Like the fine subtleties in a glass of wine, Dawid’s images allude to a similar quality of depth, intensity, and beauty. Check out his story below.
Say hello to Dawid:
Where are you from? Where have you been?
I’m from Poland. I came to the US a few months ago. I have worked as a photographer in Europe, USA, and Asia.
What’s your favorite place in the world?
It is extremely difficult to choose only one place.
And finally, Bhutan. I have never been there, but I hope that one day will have a chance.
What’s on your “bucket list” of ideas to create?
Definitely a session in the Marla Singer style, the primary female character in Fight Club, a book written by Chuck Palahniuk. David Fincher did a movie adaptation of this book. In his movie, this role is played by the brilliant, Helena Bonham Carter. I would like to add a little bit of surrealism to the whole atmosphere of Fight Club. I hope that I will be able to realize this session soon.
How would you describe your visual style?
I like the combination of elegance and intrigue in photography. I like the second floor and references to cultural codes.
Do you get photographer’s block? If so, how do you overcome that?
Sometimes, I do. Most often, it is the result of overwork. Then, I put the camera on the shelf and reach for a book or a movie. I try to take a break from my work, relax, and enjoy the work of someone else. Or, I just go to sleep and I enjoy my dreams, good and bad.
Tell us how you arrived at the name, Red Wine Studio, for your photography business.
I have a very enthusiastic approach to wine, especially red. Wine is an elegant, unique drink unfolding its flavor with each passing day. Each bottle is something special – such is the same with photography. Each composition differs from the next, as does its subject matter. No two images are aligned the same. Every model, garment, and color give depth and character to a photograph. Presented with a touch of elegance and creativity, the essence of each picture is brought to life. So, when I invented a name for my business, I thought that Red Wine Studio will be most suitable. It contains root of what is dear to me in both wine and photography – some specific approach to the subject.
Tell us about your career. How did you get into it?
I started in 2009, in Poland. I was involved in fashion photography, portrait photography, and fine art wedding photography. In 2009, my portfolio was accepted by the organization for the best photographers and wedding photojournalists in the world: The Wedding Photojournalist Association. Then, several magazines published my fashion sessions and portraits. And that’s how it all began for me.
What types of photography do you do
I do fashion, portraits and fine art wedding photography. I like to create the atmosphere of unreality. I try to take individual components and build them into something new. I like fashion just for that. I feel very free when I can realize my visions. I like to photograph what seems beautiful to me, so I also do beauty shots. I like wedding photography as well. It is nice to shoot the love and happiness. I recently travel more, so I found pleasure in photographing landscapes, street, things like that. This is the time between jobs and even then I still keep my finger on the trigger.
What was the moment you decided to become a photographer?
At the beginning I wanted to be a film director. I even had plans to study at the film school, but eventually came to the conclusion that still images are much more meaningful, and I took up photography. In the meantime, I discovered Helmut Newton, who is one of my favorite photographers, the one who ultimately convinced me.
What is the strangest situation you’ve ever faced as a photographer?
I don’t remember any extremely strange situations.
What has been your biggest setback as a photographer?
I do not remember any setbacks. Maybe I haven’t had a big setback or erased it from my memory.
What are your favorite three photos you’ve taken?
It is very hard for me to choose three photos. One of them has to be an Indonesian street portrait. It is of Indonesian model, Maey Basri, on a street of Seminyak. A great place, great light, and nice day with Maey as my tourist guide in Bali.
The second one is the picture of Vincent Littlehat on an old-school couch in a very nice Cafe Kanape in Lichtenberg in Berlin. Vincent is an amazing model, although the beginning of the session was a tough one for me. We started at Alexanderplatz where the light wasn’t good, and we had only one specific day session. After 30 minutes, we decided to go to Lichtenberg. I recalled that there was a nice cafe where I had eaten breakfast when I lived in Berlin. It was a short period in my life, but this cafe dug heavily in my memory. We did a great job there. This picture, in my opinion, has something from Rufus Wainwright’s music.
The third one is the girl in a bathtub. We were preparing this session for a long time. We did it in the bathroom of the model’s neighbor, in an old building, belonging to Hans Bellmer (German painter, sculptor and graphic artist). I really like his work. We spent a couple of hours in this bathroom, listening to punk rock music, having a great time. Maria Teresa is a wonderful model – alternative, vivid, and creative. After the session, we had a very nice conversation about literature.
Photography is competitive. How do you stand out?
I’m not trying to compete with anyone. I do the best I can. Consequently, I realize my visions. I’m trying new things, but only for my own amusement.
What’s the best advice you can think of for someone just starting in photography?
