Featured photographer, Bo Lutoslawski
I was recently contacted by Bo Lutoslawski to see if I wanted to have a look at his images, and as soon as I saw them I knew that I wanted to know more. Bo photographed during a very exciting time in the UK and took portraits of influential artists of the period. In this short interview we get to hear from Bo about the images and himself. I hope you enjoy it.
First of all, welcome to JCH, please tell us about yourself.
For the first half of my life I was growing up, studying, working in Poland, when my country was part of a Soviet Bloc. In 1980 I emigrated to London and after a couple of years to Cambridge, where I have been living ever since. Because of this I was deeply immersed in very different situations in life and these experiences taught me that there are no fix rules, no single manner of doing things and most of all I had a chance to become friends with wonderful people from all walks of life. Therefore I had a chance to embrace varied cultures, thoughts, emotions, a fertile ground upon which I have been able to refresh my mind and soul.
Please tell us about your style of photography. How would you describe it?
Since early childhood my Grandmother took me for walks in woods, to hills with amazing views on landscape below, across summer fields, along streams, where I learned about nature. We also went together to museums in Krakow, where she helped me to appreciate work of artists from all around the world. Out of those lessons, in my teenage years I realised that photographs are images born out of what is real, that they are visual response to events which I can touch, smell, hear, observe as they evolve right in front of me. All my photographic work flows from being inspired by people I meet, from observing the daily life in its richness and the rest is being both patient and swift. Therefore my style comes from my personality, is a visual response to people I meet.
You have taken a great many portraits of many great men and women. Do you have a particular favourite? Why?
My favourites are photographs in which I discover more every time I look at them. A majority of those images are of people, who remained authentic, true to themselves, while I was taking portraits of them. John Peel was like that and so was Glenda Jackson and Simon Callow.
Taking a portrait of Bill Brandt in his own studio was different, because he was a Master. I realised how important this image was and still is to me, when I saw it in my darkroom. Bill Brandt eyes were piercing at me from a print still immersed in a developer. I will never forget that feeling.
How did you get started in photography?
While I was studying at the Film College my work drifted towards photography, which felt more natural, more in tune with my personality than the rest. In time photography and my character became so entwined, that I cannot tell who is in charge of my life! I feel very comfortable with that.
Portrait photography is created by at least two people, a model and a photographer, in a fraction of a second. This is so special, so unique to photography, so intense, so refreshing that I feel like I am starting all over again every time I meet up with someone for a session.
You were in London during an exciting time for music and fashion. How was it? (as a child of the eighties I would love to know).
There was a sense of empowerment and confidence that the sky is a limit. Dancers, musicians, designers, theatre directors, painters, journalists were all doing things without delay. A lot of it was done on a shoe-string, some was supported by art centres or private sponsors or happened because it was meant to happen. In those years I travelled around London in my red Citroen 2CV taking photographs of artists, of performances at theatres from the South Bank Centre to a small stage in Clapham, talking to people at a film company about my involvement in their next project and going to concerts in the evening unless there was a party going on. Photography is a very fast medium, so working in a midst of this dynamic environment suited me perfectly.
Could you tell us some of the photographers or even photographs that inspire you?
We all need the Masters to guide us, to unwind our confused ways and to stay focused. In my case it was Bill Brandt, Richard Avedon (we wrote to each other about photography for a while) and Alex Brodovitch (whom, sadly, I didn’t have a chance to meet). Yet, this is a never ending process as wonderful, powerful, inspirational photographs come my way in all kinds of situations. I love it! Just as important are people, for whom taking photographs can be soul cleansing or an expression of most beautiful emotions or wise thoughts.
Do you have any messages or words wisdom for the readers of JCH?
Observe, listen, stay honest, truthful, instinctive and above all – fearlessly creative.
Thanks to Bo for sharing his work and his thoughts with us. It is wonderful to see portraits from such an exciting time, I would have loved to have been there. These images give me the feeling that I am there. Wonderful work.
Check out Bo’s links:
Please remember that the images are reproduced with the kind permission of Bo Lutoslawski and may not be used or reproduced without permission.
I’m a great fan of Bill Brandt also, though he’s not so well known here in the States as in England. In many ways Bo’s work is on par with Brandt’s—the high contrast, the depth of expression, the classic look. These are all hard to come by and take many years of dedication for most people to acquire. A joy to see.
I met “Bo” when I was with my husband, his cousin, Aleksander Jordan Lutoslawski, in Camb ridge in the 1980’s….I appreciate his style an d wish him all the b est, from “Down Under” !
If you like Bo’s work you should go along to his talk on the ‘dynamics of portrait photography’ at the October Gallery in London (3pm, 20 July – admission free, but you need to reserve your place in advance) http://www.octobergallery.co.uk/events/