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Agata Stoinska: “Fashion Photography, Passion, Freedom & Fulfillment” | Talks at Google

November 1, 2019


[MUSIC PLAYING] [APPLAUSE] AGATA STOINSKA: Hi, everyone. My name’s Agata
and I’m here today to tell you a little
bit about my work about creativity,
passion, and freedom. Since I was a child,
I wanted to create. I wanted to make things. But unfortunately–
or fortunately, I don’t know– art
wasn’t really treated in my family as a profession. And also, I wasn’t
a typical artist like in clouds all the time. I liked also things to be
calculated and structured. So that’s why I decided
that maybe the best for me would be to study architecture. So that would combine
creativity and practicality. So I went to study architecture. And while I was studying
architecture in Poland, I got a scholarship in
University of Tennessee. And I went over there and they
had an amazing architecture photography class. On this stage, I was already
passionate about photography, but this is the first time
when I was able to stay there in the darkroom for hours. And I was amazed
how quickly you can see the results of
your work, especially comparing to designing
architecture projects. With photography, you just get
an instant result of your work. So when I got back to
Poland, I was taking pictures all the time, and knowing
my family and friends and taking pictures
of old buildings, and decided to study
photography, as well. On this stage, I was on the
fourth year of architecture. So I already knew a lot about
composition and lighting and colors. So it was very easy to study
both the subjects together. And when I finished
architecture, I had to start looking
for the first job. I really wanted to
go back to States. I really liked Chicago
when I had friends there. I wanted to maybe do some
summer course in photography. I applied for my visa
and I didn’t get it. And in Poland at the time,
there was no jobs for anyone, including architects
or photographers. So frustrated with my own
country and with my situation, I decided to go to any
English speaking country and wait for a year and
then apply for a visa again. And there it was Ireland
looking for architects. It was booming at the time. Celtic Tiger in full swing. So I got a job,
like, over the phone. And within a week,
I packed my stuff and I was ready
to move to Ireland to my first architecture job. Somehow, within the
same time I got an offer from my friend’s husband to take
stills for his first feature movie. So he was a
photography director, doing mainly documentaries,
and it was his big chance. He got an offer to
do a feature movie. And he wanted to
build his own crew. And somehow he felt that I
would be good for that job. The reason for it was that when
I came back from some States, I was just taking
lots of pictures and I was sending them
for different competitions and doing small exhibitions in
little coffee shops and bars. So he could kind of see my
pictures here and there. And also there was a Biennale
of architecture in Poland. And they had a photography
competition there, which I applied for, and
he applied for it, as well. But I won it. So he was like,
OK, that’s my girl. She will be taking
stills for my movies. And by the time he realized that
I have no experience working in movies, I was so excited. And I’m like, OK, OK. I need to do it. So I got the job and I called
my architecture office, said I’m sorry, I
can’t come over. I need to wait a month. Here is this huge opportunity. I just need to
stay one more month and then I’m moving to Dublin
and I will be an architect. So it was an amazing month. I learned so much on set. It was such an adventure. I had a great time. It was low budget movie. People were working very hard
sharing their experience. Everyone was very involved. The director, that
was her also debut. Everyone was doing
their best, obviously. But they didn’t have enough
money to finish the project, and we only filmed half of it. And then after a month
I moved to Ireland. Based on what they filmed, they
start looking for more money. And within the next couple of
months, they contacted me again and they were like,
OK, we have the money. We can film the second half. I’m like, OK, so well, I need
to take another month off and go back to Poland
again and finish the movie. My boss obviously wasn’t happy,
but allowed me to do this. I came back to Poland. Did more work. After a month, got
back to Ireland again and kept working
in architecture. The movie was released,
was very successful, and won a good few awards. And the in the become a
Polish candidate for Oscars. So suddenly,
everyone was getting loads of proposals
and two of them– the director of photography
and the director of the movie, they both were like,
OK, you are coming with us for the next movie. And they start sending me
scripts for upcoming movies. And then for the
next 2 and 1/2 years, that was kind of back and forth
between Ireland and Poland, working in Ireland
as an architect, and in Poland as a photographer. But after 2 and
1/2 years, I just had to make my mind what
to do, and that actually, I can’t do both jobs
at the same time and decided to stick
to photography, but actually live in Ireland. And the way how I wanted
to combine my passion for architecture and the way
how I see design and light and composition, and
