How I became a fashion photographer - Piotr Rulka
My interest in technology was my first step in starting my artistic route as a photographer. Before I got my camera, I was taking countless photographs using my phone. The process of taking photographs, perfecting lighting always fascinated me.
I have always felt inspired by Steven Klein’s work, one of my favourite fashion photographers. The colours and dark theatrical atmosphere of his images were always a big inspiration for my work. But when it comes to lighting and photography techniques I always took to Night Knight’s work. Images of his represent everything that I love about photography. His precision, top quality commercial style mixed with the creativity of a real artist is something that I expect in my own work. I have experience working on magazine commissions with many incredible creatives. My work has been featured in magazines such as HUF, Sukeban, and Dreamingless. Alongside working as a product photographer for Dappad London for almost a year, I have done advertorials for growing fashion brands/designers like Four.Her, and ALLIE.
When I turned 15, I received my first camera. The experience was incredible and life-changing. Even if it was just a basic camera, it was enough for an amateur to start developing skills. Like anyone who’s just starting out, I was taking photographs of almost everything and anything, trying to understand the relation between shutter speed, iso, and aperture. I started taking street photography whilst wandering through the beautiful streets of Krakow, which developed into a huge passion of mine. I started out my first ever project, minimalistic surroundings photography.
I found that patience and feedback are the key two factors to becoming a better photographer. I think the challenge for anyone just starting out is to find the niche in photography and master it. I wanted to try out all sorts of photography genres before making the final decision on what niche to master. The first step for me was to start building a portfolio. This is one of the most important tools for a photographer looking to earn from his or her work.
My parents have always supported my passion and interest in photography. They offered to sign me up for a photography course at the Academy of Photography. This was a new chapter in my life, taking a higher level of focus on my future of becoming a professional photographer. Learning all the different types of photography, creative functions and controls provided me with full creative freedom to choose my direction. The photography I was drawn to was fashion photography. What drove me to choose this niche is the glamour and style that I am able to capture.
Learning about various technology tools that are used on set was so amazing to me and made me love all that go into taking that million-dollar shot. Editing and post-production is a process that shouldn’t be underestimated. I’ve probably watched hundreds of hours worth of YouTube tutorials about how to achieve the right result. As much as I love taking photographs, I also really enjoy editing. Mostly because it’s more peaceful than working on a busy set. It gives the creator time to think about the image in more depth and then polish all the tiny imperfections. I always thought that a great photographer is both creative and technical. One who knows how to creatively use photography techniques to obtain a specific effect.
When I turned 18, I moved to London and continued my studies at the London College of Fashion. Shortly my fashion editorial work was published in magazines such as the HUF, Picton, Shuba, and others. I managed to work with a variety of amazing creatives and continued my professional career as a freelance product and fashion photographer.
My usual workflow for magazine commissions starts with coming up with the concept. Later it revolves around building a good mood board which consists of images representing my ideas for lighting, models, makeup, style, aesthetic and others. After that, I would usually reach out to people that would be the perfect match for my concept. Sometimes I would work with an art director who’s responsible for the production part. In that case, I would be discussing various crew choices and the concept with that person. After the photographs are ready, I would email the right magazine that could be interested in my editorial and simply wait for an answer. Most of the time it is a collaboration with people from the industry that want to be featured and develop their portfolios. As for all creatives in the fashion industry, it is important to find a balance between paid commercial work and free artistic projects. Commercial work does not always allow for expressing the artist’s creative vision, but it provides income. On the other hand my own projects allow me to fully express my creative vision, but most of the time it will need to be sponsored either by me or by a magazine.
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