Interview with Iwona Podlasińska | GBPW Episode 83

Don’t take photos of subjects that you don’t love.

Iwona Podlasińska

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In this episode, I talk to Polish photographer Iwona Podlasińska. Iwona’s magical photos of children have made her a well-known figure in the photography industry. She regularly hosts workshops around the world and creates video tutorials for her online followers.

Iwona and I talk about:

  • Her background as an architect
  • The beauty of having your own unique style as a photographer
  • How she photographs children to make them look natural in her pictures

& much more!

Iwona shared many helpful children’s photography tips in this interview. If you’re interested in this genre and want to create dreamy photos of your own, give this episode a listen!

Here is a preview of our conversation with Iwona Podlasińska.

Q: You’re a self-taught photographer. What advice would you give to photographers who are trying to improve their skills without formal education?

Iwona Podlasińska: What helped me a lot was passion. Nothing is better than that. I had a three-month-old baby and a toddler at home. When my youngest child turned one, the children started going to nursery. After that, I went back to being an architect. When I was actually starting as a photographer, I was at home with them. I didn’t have time to do anything, because you can probably imagine how it is with two little children!

I was so passionate about photography that whenever my children would take a nap, I would read books, watch tutorials, and so on. Usually, they tell you that if you’re a mother of a newborn baby, you should be taking naps with it. I wasn’t taking naps. I was constantly watching tutorials and practicing a lot.

Because I had my models with me all the time and I was spending a lot of time with them, I could practice, and practice, and practice. That was the best thing ever. I used my camera as an excuse for taking photos. I would say, “I need to learn this right, I need to check this, I need to do it myself and see how it works.” I treated that as an excuse to take photos.

I was taking a lot of photos and a lot of them were really bad. I think this is the best approach: take a lot of photos and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Not all of your photos will be great. Sometimes you’ll take thousands and thousands of photos and you’ll find one that is really great. You’ll try again and take thousands of photos, and you’ll take another one that you like. The more you do this, the more good photos you’ll have. You’ll have a balance between good and bad photos.

Q: How long did it take you to develop a style that you were happy with?

Iwona Podlasińska: I did quite a lot of experimenting. I watched a lot of tutorials on YouTube. Then, naturally, I started with Photoshop. I remember overediting my photos and showing them to my husband. He’d say, “Uhhh..” But I needed to learn! I was trying to figure out how to use different tools.

I switched to doing no editing at all, and then I started doing some Lightroom editing. I discovered that I actually prefer editing in Lightroom rather than Photoshop.

Sometimes you read tips online. Some tips just speak to you, and some don’t. I remember hearing a couple of tips and thinking, “This is something I really like.” The most important things I learned was that people tend to look at brighter and more colourful objects first. I realised that this aligned with my style. Everything else was built around that.

I started learning Lightroom on my own. It was all about discovering was those filters do, what those tools do, how they work, and so on. Sometimes, I would see something in another photograph and think, “Hmm, how could that be done?” I didn’t want to know exactly what those people did, but I enjoyed the process of discovering things myself.

Q: If someone wants to get better at telling stories through their photos, what should they do?

Iwona Podlasińska: This is something that I share during the theory part of my workshops. Storytelling is a combination of the pose, the props, and the background. If those three things go together in some way, then you’ll create a story.

Whenever you choose a background, think about a prop that would work with it. Let’s say we have a road. Try to think about what could be happening on the road. Someone might be walking, carrying something, riding a bike, running, or walking a dog. Try to think about what you need to use with that background. Then, talk with your model so they can understand your thought process.

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