshooter Essential for RAWs, in case of JPEGs I use Photoshop.
How important is Photoshop in your final images?
Photoshop is very important tool in my final images. But I think that Rawshooter has even greater influence for the final view of my photos.
What is your most used Photoshop tool, plug-in, action set etc.?
I often Crop the images improving the final effect, I use very often retouch tools (to make brides even happier;)), I also often use some actions improving Black and White photo look.
Are you a MAC or PC lover?
I don't use MAC, I use PC but I wouldn't call myself a PC lover, maybe I will change a system soon (to MAC) but I always lack time for such a revolution:).
Do you plan buying any new equipment and if so what do you have your eyes on?
I'm still thinking about buying Canon lens 85/1.2, But I'm not sure If it makes sense to spend so much money for it. Why? Because I'm sure that my photos with 85/1.2 could be more attractive but not better in photographical sense. The most important are ideas not quality and Depth!
I finally feel I have mastered my Crash-Art workflow, can you briefly describe for the readers your photographic workflow after a wedding?
Sure! I Use Sandisk 4GB CF cards. First step, after a wedding, is downloading photos to computer. Than I check the results of the session, and choose photos for postprocessing, After postprocessing in Rawshooter, I postprocess them once again in Photoshop (croping, contrast, level and colour corrections, retouch, sometimes some more intensive activities with different actions - it depends on what final effect I would like to achieve).
I use Queensberry albums, what wedding albums do you supply your clients with and do you design them yourself or outsource the design?
Usually I use Henzo or Walther albums, I outsource the design to small company that I cooperate with, they are responsible for a final look of the albums!
How do you feel about cropping an image?
I feel quite ok about cropping it, I don't have problem with that, sometimes small crop can give extraordinary difference. I use it from time to time.
I choose photographers for these interviews because their work really inspires me and gets my creative juices flowing, hence the interview. What gives you ideas and inspires you to create such amazing imagery?
I have always been a big movie fan! I can't hide that movies are the great source of ideas how to build a photo scenery, what perspective to choose. It can also tell you a lot about the light. Movies are the greatest inspiration for me and this is a good excuse to visit the cinema even twice a week:).
What has been your most memorable assignment and why?
I think the most memorable assignment for me was the session In Istanbul, Turkey. Why? First because I met a great couple there! She is an American, He is a Turkish, and they are a great mixture together! But the most memorable was our trip from the center of Istanbul (where the open air session took place) to the place where the ceremony and reception was to be held. We were sitting in a car together, ran out of time, there was huge traffic in Istanbul and the only one way to get to ceremony place on time was to find another transport. So they left the car in the middle of the street, jumped in to the tramway (of course in wedding dresses), than after 20 minutes in tramway we found a boat that took us to the other side of the Bosfor river, than we took an old ruined taxi that brought us to the reception place. The Taxi driver broke all the speed limits, we were really lucky that we stayed alive during that ride, but what's the most important - we were 2 minutes before the ceremony started!:)
If you could shoot a wedding with someone who would it be and why?
I'm an individualist, I don't have anyone special in my mind that I could shoot a wedding with.
Do you have an assistant/2nd shooter that accompanies you on wedding assignments?
No, I usually work alone, as I mentioned above I'm an individualist:), but I have received a lot of e-mails recently from people who would like to shoot with me just for practice and learn something new. I think that this year I will invite someone to cooperate with me during a few sessions.
How many images do you do average per wedding and how many do you usually present to your clients?
I usually shoot about 1000 photos (sometimes more) during a wedding day, but clients receive 250 - 300 well post-processed photos. From this amount a client chooses 80-100 photos for wedding album.
I have been fortunate to photograph weddings in France, Spain and Finland though my favourite destination wedding so far was Hawaii. Where would be your dream destination wedding?
Part of my dreams about destinations wedding has already become true! I've shoot In the US, Turkey, Marocco, Norway, France, Ireland etc... But of course there are still dreams in my heart about new destinations. I'm dreaming about having a wedding session in Mexico (wedding reception should look like in "Babel" movie!:), India or China (but it should be traditional Chinese wedding:). Maybe one day it will be possible, there is still hope:)
How do you make the bride and groom, bridal party etc… feel relaxed in front of your Canon 5D?
I always try to make them relaxed, by talking and joking. I always try to have a good contact with a couple (that's why I talk that much during session - they can't have any doubts that I know what I'm doing. Sometimes I talk too much and have some problems with my throat:) but the photos are the most important so forget about throat problems:). At the beginning of the session I always aske them to trust me, and usually they do!:)
Have you ever had anything go wrong at a wedding and if so, how did you handle it?Once I had some very funny problem, it was just before the ceremony, I bent down to take the right lens from my photo bag, and I've just heard the sound of my trousers splitting open. The hole was really big and I was suppose to shoot the whole ceremony – the wedding and reception. I wore a jacket and, partly, it covered my trousers. It has been the most traumatic experience at my work, I don’t recommend it to anybody 😉
What are your favourite two images you have shot recently? Can you describe their creation in regards to location, lighting, composition etc, also your thoughts when creating the images and what they mean to you? When I was in Marocco at a wedding session I also travelled a few days to the mountains and desert. Below you can see one of photos that I took in the Nomad's village. I like it a lot, the light was very nice because it was the sunset time. My thoughts were to shoot this kid with all this shadows on the wall behind him to show him as a public of the shadow theatre or something.
I'm a wedding photographer, so maybe I will also show one photo from Istanbul here:
The location was great, hundreds of doves were flying everywhere. Additionally I saw this older guy and the kid on the stairs. During shooting my thought was to show this couple like in the middle of the life storm. What I like in this photo is plenty of action on it, the couple is walking, an old man is behind them, the kid is playing, a bag is flying in the air, there are also some other people watching the couple. It looks like you can just push the PLAY button and everything will start moving n this photo, just like in the cinema!:)
What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing weddings? In my opinion the most challenging thing about photographing weddings is photographer's responsibility.
You can't repeat wedding day and all important moments that are parts of it. That's why I'm always concentrated in 100% and ready to shoot everything during the wedding day, that is also why I'm that tired after wedding sessions. A person who has never been a wedding photographer will not believe how exhausting it could sometimes be.
What do you think of the wedding photography industry at the moment and where do you see it in 5 years from now? Wedding photography is developing in very high speed, level of rendered photo services are also improving very fast! For example, when I became a WPJA member, I was one of the four Polish photographers in this organization. After two years there are almost 20 Polish photographers in WPJA. The level of Polish wedding photography is also of a very good quality at the moment and number of talented Polish photographers is still growing. When I started my activity in that industry I knew a few good Polish photographers, now it is difficult to point them out, because of growing number of good people in the branch.
A wedding photographer who inspires you? As I said before I try not to take inspiration from a wedding industry, because I don't want to copy anyone. But I would be a liar if I haven't mentioned Jeff Ascough, David Murray, David Beckstead as photographers who impressed me the most at the beginning of my career.
It’s almost that time of year for a Taylor family portrait. Is there any photographer out there that you would be stoked to say - he took my portrait? I don't like myself in photos but if I really have to choose someone who can take a portrait of me I would choose Richard Avedon. I admire his series of portraits with Americans, I would like to have one in that style!:)
A website and/or blog you visit often? I very often visit: http://photography-now.net. This is a page with galleries of the real Masters of the Photography. You can always find something interesting there, I like visiting this site from time to time and check if I can see something new in photos that I have seen so many times. This page also reminds me about the place where I am, and shows how long is the way that I have to pass to become a better photographer.
The first photographer that comes to your mind and why? Today it will be Erwin Olaf. I was in Antwerp (Belgium) two weeks ago, where the biggest Photo Museum In Europe is. I visited it, and saw his exhibition - which made a really big impression on me. Great works, fantastic ideas and very interesting and unusual style!
The last workshop or seminar you attended and why? Last seminar that I attended was Tomasz Tomaszewski seminar about the photo composition. It was a great experience to take a chance to listen to this amazing photographer. His knowledge about photography is absolutely amazing!
Do you have any seminars planned for the near future? I don't have any seminars in plans, the season starts soon, it will be very busy time for me during next few months!
What photographic organizations do you belong to?
I Belong to:
FFS (Polish wedding photographers Forum)
BWPJA (British wedding photographers Forum)
STF (Silesian Photo Association)
Do you advertise? If so where? At the beginning of my career I bought some advertisements, at the moment I don't advertise, I don't have time for it! Thank God, clients find me without advertising:).
How important is an awesome website for your business? We live in the time of Internet! So an awesome website is a very important tool. Usually it is the first step of communication and relation between a photographer and client, so I think it is very difficult to act in this area without a professional website.
If not a photographer, I would have liked to be a marine biologist studying the great white shark. What would you have been? Maybe it will be the strangest answer that you have ever heard but if not a photographer I would like to be a professional NBA player!:) I could also be a professional tennis player! Sport is my great passion, I have loved basketball and tennis for years! I still play in some tournaments for amateurs (sometimes with success:) but it doesn't have anything to do with professional sport:).
Lately I have also started to think that I regret that I haven't tried to become a camera operator and work in the movie industry!:) There are so many talented people working in that area, I often admire their work watching movies with mouth wide open (from impression of course!:)
I realize that each great photographer has a particular penchant or love for photographing a particular subject whether it is nature, portraits, sea or landscapes, shadow and light, etc. as a result I would love to have you talk about and share whatever images you feel appropriate of your own private obsession in the magical world of photography.
As I said before I love shooting portraits. Wedding photography allows to shoot very different kinds of people, there are so many countries and cultures, and so many interesting faces. One year ago I started a project called “Guests, guests..”. I'm looking for interesting faces among wedding guests, specific moments and their emotions. A few examples of photos that I've shot so far in this project you can see below. The project is still ongoing!:)
This is of course not the only subject of my photo obsession! I travel a lot, during my journeys I try to shoot people, to show their feelings, habits and atmosphere of the place where they live.
Is there anybody or anything you would love to photograph? One of my dreams is to become a photographer for National Geographic. I love travelling, there are so many extraordinary places, so one particular doesn’t come to my mind at the moment. I would fulfill my dreams if they invited me to the cooperation one day!