also my experience from working in movies and
working on sets and with people and how directors are
working with actors, I decided to go to
fashion photography. And I transferred
everything what I’ve learned from both
architecture and film into fashion photography. So that’s, for example, one of
the first fashion shoots I did. And as you see, there is a
big inspiration from movies. So this one I was inspired
by Hitchcock, for example. And I was watching
this for hours and then given this as a
reference to the model. That was always
very helpful where the model knew exactly what
I’m expecting from her. So here the inspiration was
one of the gangster movies. And the mood for love– and you know, like
at the beginning, you can just use anything
you have access to. For example, this picture was
taken in Trocadéro restaurant. So we basically
asked the owner if we could shoot maybe between lunch
time and their dinner set. And maybe we can shoot
this picture there. We used their kitchen,
as well, to shoot Nikita. So the cooks weren’t
so impressed. There the mother
walked into the set, and they were like, OK,
OK, you can shoot it. That’s all right. That’s inspired by
“A Clockwork Orange.” And this is basically a picture
taken outside Brown Thomas shopping window. And you can see properly,
there are some shopping bags in the background. But you can use literally
anything to create an image. That’s based on
“Th Night Porter.” And that was taken in
my one bedroom apartment in my bathroom. And you know how one
bedrooms look in Dublin. So there was myself, my
assistant, a stylist, stylist’s assistant,
makeup artist, hairdresser, and two mothers crammed
in the kitchen trying to organize the whole shoot. And then in the bathroom there
was only enough space for two of them and myself
squeezed under the shower dripping water and
trying to take pictures from behind the curtain. In the middle of it, my
boyfriend came back from work, opened the door
and here is, like, a crowd of people in the
kitchen between hair and makeup and having coffee
after coffee, and just me screaming from the bathroom. He walked in and there’s a girl
with chain, a guy black out, and we’re like,
oh, shut the door. We’re working here. Yeah he said he couldn’t believe
that that’s a serious job. And then I was
applying all this– I built a portfolio
and I was applying this to fashion shoots for
commercial shoots. So that’s a shoot for a brand. It was, I think, in 2010 maybe. But here I have to
give huge credit to the stylists who came up with
the idea of using clothes which they were produced in 2010. But in this ’40s look. So amazing stylist, very
good hair and makeup artists, and beautiful model
who looks literally like from movies from ’40s. This is one of the project
which I just did for fun. And it’s an important one to
mention here, because I just want to tell you one thing. Whatever you do today
has consequences later on in your life. So karma is a big thing
which I believe in. So everything matters. For example, this project,
I did just out of a passion and wanted to do something
outside of the strict rules and guidelines given by
the clients, usually. And together with stylist and
hair and makeup and the model, we created the
photo shoot, which ended up as an exhibition. And later on, I just
sent that exhibition– that set of images to
different competitions and a couple of galleries. And actually, after a while, I
completely forgot about this. It has never been
published anywhere. It was just as an exhibition. But it had consequences
later on in my life, years later, which we’ll
go back to it. That’s another
shoot, which was done in the studio, where you just
had an idea of shooting this with loads of white. We used just a white
wall scene as a backdrop. So you can use anything really,
what you have access to, and loads of flour on the floor. The shoot took maybe four hours;
cleaning the floor, four days. So you just have to
think if that’s worth it. Sometimes, I was
shooting abroad. So I was traveling to
a few different places. And that’s probably my most
challenging and favorite place I went to. So that was Lapland. Were invited to Finland to this
beautiful place, which hasn’t been opened yet at the time. They were just
building igloos there. And they had this
beautiful complex. Each of us got their
private little cabin with a two-bedroom cabin
with sauna and everything. And they wanted to promote
that space and that area by doing this many photo shoots,
especially fashion shoots. So they invited us over. And I was so excited I
was shooting Lapland. This is brilliant. That’s a great trip. I was all bothered with
buying warm clothes and stuff. And then my fellow
photographer was like, oh, so what are you shooting on? What are you using? What camera are you using? My god, Mamiya. I used to have this digital
Mamiya medium format camera, a beautiful thing– quite heavy, rather better for
studio use than external use like this, but amazing quality. And he was like, oh, great. And like, do you have any
special batteries or something? I’m like, oh, no more batteries. Why? He was, well, like,
with that temperature, the batteries are
not going to work. Oh my gosh, good point–
like I have warm shoes, but I don’t have proper
batteries for my camera. I checked the weather. I check if the batteries will
last within that weather. The batteries would last,
if you go under minus 10. It was minus 20. I’m like, OK, this
is not going to work. So he actually
lent me his camera, like some old Hasselblad. So I was thinking, OK,
I’ll be shooting analog. I won’t even see the pictures. This is the digital
area, where you’re sending files within the next
few hours or the next few days. And I need to develop
those negatives. And then now, when I get back
to Dublin, if it even worked– so I was just praying
for better weather. And when we got there, it was
just on the edge of minus 8, minus 10. So my batteries were
fine, although I had to keep them in my
knickers all the time to make sure that
they were really warm. And then we arrived, and I was
like, OK, it’s actually dark. It’s the beginning
of December, and I have two hours of daylight. There’s no way I’d be able
to do the whole shoot. So we spread it over two days. But that still gave me only
four hours of shooting. So we had to do the
[INAUDIBLE] before, which means looking for
a location with torches and figuring out, where
are we going to shoot it? We managed to plan it. We’ve managed to shoot
it, snowing, cold. Poor model– she was
originally from Helsinki. She felt so badly. Like, as you can see,
minus 10, standing in that sleeveless
dress, it’s not easy. And then she ended up
completely swollen on one side. So the next morning, I woke up. And the first thing, I
just went to her cabin and was like, OK,
how are you feeling? How you look? It was like, oh, you’re so good. You worried about me, like,
yeah, show me your face. Like can I shoot it
somehow, because there’s no chance I would get to
Lapland a new model now. So she was swollen
slightly on one side. On the other side,
she looks fine. I’m like, OK, we’re
shooting just one side then. So we had this last image to
shoot with reindeers, as well. So we’re in the
middle of nowhere with the reindeer with
some people who are looking after the reindeers. But they didn’t
speak any English, with the translator, who
was on the other side, trying to translate what
those guys are saying and me in the middle
yelling at the model. So she’s keeping her
face only one way, trying to communicate
to the reindeers. So he’s looking my way,
as well, a little bit, rather than turning
around, snowing all over. Her hair was falling everywhere. I couldn’t see through the
camera if anything is in focus. And then I could
see all those people on the side just waving at me. I was like, what? And then the translator
was like, waving. It was like, can someone
just say something? Because I’m shooting. I can’t hear anything. I’m just screaming
as loud as possible. Finally, I took
this one picture. I didn’t even know if
it happened or not. Got to the translator,
and like, what’s going on? Why are you all waving? It was like, you can’t make
noise with the reindeers. They’re very sensitive. They’re getting very aggressive
when you’re scaring them. Like, oh, OK, OK. So we survived that trip. And on the way back to Dublin,
we had seven hours in Helsinki. So I was able to
go through my files and just check if I
definitely have the shot. And then I realized
that somehow, I swapped the settings on the
camera, and I have only JPEGs. I don’t have raw images. And if you know much
about raw images, you know that I could
still save the image if it was underexposed
or overexposed or the color setting
would be different. I had only JPEGs. Lucky enough, I had
high-resolution JPEGs, because it was from the
medium format camera– but still, only JPEGs. And that was the only
picture which was sharp, where the model was looking
the right way, where there was no hair in her face, where
the reindeer was cooperating somehow. And we were just lucky. So sometimes, you can go
all the way to Lapland and come back with nothing
or just one JPEG, which is still good enough. So obviously, the client
doesn’t know the back story. And he was delighted. He wanted to see
some other shots. I’m like, no, no,
that’s the best one. You don’t want any other one. Or you can just go to someday
on beach and just shoot it easy, not make too much hassle,
or order a backdrop from a Chinese website. It will take you maybe
three to five weeks, but it costs you $10. That’s one of an
example of shooting a jewelry with slightly
different approach. Or sometimes, I was going
back to analog cameras and just to get a different
feel for the pictures, just to break the
usual way of shooting, to find new inspiration. So this is something that
comes straight from the camera. It’s not digitally processed,
retouched in any way. But it has this beautiful vibe,
this beautiful touchiness. As you’ve seen,
I’ve been shooting loads of things outdoors. But also, I was shooting
loads of indoors. And these are pictures
which were taken mostly thanks to amazing creativity
of hair and makeup artists. So sometimes, it’s your idea. Sometimes, it’s
a stylist’s idea. But then you have
to listen, as well. Hair and makeup artists. Those are their ideas to come
with, and we built around them. So that was also amazing. And here is one of
the shoots which we did after working hours. When we finished a job for the
client, and Yumiko, our model, was happy to stay with us. And the stylist
wanted just to play with the idea of
the [INAUDIBLE].. The makeup artist had the idea
of the black, happy lipstick. So we just did the
shoot for no reason really, just for our self
outside working hours. It took us literally, maybe
two hours at the most. It has been
published later on in a few different publications. So that was good. But then, again, it’s
important to remember– now, that particular image,
which again has served me later on with other projects. Here are just
examples of situations when you don’t really feel
like shooting outdoors, or you don’t really
have a studio. I was shooting this. I was actually shooting
this in the studio. But you can shoot it
against the white wall. And then I was taking
pictures of the fabric. Let’s say here the
backdrop is the picture of the fabric of the skirts. And then, in the
other case, it’s the picture of the
bag and the jumper and just mixed up in Photoshop. So you can play like
this, sometimes not even leaving your room. Here is again a similar example. And then, I get back
every now and again to my inspiration
in architecture and just go back to those black
and white, strong structure images and play with
layout, as well. Sometimes, I’m mixing
pictures which are not coming from the same shoot. So here is a fashion shoot. But then the plants, they
are pictures from Peru, from outside my
little cabin, which I took a year later and then
mixed up the images together. And they worked
perfect as a layout. So it’s amazing
when you can build the library of your pictures
and then keep going back to them and rediscovering them and just
play with different options. Sometimes, the picture
which is maybe not perfect at the beginning,
you can play with it, cut it out, mix it up
with something else, and create something
completely new. So that’s about my photography
and how I got into it. As a fashion
photographer, I have been published in many
different magazines and other publications. But it’s not that
I wanted always to be a fashion photographer. I just wanted to
create, like just what I said at the very beginning. And I really like working
with people, as well. So I felt that, OK, fashion
photography, it’s my way. But it was still
lacking of something. And also, I was
missing in Ireland that there was no platform
for fine art photography. So even if I would like to
go more into art photography, there is no platform where
I could show my work. There was no
publication like this. So then, with a couple
other enthusiasts, I was like, OK, let’s
set up “BLOW” photos. It will be a platform to
promote fine art photography through exhibitions,
performances, exhibitions, talks, workshops,
maybe residency sometime, and publications. And we started with the
most difficult task– so producing the publication. In 2010, we started
“BLOW” photo magazine. I wanted to make it
big, a quality paper. My frustration about being
published in different fashion magazines was that
I was spending hours trying to fix the colors
and make sure that, oh, if it’s too bright or too
dark or this or that– and then I was seeing
the printed version. I was like, no one really cared. It’s cropped. It’s moved. So I was frustrated about this. So I wanted to create a platform
where a publisher really takes care about the artist’s work. And that’s why we started
“BLOW” photo magazine. We decided to go big, so we
decided to go with A3 format. And for the cover, I
used Yumiko’s image– so the picture
which was taken just by chance a couple years
before as a side project. And then going back
to those pictures, maybe I will quickly
go back to those ones. You remember I was
taking pictures which I sent to
different galleries and a couple
competitions, this one. Maybe a year after this shoot,
I got an email from a gallery in Santa Fe. And they were organizing
an exhibition, gathering a few
different photographers from around the world. And they asked me if they
could exhibit my work. And I was like, wow, how
did you even find me? I don’t know if
this gallery exists. So I checked them online. Yeah, yeah, it does exist. OK, I will send it over. I had so many other things
going on at the time, that I posted over, haven’t
heard back from them for months, and then
finally, got a catalog. I looked through–
yeah, it looks good. OK, it did happen, but I
didn’t make much out of it. When I started
“BLOW” I was thinking it would be amazing to have
international photographers, well established, so then we
can promote next to their names more those who are emerging and
this way, bring their career and give them better
opportunity and better exposure. So I take out that catalog
and went through the names. And on that stage, I was much
more aware of photography work. I was like, wait a second. These are famous photographers. So how come I got there? And then, I was like,
oh, there’s Roger Ballen. He was my hero. Maybe I will just
contact them and see if they would like to
participate in this project. So I emailed all of them,
introduced myself, saying, I’m a fellow photographer,
and we’ve been together at this exhibition. I’m starting a new project. Would you be able to
collaborate with me? And we’ll do an interview,
and I would publish your work. I had no money, but
it would be amazing if you could help me out. And they all came back with yes. And it was amazing,
because we started this. We launched it in 2010. We got really good
