The MISSBISH Photography Workshop | Olivia Jank
DateMay 8, 2017
Photographer: Olivia Jank
Style: It’s important to me to document through photography and not only engage with the commercial world, as running personal photographic projects allows me to expand on what I believe or stand for and communicate it visually to a wider audience. I go from documentary photography to events, and portraiture to fashion.
Equipment: I mainly shoot on 35mm film with either Olympus Mju or Nikon F55. In recent months, I’ve been engaging with medium format a bit more, either using a Hasselblad 503CW 6×6 camera or a Mamiya RB67. However, I’m not scared to pick up a DSLR if needed.
How did you get into photography? Tell us about your first experience (and your first camera!)
My dad bought me a digital Nikon back in 2005 I think, and I used to go around our apartment back in Poland taking photos of my British shorthair cat and my husky. I went around taking photos of flowers and plants too, haha. That developed into me using photography as a medium for my projects in art class in secondary school.
How much of an influence does the city of London have on your photography? Can you describe to us what the London photography scene is like?
I moved to London under two years ago from West England so I still feel pretty new to it all, but I’ve always been inspired by the city whenever I had a chance to visit. Growing up in a small town, I always knew I didn’t belong because I find my inspiration in cities with lots of people. The amount of different locations you can find here to inspire you, or a shoot, is amazing. London has a lot of edge in terms of style and how people present themselves. I think it’s really cool. The photography scene in London is very broad, but recently the focus has been on music and streetwear.
Who has been a great influence or mentor to you and what did you learn from them that you still carry with you today?
My parents. I’m pretty sure I got all my creativity from my mom as she’s really good at painting and drawing, and her mind is very artistic. I’ve always seen her as a strong female character, and I think this is probably what influenced me to stand my ground in everything I believe in and not be afraid to speak up or say no. I’ve been creating feminist personal projects since I was 17 because my family is filled with strong females, including my grandmothers and aunties. I feel like I was brought up in this world to communicate things through my work that not everyone likes to speak on. My music influence and tomboy style and interests comes from my dad. He introduced me to a lot of music and it’s definitely something that keeps our bond strong.
Photography is all about capturing that moment. What’s the secret?
It’s important to blend in or become part of that moment. If you’re a stranger to a certain situation or a music event or just a moment, then you won’t fully engage in it or understand it. Same goes if you’re photographing people around you; if you’re there for hype or because it’s trendy, people will spot that. You have to stay true to yourself and what actually interests you.
“Never shoot anything that doesn’t interest you or just for the sake of it. If your heart isn’t in it then you’ll never be fully satisfied with the outcome.”
Tell us three photography tips.
1. Never shoot anything that doesn’t interest you or just for the sake of it. If your heart isn’t in it then you’ll never be fully satisfied with the outcome.
2. Be experimental with the medium you use – try out different cameras and films. Errors help you find your style and bring out your photographic knowledge.
3. Use the light to your advantage.
What motivates you to continue taking pictures emotionally, intellectually, and politically?
I find myself in photography, it’s something I feel the most passion for and it allows me to capture whatever I want with whatever narrative or message I want to send.
I’m a feminist and if something in the industry or world bothers me I do a project on it. My most recent project is called “Respect Us” and it’s about the lack of respect and recognition for female photographers. I’m now working on a political zine which will be out later this year. I think taking creative risks is necessary as an artist because we have no limits to what our subject or object is, and we’re allowed to be as controversial and out-spoken as we like. The rest of the world would be a boring place if an artist wasn’t allowed to communicate a bigger message. The youth of today pays more attention to what the creatives have to say than the daily news.
If you could shoot anyone, who would it be, where, and why?
Rihanna, either Paris or London, because she gives so much of herself in every shoot she does and is open minded about ideas and narratives. You can style her in a piece of foil and she would still look f*cking sexy and powerful.
Finish the sentence…
If I weren’t afraid I would… have quit my part time job by now.
I wouldn’t be where I am today if… my parents were not supportive in what I want to do and who I want to be.
I’ve been listening to… “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” for the last week. It makes me feel empowered.
Kids these days… need to stop looking up to Instagram influencers (most of the time, the reality is much different to what you see on their Insta feed).
I look and feel my best when… I get a solid 8+ hour sleep. I’m like a baby, sleep is important to me.
When no one is looking I… people watch a lot. Body language and people’s expressions interest me a lot. This is probably why I like portraiture so much.
Traveling… is something I want to engage in more as I’ve never had a chance to get out of Europe.
I respect… every female for putting up with the unfairness in society’s double standards in their careers.