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Sophisticated taste

Sonia Szóstak is a very young artist from Poland who has already worked as a photographer with several magazines, designers, musicians and actors. She studied photography at the The Leon Schiller National Film, Television and Theatre School but she has also studied cinema and music. In 2011 she featured by Fashion Magazine as the "best debutante", and also by Le Book for having produced one of the world's best magazine-covers in 2010. In 2013 Sonia was invited to the Vogue Italia Exhibition " A Glimpse At Photo Vogue" held at the Carla Sozzani Gallery at Corso Como in Milan. Her photographic work has been published in OZON Magazine, Blink Magazine, K Mag, Vain Magazine, PhotoVogue Italia and in This is Paper. Now she’s working on videos for musicians and fashion designers and presenting the solo exhibition 'Longboards, tattoos and a journey to Mars'  at the No Wódka Concept Store in Berlin until next 29 November featuring a selection of 19 photographs from different series she’s created during the last four years.

You studied photography at The Leon Schiller National Film, Television and Theatre School. What did you choose photography instead of cinema or other artistic expressions?

Oh no. I do not want to reject any field of art . For now I realize far mainly in photography . But I have head full of ideas, and tight schedule. Beyond everything, I want to develop myself in movies. After graduating from Film School I know I am educated in this field. For the last three years I‘ve absolutely had no time to improve those skills neither to realise my completely authorial project. I also graduated from Music School, but I absolutely can't find time to develop these skills. I really would love to connect all my abilities into one, but as I think for now, I really need time.

You were born in Stettin, Poland. What’s the situation in your country for the people who wants to work on arts?

I think it is pretty good. People have a wider space to create because there is still much to be done. Not like in London or in Paris where in every corner of the street you can find a lot of great galleries with amazing works, arts, desing, photographs or fashion. In Poland this process has begun few years ago  and promises to be a really good.

You are showing the 'Longboards, tattoos and a journey to Mars', a selection of works from the last 4 years. How would you introduce us this selection? And which was the criteria for the selection?

I  made this selection with the owner of the gallery – Aleksandra from “No Wódka”.  We decide to show my best works which I made during the last 4 years. All of my works from every individual series are very consistent so we didn't have any problem with creating this exhibition.

One finds a lot of references to pop culture on the titles of your series. One of the featured series in the current solo exhibition is called Life on Mars. A reference to David Bowie? How important is the pop culture on your work?

Hmm .. I' d never given much thought to how important is the pop culture on my work. Interesting question ! I'm not sure if pop culture plays an important role in my works.  I grew up on it so definitely had a huge impact on me. However, I've always consciously inspired by other things. I am sentimental and miss ‘then’ much more than inspiring by mass culture. I reject everything which is ‘modern’. I have always found a lot of inspiration in history of art which , apart from photography, is my big passion.

And after the journey, what inspiration have you found in Mars?

I can not explain. You only can see it on my works ! (She smiles)

The works presented are mainly portraits. Which elements do you consider as essentials to work in a portrait? And what do you try to express?

The most important think for me is naturalness in expressing emotions by people who I portray- not by me. I always give them space to express themselves.  I think that I care more about “document” the natural emotions during the shooting rather than “create” them . Really seldom I meet people which I really want to photo, that's why many of collaborations lasts for years. I have some models, which I photograph for many years, and work evolved to deep friendship. This connection allows us to overcome all difficulties, obtain naturality and communicate without words.

And I am extremely picky about kind of beauty I like to photograph. I have always had sophisticated taste when it comes to models. I like Pre-Raphaelitie kind of beauty, supernatural beauties , strong and intelligent women. I also love freckles or gold hair.

I think that those two elemnents are the most important to me in portraits.

Worked aesthetics, natural spontaneity or both?

Natural spontaneity but trying to work aesthetics. Hehe

Your work always presents people interacting with their environment, the objects around appear as instruments in the hands of the portrayed people. Why do you never focus your work on objects or landscapes?

Because people interest me the most. Faces, emotions, gestures. Everything all around is only a “complement” of the portraits. Even if I do landscapes, I try to merge them with people.

Fashion photography is for you an instrument, an inspiration or both?

Fashion is also an element of complementary in my photographs. People on my photos are always at the first place . That's why I usually undress my models instead of dress them hehe. I've never wanted to have fashion at the first place on my photographs. I always try to compose fashion on my photographs so as not to divert attention from the models.

Could you tell us a dream? A sleeping one or a wish.

New Zeland. Mountains. Cold lake. Fog. Space. Nature. Silent. All of my best friends with me. Large format camera. 

Sonia Szóstak | Longboards, tattoos and a journey to Mars
Exhibition at the No Wódka until 29 November 2014. See a selection here

An interview by Juan Carlos Romero
Sonia Szóstak website
Photo courtesy of Sonia Szóstak
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