Our “Inspiration Feeder” presents to you short interviews with interesting visual artists from around the globe.
How old are you? (Optional)
I am 51…years young….and I started in photography at 41.
Where do you come from?
I am from Seattle, Washington USA and live in Warszawa, Poland. I moved to Poland 8 years ago first living in Poznan for 6 years and now in Warsaw for the last two. My girlfriend is Polish, but we met in Seattle. She wanted to be closer to family and get back to school…so off we went. And what an adventure it has been!
How long have you been doing photography?
A little over 10 years ago I picked up the camera and began to learn how to use it. At first, I was interested in macro style of imagery because I felt like I could control the frame and it took some time to be comfortable with having a more open frame and to shoot what I saw. It was very early into photography that I realized how powerful it could be, but it took me time to develop skills in order to realize it properly. Moving to Poland really changed how and what I was shooting and changed into documenting my life and all of the interesting aspects of what I was seeing that was different from my experiences and life back in the U.S.
Как бихте определили стила си?
Cinematic. I think in terms of my day and what has happened during it and each image reflects my own personal cinema. Where I have been, who was there, what was happening and so on. Each frame that I take fits with how I see my life around me. Sometimes its dynamic and a beautiful sunrise fills it and sometimes its sitting on the tram heading to somewhere or often its people going about their day and even though I am not in the image, I am there with them. The day ahead of me is full of surprise and I try to carry that with me as I document it.
How long do you think it took you to find your personal style of shooting?
In my first few years, while learning my craft, I was experimenting a lot, figuring out lenses, how to see, frame, etc. I was timid with the camera and uncertain with how to convey what I saw around me, often using bokeh and getting close to describe it in a painterly fashion and shying away from frames that were a bit more wide open.
After moving to Poland, my style that I was developing in the States solidified for me and a newer style began to emerge as I started to explore more in a full frame manner letting much more into the picture than I had in Seattle. Looking back now at my earlier images, I can see my style very clear and, in many ways, my original vision hasn’t changed too much but my technical skill has improved over the years to help guide and tell a better story and shoot what I see with intention. I still move between being close to wider frames, but the technical proficiency has improved in a way that I do so without thinking about it too much.
In Poland, I found inspiration in everything that was not common to me, whether it was signs, looking out of a tram window or simple shadows that caught my attention and started to give these things my undivided attention. A lot of my current style developed as I walked to the coffee shop that my girlfriend and I opened where I would spend the 20 minutes walking shooting the sunrise, people moving about, empty streets, long shadows and so on. Really, those years were crucial in how I developed and leaned into my style.
6. What would you say is the thing that most inspires you? / What is your main source of inspiration?
Most of my work takes place on the streets and I love how the streets offer glimpses into ordinary, everyday life. I love moments as they present themselves to me, wherever I am and how I might interact with them in photography. Snapshots of life, dynamic light, shadows, people going about their day all enchant me and often are the subjects of my everyday shooting. There is a cinematic quality to life as I see it and keeping that in mind, I enjoy finding frames that honor that perspective.
Growing up, movies and comic books were where all of my inspiration came from. I would spend hours drawing from comic books are draw the film I had just seen. Comic books taught me how to see in a dynamic fashion and frame stories and movies helped me see a bigger version with emotions that would become deeply imbedded in me. Later in Art school, I learned how to refine these. Years later with photography, all of the principles that I learned in my youth play a role in how I shoot today.
Today, film still remains a large inspiration for me and I regularly watch them or revisit ones that I love. Film has really taught me about color and tone and how to express it which is not something I really considered much until I moved to Poland and began noticing all of the different colors here. I also tend to look at a lot of images and see where others are or have been in their work. I started to collect photobooks a few years ago and these inspire me all of the time. I am very impressed with how people find new ways to express themselves and make photography their own.
You can find more about Erik Witsoe here:Website: https://www.erikwitsoe.com/
Author: Tsvetomil Semkov