Instagram is his modern art gallery. Aleksander Małachowski, known also as Hashtagalek, perceives this app as an inspiration that made him start an adventure with mobile photography, and as space to publish his work. His minimalistic, geometric photography intrigued not only Instagram users but was also repeatedly appreciated by famous/well-known magazines such as K MAG, Warsaw Insider, or Varsovie.
How did your adventure with photography begin? Is it something that you have been interested in “since forever” or is it rather something that appeared as your passion suddenly, unexpectedly?
My interest in photography started back in high school, where I was a school photographer. I even had a blog on a popular back then platform called ‘Blogspot. I remember posting there everything that was in any way fascinating for me. However, it all started for real when I was on my first faculty of studies, which turned out to be a poor choice, which gave me a lot of spare time. At one point I discovered Instagram and the whole functioning there community of people sharing pictures taken by phone only. It inspired me to search for my own vision with a tool that was available for me - a phone. Also, it didn’t take me long to notice that I don’t know Warsaw. That was a perfect possibility to explore, both the city and my new passion - photography.
Do you perceive your passion as something that allows you to show your point of view or rather something that helps you represent the world as it is?
Definitely, as something that pictures my vision! I know there are two approaches and I’m far from rejecting the other one, but I feel like the world surrounding us can be so dark and gloomy, that the only solution for me is to edge away from it.
Where would you put the boundary line between a photo and photo editing? Does every picture need it?
In my opinion, there’s no such line. As long as the final result satisfies both the author and the viewer, we can forget about these kinds of rules. I like editing my pictures and I see it as another way to show my vision. I never show my pictures before the editing process, because they just fail to express what I see. However, it doesn’t mean that every picture on this planet must be edited - everyone should decide how they choose to express his/hers style.
Your Instagram account shows beautiful photos-reporting not only from many Polish cities, but also from European ones. Is there any especially memorable for you?
As far as Poland is concerned I love going back with my thoughts (and photos) to Katowice. In my humble opinion, this particular city has the most fascinating architecture in our country, especially if we take into consideration post-war modernism. I haven’t visited that many places in Europe yet. I have been to Barcelona and Berlin, I think they are real “meccas” of architecture photographers.
Which places attract you more as a photographer: Poland with post-war modernism, darkness, and gloominess, that you have mentioned before, or rather western countries' spirit/temper. Maybe you find yourself equally as comfortable in both kinds of spaces?
I treasure both worlds. I never discard a place for its age. Modernism is charming in its rough, concrete, and minimalistic forms. Nevertheless, I appreciate the new, colorful world. Each space has something of its own to offer and it awakens the senses of the photographer in various ways.
How do you search for a good frame? Do you draft a list of places to visit or you go spontaneous?
It’s a mix of both. You can never predict what exactly you are going to discover in a city. I always make a plan of places that I would like to see before I go on a trip, but I know from my experience, that often the most curious shots are the ones captured while traveling from one point on a map to another.
As we speak about unplanned shots - could you indicate one of the most particular architectural discoveries from your travels and walks that allowed you to make “accidentally” an interesting photo?
There is plenty of that, I’ll take the first example. At the beginning of the holidays I left for Gdańsk to make a commercial project for one of the investors and one evening while resting in a hotel bar I noticed an incredibly captivating scenery.
I didn’t sign this building on the map, nor planned to take a picture of it, but the roughness of this cube combined with the amazing sunset made me take my phone out of my pocket.
We did a little research and we know you were born in Warsaw. :) You often picture it in your photos. Do you have any methods to rediscover your city? How to look at it from the photographer's perspective?
Dose the city. Take breaks. Go out of it. Miss it. Go back to it. Repeat the cycle.
We can see great development and artistic changes through your profiles. Where is your fascination with geometry getting from? Why not, for instance, portraits?
Despite my artistic endeavors I always claimed that my brain is more mathematical, organised. That was the reason for my first choice of faculty at the University of Technology. In combination with my attraction for architecture, it resulted in the kind of work that you can see on my account
This mathematical layout appears also on your relatively new profile - aleknieolek (https://www.instagram.com/aleknieolek), that shows the architecture by night. What stands behind the decision of making a new account? How in your opinion the daytime affects what we want to “communicate” through art?
I was inspired by my friend's works, he is also a photographer, Daniel Remian, he takes the night pictures much more often than me (www.instagram.com/danielremian).
I felt like I wanted to find my own place and style in the dark side of the city. I find my perspective in apparently odd visions of showing the night by day. Most of the pictures are taken before sunset and they become dark later, after editing. I’m trying to articulate that daytimes mix together and at one daylight we can find a part of another one.
You specialise in mobile photography. Nowadays our phones give us possibilities that the average user doesn't even know about. What is important to remember while taking a good photo with a mobile device?
Use the native app for taking pictures. Only this way you can use all the possibilities of your built-in matrix - even if it doesn’t have millions of functions available in other apps.
Do you think that mobile photography will suppress the traditional one? What would you prefer never to be allowed to use a digital camera or smartphone?
Looking several dozen years ahead, I don’t see a perspective of such suppression. There are some qualities and uses that digital cameras are unsurpassed in, like professional photography of architecture, event photography. I'm a supporter of thinking about a device as little as a tool or as much as a tool. On a daily basis I use both a digital camera and a smartphone. Alternately. The best device is the one that you always carry with yourself.
And somehow mobile photography dominated your work. As you said before, digital photography has an advantage over the mobile one as it comes to capturing architecture or bigger events. What is the asset of mobile photography compared to a traditional one? You mentioned the comfort of it, but how does it affect the character of the photos?
At the beginning it dominated it, but alongside my work getting more and more popular, I have been receiving more commissions and as a result, I have reached for the digital camera more often. However, if I look back, I can see that in my artistic output visible on my Instagram account, I used my mobile phone more frequently. I think that the comfort offered by cameras built-in to phones that nowadays have more than one lens allows to see the lightness in the pictures. I see an interesting scene and I can take a phone and use either a wide-angle lens or optical zoom. If I had read this sentence in the past, I wouldn’t have believed we would be in such a technological point of development and this is just the beginning! :)
And finally.. who is your biggest inspiration in the photography world? Whose activities are worth watching?
Lately, I’ve been fascinated by the works of Benjamin Everett, (https://www.instagram.com/bejamin/). He shows landscapes of the world with rare aesthetics and a sense of minimalism. I know it sounds bizarre that an architecture photographer recommends the nature photographer, but this is the most beautiful aspect of getting inspired- using certain elements from different corners of art (and not only!)
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