On the Edge: Mario Janiszewski

On the Edge: Mario Janiszewski

Namely, street photography is a result of documentary and humanistic photography. It all depends on the photographer which way he goes. I lean towards the human being. 

© Mario Janiszewski. All rights reserved.

Q1: Please state you name and occupation, please. Where do you live?

A: My name is Mariusz Janiszewski. I am an advertising photographer, living in Warsaw, and once in a while a journalist as my daughter says – in a distant world.

Q2: Welcome to The One Photo Interview, by the way. It is the TOP Interview. Do you know what that means? It means that you will only have the opportunity to show one single photograph and you will refer to that for the rest of this interview, right? Would that be ok with you?

A: If these are the rules … let’s begin

Q3: Any particular reason for taking that picture, Mariusz?

A: I like when on the photograph one’s eye’s have to wander, screen the image in search for a history. When there is no clear strong point. This image is a perfect example of multi layered composition. Full of surrealism and a bit of humor.

Q4: Is this you style of street photography then? Do you think you have a style? If so, what is it?

A: When you can say that you have a style it means that you have already achieved a lot, thus I prefer not to abuse this term. I can’t definitely say but my images are characterized by composition purity. It outcomes from my daily work, where looking after details is crucial and what I adopted in my documentary photography. In today’s street photography chaos is very common, I control it.

Q5. Tell me what is street photography? Have you got a definition? Let’s hear it!

A:. Everybody tries to define street photography and there not really is one definition. On the other hand I don’t like to name photography. Image shout speak out, not words.

If I have still attempt answering this question I will use words which I ‘ve heard not so long time ago.

Namely, street photography is a result of documentary and humanistic photography. It all depends on the photographer which way he goes. I lean towards the human being.

Q6: Give me some basics. How long have you had an interest in street photography? Do you have any mentors that you have learned from?

A:. It all depends what we call the beginning. In fact my early family holiday pictures had already a bit of street photography. I can say that I started seriously developing my street photography in late 90ties – first alongside to touristic travelling. Later the human beings became the most interesting to me. I changed lenses from long to short ones and so my interaction with local inhabitants did. I got closer and closer making almost intimate contact with people.

Q7: Let’s talk about equipment. Some have an almost religious addiction to it. Long lenses, short lenses, rangefinders, non rangefinders, compacts. Leicas, Canons, Nikons, analog or digital. What is your opinion of this? What is your preferred gear? Don’t be boring when you answer this, please.

A: You can use anything to take pictures on streets. From a mobile phone to a long lens (I don’t recommend it though). I have two principles: your camera should not distract you, be transparent. And the second: get close to the subject of your image to capture the intimacy. Long lenses make picture flat, isolate the subject. Wide angle lenses let you make a contact with photographed person and therefore I use 28 mm and 35 mm lenses mounted on Leica M9 camera. This setup fits to my needs of being compact, inconspicuous and very versatile.

Q8: Are there any particular reason why you call yourself a street photographer? Many people picture landscapes, seascapes, birds caved in. Do you take such pictures as well? What I mean to ask is, do you in fact do much parrot shooting in the zoo. Or similar non street themes. Do you?

A: Funny enough, but I do not consider myself as a street photographer. I am more documentary photographer

Q9: Do you know what is the difference between photography and plain picture taking? If so, tell me what it is.

A: Photography with capital „P” is most of all making conscious choices which, supported by experience and talent, pay off. Plain picture taking is taking them for fun and counting on luck to get a good photo. In the end it does not matter if the final result impresses the whole world or land in family albums. The most important is the joy that comes along.

Q10: Why do you think that all the best street photos are shot in black & white? How do you explain that?

A: It’s easier. Colour in photography distracts and you need certain skills to master it. Black & white photography is suggestive, emotional. It highlights moods, factures.

Q11: Do you think that street photography is a serious type of photography? Can anything good come of it? How do you see this?

A: I don’t see the reason why not to. Street photography is a way of documenting surrounding reality and keeping it for future generations. Admiring Erwitt Doisneau photographs from many years back, we still learn realities from those years.

Q12: Are there any value in street photography you think, besides your own enjoyment?

A: Good photography is a joy for both the author and spectators.

Q13: Your vision? What is your vision for European street photography? What is the vision for your own photography? I am not going to ask how you see the future, but tell me anyway.

A: I do not feel up to foreseeing the future of photography. I do not make distant plans for myself either. I take everything as it comes. Everything goes with its own pace and so photography awareness is. One day you simply feel that it’s time to take another step, try new things. You should always remember to make another step – the rest will come.

Q14: One last question: What is the most important thing with a photograph? With any photograph?

A: Respect for characters being photographed. I always value this principle and I believe that due to that I’ve never had any unpleasant incidents photographing. Being respectful earns trust, let you get closer and enter into a private zone. You are not an intruder any more.

Q15: Is it true then that street photography was invented in Europe?

A: Of course. The first street photographer was Louis Daguerre back in 19th century.

Thank you very much, Mariusz Janiszewski. Much obliged. Will you see yourself out?

A: Likewise. The pleasure was mine.

© Knut Skjærven.  All rights reserved.
First published March 20, 2013.

#theedge #ontheedge #mariojanizewski #newstreetagenda #knutskjærven #knutskjaerven #streetphotography

About author

Knut Skjærven

Knut Skjærven is a Norwegian photographer, writer and researcher working out of Copenhagen, Denmark.

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