Introduction to Ziemowit Maj’s Work

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Day 1 of SnappedAway weekly in-depth series. I would like to welcome my first guest – London based photographer Ziemowit Maj. Today’s short piece will be an introduction to his work and will initiate a series of this week’s posts: first an interview, then an opportunity to showcase two projects and finally a selection of one photo picked from the images published during the whole week, which will be later printed on a t-shirt.

Ziemowit photographs mostly in an urban environment. This is his setting, a constant backdrop for his imagery. I have always found his work very intense. It may not look like this to you if you only quickly glimpse through his images. There are everyday situations and people, different street objects and scenery.

And this everydayness is what attracts Ziemowit. And somehow when it passes through his camera it completely changes, gets intense and full of meaning beyond. And the longer you look at his images the more layers you see, and the image suddenly reveals itself to you.

This imprint of his persona on a surrounding reality couldn’t be better shown than is this image, a clear nod to Lee Friedlander.

Here we can see in a foreground a person isolated from the rushing crowd of people. His back is a canvas on which Ziemowit is painting his shadow self portrait. So there he is, with his huge headphones, standing behind the man who is oblivious to the fact of him being photographed. It is possible that surrounding people didn’t notice neither. You can only see them as blurry figures melted in the background with their backs to the scene. Ziemowit is careful in composing this image. He even shoots without looking through a viewfinder as his silhouette is easily readable, his shoulder line clearly shows that he does not bring the camera to his eye. To paint with the shadow you obviously need light and I so love the light here. It is crisp and cool. It isolates the man from rather dark surrounding and it allows Ziemowit to project his shadow self on the person’s back. And the shadow is beautifully transparent when wrapping around man’s jacket and in places not strong enough to block the light, so that it creeps through it and creates brighter patches of no shadow.

I guess it is my personal thing that I am so attracted to photographer’s shadows and reflections in pictures they are taking. It is like looking for confirmation of their presence and simple curiosity on my part. I always look for it in the photographs if the setting is such that gives the chance to capture it.

In this image Ziemowit’s reflection in the glass is not so obvious, but it is there. He is looking at the man swimming in the pool. The swimming man is captured in a moment when he is passing through the middle of Ziemowit’s reflection in the glass, like a little living creature in his water filled body. The composition here is very central, emphasised by the circular waves.

Ziemowit works in images rather than projects. It is fascinating to observe how some motives keep coming back in his photography, for example cakes, dogs and cars wrapped in covers.

One of the recurring subjects is the motive of plants. He pictures them in different settings but mostly as a part of an urban environment. Sometimes it is a vegetation forced into plant boxes and overwhelmed by the concrete world, at other times it is dominating the image with somehow brutal force. In his photography Ziemowit empowers them with human characteristics and behaviour.

What I find so fascinating in Ziemowit’s photography is how diverse his work is even though he is constantly using a street setting and how he manages to make us look at little, seemingly unimportant pieces of surrounding us reality like a drown lollipop melting on the sidewalk and find them so mesmerizing that we just keep on looking at something that one wouldn’t normally notice.

If you want to see more of Ziemowit’s work you can visit his website Stay with us for future blog posts showcasing Ziemowit’s projects.

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