Interview: Australian Fashion Photographer Henryk Lobaczewski in the Hot Seat.
by Daniel Haim
Henryk Lobaczewski is an Australian photographer who has an amazing archive of editorial, beauty and advertising work. Featured here is a loud and colorful shoot with model Eliza Humble. She is styled by Daniel George in an overload of accessories, jewelry , colorful prints and one cute puppy. It all comes together superbly, and the eclectic assortment of props really work within the context of the shoot. Eliza’s make-up, by Amelia Axton, is bold and crazy colorful, which really works with her platinum blonde waves styled by Lauren McGowan (Creative Director of Cloud Nine).
Henryk’s collection of work is absolutely amazing, and you can view it online at henrykphoto.com.
Daniel: Tell me about yourself, where are you from and where did all of this begin?
Henryk: It’s funny how fast life can evolve. I started as an art director for Lorna Jane, and they wanted me to shoot their look books. I picked up a camera, they got me some lights and a Mac and off I went. I spent lunch breaks up at a photography store and picked their brains, even after work I’d buy them some beers and ask questions week to week. I fell in love with photography pretty quickly.
I started borrowing the lights a lot, until I used them so much I had to buy them. I started shooting all their campaigns. I shot my first cover for Men’s Health, I built a website, then I decided to focus solely on photography. I resigned and freelanced back to them as a photographer and picked up Triumph lingerie as a client and within a year I had moved to Sydney.
I had no clients in Sydney, nothing, but I set up a studio straight away and a few key friends helped me meet a few clients and business grew rapidly for me. It’s funny how fast life can evolve – but you need so much passion, determination and drive.
Daniel: Have you always been artistic?
Henryk: Well, I was good at graffiti and sketching as a kid. Then I moved to Spain for a year and painted schools, bedrooms and skate parks (all legal and commissioned). Once I got back to Australia I thought, “OK, how can I make real money from this?” So I studied graphic design and became an art director.
Daniel: Were you always passionate about photography?
Henryk: While studying design, I was always told I focused most of my design around images and I didn’t want to use other peoples images (it felt like cheating), so I’d change them in photoshop or shoot them myself. My dad had a whole photography kit, as did my mum, but it was only a hobby for them. I think it was an under-explored passion which I never thought I could make money from. While studying design I did buy a better camera and started to learn some of the technical aspects, but only landscapes with natural light.
Daniel: Is photography something you went to school for?
Henryk: I have never studied it.
Daniel: What inspires you
Henryk: Right now, it’s finding that fine-line, the edge of amazing that every photo can have, if it’s shaped and altered just right. It’s the hardest thing for any photographer, I think, as getting a beautiful shot is easy in fashion, but deciding to change it, to push it a touch more is the real secret. It all comes down to aesthetics, it really does- and aesthetics grow and mature in a photographer. What I now realize is you want to keep retouching to a minimum, as the beauty should be in the capture. The beauty is in the imperfections.
Daniel: What has been the most rewarding achievement as a photographer?
Henryk: That feeling after a shoot or after a retouching session, when you just know you killed it and made something amazing. I think I live for that feeling.
Daniel: Do you think we’ll be seeing online editorials, instead of print within the next 5 years
Henryk: It’s crazy. It’s all so quickly become a true reality. I love print, I love the smell of a new magazine (especially VELVET magazine.. it smells amazing!) but yes, I think it’s bound to happen. Magazines on iPad’s are already amazing. Richard Branson backed a new one recently.
Daniel: In todays world, when print magazines are hardly selling, how do you think the online world can shape the photography industry?
Henryk: It would be a shame to see print go. There is something special about opening a magazine and seeing your images in print, but the web makes it much more accessible.
Daniel: Images are quite easy to steal online. How do you protect yours?
Henryk: I hate seeing images with water marks on them- it renders an image an ad, not a piece of beauty as it should be. I have a flash based website that you can’t drag images off, but if people use them for inspiration or desktop images, I’m blessed.
Daniel: Who or what do you think is iconic?
Henryk: Alexander McQueen and his last collection before he took his life. It was out of this world, and it inspired so many designers. So many of the most brilliantly talented people have a touch of crazy within them, they are just all so passionate.
Daniel: Who is your favorite model, and why?
Henryk: That I have shot? Annabella Barber- she turns on instantly in front of a camera in all the right ways. Kate Moss would be incredible to shoot- I’m sure she has all the same qualities.
Daniel: Name 5 models that you would love to work with within the next 2 years.
Henryk: Irina Shayk, Lara Stone, Kate Moss, Abby Lee Kershaw, Daria Werbowy.
Daniel: Who is your favorite photographer and what has been your favorite shoot of hers/his?
Henryk: Steven Miesel ‘A State of Emergency”. Amazing. He always pushes the package.
Daniel: What are 5 things that a photographer cannot leave home without?
Henryk: Charged batteries, memory cards, card reader, full camera kit, laptop.
Daniel: How do you get ready for a shoot?
Henryk: I make sure I have the best team possible within the client’s budget first, and the best possible model. I then present ideas and push the best options- most of my clients trust me completely, so I trust myself and try to make everything shine.
Daniel: What does sexy mean to you?
Henryk: Models and women like Irina Shayk- women who are completely confident in their skin and exude a shiny confidence into the camera without attitude or arrogance.
Daniel: Describe to us your first real shoot that you can remember, where you were, what you were doing and who you were doing it with.
Henryk: It was with my ex girlfriend Anna, a model, on a road at night with a flash connected to a car battery and I only got about one shot every 5/10 seconds due to the power source. I wanted the shot to be her lying in the middle of the road like she had tripped and she was in shock, like a dear in headlights, with a car coming. I called it ‘something’s coming’, and actual cars kept on coming. So every time, we had to rest the light, the model, the dress and me,so it was a slow annoyingly drawn out process but that’s how you learn. I still love that image, but it’s not on my site anymore.
Daniel: When you first started, what was your biggest dream? And have you accomplished that?
Henryk: A studio in NY shooting for major fashion campaigns between NY and Sydney. We are half way there, I guess! But I have learned life is all about the journey. We’re not in too much rush as we are enjoying it all along the way. By ‘us’ I mean me and my amazingly talented partner Amelia Axton, she is a make up artist who I work with.