Interview with Maciej Holy, the 2018 BSPF Singles winner
The Brussels Street Photography Festival interviews Maciej Holy, the 2018 winner of the BSPF Singles contest. This interview was included as part of his prize package.
A brief introduction
Maciej Holy is a hobbyist photographer, who looks for the ordinary and the usual in interesting contexts . He was born in the 70s. He is a husband, and a father and lives in Poland.
How did you become interested in photography in general, and street photography in particular?
My interest in photography arises from traveling. My wife and I have always liked traveling, but never in a way organized by travel agencies. Instead of ticking off items on the obligatory list of monuments you are expected to see, we searched for places where ordinary people live. We were looking for pubs where the locals like to spend time. We rented a car and drove around without any specific destination. Photos from such trips were not touristy. They were sometimes weird for the viewers, but real to us. So it was only a step away from street photography.
What is it that you wish to say through your work? What is your purpose in pursuing photograpy?
Many photographers choose the most interesting and well-known cities for street photography. However, it seems to me that less known places are equally, if not more interesting. I am glad that I was able to encourage some friends of mine to take pictures in our town. I have no particular goals, photography is just part of my life experience.
Do you prefer photographing your own city/country or traveling for photography? For what reasons?
I really like to photograph places unknown to me. I can compare my ideas about such places with the reality. However, I am always aware that it is only a superficial look. I can not devote so much time to explore and speak expressively about other cultures and countries. That’s why I’m more satisfied with the photos taken in my area. They’re harder to take, but at least I know what kind of message I want to deliver. One thing I am sure is that I would not be able to talk about my city without trips to other places. In my opinion such combination creates a unique and valuable experience.
How does the culture of Poland and that of other countries you photograph inspire your work?
Life in Poland is full of photographic inspiration. Modernity mixes with traditional values. Big cities are growing fast, the province is far behind. In each of these places you can find a lot of topics for interesting photos. One problem you have to deal with is people’s distrust towards photographers.
Your work, from what I can tell, seems to rely much on colour and light. How did you arrive at your current photographic look? Why do you tend to shoot more on colour?
I can not give up the color. It is the result of my fascinations. The photographs I like the most are pictures from the 70’s and 80’s. I have many favorite photographers from this period. I also like older color photographs, like those of Fred Herzog. However, I try to say something about people in these searches of light and color.
In what way can the viewer see a part of you through your work?
It is obvious to me that in my photographs I also show myself. Street photography is particularly conducive in this respect. The choice of topics, the way they are shown, the attitude to people. I often show topics that are irritable to me. Another time something that impresses me. These are very personal photos.
What does your routine of a day of shooting street photography look like?
I like to have a lot of time. That’s why I do not often take photographs in my town. So one important precondition is that my mind is free of everyday problems. I need to have a good attitude, good energy. When such day happens, I walk a lot then. Sometimes I stop in a place where something interesting happens, but I do not like organized street events. Unexpected scenes give me more satisfaction. I do not take many photos. I just enjoy my free time and admire ordinary life.
What do you look for while photographing the streets?
Something about people, something about myself. A bit contrary to street photography, I’m not looking for anything strange – rather ordinary things in an interesting context.
It was in Barcelona. A group of men played Petanque. People with dogs were standing next to them. I was sitting on the bench with my wife, an older man was dozing beside us. A beautiful, though a bit boring day. One of the women, age and chic, said good-bye and left with her dogs. So did we a few minutes later. Then we saw her sleeping in a street flower bed. I took one photo.
I like portraits very much. I am planning a series of street portraits showing two people who have something in common.