photographers on board. That’s the issue. So we went big. We went to loads of different
festivals all over the world, promoting the
magazine, promoting different photographers,
promoting their work. Within the first year, we
got best print of the year in Ireland. And then, the next year, we got
an email from Lucie Foundation, in New York, that we were
nominated in the best magazine category in New York,
which is Lucie Awards. It’s like Oscars in photography. So firstly, when
I read the thing, I was like, this
is a stupid scam. No, I’m not even reading this. And then, only because other
publications, like “Aperture” or “British Journal
of Photography,” these are magazines which are
on the market from 100 years. They’re amazing. I’m collecting their work. And they were announcing
that they were shortlisted, and there were five other
shortlisted– among them, “BLOW.” So we went to New York, and
it was an amazing experience to be in Carnegie Hall for
this big Oscars ceremony. We didn’t win. We were nominated three
times in a row, the next year and the next year. Or so in some sense it was
like, here we go again. We’re getting in New York. But what I discovered
then– and that was a great satisfaction for
me– when I was sitting there in the audience
in the first row, and all the nominees are
sitting, I was thinking, wow, I can’t wait
to go back to Dublin and work on the next issue. Because I already
have these ideas, and I already met so many
interesting people here, which gave me inspiration. I don’t care if we win or not. It would be amazing,
obviously, if we won. But I just felt so
happy that I’m still honest with the project,
why we’re doing this. And we kept going,
over the years, discovering different
photographers. And you see, my background
was fashion photography– everything beautiful. And suddenly, I came
across like people who were dealing
with photography in completely different ways. So it’s self-portrait
and dealing with body issues or
still photography, where the photographer hasn’t
been using even the camera. These are scanned pictures– so
she was using the large scanner and just placing plants on it. So she hasn’t even a camera. Then montages and collages
using pictures or images which don’t belong to you and still
creating a beautiful image; dealing with different
things, like a family. Here is amazing Phillip
Toledano and telling his story about his encounter
with his first baby, this creature coming
out of nowhere, and how he photographed his
family life; or a photographer who is dealing with
depression and addiction and how photography was just
a healing process for him, a life savior; a completely
different approach to fashion and to beauty and
actually comment on that; how the artist was dealing with
her trauma from car accident; our identity, who we are, when
the artist was using portraits of her parents and mixing it
together and trying to find her own identity in this. Or just random
things– like we’ve decided to have an animal issue. And when my co-editor,
Monika Chmielarz, who was a talented editor
and great researcher, when she said, like, OK,
let’s do animal issue. And I was thinking,
oh, I don’t want to do “National
Geographic” thing, no. Oh, I can’t see it. She’s like, no, no, it’s
going to be different. And she managed to
find again amazing way of taking pictures of animals. So it was a great adventure. So far, we’ve
published 17 issues. Unfortunately, we stopped
publishing two years ago. And now we’re working on the
new project, which is “BLOW” Photo Book Programme, FUSE. So now we’re running
residency programs for artists who want to
publish their own books. So we just walk them
through the whole process of designing and publishing
and how to get to the market. And that’s, again, when
I’m looking back at this, I’m like, OK, so am
I a photographer? Or who am I? So I really don’t
like that label. And it just feels that
doesn’t matter what you do. If you keep your creativity
going, you’re just an artist. Like each of us is an
artist in its own sense. There’s the last project, which
I wanted to tell you about. It’s my home. It’s a place which
started years ago. So as you’ve seen loads of
pictures we’ve taken outdoors. But some of them we were
taken, as well, in the studio. So on some stage, I was looking
for a studio for myself. I had a small one,
but very quickly, I needed something bigger. And I found that building. As an architect,
I was able to see through the dust and the
mess in it, that what kind of possibilities we have there. It’s an old factory. It was derelict factory. This is how it looked like
after cleaning the building. And I was thinking,
wow, this is amazing. This is going to
be a beautiful– [GONG RINGING] –studio. Sorry, that’s my time. It’s going to be
a beautiful studio space for exhibitions,
performances, workshops, everything. I was thinking, this is way
too big just for one person. So I will be inviting
loads of other people. It’s going to be amazing. So I got an investor who
was like, yeah, let’s do it. I’ll give you the money. You will give me ideas. I’m like, maybe
let’s do a 50-50. Because I wasn’t too sure
about getting someone on board who will be
later on, hanging over me with this power, money power. And that was 2008. So he was a developer. He brought his builders. We set up the company. We started renovating the place. And that was 2008. And within two months,
