The DFP member’s spotlight is a recurring feature on the DFP blog, where we chat with a member of the documentary family photographers community so we can get to know them better and can celebrate their work.
Today we are chatting with Paula Krajewska, a polish documentary photographer that has been working in this genre for the past 7 years.
Tell us about yourself! Give us a short bio in 10 sentences or less
I am Paula, former German language teacher, documentary photographer for over 7 years now. I live with my family outside of the Polish capital city with my husband and two daughters. I am big coffee lover, I don’t eat watermelon, like never ever. I love walking our labradoodle Mocca. My adventure with documentary family photography started with Kirsten Lewis’ online workshop on Creative Live and it felt like a revelation!
What is photography for you?
Now my life 🙂 But at first photography was a way to heal my soul after I lost my father over 9 years ago. After he died I realised that I don’t have many pictures of him and me from my childhood he was the one who has made pictures in our house. I didn’t want this for my kids so I took my old camera and started documenting our everyday so my kids have a visual diary of their childhood. And I want the same for my clients. I wish my photographs show them how much love there is in their families. I hope I can help them create visual diaries of their life. And this is basically photography for me: visual diary of our life.
What’s typically in your camera bag?
Well, usually two camera bodies, both from Sony and 3 lenses: my favourite 35mm, 85mm and my new discovery – a 24mm lens which might be my new favourite one.
From your point of view, what makes a good picture?
It is a tough question! For me a good picture is the one that evokes strong emotions. It is a picture that makes the viewer laugh or cry, get him happy or angry. A good picture reminds the viewer of something important for him: a moment in time, experiences. Of course all the rules like good light, composition etc are also important but if you break the rules and still are able to make a photograph that evokes emotions nothing else really matters. It is all about emotions because emotions let us remember things: the first date, first kiss, first steps of our kids.
What inspires you, what makes you decide when to click the shutter?
For most of the time it is the light that inspires me. Now I also look for graphic patterns and colours and let them inspire me. During my DITL shoot I like to look for tender gestures between family members and I always happy when I am able to capture those small signs of love and care.
What or who has influenced (or still does) your work the most?
For sure Kirsten Lewis Bethmann 🙂 She was the person my adventure with documentary family photography began with. I attended two of her workshops live and I have learnt a lot from her. Now I don’t feel someone influenced my work. I think now it’s more about inspiration I look for. I adore and love the work of my dear mentor Nienke Koedijk. I am also impressed by the work od Niki Boon and Sabine Doppelhofer.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
My biggest source of inspiration is non-fictional literature. I am a big lover of any kind of journalistic novels which inspire me to work on different personal project. Sometimes it is a song that makes me want to photograph something, sometimes it is just a ray of light or a simple gesture.
What are you passionate about outside of photography?
I love coffee 🙂 Lately, I learned how to prepare a perfect espresso and cappuccino. I also love to learn foreign languages and to find similarities between them. I also love to bake and I think I make the best tiramisu and cheesecake 😉
What’s been the biggest highlight of your photography journey so far?
Well, I don’t really know. Maybe the words of one of my former clients: “Well, I was crying – how beautiful, how touching. To see my life from the outside.I consider myself to be such a constantly tiring and urging mother, and here you can see so much love. I still have lump in my throat. And what kind of father do my children have – let me congratulate myself here. You did it beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. And these children of ours look happy. I don’t see it like that in my daily run. “ I wish I could give every family I photograph this experience.
What are you currently working on?
I will start two photography projects but it is a little bit too early to talk about it know.
If you could give yourself one piece of advice when first starting out, what would it be?
Believe in yourself! Trust your gut feeling 🙂 Don’t be afraid of what others think.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years from now?
First of all, I hope I will live on the southwest coast of Spain 😉 and I will still photograph the every day of families to show them that every day matters the most.