When I was 2nd shooting I was picking everybody’s mind, I still am actually. That’s why I love these interviews so much. Every interview I learn something that makes me a better photographer. What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue wedding photography?
I think that at the beginning the most important thing is to have a vision of photos that you would like to provide to your future clients. Before I started the wedding photography, I made a lot of different sessions with people - portraits, family session, nudes. So that I was very well experienced with shooting people and it wasn't very difficult for me to find myself in wedding photography area. I also published my photos at various Photo Galleries, I was sharing experiences with other photographers, we discussed our photos and listened to the critic (sometimes it is very important to have someone, who can share your opinion with you). It gives me a lot, I met a lot of very talented people that time.
We know that each of us has someone or something, which inspires our life and work. Can you tell us the true basis of your inspiration?
As I mentioned before I’m finding a lot of my photographic inspiration in the cinema, I have been the great movie fan for about 20 years, if I just have time I visit the cinema even twice a week! Of course movies are not the only source of my inspiration. I love photography of such a masters as Henri Cartier Bresson, Brassai, Arbus, Salgado, Avedon.
Is there anything you would have done differently during your photographic career? My photographic career is not so long so that it has been very difficult to make many mistakes during such a short time:), as I said I started five years ago. I couldn't imagine anything better after 5 years, I like the present state, but of course I know that millions of things in my workshop and way of seeing the world (what I suppose is even more important) need improvement!
Name one photographer you would like to take a portrait of? I would like to take a portrait of Diane Arbus, she is one of the most interesting woman in photography.
Name one sports player you would like to take a portrait of? I would like to take a portrait of Leo Benhakker, he is not a sport player, but he is a coach of our football team, and has very interesting face.
If you could be invisible for one day with your camera...
There are so many places in the world that I can't visit because of difficult situation (I mean in political or safety sense), that I would choose one of them. For example I would like to visit North Korea and show how normal people lives look there under the communism regime.
I’ve learned the most from… Tomasz Tomaszewki - he was one of the teachers in EAF, his knowledge about photography, ability to see all important details, his way of thinking and seeing is absolutely amazing - great photographer, fantastic teacher, very inspiring person.
What talent would you most like to have? I would like to be more talented in photography, I still don't see things that I would like to see. I have vision of my photos in my mind, but unfortunately usually my photos in reality are far away from this vision.
Something you’re still learning? I'm still learning how to be a better Photographer (but I'm not sure about the result of this study;)). Besides I'm still learning English to be able to speak more fluently with my foreign clients and friends. I'm still learning Russian, just because I like this language (I don't have any chance to use it recently). I'm still learning tennis (I have even my own coach) to win next amateurs tournaments;).
What is your greatest fear? My greatest fear is a thought that one day I will lose my family members.
Something that is overrated? Shakespeare in Love, No Country for Old Men - The most overrated Oscar movies. Especially “No Country for Old Men” was a big disappointment for me, I love Coen movies, but this movie was far away from the level of such Coen movies like: Blood simple or Fargo.
Something you’re saving up for? I don't have any special object for saving. I'm saving to have a calm future, so as I can focus on travelling and discovering new places and people. It gives me a kick to live!
If you could have lunch with anyone who is famous, who would it be? I would like to have a lunch with Danny Boyle - director of the movies like Trainspotting, 28 days later, Slumdog. I would ask him how it is to be so talented... I love his visions, he is a real genius!
Where you'll find me on a Friday night at 9 p.m.? You'll find me on a plane flying to Lisbon, Portugal. I heard a lot about this city, now I will have a chance to feel its atmosphere, music, colours, etc.
Your favourite film (movie) of all time?
Lost in Translation
Eternal Sunshine of the Spottless Mind
Scaphandre et le papillon, Le
Who would play you in a film (movie) of your life? Bill Murray
First thing you would do if you won the lottery? The journey around the world!
Which five words would your friends use to describe you? Individualist, funny, ambitious, nervous, impatience, helpful.
What ambition haven’t you achieved yet? I still haven't reached the level of seeing and thinking in photography as I would like to achieve! This is my biggest ambition, I'm afraid it will never change;) and I will always be frustrated that I'm not that good as I should!;)
What would you like to be doing in 5 years from now? I hope I'll still be working as a photographer, with many new experiences and abilities. As I mentioned I would like to be NG photographer, so who knows, maybe in 5 years time this dream will come true? If not I hope I'll still have a lot of ideas for my new sessions and photo subjects.
And the last question, if you had one wish… If I had one wish I would like to start my life as an adult one more time. I have made many mistakes, I was not prepared to make any serious choice after I finished my secondary school, hence I lost almost ten years doing things (Technical, Academy, work as a Marketing Manager in Hard Industry) that I didn't like. Thank God, after this period I found my place in life - I combine work with passion now, this is the most important!:)
Oh one more, if someone said ‘how can I be the next Bartosz Jastal?’ What would you say?
I would say: You better not be the next Bartosz Jastal! It's not easy to be me, because I'm strange;). Find your own way in life and photography!
Your readers can find out more about me: