Bak 17 Is Online!
'Face', 17th issue of Bak Magazine, is now online! Sit back, relax and enjoy!


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Interviews in Bak | 17
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Andrzej Dragan
Photographer { }
Andrzej Dragan

- If you decide to be a scientist, you have to live like a scientist. If you are going to be a musician, your soul must be loaded with notes and melodies... If you choose your way to be a photographer, you see all the things in your daily life as still images. As an outstanding combination of all these branches, you are a quantum physicist who contributed to conferences all around the world, a very talented musician and a famous photographer, at the age of 30. First, please let us congratulate you for such an impressive background.

Thank you for the kind words.

- Generally, we can say that science is based on rules and art is based on feelings. What is your secret to be so successful in both of them and what is it like to see the life both as an artist and a scientist?

Any activity demands involvement. To gain anything valuable one has to give a lot of efforts, no matter what sort of activity it is. What I do is working only for pleasure. A very simple rule. In photography a pleasure of creating emotional attachement to an image. In physics a pleasure of finding things out, understanding them better.

- You studied in several places and today, you are working as an assistant professor at Warsaw University. Everybody can study for years and learn so many things but teaching is a very different and difficult process which is not only related to the amount of knowledge you have. If you were a professor, not in the physics department but in photography field, what kind of program would you apply for your students? What would be the summary of your teaching method?

I don't think that teaching photography makes much sense. I am not a big fan of photography schools. If I am invited for a lecture in photography I usually show my works, explain how I created them and answer all the questions. I wouldn't dare to give any ultimate advices or describe any rules. The best advice I can give is not to take any advices.

- On the cover of your web site, you are expressing your way of thinking with a quotation from David Lynch's masterpiece, "Lost Highway"; "I like to remember things my own way. How I remembered them, not necessarily the way they happened".

This quotation is to underline that my work is just my interpretation of a part of the reality. Nothing more, nothing ultimate or objective.

David Lynch, of whom you take a stunning portrait, has a personal and unique style in cinematography so that we can easily notice if what we watch is a Lynch movie or not. This is one of the most precious qualities for an artist and you exactly have it as a photographer.

Perhaps it is precious for many, but I am not sure if it is always the case. When one shows constantly the same approach, the viewers may become bored. I personally prefer a surprise to be offered for the viewer, not something that could be expected.

How free do you feel yourself while forming your compositions? If you had a limitless budget, what kind of personal project would you create?

My project would be to spend the budget on a great casting, where I could search among many unusual models. It is the model that makes a portrait, not the photographer.

- It can be said that one of the greatest inspirations of most of the photographers is cinema. Does it really motivate you? What kind of movies and which directors do you find closer to yourself in terms of visual comprehension?

There is a movie that I watch always when it is played in cinemas - it is the above mentioned "Lost Highway". I have seen it 17 times in cinemas and countless times on DVD. One of my images is a reference to the movie, to one of its main characters - the Mystery Man.

- Digital technology in photography field came out with plenty of serious advantages but it also brought some discussions to the scene. While some people are saying that Photoshop manipulations damage the soul of photography, some are just thinking the opposite and defending that Photoshop is the dark room of contemporary photography.

I am not looking for a soul of photography - even if it existed. What do is only pleasing myself and when I am pleased, showing my work to the others. I don't try to do anything else. I do not attach any philosophy to my work. My personal system of values is shifted to other regions than photography, which I consider only I joyful hobby and sometimes remunerative profession. But I don't find photography really deep or important. It is just another method of influencing our emotions. It is perhaps impressive time to time, but only on the level of feelings. Photography has no real wisdom attached. It sounds so ridiculous to me when people speak so pompously about damaging the soul of something that is so irrelevant.

Now, many people are defining your way of adjusting your photographs as "Andrzej Dragan Style". It's even possible to find Photoshop actions, giving "Andrzej Dragan effect" to the images! Because of such applications, creating unique things may become nearly impossible, someday. But at the same time, digital photographs that are skilfully adjusted with Photoshop might have a perfect taste.

Therefore the best that one can do to be original is avoiding watching other people's work. Not to be impressed, not to be tempted to follow.

When you think over all these, how do you evaluate the 'future' of the photography and fine arts?

I don't bother myself with such questions. People always wanted to be pleased by each other. The means have changed and will keep changing. Right now the photography is so popular, but after a while it will be replaced, or at least marginalized by something that has not been discovered yet. I don't know what is it going to be, but don't worry, it is just a matter of time.

- In what ways does the "Andrzej Dragan Effect" change the mood in the photographs in your point of view?

What I do is revealing what I find interesting in peoples appereances. If I could explain it in words, there would be no point of showing my work.

- If you had a chance to travel back in time and have dinner with an artist from the art history, who would you choose and what would you talk to him/her?

I am afraid, I wouldn't be very interested in dining with artists. Leonardo da Vinci was also an artist on a sideway. If the offer includes him, I think that he would be my choice.

- As a 30 year old, young scientist and artist, you won numerous awards up to now, including Polish Physical Society's "Best MSc Thesis in Physics", KTR Ad Festival's gold, silver and bronze medals, Epica Awards' bronze medal, Digital Camera Magazine's "Photographer of The Year" and so on.

- Do the awards motivate you and do you care about fame?

I think that it is usually the opposite: care about fame motivates one to win awards. The best award for me is appreciation of my work by other people. This is enough to make me satisfied.

- If there were a country named "Andrzej Dragan", what kind of place would it be? What would its flag look like and what like would be the lyrics of its national anthem?

I have always wanted to buy a small apartment in a center of a big city, on a very high floor of a sky-scrapper. With a view on the city traffic, crowd and noise. A place that would offer the possibility of watching the world from a distance. Without being seen or disturbed. Not only a few weeks ago I made this dream come true, and now I am recreating this place on the 20th floor with two walls of panoramic windows, in the way I always wanted. This is going to be my tiny kingdom. Without a glorious flag nor anthem. Just a quiet observation point.

- Theme of the current issue of Bak Magazine is "Fear". What kind of fears do you have in your life? What does that word mean to you?

Perhaps what I hate most is the waste of my time. This is also why I hate waiting on the red traffic lights. It is not a real fear, because there are many methods of avoiding wasting the time. Perhaps I fear of not reaching my ambitions, which are related to my scientific work. There is a problem, some sort of a big riddle, that I have been thinking on for many years already - it is right now my greatest desire to finally solve it, I feel I am close, but on the other hand I fear that I may not succeed. This is the fear I am struggling right now.

 "It is the model that makes a portrait, not the photographer."

- Andrzej Dragan / Bak 13
  • What a great perspective on our surroundings. I am a fan. Just keep in mind, between your 2 points, live the line you mark.

    Phil Indeblanc
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