Szymon Brodziak: Perfectionism and determination

His experience arouses admiration, his portfolio receives applause, and his ideas enliven even the most malcontent person. No wonder then he has been declared a master of black and white photography in which he has specialised for the last 25 years. How was his passion born? Who is his biggest inspiration? What does each element of work look like on the set? These and other secrets of his work are revealed to us by an exceptional artist – Szymon Brodziak!

Szymon Brodzik’s first photographic album, “One”, was released in 2014. The publication’s unique nature is noticeable because it includes a personal dedication to June Newton, the wife of the legendary photographer Helmut Newton. Szymon Brodziak is the first Pole whose works were shown at the Museum of Photography – Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin. A little earlier, during the Cannes Film Festival, Brodziak had won the Fashion TV Photographers Awards jury award in the category of the world’s best photographer of black and white advertising campaigns.

Photography Above Crast-test(poster #16)

In turn, 2019 brought him first place in the World’s Top 10 Black&White Photographers competition. It is also worth noting that Szymon Brodziak won the Johnnie Walker Keep Walking Award for constantly making his dreams come true and for his passion for setting new paths in search of beauty. It is also quite difficult to enumerate all the laurels won in several editions of the international Prix de la Photographie Paris competition, both for advertising campaigns and original projects, including the title of the best advertising photographer of 2016. The artist especially appreciates the Gold Medal won in 2019 for his second album, ” You are what you see.”

What were the beginnings of this impressive career? I don’t often mention that before photography, my passion was furniture making. It is a fantastic field; I had serious plans for it. On my eighteenth birthday, I asked my parents to help me to make a collection of original furniture. I designed and made metal and wood furniture – my great passion lasted until my studies. But at the same time, I also started taking pictures,” And the greatest, purest inspiration is my muse, Ana.”

Szymon Brodziak shooting ATM Calendar 2023, backstage by Tomek Kordek

“We’ve been together for over 25 years. She made me explore the beauty of photography and I made my first attempts to capture what is fleeting with photography. I treated both fields in parallel, even arranging internships in furniture companies as I was really determined to follow that path. Ana is an architect by profession and at that time, she was already studying interior design at the university of technology. Our passions were very intertwined, and we inspired each other. However, photography finally won when I learned the secrets of working in a darkroom. It was like magic, creating and being transferred to a completely different world where you begin by pressing the shutter button. Then it all has a second layer and continuation in the darkroom – it fascinated me. My love for furniture and design faded, and I decided to direct all my creative powers toward photography.’’ Interestingly, the photographer graduated from a field of study that is not usually associated with artistic activities: economics, marketing, and management. However, it is safe to say that Szymon Brodziak uses his marketing sense to develop his business and build a recognisable personal brand. Undoubtedly, however, the element that makes art recipients worldwide succumb to the charm of Szymon Brodziak’s works is, of course, art itself.

“I want my photographs to resemble stills from films that nobody has ever made. I like to use this term so that everything I create revolves around storytelling, so that each frame, which is a fraction of a second, contains the essence of emotions, some mystery, in a word, a story that will set the viewer’s imagination in motion. I believe photography has a unique feature like no other field of art “- the ability to capture the quintessence, the emotional charge associated with the moment in that fraction of a second, says the photographer. Some time ago, Szymon Brodziak was renowned as a champion in his field. The interested person himself surprises with modesty in receiving such compliments. He is more willing to talk about his teachers and the inspirations he gained from them, inevitable issues regarding artistic attitude.

A great inspiration for the photographer is the work of Helmut Newton, Peter Lindbergh and Tadeusz Rolke, the author of the cult “Black Paw” and the series “Beatrycze”. The icon of Polish black and white photography, a connoisseur of frames with a woman in the lead role, is a personality who has an invaluable influence on contemporary art, and his works, despite the passage of time, still delight with their freshness of view. ”I had the honour to present Tadeusz Rolke’s photographs just a few months ago, in October 2022, at Brodziak Gallery – my gallery in Poznań. We organised an exhibition of Mr Tadeusz and Tamara Pieńko who photographed our hero as part of the “7th Symphony” series. It was a unique photographic dialogue. It was terrific that Mr Tadeusz, despite the age of 92, joined us for the art exhibition. He arrived in great shape and regaled us with his anecdotes and stories from his life. It was a magical, moving, and reflective experience. I can say that my dream has come true.

