Interview with Natalia Wiernik: 2013 Sony World Photography Awards Student Focus Winner

By WPO with Natalia Wiernik

Natalia Wiernik

The World Photography Organisation spoke to 2013 Sony World Photography Awards Student Focus Winner Natalia Wiernik. She shares here her approach to photography, her experience shooting some of her notable series, what it's like to use the new Sony NEX-3N, and much more.

Natalia Wiernik was born 1989. Studied at Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow. Graduated at 2013. Wiernik presented her works receiving recognition in Poland, Munich, California, Los Angeles, Cologne and London. Now she’s working on continuation of The Protagonists series and on her new photographic projects. In 2013 she started her PhD at Academy of Fien Arts.

Why did you choose to study photography?  What inspired you to choose this career?
When I started my studies I didn’t think that my diploma work will be realised in photography workshop, but photography has always accompanied me.

I’ve never thought about making a career, I cared about realising quality projects that I’ll be able to present to a wider audience.

Why is photography important to you?
Photography is for me one the most important means of expression, it’s hard to explain. I know it’s possibilities and limits and it’s sufficient for me to realise my projects.

For you, what are the key elements when composing a photograph?
Actually I never work in accordance with any instructions. In my opinion the most important thing is to have a concept of what you want to realise. At the same moment you have to be ready to make a U-turn with your work.

You have been quoted as saying that you “want to give the viewer something to think about”.  How do you achieve this in your work?
Each one of my photo series has a text assigned to it, items and subjects you can see in the pictures aren’t accidental, everything builds a specific story that I try to present to the viewer.

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Your series “The Protagonists” won the Student Focus Photographer of the Year title at the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards.  The photographs were shot to a brief asking for a series on ‘family’.  What was the inspiration for the work?  Have you always been drawn to strong pattern/design in your images? 
I simply started working on the project by asking pepople that seemed interesting for me if they want to take part in the project. Some of them I met accidently walking down the street, my role was to complete a scenography for them in the way that I could extract their individuality and to make the portraits look more characteristic and memorable. Series The Protagonists and Thanksgiving in formal aspects have a lot in common but I don’t work always in this way.

What are you currently working on/ what is your next project?
I’m still working on The Protagonists series, I would like to show a wider presentation of the family image. This subject absorbed me, 7 photographs I’ve already preseted so far are a part of a bigger project.

You recently took part in a Sony masterclass focusing on photographing people.  Can you tell us about your experience of shooting with the NEX-5T on this project?
NEX-5T worked very well as for a mirrorless camera, I realised few good portraits with it.

Why is the NEX-5T particularly suitable for shooting portraiture shots? 
It has a bigger and better sensor in comparison with others and has interchangeable lenses, which is very comfortable.

The camera also connects via a smart phone.  Was this a useful feature for you on the shoot?
It’s a nice feature to have it, in some situations, with using long lenses it may be very useful. It’s a nice substitution for a wireless shooting you know from the professional DSLRs’ systems.

Could you please share your top tips for other photographers when taking shots of people or what are the key rules that anyone new to this style of photography should remember?
A lot of practice, beeing open for new experiences and for me very important is to look through a lot of photographs made by the artists from around the world. Photography is nowadays so common – I think it is important to remember that it’s hard to make something new -  the concept is really important.

For more on Natalia, visit her website here. For more on the Sony Masterclass programme, click here.

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