he sent me a message– sorry, I changed my mind. And he pulled out all the
money from the account. Recession hit, and I was
left in that building halfway in the renovation with
no paid bills, all money gone. I was like, shit, this
doesn’t look good. But I really want
this to make happen. And when I was
starting this project, I invited a few people over
just to show them around and say what a
great idea I have. And they were like,
hm, not really. But then there were maybe one
or two who were like, yeah, actually, I can see it. I can help you out
with it, if you need any help with the opening
night or things like this. So I already had
things set in motion. And there were
already people working on the opening night for
that studio, which was in the middle of renovation. So I called every
single of my friends, asking them not for
money– because I knew that most of
them were going through a horrible time of
being fired from their jobs, but if they have
any idea where I could get possibly money from. And someone finally
was like, oh, maybe you should try Enterprise Board. So I walked in, explained
to them about the project. And they were like, oh, yeah,
yeah, that sounds interesting. We have this
application process. You can apply. You have a week. There is the grant
available for renovation, and we just need just
the basic information, like a business plan, financial
projections, this, this, this, this, the whole list of things. I’m like, business plan,
financial projection? I’ve never done this in my life. So I got back home and trying
to figure out how to do it. In the meantime, one of
my friends got back to me, and they were like, listen,
we can’t help you financially. But if you need anyone
to clean the place or to wash paints
or paint something, within a couple of
weeks, I had this place full of random people. Because they were friends of
friends, all losing their jobs, but feeling like that they
at least have some purpose. So they were coming over,
building stuff together, sometimes coming with their
own paint or own buckets and brushes. And I was just walking around. And there was a group
of Spanish people, for example, who
were surf couching. And that friend brought
them over just to, OK, you clean up that wall. And then there was someone
else cleaning something else. And then one day, I was in the
lift, going to my apartment. And I met my neighbors,
who I never met before. And they were living
on the same floor. We would live on
the fourth floor. And the usual thing– oh
yeah, how are you doing? Like, yeah, great. And how are you? I’m like, aah, I’m not great. Shit’s a disaster. So I had elevator pitch
four floors to explain, this the space, the studio
and the business plan and the financial projections. I just have no clue what to do. And by the end, the door opened. And they were like,
well, actually, I’m writing business
plans for companies. And the girl is like,
yeah, I’m doing marketing. We can help you out. We can write it for you. I’m like, really? Seriously? Can we do it within a week,
so I can apply for the grant? And it happened. They helped me out. People painted the place. And a few months later, we
open up D-Light Studios. And within the
open day, I already had what I wanted from that
place– so people coming together, coming up with
ideas, making friends. Some of them fall in
love and got married. Some of them came up with
amazing projects together, setting up modern dance
theater or things like this. So we’ve used this space for
loads of different things, including weddings, different
events, concerts, exhibitions. That’s, for example,
Hozier doing the gig for Amnesty International. That was another moment
where I was thinking– that was only a couple of years
ago when I was thinking, like, wow, that’s exactly what I
wanted from that place, just people coming together and doing
something for a greater good. So then again, when
I step back, like, is that photography,
or what it is? It’s not really. It’s just creating things. So creativity, for
me, that’s the key. That’s the most important thing. Just keep inspiring yourself
by meeting different people, by reading different
things, by traveling, by trying different stuff. Never be afraid of failure,
because just keep trying. Every failure is just a lesson. And for that reason, we’ve
set up a Meeting Point. So this is a new thing
which we’re working on now. So it’s a hub for gathering
creatives, professionals, companies, artists, community,
just to get together and share their ideas, share their passion
for life, learn new things, take part in some workshops
or exhibitions or talks. So if you’d like to check more
about D-Light or Meeting Point, “BLOW” or the FUSE program. You can check it
on those websites. And that’s all from my end. I certainly invite you
to get into Meeting Point and meet other people. Get inspired by them. That’s the place
where, over the years, I’ve learned so
much through what I’ve been doing, through
personal disasters, and personal
achievements, as well, and learning from
different sources. Some were successful. Some were less successful. But I have this huge
library of tools, which I would like to
share with other people. And on the way, I met,
as well, other people who have, as well, those libraries. I would like to learn from them. So that’s, as well,
