The Protagonists

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Your work usually includes objects and still lives, but rarely people. This changed when you made The Protagonists.

As a working photographer I do reportage of events, exhibitions, and workshops. I cooperate with people in my daily life, and I like it very much, but in conceptual projects I usual work with objects, still lives, and rarely people. As you say – this changed in The Protagonists series – people started to play a leading role. It can be said that portraiture absorbed me. It is more difficult and it takes more time. Very often I have to adapt to the situation and change my plans. Every shooting session is a new challenge, but I really like it.

The people you include in photos have sometimes never met.

These pictures – where strangers become a family – are very important for me. It was a really interesting experience having a session with people who have never met before and now they have to act as there’s a relation between them. I put together people who – in our mind could/must be a family (only because of their appearance) but out of the frame of photography they don’t necessarily have to… The viewer is never sure if the scene he’s looking at is performed by a real or patchwork family.

What is your process like in selecting the backgrounds, clothing, and props for each photograph?

The Protagonists and Thanksgiving – The series are similar in formal aspects. The process of creating the picture is partly analogical. These pictures base on intuitive similarities, I’m trying to enchain the attention of the recipient. Paradoxically, people in the pictures are not disappearing, I think they are “more visible”, more memorable. The background can be some kind of a continuation of the subjects. Abstract image working on the level of intuition sending us to the memories of a certain place, time, character of the presented people and items.

What influenced the use of animals and nudity in select photos?

I can’t say about any definite influence on the choices I made. My decisions are based on the choices I make currently during the shooting. The final effect depends on the visual aesthetic of the models, the fabric I prepare for them, the moment the session is having place, the surroundings… And much more. Every session is unique.

What projects are you working on currently?

The Protagonists series are still in progress, I would like to show a wider presentation of the family image. This subject absorbed me, 7 photographs I’ve already presented are a part of a bigger project.

And it’s not all – I became a mother 4 months ago – and I’m working on the similar subject but presented from a very different perspective. This is an open project, more sensitive and personal.

Natalia Wiernik is from Krakow, Poland.

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