And it’s all thanks to the fantastic man, Damian Górski, who also interviewed me a few months earlier and initiated this contact with Mr Tadeusz – says Szymon Brodziak. “Cyclical exhibitions of other artists, which we organise at Brodziak Gallery, help me fulfil my mission as a photographer in another dimension by sharing beauty, inspiring people, and showing the multidimensionality of art and the value of photography itself”. What is it like to work on the set with a photographer of the same class as Szymon Brodziak? It turns out that this is an area where there is hardly room for spontaneous actions without some preparation: In most cases, this is a deliberate situation. I admit that locations and specific places are the primary sources of my inspiration. When I am in my city, i.e. in Poznań, Paris, Costa Rica, the Maldives or the Alps, I always look at the places where I am allowed to be and explore them, especially in terms of a project – confesses the artist. 

Roots photography

“Sometimes, I imagine what can happen in these places, what will make this story and intrigue possible to build. Of course, women play a significant role in my work. Without them, my photos would not exist at all. But they are like actresses who play specific roles already in these places. So first, there must be a place, a context in which I invent a specific situation played by women and occasionally, very marginally, by men. I conceive that poses, gestures, elements of set design, styling, and details can make this story even more exciting and even more unique. I want to point out that this is a creative process with my production team and the models I work with. I allow myself for more spontaneous ventures only during long journeys with my Ana, during which many photos from my portfolio were also taken. However, when it comes to commercial jobs, the vision is created before I press the shutter button. I analyse the place and the potential of a given location, and I come up with a scene. I share this vision with my production team and the models, bringing them into my world so they are in the same orbit as me. This is how this creative synergy takes place. These are usually my trusted people who feel my aesthetics and like working with me – this is probably the formula of success that guarantees that everyone feels good on the set and wants to achieve a fantastic result together”.

Szymon Brodziak is an artist who is constantly looking for new areas of activity, at the same time trying to escape patterns and routine and not focusing on the glitz of the world of photography. Perhaps this openness to art is a recipe for success in art. My most outstanding professional achievement is that I managed to create a brand and photo gallery thanks to which I sell my work and thanks to which I give life to my photos. As an artist, it is an honour that someone wants to surround themselves with my art, collect, buy, and hang these works in their office or home and derive pleasure from it. I consider such a dialogue with the recipient my most significant success – says the photographer. 

Photography on the left hand side Leo in Menda Calendar

“It so happened that from the very beginning, I have been working with Canon cameras, although I have also tested almost all possible brands, from basic ones to equipment for hundreds of thousands of zlotys. Let me put it this way: the equipment is less necessary than your determination to realise the vision. As a young photographer, I believed that the better equipment, lenses, and camera I had, the better pictures I would take. But today, I can say with full responsibility that this does not always go hand in hand. Instead of getting so excited about the equipment, it is worth directing your energy to creating unique photos and reflecting what is in your heart and head as faithfully as possible.

Rolls-Royce Wraith #12

It comes as no surprise then that thanks to such an attitude, brand recognition, and his willingness to engage in a dialogue with the recipient who can be a partner to his universal work, Szymon Brodziak gets invited to participate in projects related to the media: “Working on the TVN TV set in Top Model has its specificity. Taking photos is part of a more significant TV production. It’s not a free, pure creative process that you have one hundred per cent control over, like when you’re doing a session. It’s like Inception, where your script is in someone else’s. That’s why it’s a memorable experience and not everything you can influence as you would like. But it’s an exciting challenge.

Photography  Library #10

“In turn, on TVN7, as part of the Perfect Picture program, I did not take pictures, but I acted as a mentor and a juror. It was also a great adventure and an exciting experience, although I prefer working on the set, which I control “from A to Z,” – admits the photographer. Szymon Brodziak, in reality, which is full of dissonance and dispersion, also reflected in art, surprises us with his determination to follow his professional path. He is an artist who has consistently implemented assumptions regarding specialisation in black-and-white photography for over 20 years. Although he could confidently say he is a fulfilled artist, he claims that “the most beautiful is yet to come”. He prefers to focus on the creative process and tell stories filtered through his sensitivity. It is worth accepting the invitation to this world!

Instagram: szymonbrodziak_official 



Main Photo Ana for Lascivious photography

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