from my perspective. It’s something what
I can learn also. So I certainly invite
you to take part in this. If it’s just online, you
can become just a member, or you can come along, or
you can bring your own idea. But certainly, stay creative. Have fun. Enjoy life. Don’t get too
serious about stuff, because it’s– just go for it. None of those things I knew
what I was doing really. I was just trying
things, and they just happened, thanks to believing
in this, thanks to being bold, and thanks to working
with other people, collaborating and sharing this. Don’t take ownership over it. It’s like nothing
belongs to you. Just let go and
have fun with life. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] SPEAKER 1: Before
go into Q&A session, I would like to ask
you one question. So it’s always
interesting and great to hear someone’s
personal story. In your case, you had different
situations with the challenges, with some uncertainty. But in the end, now
you’re quite successful, one of the most famous
portrait and fashion photographers here in Ireland. And you are quite successful
as a businesswoman. For those creative people who
are photographers, artists, designers, what
would you recommend to learn to do, to develop? Which type of skills,
for your opinion, could be useful to develop
in the beginning, when you have those creative ideas,
ideas about some projects, but you also would like to find
the balance between creativity and profitability? How to make it successful,
from the business perspective? AGATA STOINSKA: Well, that’s
a little bit wrong question for me, because I’ve never
thought about how profitable that would be. So when I quit architecture
and moved to photography, my parents were like, can
you apologize to your boss and go back to
architecture maybe? Because how are you
going to make money? For me, the most
important thing was that I would be doing what I
love and that that’s my passion and that I can put 100%
into it and that I will find a way to make money on it. That’s why I chose fashion
photography, because it has this commercial aspect. But if you’re starting out,
you have to build a portfolio, and you have to
invest in yourself. And I know it’s a difficult
time, because you’re doing stuff for nothing. And you’re offering
your services for free. But it’s necessary
to build a portfolio and to build your experience and
keep collaborating with people. And one of the biggest
mistakes, I feel, that we make at the beginning
is that we’re becoming a little bit too arrogant. Like when we think, OK, I’ve
already did so many shoots, and now I want to be paid. So I’m not going to
do anything for free. Yeah, I’m not encouraging
anyone to do stuff for free. But if there is a
project which has– let’s say, it’s
fashion photography. Let’s say it’s a fashion design,
which has an amazing project, but they don’t
have money for it. Just go for it and do your best. Because they will be doing their
best, as well, to promote it. And you will be
working with thousands who believe in this project. And one day, that
will come back to you. So collaborations– that’s
a big part, I think. And then on some stage, when
you get a little bit better, and you start
getting your clients, educate your clients,
as well, and try to stick to your values. So not necessary,
take all the jobs. Again, it’s
difficult, especially when there was a recession. We were taking all the jobs
which were coming our way. But I’ve learned, with D-Light,
for example, on some stage, we’ve decided, OK, we’re
just taking those projects and those clients who go
with the same ethos as we do. And that has served
us very well. Because suddenly, they were
spreading the information around their person. They were coming to us. So yeah, I think collaboration
and just giving 100% and doing with
passion what you do and actually
investing in yourself. If you don’t invest in
yourself, who else will invest? SPEAKER 1: That’s like,
the more you’re creative, the more you’re successful. AGATA STOINSKA: Yeah,
yeah, yeah, exactly. [INTERPOSING VOICES] AGATA STOINSKA: Yeah,
just keep working. Keep working. Keep doing the stuff. If that’s your
passion, then you won’t mind to spend hours on it. AUDIENCE: So how did
you meet your partners on various shoots, like
stylists, and so on? So did you meet randomly? AGATA STOINSKA: Well,
at the beginning, I was literally
just asking around and if anyone knew
anyone– so basically, just a network of friends. But that was before Facebook. So now I would probably
just post it on Facebook. Later on, when I was
represented by an agency, I was very happy to
meet anyone new who was coming to the agency
and just give it a go and see how it works. I didn’t want it to be stuck
with just one stylist and one my makeup artist. So I was trying different
things and working with different people. And it always worked
well, because then you’re being recommended by
them, as well, to clients. So building that network– it’s critical, not being just
stuck in your one or two people world. AUDIENCE: Thank you. I’m going to ask two questions. So the first one is, can
you speak a little bit about the equipment
that you use? So mostly shooting
for post-production, because you mentioned some
medium format, analog, digital. So what do you prefer? If you had to maybe stick
