Zuza Krajewska is a Polish filmmaker and photographer who finds unexpected ways to make an intriguing, often unsettling connection with the viewer. She now works between Warsaw, London and New York, although her 18,000 Instagram followers are able to keep track of her creative adventures.
Rankin says, “Zuza challenges fashion photography. There is a documentary aesthetic to her work – intimate, thought-provoking and natural. I love how she doesn’t chase some false idea of perfection. She has this ability to find beauty in unsuspecting places and the results are captivating and offbeat.”
What’s the job or project you’ve done that you think changed who you are as a photographer? It was the Traces series. When I was growing up, I noticed how close death was and for the first time in my life I realized my photography work might be more meaningful than just showing beauty. I started to believe it may show the truth about the world.
How do you ensure you remain consistent with your style of photography when taking on commissions? When I do a commercial project in Poland, I must frequently put aside my personal style. The market here is too small to a provide sufficient amount of work. I try to maintain my style. I like talking to people and I always make attempts to gain something for me in each project.
What’s the relationship between your personal and commercial work? When your artistic work depicts more unpleasant and inconvenient truths than are usually presented in colorful magazines that people like to read, it is difficult. I completely understand that what I do artistically must differ from my commercial work, which includes mostly advertising campaigns.
Best piece of advice you’ve been given as an emerging photographer? To foster a curious child inside of you to discover the world.
Who or what had the biggest impact on you becoming a photographer? My father, who gave a camera to a 13-year-old; Helmut Newton’s sense of humour; the photos by Nan Goldin I saw in junior school; Sally Mann and her photographs of women peeing on a mountain peak – it was the first time I cried looking at photos. Recently it was meeting Sharon Lockhart and observing her workshops. I was amazed and impressed.
What do you most hope viewers take away from your photographs? Emotions. A tale about a human.
If you wanted to show an alien how powerful photography can be, what would you show them? Salgado and Sally Mann.
How much do you think that your documentary style of photography has influenced how you shoot covers for glamour etc? I always try to smuggle in the photos my point of view. It is nice you have noticed. I wish I could do it more but I am afraid it wouldn’t be commercial anymore.
The Imago project seems like something you’re very passionate about, can you tell me where that projects came from and how you approached it? Imago seems to be my childhood on the bench with such boys. I was a preppie hanging out with bad boys, many of whom ended up badly. The project was created partly because of my daughter, Lula, who made me think about the role of a bad upbringing in a child’s life. To my way of thinking, this is how evil arises. I know much about it now.