Jacek Stefan: Photographer of the week
Share this article on
As many of us Jacek Stefan was troubled by the question: "To be, or not to be (a profi)?" Today he doesn't have no doubts. For him, taking pictures for fun and making ship designs for living is a much better solution that the other way round.
Later I was forced twice to take on a paid task and, since I didn’t see the end of it, I resorted to recommending to the client one of my profi colleagues. After that I never agreed for a paid session again and with such experiences the matter was perfectly clear. Professional photography was not for me. Sometimes, having in memory great reporters, I thought about such a direction, but observing the gray every-day reality of capturing tiresome preaching of boring politicians I definitively dropped the idea of professionalism.
Which are your most important experiences that have influenced your art?
Multiplications with a surprise
What first attracted you to photography?
Describe your overall photographic vision.
1 - E + VIG – AG’, and
In the photo No. 1 the VIG is presented but a fragment of a beer bottle held by AG which has been framed by accident (i.e. the bottle piece rather than the AG being outside the frame) is removed (by a computer trick). In the photo No. 2 the VIG is overlooked (intentionally, because he stood only two paces away), however the beer flask is clearly visible (no computer interference). Let us ask sixty-four thousand dollar questions:
In what way it functions in a different but photo-related field can be illustrated by the following story:
Now, all of that said, I’m going to add that this story is real and I am this photographer.
Your work is very diversified. Why are you drawn to so many themes in Photography?
What is more important to you, the mood/story behind your images or the technical perfection?Certainly not the technical perfection. In the film era the technical perfection was simply outside my reach. Despite the fact that I had tried hard I was very often disappointed by the results. For example the fight with deep blacks was a real nightmare until trying various papers I found the proper developer and happily thought the fighting was over and I was close enough to the goal but later bought another batch of paper and ended up with different results. And I tried really hard. On other occasions I experimented with filters for B&W for colour slides and afterwards having been lectured by a lab manager about such incompetency, I started to process the slides myself. In reality it was really time-consuming and sometimes frustrating because the resulting slides were occasionally too brownish. Digging dipper I learned that due to poor manufacture tolerances various series of slide films required different amounts of potassium iodide to compensate this variations. So I was back at the same point again. In consequence I faced the decision whether to be an eternal trier and never have any meaningful results or, forgetting the perfection dream, focussing on taking pictures and process them as best as I could with my “standard” conditions. I known about the danger of eternal trying because I met photographers who, when being asked for examples of their work presented only half-products accompanied by explanations that these were only the samples which soon would be finally reprocessed, which never happened.
This historical background influenced my approach to technical perfection and despite the fact that the digital revolution made life easier in this regard, I still don’t consider it as an ultimate goal. And the fact that I have been seeing so many technically perfect photographs of nothing, confirmed me in this matter.
Can you tell us something more about your work flow?
What is your most important advice to a beginner in Photography and how does one get started?In short, if you swallowed a photo bacillus, be patient and try to learn. I remember the earliest two contests I sent pictures expecting acceptance and an award. So I told myself: “What an artist am I”. But the stream of rejections that came later healed me from such thoughts. In regards to learning I used two buy every photo publication I could get. The language didn’t matter, I bought even a Hungarian magazine where I didn’t understand a single word. But pictures were all that mattered.
Don’t get trapped in the hardware realm but, nevertheless, try to master the gear you possess. Being a Nikon user I tried to handle a Fuji in a similar manner and found that too many snaps were qualified for a rendezvous with the delete key. From my previous experience I know that the simplest way, i.e., to buy the newest Fuji would not be a wise solution. So instead of trying to find a method, to force the system to work in the way I expect. Using in the past the manual-focus-only cameras, I knew that I was the weakest link responsible for badly focused cases. And this sort of thinking is still with me.
And as an enthusiast you are a fellow of the clan. That means that you can wander your private track, so if you like to buy a Seconic – great, drag the heaviest Manfrotto – excellent, together with a classic Linhof, moreover – perfect! Furthermore, if you meet a soul trying to convert you with the use of some superficial talk, you could attain almost the same result, simply ignore him or, if you are in a good mood, just say that for you “almost” is not good enough.
Finally, I’m going to pass along my personal secret. For me the greatest merit of being an amateur is that I can not touch a camera for a month or longer if I don’t feel like it.
Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
“A boy walks along the road to Cuzco” by Werner Bischof, and
These two photos found a permanent place somewhere in my mind and probably influenced my photographic imagination. Thousands of others seen later occupy a different ground. Never before did I think of them this way but the boy picture is about mood and the other one about story.
One of the masters whose work I admire is Edward Hartwig
I think I can add that he was the head of a panel who awarded the grand prix to the Photographer. But be assured it is not the reason of my admiration. It started about a dozen years before the time of the contest.
Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a lot and why?
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
Like this picture from the old monochrome period:
and this one from another epoch (the moustache is real, not painted):
"Tribute to Dali"
Share this article on
Be inspired and stay updated with the latest curated images, interviews, tutorials, news and trends in photography.
Subscribe to RSS
Most read this month
Most commented this month