“I like to document moments and places that feel both intimate and otherworldly and magical.”
Monika is a photographer that I met on Instagram like many of the other people I’ve interviewed but her body of work is uniquely personal. The work that she publishes on her instagram is inspiring and she even sells some of her prints on her website.
JM: Tell me a bit about yourself.
MM: I am was born and raised in Poland but have spent most of my adult life now in the US. I currently live in the Hudson Valley, about an hour north of New York City. I feel lucky to live in such a beautiful place, surrounded by incredible nature and yet so close to a big city. It inspires my photography daily. I have always been curious about the world having grown up in back-then communist Poland and not having access to the rest of the world. I knew there was a greater world outside and it motivated me to learn to speak other languages and then to travel and eventually photograph the world.
JM: Why do you shoot film?
MM: I started shooting digital first but quickly learned that if you wanted to truly understand photography, you had to go back to the roots and learn about film and manual exposure as well as using manual lenses. I fell in love with the process of shooting photos that way, it required more planning, focus and attention to composition.
JM: How would you describe your style?
MM: I like to document moments and places that feel both intimate and otherworldly and magical. I want to be able to look at a photo and instantly feel transported to that place and be able to imagine the light, smell and sound in the scene. in other words, a photo should be able to activate your senses and your imagination.
JM: What is your favorite film? Camera?
MM: Without question, my Mamiya 7ii medium format 6×7 is my favorite camera. I have been shooting with it for over 12 years and can’t imagine my life as a photographer without it.
JM: What drives you to photograph?
MM: I love the process of creating each photo, it’s both very exciting and carries an element of surprise, especially when you shoot with film.
“I am aware that our natural world is changing around us, many landscapes forever lost and documenting those places to remember them as they are now is so crucial and there is an urgency in that for me here are my images”
JM: What is a personal goal you have for your photography?
MM: I would love to be able to have my own gallery one day where I could display the photos. They look beautiful when they are printed large and framed. It’s a shame that we mostly look at tiny images on instagram nowadays.
JM: What do you look for in a photograph? Is what you find compelling in a photograph different when it’s one of your photographs compared with one from someone else?
MM: I look for beautiful composition, light, harmony of colors or black and white tones.
JM: What is your favorite shot you’ve ever taken? What’s the story behind it?
MM: It’s very hard to choose one, but one that’s very special for me is my image from the White Sands National Park in New Mexico. I was very much inspired by the work of Gary Winogrand at the time and this image combines both such a beautifully striking landscape with a modern picnic bench. it just looks like it’s from another world and the light and the colors are so vivid and warm in spite of the freezing morning temperatures in the high desert of New Mexico. It feels very timeless to me now.
JM: In what ways has your photography grown and improved since you started shooting film?
MM: I constantly try to improve my technical skills as well as my composition. Photography is ever evolving and changing. I think I am more deliberate in what I photograph now. I used to photograph people more and I still love it, but places and landscapes inspire me more. I am aware that our natural world is changing around us, many landscapes forever lost and documenting those places to remember them as they are now is so crucial and there is an urgency in that for me here are my images. the last one is the one from White Sand
More of Monika’s work can be seen below: