Interview with photographer Joel Koczwarski

Interview with photographer Joel Koczwarski


– How and when did you become interested in photography?

I first became interested in photography when I saw the conceptual and documentary photographs of an old friend during university. His work was gorgeous, full of emotion. A few of his photos stuck with me for several years before I knew I had to create photography of my own. I was struck with the power that photography has to influence people. A single photograph can inspire a mood, change an opinion, even change the minds of millions of people.

– Is there any artist/photographer who inspired your art?

Yes, perhaps too many to name. I have looked to Salgado, Nachtwey, Capa, and Frank for art and guidance, for technique and enthusiasm to Joe McNally, Michael Melford, Zach Arias, Cristina Mittermeier, and countless Magnum and Nat Geo photographers. There are also a bunch of old Soviet photographers whose work I look back on for inspiration, such as Alexay Titarenko for my “Moscow Underground” series.

– Why do you work in black and white rather than colour?

I find I need to reduce my medium to send a clear message – I need more abstraction from reality to achieve clarity.

– How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph/series of photographs?

Sometimes up to a year, sometimes less. The idea for the ‘Moscow Underground’ series grew out of several months of shooting and then took about three months to complete.

I try to pick out an issue in society and examine it through photography. My ideas usually start as a discussion about society politics or philosophy with my spouse. Some ideas turn in to beautiful photographs. Others, less so. I use a modern digital camera for a lot of my work. It gives me incredible flexibility. I use a monopod with a tripod foot for long exposures in public. I use fast primes, mostly. I also use a 1952 Graflex Speed Graphic 4×5 film camera for certain projects. I have a lens called an Aero Ektar that used to sit inside a WWII bomber plane. Love that camera and that lens – I love large format.

– Where is your photography going? What projects would you like to accomplish?

I have a few series coming soon. One is a look at the early 1930’s constructivist architecture in Moscow. These buildings are incredible. I hope to capture the utopic vision of the people at the time… all through the lens of a WWII American aerial surveillance camera. Living in Moscow, I am drawn to explore the relationship that history and philosophy have on our present circumstances. I am constantly reevaluating my understanding of society and culture and that certainly informs my work.

Website: www.joelkphotography.com

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© Joel Koczwarski

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© Joel Koczwarski

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© Joel Koczwarski

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© Joel Koczwarski

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© Joel Koczwarski

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© Joel Koczwarski

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© Joel Koczwarski

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© Joel Koczwarski

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© Joel Koczwarski

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© Joel Koczwarski

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© Joel Koczwarski

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© Joel Koczwarski

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© Joel Koczwarski

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© Joel Koczwarski

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© Joel Koczwarski


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