Through the elegant photography of, Magdalena Lutek, otherwise known as Nishe, you are transported to world of fantasy, a place where daydreaming is all encompassing. While this young Polish photographer may opt to remove her given name from her work, she’s generous where it counts, in crafting photographs with the charm and tonal quality that film promises. Nishe, having a name not dissimilar to that of the notorious free spirit, Nusch Eluard, is inspired by names from photography’s contemporary canon, naming Sally Mann as a true master (this influence is particularly resonant in Nishe’s black and white portraits). However, she considers her native countryside and beauty of nature to be her primary inspiration. While she has had experience in drawing and painting, photography has allowed this young artist to really find her true aesthetic, and she constantly looks to the past and to childhood as timeless muses. Her images are soft, feather light, with an undeniable depth and poignant mystery attached. Her images are silent, soft, and exist as a true expression of her psyche. It is clear, through her work, that Nishe is someone who is very susceptible to the sensibilities of the world around and she is certainly one who trusts her intuition, as any great artist should.
Hall of Furs: Firstly, can you tell me a little about yourself? How do you define what it is that you do?
Nishe: My name is Magdalena Lutek and I am a photographer based in Poland. I want to capture the world as I see it. My photographs are a fantasy, they are based in reality but their essence is always something imagined.
When did you make your entry into art and photography? What was it about this medium that drew you to it?
I started taking photographs when I was fifteen. I remember that as a child I wished that I could record my daydreaming. The camera, in a way, enables me to do it. I have been painting and drawing in the past, but photography is what stayed with me all these years.
What is your idea of beauty? Where do you find it? When do you choose to ignore it?
I find beauty all around me. It’s in the way birds are sitting on a fence on a winter morning. The way clouds move across the sky. Beauty is that overwhelming feeling when you listen to music that moves you deeply. It’s in symmetrical forms created by nature. Beauty is in the hearts of people who are genuine. I can never ignore it. It haunts me until I photograph it.
What was your first camera? Do you still have it and use it? What do you shoot with now?
A Zenit, I do still have it and use it, it’s one my most treasured possessions. Most of my photographs were taken with a Canon 350d, then with a Canon 60d. I often use a Canon a-1 and Instax too.
Do you prefer to shoot analogue or digitally? Do you see a significant difference between the two?
I prefer film over digital. There is a significant difference – film is softer, it has a different tonality. If I could I would only use instant film.
Your images are so poetic and subtle. What, for you, makes a successful image?
Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say. For me it’s about capturing an emotion. I don’t like loud photographs, I can only identify with the quiet ones.
Who are some artists who are influential to your work? Where do you source inspiration?
My biggest inspiration is nature, subtle light changes during the day, childhood dreams, daydreaming. Artists that I find exceptionally inspirational are Sally Mann, Tim Walker and Paolo Roversi. They are the masters of photography for me.
Do you aim to tell a story through your images? How much emphasis do you place on concepts or narratives in regards to your images?
I do, it is often a quiet story. The narrative doesn’t have to be fully realized before I take photographs, sometimes it becomes clearer during the process, sometimes I come back to old photographs and see something new in them, something I previously [hadn’t] seen. My photography is very personal and the concepts and ideas come to me naturally. I photograph what is important to me at different stages of my life. I let my intuition guide me.
Do you prefer to shoot the human form rather than landscapes, buildings or objects? Do you prefer to capture men or women?
Always nature and people. I mostly photograph women since I’m telling a story from a girl’s point of view. I love photographing couples, watching them as they gently blossom in front of the camera, at first timid but after a little while [they become] less and less scared.
In your opinion, what’s the difference in shooting in black and white, versus colour? Often your photographs have quite a rich, but very sensitive palette. Does the colour palette of an image alter the concept for you?
In the past I would only take black and white photographs. I photographed wintery landscapes, trees, dying nature. As I started taking digital photographs I discovered colour and fell in love with this new layer of emotions that completely changes the image. Colour is now very important in my works. Closest to my heart is a palette with hints of violet or blue, sad but hopeful.
Is travel a major component of your work? Where is one place you’d love to visit in the near future?
No, I don’t travel that often. I would love to visit Iceland and Norway someday. I would be lost in the beauty of nature.
Have you ever been in front of the lens? How do you work with your subjects?
I have but not very often. It’s quite a strange experience, not being able to control what the image will be like; at the same time it’s the unknown and the transformation into a new character that is so appealing to me. Being in front of the camera can be scary and intimidating. I always try to do everything that I can to make the person I’m working with feel comfortable and to build a trust between us.
What has been some of the best advice you’ve been given?
Photograph only what you love.
What is next for you and your practice? Where do you see yourself in the near future?
Right now I’m deciding on what I want to do in the future, I hope that I will find all the answers soon.
Words: Sophie Flecknoe. Image courtesy of Nishe.