Interview with Bartosz Och : Travel Photographer and an Awesome Man
Bartosz Och has started out as a fashion photographer shooting for a number of magazines and blogs thus including Vogue Italia, he was a barista for about six years. Then he quit his job in a bar to pursue his photography career. After his hiking trip to Iceland where he walked over 150 km in two weeks he decided that he want to travel and be a travel photographer hoping one day he will be shooting for National Geographic. Not long ago he have started a travel blog called Searching for Crusoe (www.searchingforcrusoe.com) where he publish his travel stories along with his photographs.
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself, your blog(s)/website(s),and your aspirations and your hobbies!!
Before I have started out as a fashion photographer, shooting for a number of magazines and blogs thus including Vogue Italia, I was a barista for about six years. I then quit my job in a bar to pursue my photography career. After my hiking trip to Iceland where I walked for over 150 km in two weeks I decided I want to travel and be a travel photographer hoping one day I will be shooting for National Geographic. Not long ago I have started a travel blog called Searching for Crusoe (www.searchingforcrusoe.com) where I publish my travel stories along with my photographs. My fashion work can be seen at www.houseofpalladium.com
2. How you first got involved in with photography, are you an imaginative person?
My cousin sort of inspired me to do photography. He owned a nice DSLR camera and I remember when I first looked at the world through the tiny little viewfinder and then the magic happened with the resounding click of a shutter button. I took me some years to grow to the idea that maybe I too can learn how to use a professional camera and take good pictures. I am still learning a lot everyday thought. And yes, I think I am quite imaginative, but also a huge perfectionist so it takes me some time before I finally get to like my final ‘product’.
3. What does photography mean to you?
Photography to me is not only my job but also my passion. It’s also a way of looking at the world. Once you start photographing, you never look at things the same way. You start to notice the details, the beauty in the ugly, unusual shapes and colours. Everything that doesn’t appeal or make sense to anyone else, becomes your inspiration and a potential subject.
4. Photography is your passion or profession or both?
It’s my passion turn profession, but it took me some time before I started to make a living from being a photographer. I struggle to this days some times and as much as I hate the word “selling services”, I still do it whether I like the project or not. I wish I could feed on air and sun thought. That would make things a lot more enjoyable!
5. What do you find most challenging about photography about your topic?
Everyone can be a photographer these days, but not everyone can produce quality work . . . I think photography is challenging generally, because there is many contributing factors that make an image a good image. Personally I find it challenging to convey the story against all the odds like the weather, the unexpected events, the ‘not so perfect’ lighting. At the day end you must give a body to your vision. It’s not easy to be a creator.
6. Tell me about some of the catchy people you have met while clicking pictures?
There is so many photographers out there that I admire and look up to. The one and only Steve McCurry is my huge idol. But there is also a handful of less known photographers I absolutely love. Be it Joel Tettamanti, Arek Gola, Zed Nelson and many many more. I want to have their eyes.
7. How do you get the person, place or thing that is in front of the camera onto the film, chip or paper in just the way you want?
I observe. I often stop and look at something for a moment or two and I analyse the subject in my brain in relation to the environment, lighting, colours, shapes and other things that matter. I then set my camera setting to what I think will look good and boom! I often shoot RAW in bracketing mode which means I have a huge area for mistakes which can be then fixed and adjusted. But I try to keep the things looking as I saw them with my eyes. I think this is very important–not to fake something that is already beautiful or as they say, “Don’t try to fix what’s not broken”.
8. How would (someone) describe your photography style?
I think you would have to ask that certain someone, but I think it’s honest and it’s unforced. Most of my photos that wander online are the ones that I have liked at the time. I never share anything I didn’t put my heart into, even if it’s a quick snap-shot.
9. What do you do when you are not clicking any pics?
When I am not shooting, I am editing and when I am not editing I am writing my blog. I am a workaholic, but I love what I do, no matter what I do. I travel a lot too. Sometimes it may look like I sit all day doing nothing but staring at my tiny MacBook, but I actually work really hard. And then I watch films and read books. I almost never finish my books and I often fall asleep when watching films I don’t particularly like. Oh, and I do some bouldering and play tennis too–far from the professional level.
10. Which photographers influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking and photographing?
I get influenced by others work a bit too easily and I decided to step back a little bit and focus on finding my own style. But one photographer that I was almost too obsessed about is Tim Walker. I know everything about him and his work which, when I think about it now, is a little bit creepy. I also love Steve McCurry as I have mentioned before. His work is breathtaking, full of life and emotions.