to just one lens, one body, what would you pick,
if there was a limit? AGATA STOINSKA: Well,
so I started with Canon. And now I’ve collected a huge
range of really good lenses. And then I had a beautiful
medium format Mamiya digital. So I loved that. And then, one day
studio, was robbed and all the equipment was gone. So I was left with iPhone. But on the happy
side of the story, I always wanted to go traveling. And because insurance
took nine months, that has allowed
me to go traveling. Because I was just
backpacking, I couldn’t take any jobs
or anything like that. So whatever happens,
you can turn it around and do something else with it. So then, I swapped to Nikon. Nikon and Canon is
just one is better for one people, the
other for the other. Now I probably would
go back again to Canon. But that’s only because
my personal preference is auto focus needs to be good. I’m practically blind. I can’t see straight. So I need to count
on the equipment. So these days, I would choose
probably Canon for that reason. But probably, next year,
Nikon will follow up with better focus again. If I would stick
to just one camera, I would go with
either Canon or Nikon. It’s fine. But I would probably go– my favorite lens is 50 mil lens. That’s good for
learning composition, because it’s not zoom. You have to just be very
aware of what you’re doing. And in digital era, we just
shoot a million pictures and then choose one. It’s better sometimes even
to try with analog camera, where you cannot
see the results, just to learn to be mindful
about what you’re doing, like to be in the moment and
pay focus, pay attention. So if you don’t want to go into
analog and the whole process– which is beautiful, and
I highly recommend it– just get a 50-mil lens just
to learn that stillness. Also, it depends on type
of photography you’re into. But I would recommend
the 50-mil lens. And then have the other one just
for traveling and having fun. Zoom lens 28 through
like 80 or something like this, just to
give you the range. And I would definitely recommend
to have bright lenses– so 2.8 F-stop, that would
be the darkest I’d go with. AUDIENCE: Well, thank you. And the second question
is, what do you think about social media and
its effect on photography? Because I heard a lot from my
friends who are photographers, filmmakers, that some of
these things like Instagram and people feeling like you can
be a photographer so easily, it’s sort of devaluing it. Like, some people feel that if
you took a portrait of them, they own it. So the whole idea of the
photography is changing. Well, how do you feel about it? AGATA STOINSKA: Yeah,
well that’s true. These years and these days,
everyone can be a photographer. And with all the filters
we have on iPhones– when I travel, I stopped
bringing my camera with me. I have iPhone, and I just
take pictures with iPhone. So that’s so easy. But then to be in that
digital space, I don’t know. I canceled my website, I
think, two or three years ago, because of like, oh
yeah, I will rebuild it. And it’s been three years ago. I still cannot get
into that point. Mostly, because I
would be getting work more from word of
mouth and then from– I don’t know. It’s still visible
somewhere online through Facebook or Instagram. It’s a very helpful tool. And in fairness,
when we’re looking for American photographers
for “BLOW,” many of them we found through Instagram. But yeah, that’s a tricky one. Because I feel like
photography is changing so much because of social media. And you have to adopt
rather than go against this, and use it in your advantage,
and use it as a tool. It’s like when digital
cameras came out, and everyone was like, nah,
that’s not really photography. Analog photography–
it’s really photography. But really, as I was just
showing you from “BLOW” Photo, you don’t need to use even
a camera to take a picture. Or you can use someone
else’s pictures. And that’s another thing. But as soon you cut the
picture, that’s already not that person’s picture. You already created something. So that’s copyrights. That’s another issue here. But I think just embrace
it, because there’s no point to fight with it. So that’d be my–
and I have Instagram. I hardly ever post
there anything. I’m just so allergic
to social media. But at the same time, D-Light
is always on social media. “BLOW” is always
on social media. I know we need it. I know it’s the best
way to communicate with people at the moment. And that’s why it’s where
we started Meeting Point, that it’s a digital platform,
but with physical space in D-Light. So we definitely will
use Facebook, Instagram, and all the social
media in our advantage for people to connect,
but we want them, as well, physically to meet up. SPEAKER 1: Thank you. AGATA STOINSKA: Thank you. [APPLAUSE]

4 Comments

  • Reply Ridhuan AB October 2, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    Im a fairly simple man..

  • Reply Emmet Fanatic 2019 October 2, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    So awesome

  • Reply Harry Len October 2, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    Really beautiful works!!!

  • Reply jopanash October 3, 2019 at 8:11 am

    Wonderful, inspiring, honest talk and some great images. Thanks Agata and thanks Google for sharing it.

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