by Adam Callaby
Our first honorary Photographer Showcase and Interview is with the young talent of photographer Barotsz Madej, better known by his creative/online name of “slevinaaron”, a self-made independent and experimental photographer that was born in Poland and exudes both creative prowess and personal intrigue.
1. While being quite familiar to your work ourselves, could you briefly explain to our readers who you are, what you do, and why you do it?
My real name is Bartosz Madej and I am a photographer. I’ve been shooting for 6 years and I do it because it is my greatest passion and I love it! It’s hard for me to imagine my life without photography. You could say that shooting lets my emotions loose, and allows me to show the world what is in my head, with no boundaries.
2. Why “Slevin Aaron”? Is there a meaning behind the name? Did you one day decide that you’d advertise yourself by a second name? Or did it happen by accident?
It’s and interesting and difficult question. Before I dealt with photography, I wrote a lot. I created a couple of stories and in one of them the main character was “Slevin Aaron”. When I started with photography I decided to give myself a nickname, and that name was the first thing that occurred to me. I’ve shortened it to “slaa” (created from SL-evin AA-ron) but then I went back to the full name, with no space. To this day I am “slevinaaron” and I don’t think I will change it. It was more ‘intended’ than ‘random’, as I’m not a big fan of my real name as it’s also the name for a well known robber who murdered his whole family.
3. It’s been said that you’ve had a connection to art since you were young. From writing poetry and stories, to dabbling in filmography. But aside from your obvious passion for your craft, what kinds of training have you undergone in terms of Arts Education? And most importantly, why photography?
Yes, that’s right. Before I entered the world of photography I had a lot of interest in arts but they were all related in some way. Regardless of it being a movie or a novel, poem or drama, I’ve been creating a story with everything I do, and I’m still doing it because my pictures usually tell a story that is carefully written by me, before the photo-shoot. Consequently models who work with me have to show great acting skills, more than a static mime. I used to think that I just wanted to show everything through the film, but when I took the camera in hand, I fell in love with the freezing of these emotions in one single frame. That’s why I chose photography. I fell in love with it and I found this the best way of showing my emotions and those of others at the same time. When it comes to education in the field of photography. I haven’t had any. Everything that I know and can do I’ve learned by myself, on the basis of trials, errors, and striving to be better artist.
4. Without being too blunt, do you receive clients for your photography? If so, who and what for? If not, what sorts of people would you like to work with?
Mostly, I work with people that I want to do something with. To show something that comes from my head. Also, very often people will report to me, who are determined to completely trust me and create something. I will occasionally accept orders/commissions for payment (Since I do have to eat ), but most of the time I will focus on projects that are mine. And interesting example is that one of my photos is going to be on the cover of Tabitha Suzuma’s new book, HURT. Published by the largest publishing house in UK, The Random House Group. Also, more recently I’ve collaborating with well-known people in the industry of acting, music, models or sports. A dream of mine would be to do a photo shoot for Florence Welch.
5. Viewers only need to browse through your gallery to notice that your body of work consists of both human subjects, plant-life, and animals. Do you have a preferred subject? And out of your work so far, is there one piece you’re most proud of?
It’s true. When I entered the world of photography I was shooting everything that interested me. In this way I was learning everything . Today I define myself as a portrait photographer because that is what I love the most, working with other person and the extraction of emotion, even those deeply hidden. When it comes to my favorite piece that I’ve done, I’m afraid I don’t have one. Each is a part of me and it would be hard for me to decide.
6. Another noticeable theme amongst your photography is the gentle hues, surreal subjects and pastel colours, which create visuals with surreal and daydream-like qualities. Is this a preferred style? And do you think it’s better to have a fixed style, or an adaptable one?
Yes, my pictures are mostly in pastel colors, and are soft and detached from reality. I like this style but it is not my preferred one. Also, because I really like to do something completely different, something cold, something serious, sometimes dramatic, I personally think that my style is the reflection of what is hidden in my imagination. Even then, when I’m shooting different subjects, models, or in any different tones, I always try to make them in a way that you could see that it’s coming from me. Also in response to the second part of the question, I vote on adaptable style but to always have a piece of myself in it.
7. While the majority of people are aware how a camera works, the ‘art’ of photography takes both a keen eye and technical know-how. From the composition, lighting, subject, and imagery – How do you manage to achieve balance within your work and what is the technical process you go through to get ‘the shot’?
Since I was learning about photography by myself, I was learning technical approach at the same time. This is hard for me to answer that question now, because I tend to change the settings depending on what I want to achieve. Of course, when it comes to lighting conditions, focusing, and to other aberrations that alter very often in a very short period of time, I change them constantly to get the picture, which might not necessarily be technically correct, but would be such a photo that I want to have.
8. Your enthusiasm and interest in art is noticeable. Are there designers, photographers or other such creatives that have influenced you?
Sometimes I admire work of a lot more experienced photographers than me, but when I’m going back to my photos, I’m further striving to create something of my own. There is no such person that has influenced me in the ‘art world’, because I’m mostly affect by those who are really close to me. With who I’m living my life with. Another issue is that if I were to mention a list of people I admired, it would be a long list.
9. While you’ve mentioned both you past and present work, are there any goals that you’ve planned for your future, in terms of you photography?
As previously mentioned I would love to create a photo session for, and be shooting Florence Welch. And when it comes to life goals, that also has to do with photography, there are a few things: 1. Never stop shooting, 2. Constantly strive forward to be a better artist, 3. Somehow achieve a peaceful and stable future for me, for the person I want to spend the rest of my life with, and for my family. I hope that through photography I would have it.
10. As a final question, would you be able to impart some helpful advice, or even a quote of wisdom, to any reader that is aspiring to be, or currently working in photography?
Of course. It will be a very short but good piece of advice that is sometimes hard to follow. – Be and stay yourself.
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Writing by Adam Callaby