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Radek Von Hirschberg
Radek Von Hirschberg

Radek Von Hirschberg

Interview with Radek Von Hirschberg
BIFA 2023 Winner, 1st Place, Non-Professional Portfolio category, “Desolate Beauty”

Q: Can you briefly tell us about your background and what inspired you to pursue photography?

Photography connects the world of facts with the universe of emotions. It reconciles the mind with the soul, and through it I follow the path of continuous development. Per aspera ad Astra (…) is my credo.

My photography has a universal quality, with a distinct focus on people, understood in an exceptionally broad sense. Open-minded approach allows me to blend various forms within this artistic field, for example, by creating narrative portraits or nudes in different worlds and dimensions. Occasionally, I delve into landscapes and saute architecture. I tell stories, describe emotions and sometimes I’m solely interested in form. I capture images in both digital and analog form. At times, I combine modern cameras with vintage lenses, (including, for example, my beloved replica of the 19th-century Petzval lens). I’m an enthusiast of natural light but occasionally combine multiple types of light. 

My lens captures a diverse array of subjects, including movie stars, models, and public figures, as well as ordinary individuals who often become… extraordinary. I photograph in modern spaces, as well as in the ruins of castles or abandoned factories. I love to juxtapose opposites, which is wonderfully reflected in the Desolate Beauty series. I express myself in both black and white but do not shy away from a full color palette. My embrace of diversity reflects an open mind and is an expression of my creative freedom.

My works have been exhibited in Poland and abroad. They can also be found in institutional and private collections. I collaborate with international modeling agencies in fashion photography. My photographs are exhibited in domestic and foreign galleries and are part of numerous auctions. They are officially listed on the Polish and European markets (Art InfoArtPrice).

Q: What drove you to submit your work to the BIFA competition and what are your thoughts on how winning this competition impacted your artistic journey?

I have been taking part in national and international photography competitions for many years, where at times my photographs have achieved significant success. BIFA is a prestigious competition, long on my list of interests. It allows me to confront my artistic path with other participants, provides wide exposure and, above all, has a good reputation. In 2022, several of my works, portraits, received an honourable mention (Honorable Mention). The biggest success came this year but I by no means intend to rest on my laurels now – on the contrary, this success drives me to continue working and developing.

Q: Could you describe any challenges you faced while capturing this moment (winning image/s)?

Desolate Beauty is a project combining, although seemingly mutually exclusive, beauty and decay. Beauty is gorgeous women, whereas decay describes the physical condition of places where I invite them and make them immortal. The women are wearing beautiful robes (for instance, long ball gowns) or are naked – anyhow, they are always beautiful. This unusual combination has a strong impact on my sense of aesthetics and state of mind. In my case, the sum of beauty and decay always results in … beauty (like good triumphs over evil). Another element that links individual photographs included in the series is solitude – it is felt no matter how many people there are in a respective frame.

There are many challenges in working on this project. Both related to the specificity of (abandoned) sites, access to which is often very difficult: both from the formal side and the purely physical conditions. Nevertheless, the owners or managers of my favourite (abandoned) castles, palaces, factories or other sites are usually very open to their artistic exploration and agree to the sessions within this project. Sometimes the resulting photographs are used by them in their business, we organise estate exhibitions etc. In this way, I return the favour for their openness.

I am helped with the physical obstacles by teams, usually of several people. As a curiosity, I would like to point out that during the shooting in an abandoned paper factory in Konstancin on the second day of January 2024, I was supported by, among others … a mountain climber. I won’t even mention the air temperature challenges here …

Another, though not the last, challenge is the scarcity of light, which often requires the use of artificial light, both flash and fixed. It is worth noting here that the batteries, for example, are quite heavy and sometimes all the equipment (and therefore the camera and lighting tripods, sandbags, etc.) has to be carried into places that are difficult to access. This is a major effort.

The greatest credit, however, goes to the Models (less frequently but also to the Models), whose working conditions are, to put it mildly, substandard and sometimes even uncomfortable. Without their courageous and dedicated attitude, the Desolate Beauty project would not have its current energy. Therefore, I take this opportunity to thank the entire Team for the beautiful collaboration on the project.

Q: What, in your opinion, are the most important factors in creating great images?

Here I will answer very briefly: vision and consistency in its implementation, including overcoming a number of challenges. I will also reiterate that the end result is due to the teams of people I have the pleasure to lead.

Q: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of photography?

Definitely the freedom of creation – in terms of content, form and the way the work is presented.

Q: What motivates and drives your photography?

As Lennon supposedly said: “Tell yourself you have the talent, then believe in it”. I  weare “rose-colored Lennon glasses” when photographing. And I tell to myself that what I do may appeal to others, and may even momentarily captivate them. And if I’m wrong – I do it anyway“. Per aspera ad Astra (…) is both my credo and modus vivendi.

Q: What’s next for you in your career as a photographer?

The current period includes sessions, competitions, exhibitions and work on the Desolate Beauty album. Continuing with all these activities, I would like the work and the album to be completed this year.