Andrew Babarczy is a Melbourne photographer with a client and publication list that sits somewhere between a luxury shopping list and the entire contents of a magazine store – all testament to his dedication to his art. We chat to Andrew about his work, his inspirations and his love of Polaroid. Enjoy…
How did you first get started in photography? Who or what was it that first inspired you to pick up a camera?
I first became interested in photography in my early twenties; I remember seeing a small exhibition of abstract streetscapes that were very colourful and graphic and thinking, ‘I want to do that’. When I started taking photos, I knew nothing about cameras so I enrolled in a short photography course that taught me how too use a SLR camera. Soon I developed a real passion for photographing rundown and abandoned buildings and urban locations. I shot 35mm and medium format film during this time and enjoyed experimenting with slow shutter speeds and different development and printing techniques for black and white film.
I believe we all create our own reality so I try to explore this as much as possible.
How would you define your style and what do you want your images to say to the viewer?
I think it’s really hard to define your own style as it’s always evolving and it’s impossible to view your own work objectively. Most of my ideas start out as some kind of exploration of the subconscious vs. conscious so I guess I’m always looking to convey the feeling that all is not quite right, even if it’s in a very subtle way. I believe we all create our own reality so I try to explore this as much as possible. I take a lot of my storytelling inspiration from film – Memento is my favourite film and I’m a big David Lynch fan.
Who are your photography icons and why?
I love the work of American fashion photographer Lillian Bassman. She shot for a lot of the big magazines from the 1940’s to the 1960’s and I think her images are timeless – dreamy black and white images that are beautifully feminine and elegant.
Another photographer I’ve loved since my early photography days in Ralph Eugene Meatyard. He shot portraits of his children in abandoned farmhouses in the US in the 1960’s often posing them in masks and with other strange props. His work is disturbingly beautiful in a very dark way.
I also think the work of Marcelo Gomes is truly inspiring; he shoots fashion campaigns but retains his own unique aesthetic using multiple exposures and blur. His images have a real lyrical quality – like they are alive and breathing.
What do you carry in your camera bag on a typical shoot?
Typically I carry a couple of digital SLR bodies and 4-5 lenses from wide angle to telephoto. I also carry a Polaroid Spectra camera on all shoots and often my Olympus Stylus Epic 35mm point-and-shoot film camera. I have 5-6 other film cameras that get a run every now and then…more on editorial shoots and depending on the concept.
As a balance to the over-shooting that is so easy to do with digital, I like the way shooting Polaroid slows down the process and attaches real value to each image.
I noticed on your website that you have a great collection of Polaroids; what is it about Polaroid film that you love?
I love shooting Polaroid because of the dreamy feel to the images. I stockpiled a lot of the early Polaroid film from the Impossible Project which was very experimental with colour shifts and banding. I love these imperfections and their unpredictability. Digital sometimes gives too many choices and shooting Polaroids takes a lot of those choices away, which I like. Also, as a balance to the over-shooting that is so easy to do with digital, I like the way shooting Polaroid slows down the process and attaches real value to each image.
What is next for you? Are you working on any projects that you can tell us about?
I’m in the process of planning my editorial shoots for the next few months. Unfortunately I can’t say too much at this stage but I’m excited about being able to work with some creatives I really admire and for some publications that have been on my ‘hope to shoot for one day’ list. Other than that I’m always looking at ways to challenge myself and my creativity and become a better storyteller with my images.
See more of Andrew’s work at:
All images copyright Andrew Babarczy.