Be yourself and express yourself in a sincere and consistent manner. Do not follow fashion, but try to discover who you really are. I think this is a good way to create your individual style.
What is the best thing a model can do to make the most of a photoshoot?
I usually try to get to know the person with whom I’m about to work. I like to drink coffee and talk to a model before the session. When we know each other, it is easy to work together. I often say to a model what my goal is and how I want to achieve this effect, but it is only an outline of the whole story – I leave details to the model. I like to give her some space to express herself. I think that all my work is filled with music that I listen to, movies that I’ve watched, images that I remember and such. If the model and I play the same notes, have good communication, and if she can add something to my world, the effect will surely be satisfactory. I do not like to work with models that are just waiting for what I say – I expect mutual commitment. Without this rather nothing will work.
What was your most memorable photoshoot?
I think the advertising campaign for Alwero. This company produces clothes of wool. We were doing the session for a few days and had a lot of fun. There was a lot of laughter, jokes, great atmosphere, and of course, a lot of nice pictures.
What’s the funniest story you have from being a photographer?
All my photographic work gives me a lot of fun. I do not remember a very spectacularly funny story. Some time ago, I did a session for a clothing company. I rented a studio in an old house in Poland. The company brought all the clothes and some furniture, which they wanted to use for the pictures. The next day, the whole team came and we started taking pictures. At some point, we took a break and took pictures of the gowns, and the male model went out with his cellphone to call someone on the staircase. One neighbor, a worker from another company in this building, saw him and called the landlord and told him that someone opened a brothel in his building because the day before, someone had brought in furniture and now they could see a man walking in a gown in the the building. I had to explain this to the landlord, but I do not know if he believed me.
If you could photograph anyone in the world, who would it be?
I look at the world through images, so I would like to photograph almost everything. I like working with people – I like their emotions – the human condition. If I could photograph anyone, it would certainly be Faye Wong, a Chinese actress and singer. She charmed me with her role in Chungking Express, Wong Kar Wai’s movie. In my opinion, she is so vivid that there is no chance that the session with her could not go in the right way. Another person I would definitely like to meet at a session is Carla Juri, a Swiss actress. She is the essence of what I’m looking for in a model. Carla has a beautiful, distinctive face, bright eyes, great facial expression and incredible acting talent. I don’t know her personally, but I’m pretty sure that we could create amazing images. I usually work with women, but if I could work with Xavier Dolan, it would be really something. He is very photogenic and always well dressed, so a stylist at the session would not be needed. I would like to take black and white portraits of him on a white background. Something in Richard Avedon’s style. And besides, I really like Xavier Dolan’s movies. I like the contrasting statements, people connected with places that are not fully familiar to them. I certainly wouldn’t take pictures of these people in their typical environment. I would like to create a new reality for them.
Who was the most unforgettable model you’ve ever met?
All models are unforgettable for me. I do not want to choose one particular person because each model brings something personal to my pictures. Something special in their own individual way.
What’s your favorite aspect of photography?
I have a few favorite aspects of photography. I can get to know new people and establish a creative relationship, I can travel and see new places, and it allows for flexible working hours. It works for me. Lastly, photography is my memory – even if there is a lot of creation, I still know that it happened.
Who do you want to give a shoutout to?
I would like to give a shoutout to all the people with whom I have worked. At the beginning of my journey, I met Marcin Wasiołka, a brilliant photographer and a great man – thanks to him, I have learned a lot about working with light in the studio. I often worked with Kamila Gawenda, an amazing model. I did a lot of great sessions with her. I’ve also regularly worked with an excellent make-up artist, Marta Wiola. Most of the make-up in my portfolio was made by her. I am very happy that I know and have worked with Maey Basri, model and fashion designer from Indonesia. We have very good communication and we have fun working together.
What’s your philosophy when it comes to being a great photographer?
Truthfully, I do not know. I’m not a great photographer, but I think all the masters in this field consistently head toward their goals. This goal probably holds different meaning for each photographer, but they’ve walked their path with undiminished fire in their hearts. I think that belief in yourself and self-confidence helps.
What’s a deal breaker for you when deciding to do a shoot?
Well, it depends. I do not have a simple answer for this question. Sometimes it’s just a glimpse, and then everything is clear.
How do you bring out your model’s personality in a shoot?
Certainly, good communication is the key. The atmosphere of trust is very important. If there is a lack of trust and understanding, it’s hard to muster a spark of inner fire. When people are aloof and tense, it is hard to create fair images.
What do you think is the biggest thing holding you back in your photography?
