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BY WALL DONE, 15/05/2012

WALL DONE: Bartek, when are you going to slow down? You still have some countries to make. How many have you made so far? 82? There're still about 60 I guess..

BART: I've already slowed down. Well, there are still short distances to cover, though. We still live in Vienna and work in Poland. And here we are: Polish roads, My Sweet Little Village and The Blue Danube :) on the road between Warsaw, Vienna, Bańska Bystrzyca in Slovakia and Kłodzko where my parents live. Over two years like that. You said about „making” a few countries, and it seemed to me like a short love affair without any deeper reflection. The truth is, however, a backpacker's life is becoming really boring after some time. You know, the same talks, places, atmosphere.

WD: Bartek and Silvia, you compose a nice duet. We've even some friends who took you as a model and created their own blog, and now they're shooting somewhere in Asia. How is it, working as husband and wife, taking photos together? Is that what makes you develop or is it a challenge?

BART: I think it's a challenge that makes us develop. Though I admit it's not an easy thing and the truth is we haven't started to work together in a full commercial swing yet, but we do projects together.

SILVIA: It' s funny, people always hope to find a partner who would have the same idea of spending time or at least similar passions in life so that it would be easier to connect and make things happen together. But in fact nobody really wants to work with the partner, 'cause there's the danger of spending too much time together, burning out, fighting over work at home and spoiling the "homely" atmosphere with problems raising out from co-working. We're the couple that shares most of the time together in a way where you can't really find the border between work and pleasure and that's of course connected with situations where strong emotions come to life. But u know where is the will there is a way, and by the end of the day this way seems to be more constructive and exciting.

WD: We all like listening to stories from a journey, encounters with other cultures and continents. Tell us some, maybe you have a fresh one.

B: Yeah, right :) let's give it a break. No story to fit in, I guess, man.

WD: Let's talk about As If There Was No Tomorrow, your project. Do you manage to reach this state of mind, you know, being here and now? Isn't photography the emanation of such a state, this very moment when the shutter clicks?

S: I wish I could live my life right here and right now as if there was no tomorrow, but I can't. Maybe that's why I' m taking photos. But As Is If There Was No Tomorrow is not about us, it doesn't reflect our feelings. It's about people in the photos, people who live in a country and in the way that taught them how to live for today. Maybe they were brought up like that, maybe that's what they take up from their surrounding, maybe that's what they hear watching TV, or maybe that's some sort of stigma of their past. But they're really able to live as if there's no tomorrow to come, and even their food tastes as if it was their last one. We hoped to catch that atmosphere in the photos, but looking at them now, we know there's still something to be shown...the time to finish the project has to come.

WD: What next? Do you think about next projects after As If There Was No Tomorrow? Any new challenges?

B: Well, there're some things up in the air– some of these we've already touched, did a bit and left like that. There's always some missing point, though – cash, time. That's why it all evolves very slowly. During summer vacation we worked with one project which sort of „missed the point” completely. It was the Upside-down Mountain and it dealt with the end of the world in 2012 as well as the "magic mountain" in the Pyrenees. We planned, read extensively, spend huge amount of money on gasoline as we had to reach the spot and in the end it all turned out to be another new age crap. We were dead tired and on the way back divorced four times:) Photos were failure and we kicked ourselves regretting we didn't stop for longer in some other places instead of stubbornly glueing to the Pyrenees. Challenges? To build some stable fundament which will give you a financial backbone and money for future projects. We take part in various competitions, follow the thread on the Internet trying to exhibit our works here and there. Step by step, you know. But no set destinations. The worst thing I guess is to reach the peak and then lose your happiness of cherishing every move leading towards it.

WD: For some time I had a feeling you represent the so called 'stream of consciousness' photography – you shoot whatever comes up, in a way... What do you think about the blog photography? Is it a temporary style, or trend with its representatives (Dash Snow, Fletcher Chancey, Dawid Misiorny, Kuba Dąbrowski...), its magazines like Vice as well as faithful recipients? Do you somehow associate it with the mainstream trend 'I have a camera, I'm a photographer'?

B: You had a feeling? Or you thought (think) so?;) For me it's like "home-made" photography – sometimes disorderly group of "bad" photos stitched together creating the flavour, the one you read between the lines, indirectly. 

S: I think it's connected with the question that has to be answered first: "What is a blog for?" Once u know why you have it, you know why you show the photos and what kind of photos are there. Either you understand a blog as a diary which is meant to be shared with others, or you keep it as an "album" for photos that aren't good enough to end up in your portfolio but not as bad that you would've to throw them away, or you have no "higher" ambitions with photography and than you use photos only as illustrations with other content. But in general blogs are very appealing 'cause they're so lively and everything that's appealing becomes a new trend and then, after some time, it's slowly vanishing. We' ll see what happens after this trend is over.

WD: I know you work much with the film. For you a camera is just a tool or does it influence the way you take photos? The fact is, you can't in a moment check the effect of your work, press Delete, try again, see how many photos are left to take...does it influence the way you compose?

B: The mode of taking pictures differs according to the camera. The digital camera, as we all know, is used for work and I don't limit myself in shooting. However, if you exaggerate you spend all night long in front of your computer screen browsing through the pics. I have my own workflow in the Adobe Lightroom so I don't waste time. The more difficult thing is when you work with the film. Particularly after you come back – you have to do some previews, scan it all, choose, scan once again, clean, retouch, prepare for printing. Arduous and frustrating. I remember one scene from the "War Photographer" about James Nachtwey – the way he organizes things – he has his men who deal with prints and all is fine. In our case, we have to do it ourselves. Mamiya 7 puts limits on you – compositions are too safe and a bit stiff, I guess. I talked about it with Siska today. The continuous progress and searching for a new form has to come so as not to stuck in one place with our neatly composed frames :) 

S: I still don’t take any digital photos, apart from when I' m working. And I' m not saying this with any pride or to make impression. Actually, thinking about it I wish I could. The whole process of bringing a photo from a negative to its "public" life is sooooo long, takes sooo much energy, patience and money that it starts to be a problem. But before this whole process you are bringing your negative to have it developed, hoping for some shots that you remember and you are expecting they have to be great and then you look through the negative ten times searching for that shot and it's not there. Those are the moments when I hate myself for shooting analog. But I simply can' t do digital...I wouldn't be myself then. I' d feel as if I was betraying myself. So I always try to be very aware of each photo I take, and it was the same even when I tried digital. However, because of the speed of composing I had a feeling I' m missing something :)

WD: Apart from authorial content, photography is also your source of income. I guess it means a lot of things to give up on and at times you feel like throwing your camera out of the window. Your commercial nightmare? I hope Viva's CEO  won't read that;)

B: Well, I'm sort of balancing, I guess. Most of the time I complain I don't have a job, about the crisis, about my laziness... But when I find something to do, I'm happy about that. Then, I do it without thinking about things to give up on as I know after a while things I have now will vanish in thin air. But then, there is time for your private things, life, projects and...waiting for the money transfer:)

WD: Bart and Silvia in 40 years' time? Two active old people running around with a camera?

Well, I don't know about Siska – I don't plan my future further than 2 months ahead:) Are we going to be still active in 40 years' time? I guess, I can imagine that. However, there's nothing I can plan or imagine, or even try to picture :)

Wall done MAGAZINE