Interview with Lukasz Snopkiewicz, Photographer

Photographer Lukasz Snopkiewicz plays with the possibilities of black and white digital imagery in his recent series Reflexiones Aqua Et (2015). He explores the idea of water as the element of creation and of destruction, and attempts to recontextualise familiar scenes from nature by playing with reflections and light, using the water as a mirror, and experimenting with slides and projection. We interview the artist.

A: Why did you choose to explore natural reflections and light in black and white?
LS: I am simply fascinated by the play of light and the reflections on the water’s surface. Shapes and proportions of the reflected objects often become distorted by the flow in a unique, surreal way and I am always happy when I get a chance to capture this spectacle. As for why I chose to work in black and white while creating these series – I believe there is an incomparable, captivating mystique to monochrome images. There is this particular, enchanting mood that can only be achieved by working with tones and textures alone.

A: Your photographs have a basis in the natural world, what draws you to this subject matter?
LS: Albert Einstein said that looking deep into nature helps us understand everything better, and I don’t think anyone could possibly argue with that. To me, it’s about being able to experience nature in all its glory and being able to tap into that with what I do. There is something special to standing alone on the edge of a cliff just before the sunrise, being exposed to all the elements. There is something special to the silence and the wind that smells fresh just before the storm. Such moments are what draws me into the natural world.

A: Black tones in photographs are sometimes hard to depict detail from, how did you get the effect you wanted?
LS: I suppose it’s practice, practice, practice. Maintaining image clarity while keeping the contrast high can definitely be very difficult when working with low key, dark images. With Reflexiones Aqua Et, I don’t always aim to extract lots of detail from the blacks though, sometimes it’s about showing less detail in order to create a particular feel to the scene.

A: Do you devote time to editing your images digitally to ensure that details stand out in their shadowy tones?
LS: Yes I do. Editing is part of the whole process. It starts with a vision in my mind. Then there is the preparation, and observation of the environment. When the time is right, I take my shot – and after that of course, I do quite a lot of editing. That said, there’s only as much you can do in your digital darkroom, so I’d say the shot itself needs to be pretty solid in the first place.

A: The symmetry in many of your photographs suggests that you pay great attention to their composition. Is this element of balance something that you strive for? 
LS: This is true, composition is quite important to me. That being said, I also like to play with it a bit, I like to push the boundaries every now and then – depending on what I am after basically. I play with arrangement of objects, and the symmetry, or sometimes the lack of it. I believe that one of the most significant aspects of creating a work of art is the freedom – the freedom to follow the rules, but also to break them. In terms of my photography, every so often I ignore the guidelines regarding exposure, composition, focus etc. It’s always about achieving the result that pleases me in the first place, while enjoying the process.

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1. Lurking Shadows (2015). Courtesy of the artist.
2. The Columns (2015). Courtesy of the artist.