11. What networking do you do that you feel helps your photography?
I used to hate social media and networking. In fact I still do but I had to eventually break the ice and get myself on it. I now use everything that’s out there: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flicker, StumbleUpon and my favourite, Instagram. I think you can’t run away from it and if you do you somehow vanish from the face of the world. This profession–if you want to get noticed–you need to put yourself out there. After all what is the point of taking photographs if no one is going to see them?
12. What is your strategy with your photographs in general?
I don’t have a strategy. It kind of depends on what I am going to photograph. When it’s fashion then it starts with an idea and them team scouting. When it’s personal it’s a matter of a split second sometimes; you see something and you press the shutter button and the moment is gone. In reportage you can only analyse the situation but you can never fully prepare yourself for what is going to happen. I would say I get out there and see what happens and I ALWAYS stay positive no matter what. It’s important otherwise nothing good comes out if you are scared, angry, shy or if you doubt yourself. Be confident and remember that life is short and we are all human beings.
13. Any specific tips you have for newbie photographers?
Learn–read, watch films and documentaries, travel and take it all in.
Don’t envy–make other’s success your inspiration.
Open your eyes, mind and heart–observe, find the beauty and happiness in a moment and catch it.
Be brave–life is short and we are all equal. Life is not a race, but it’s a process so enjoy it.
Find your style–take pictures, even when you have second thoughts, don’t stop as it may never happen or be there again.
Be humble–there is always gonna be someone better, more talented, more educated than you.
Smile and be honest–it’s the only currency more valuable than money and it does wonders.
Be thankful–don’t take everything for granted. Don’t take advantage of other’s kindness.
14. What motivates you to continue taking pictures economically, politically, intellectually or emotionally?
I take pictures because that’s when I feel at peace so I think it’s very personal and emotional experience.
I also do it because I need to pay my bills and eat but I would never do anything just and purely for the money. Money is secondary–passion comes first.
Politically it’s important to take pictures. It’s probably the most important, because we fail to preserve this world and our world is slowly dying.One thing we can’t fail in doing is capturing our time on this planet.
15. Five adjectives that describe you.
My friends should be able to answer this question better but I like to think I am positive, curious, sarcastic, honest and loyal . . . minus the ‘sarcastic’–I don’t like that about myself much.
16. What incident would you say has made the biggest impact good or bad on you?
That’s a bit too personal to talk about for everyone to read, but one thing was definitely moving to London–was it bad or good thing, I will never know, but I know I never regret my decisions. Also my two weeks long trip to Iceland changed my perspective on life a lot. I became a lot more curious about the rest of the world, a lot more affectionate with it and respectful of nature and other beings.
17. Do you get easily provoked by positive/negative comments?
Anyone who says they don’t care what people think about them is living in denial. I often say I don’t care but I think we all do to some extent. What matters is how we respond to it and what actions we take in regards to those comments. I have learned one thing thought–you can’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but you can be someone’s shot of vodka. It’s important that you stay true to yourself and never ever let anyone take your happiness away.
18. You have a website also, please tell me about that?
I have a few websites actually:
www.searchingforcrusoe.com is my designated travel blog where I share my travel stories and photos.
www.bartoszochphotography.co.uk is where I share my personal photography, both fashion, portraiture and ever travel. But it needs serious updating!
www.houseofpalladium.com is my commercial photography website.
and finally www.defuzemag.co.uk which is the fashion magazine’s website of which I am the chief editor.
19. What motivates you most in life?
Life itself. There is nothing more motivating than the thought of experiencing everything life has to offer, seeing the world, meeting new people and new cultures. Living.
20. So whats Next in your list?
Let me know when you find out I really don;t know. I like to stay spontaneous and I like surprises. Soon thought I am going to Malta where I am shooting (along with my friend Ash–the co editor of deFUZE Magazine) a little campaign for ATARAXI (www.ataraxi.co.uk) owned by Rebecca Haddaway. Then I am going to hike The West Highland Way in Scotland on my birthday with my friends. After that I am flying to Geneva where I am going to walk the Mount Blanc Trail for two weeks crossing 3 different countries on foot and from there I am going for kayak/camping trip in Poland. After that I am travelling to Bulgaria with my mom Who knows what will happen after that. I really want to go to Nepal and help the people who were affected by the earthquake.
21. Words for your followers and why they should follow you?
I just want you to be happy and live the life you love. If like me you stand against the socially imposed ‘normalities’ and if you like to read book-like written stories, and if you enjoy photography you should follow me. Maybe one day we will become friends!
22. Words and suggestion about my website www.indiaataglance.com?
I like the website and there plenty of useful information about India, but I would like to see more photos, both inside and next to the posts.