What are the most common words I hear when clients cross the door of my Portrait Studio?
I am unphotogenic, I don’t like myself in photos, I hate photos.

I meet on my way very interesting people, original, unique, extremely attractive, ambitious and doing great things in their professionals, but unfortunately often perceiving themselves very critically.
There are no unphotogenic people in my opinion! The perception of self, is always done through a set of filters: cultural, imposed by religion, related to upbringing or even mood. We rarely have the opportunity to see ourselves as others see us, our perception is distorted.

What if we considered that what makes us stand out is precisely what constitutes our originality and is not a flaw? This is how I look at the people I photograph. I see facial asymmetry, unusual proportions, strong accents as an interesting feature.
Let’s look at facial asymmetry. One eyebrow rises higher, the ears are at different heights and one stands out a little more, the corner of the mouth drops slightly, the nose hole is more drawn than the other. Who have I described? Myself. But just as well you. Or you.
Asymmetry is natural and normal! It is where emotions, experiences, experiences are located, where our lives are recorded. It makes the face real and – paradoxically – harmonious.

In the programme of my author’s workshops entitled. “How to look good in photos and professionally build your personal brand with an image” (you can find the description HERE), there is a section where, using my own example, I show what would happen if my face was symmetrical, made up of two left or two right halves.

These pictures are always accompanied by loud laughter, mine and the participants. The unnaturalness and artificiality in this release is surprising. This is not me… Can you see it? Clearly something is wrong.

Standing out is neither good nor bad. It is just normal. We are different from each other and I think that’s great! I love this difference and I draw a lot of inspiration from it.
My individual qualities make up my uniqueness and originality. And it’s exactly the same with you!

And that’s why I create portraits, both commercially and as part of my personal series. In Beautiful People, the minimalism of the form allows me to focus on the personality (you can find the series HERE). In One People Story I add the context of situation, place and time to the personality (you will see HERE).
Regardless of the cycle within which I create, the human being and his or her variety, is an inexhaustible source of my inspiration for action.

Very often I hear from my artist friends how much stress they feel about any kind of appearance in front of an audience or the media. Interviews, radio programmes, Q&A meetings, exhibition openings.

I admit that this used to stress me out too. Now I recognise this as a regular part of my photographic adventure and I enjoy these moments. I treat them as moments of reward and recognition rather than an unpleasant obligation.

So how can you help yourself during such appearances and stop stressing about them?

First of all – you know best!

I always talk during interviews or openings about my photography, my inspiration and the feelings that accompany me in this creation. Then who knows this better than myself?
Realise that you are speaking on subjects closest to you, which you have probably been with for a long time, which are a result of who you are. So you are not reciting learned things like at school, you are talking about what you do and feel.

Secondly – be prepared!

The way to reduce your stress is simply to be well prepared.
At the openings of my exhibitions, there is space to thank the people involved in the project and organising the exhibition, but also to talk about what inspired me to create photographs. It’s not about telling what’s in each photo, it’s about inspirations, anecdotes, behind-the-scenes situations – all the things that made up the final result (honestly – I don’t like the words “I’m not going to tell anything because the photos speak for themselves”, I consider that a vernissage blunder). Believe me, people are interested, they came to meet you and hear about what you do! And exhibitions, Q&A sessions or interviews are just for talking about it more.
And please omit the phrase “I’m stressed”. I know it’s a bit like defusing a bomb, but maybe replace it simply with the sentence “I’m glad you’re here, thank you”.

Thirdly – notes!

If there are a lot of threads I want to cover, I have no problem preparing a short extract for myself and using it. I’m keen to say everything I want to say, fluently and syntactically, so I’m not shy about using the help of notes. Especially during the opening of an exhibition, this is useful – there’s a lot going on and emotions run high!

Fourth – practice!

You can also practice this kind of speech. Ask a friend or family member and speak to them. I admit that I have never used this option, usually thinking about what I want to say and possibly preparing notes is enough, but I know that some people need it.

Fifthly – backup!

When I go to a Q&A session where I show photographs and video, I always have this material on more than one medium. Sure, I always have an agreement with the organiser in what form I want to show my material, and the organiser has to prepare what I need, but.…

Sixth – listen, watch and make conclusions!

Every interview I’ve given, I’ve later auditioned. While I have an easy way with words, feel rather at ease and joke around, I tend to overuse certain words or an interlude like ‘yyyyy’. So I try to analyse this and learn lessons for the future.
However, after the opening of an exhibition or a Q&A session, I always ask my friends how it was – whether I spoke coherently, whether it was light, pleasant and with a sense of humour. There’s a lot of emotion at an opening, so I don’t record everything, rather I flow. So it’s good to have feedback.

And finally, I invite you to listen to / watch two recent materials featuring me (sorry, only in Polish):

Photo credits:
– a visit to Radio Krakow Kultura with Monika Stachnik-Czapla, curator of Siła Fotografii, and Zbigniew Grzyb, director of the Nowa Huta Cultural Centre in Krakow. The conversation took place as part of the promotion of Siła Fotografii. My exhibition Beautiful People was part of this festival. 2022.
– the opening of the One People Story exhibition in Veszprem / Hungary, which is the result of an artist residency as part of the European Capital of Culture Veszprem – Balaton. At the opening I was accompanied by the curator Martyna van Nieuwland and the translator Mr Schaffler György. 2023.
Photo author: Pesthy Márton.
– conversation with curator Katarzyna Lata as part of NOC-K – VII Katowice Gallery Night. My exhibition Beautiful People was presented at the Pusta Gallery Katowice Miasto Ogrodów. 2021.
Photo author: Kinga Hołda – Justycka
– opening of the exhibition CZĄSTKI / JOANNA NOWICKA / MONIKA WACHOWICZ, Korez Theatre Gallery, Katowice. 2017.

Being present in the blogosphere is not new to me. It feels more like a comeback than a completely new way.
In the days before social media, I regularly kept a blog, which was a diary of my photographic activities.
I ran it between 2009 and 2015, then moved, like most everybody, into the social media space.

So why the return? First of all, this is totally my space. I like visual consistency, elegance and here, on my site, I can express that as I feel. As long as I want to share my photography in the online space, I can create it here for myself and for you. How social media will transform, no one knows and no one can influence that.

Secondly, I can publish topics here with categories, which can help you easily find and return to the topics you want to read. This gives a certain continuity and a sense that this work will be useful to someone for longer than just the moment it is displayed on the ‘board’.

And the topics? What will make the current blog different from the prehistoric one is the preponderance of text rather than photography. There are a few areas that interest me and I know they might be interesting to you too. I get a lot of various questions about my photography business and art, and these are valuable tips on what the blog should be about.

My journey of over 22 years with photography, including 17 years as a professional photographer, is quite a package of experiences. So there will be topics here aimed at passionate photographers or beginner professionals, so that you can work more efficiently, easily and confidently.

I specialise in a personal branding and business photography, so the subject of the value of the image in personal branding occupies me a lot. When preparing portrait sessions for my clients, I always consider the wider context of their professional activities, the portrait is one of tools, not the only one. So if you’re building your personal brand, you’ll find some interesting threads here.

And finally, something that is close to my heart. I like the people I portray to feel comfortable, safe and take pleasure while shooting. So how can you look at yourself with a gentle eye and prepare for a session so it doesn’t come from a position of being forced, discomfort and criticism? I am working on this topic during my author’s workshops, but you will also be able to find answers to some questions here.

I’m linking to my old blog in the last sentence, you might want to have a look (only in Polish, sorry) – HERE.