I think that freedom of artistic expression. If I would have to work a full-time and take pictures of products on a white background for eight hours a day, I would probably be very bored and leave photography. My photographic heart beats only because of the fact that I can implement my own ideas often and my clients accept it. This creative aspect is what makes photography amazing.
How do you express yourself through your photography?
Usually, I have a plan of my session, idea or outline of the idea, but depending on my current emotional and intellectual state of mind, I sometimes modify my earlier ideas. When I’m fascinated by something, I try to smuggle it into the session. It was the same with my poems. Many years ago, I wrote a volume of poetry, Flashback, where I speak through my heroes, characters from pop culture. I can see this in many of my pictures, maybe even too much. In photography, there’s also a model, make-up artist, stylist and other people – we are all in the final image.
What is the most inspiring photo you’ve ever seen?
This is a very difficult question. I suppose that I’ve seen millions of pictures and I think it is not possible to select one of them. Of course, in certain moments of life, I had a photo that inspired me, but it is evolving all the time. I like pictures of Helmut Newton, Tim Walker, Guy Bourdin, David LaChapelle, and Richard Avedon.
What advice about photography do you wish you had when you were first starting out?
When I went to photo school, I often talked to my teachers – I asked a lot of questions because I thought that there would be some great answer regarding the growing pains to your craft. At that time, I was looking on the outside, and I should’ve looked inwardly because what is in your photography, depends on who you are. As such, follow your on way. Look at your pictures and try to find out why you like some pictures more than others. The answer is inside.
What are the top 3 tips you have for aspiring photographers?
Be patient. Don’t give up. Read a lot and watch movies about other photographers as that was really helpful to me.
What are the top 3 tips you have for aspiring models?
I like creative models. I like when a model is in constant motion and when she has her own ideas. I like positive attitude, energy, and good communication.
What kind of gear do you have?
I use Canon 5d mark2, Canon 5d mark3, and Olympus om-d e-m10. I always have the Olympus on me and don’t necessarily use it for work. I use Canon and Sigma lenses. In the studio, I use Quantuum lights. I like all my equipment. I am not a fan of gathering equipment. I’ve got what I need and depending on the work, I use this or that. I really like my Canon lens 24-70 mm f/2.8. It is very versatile and I use it very often.
What’s one lighting tip you’d like to share with other photographers?
I try not to use more than four lamps. I have the impression that five or more lamps are hard to control. Maybe someone can deal with them very well, but I prefer to limit the means of expression. I use a beauty dish very often and an octagonal soft box. Sometimes I use a beauty dish as a ring flash by placing it close to the camera and in front of a model. During an outdoor session, I try to use the background and treat this background as an equal part of the image. I don’t blur the background very often.
What’s one post-processing tip you’d like to share with other photographers?
In many of my pictures, you can’t see natural colors. I like the dominant color, a touch of unreality; therefore, I move the color sliders in Lightroom to one side or another, depending on the climate I want to achieve.
Do you have any projects you’d like to show off?
I have a few projects which I am preparing for exhibitions. Recently, I had the opportunity to explore beautiful places in America and I took a lot of landscape shots. It is something different than fashion or commercial photography, and it was a challenge for me, but I had a really great time with the camera and the nature around me.
What is your most life-changing event?
Before the exam to film school, I had to prepare a photo story. I borrowed the camera from my uncle and started taking pictures. I used the film camera and photographed at Ilford and Kodak Profoto films. Before I finished this project, I knew that I wanted to be a photographer. I think that was the most life-changing event in my life.
What’s something nobody knows about you that you’d like to share?
I do not want to share something of which no one knows – I’m kidding. My friends know me very well and there are no big secrets in my life.
Who’s your biggest hero in your life?
Definitely Bruce Lee. He always inspired me. I like his philosophy of life. That’s what he did. He revolutionized the martial arts and its perception. He was very innovative – he learned from everyone and looked everywhere for inspiration. He had an open mind and consistently worked hard.
What’s one of your biggest fears?
My biggest fear is that I might lose an eye. Then it would be difficult for me to work as a photographer.
What will you be doing five years from now?
I hope that I will continue to shoot, but in a better way.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
I think it was surfing in Indonesia. I am not a good surfer, and the waves were high and I almost drowned there. When I managed to land on the beach, a group of Chinese people ran to me frightened and asked if everything was OK. Surfing can be very dangerous, but back then, I didn’t realize it.
What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t?
I have always wanted to travel by submarine. I haven’t done it yet because I don’t have enough money to buy a submarine. Maybe some day.
For anyone that wants to get in touch with Dawid, here’s some contact information:
Dawid, thanks for taking the time to interview with us!
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