Interview with Bartosz Mateńko
TIFA 2020 Winner, 1st Place, Editorial category – “Women Protesting In Poland Over Abortion Ban”
When asked about his background as a photographer, Bartosz Mateńko reveals that he considers himself not a press photographer, but rather a narrator or writer who, instead of using his pen to write down the story, uses his camera to do so. After studying philology and culture animation, he graduated from the Cinematography Department at the Polish National Film School and delved into photography, which was a passion of his father, too.
Q: What style of photography do you like?
I have always been inspired by people like James Nachtwey, Sebastiao Salgado, Bruce Gilden. So we are talking about strong black and white classic photography here. I like to show reality in a non-obvious way, sometimes I do something like painting, sometimes non-fiction. It depends on what my mood is and what topic I deal with.
Q: What has been your biggest obstacle as a photographer?
Contact with another person. Taking a picture of him, even though he may not wish to do so. There are many different situations when taking pictures, but I always think that I am not hurting anyone, I am not angry, I understand that people protect their privacy and my job is to tell about their private lives as well.
Q: Where do you get motivation and inspiration from in your work and in photography?
From ordinary life. Sometimes these are topics that fascinate me, such as sports, sometimes it’s my response to politicians’ decisions, sometimes it’s a story about people I just meet on my way. I am attentive and photograph what my heart tells me to.
Q: One photograph that left a lasting impression on you and why?
I’ve seen too many good photos to focus on one.
Q: In an era where the consumption of audiovisual content is massive, what is the future of photography?
It depends on what kind of photography we are talking about. People will always rave about kitsch, simple photos with nice colors and not the best composition. On Instagram we have the best example of this, average photos but with a pretty girl / boy and cool colors it will always be “liked”. On the other hand, a more sophisticated recipient will reach for more complex materials. Same as in music, as well as in writing. Each market has many recipients, it is important that we try different things as consumers of art.
Q: What drew you to your particular field of photography?
Showing the world of my life, where I am, what I do, who I meet. I find life fascinating and I want to share it with others. Not everyone has the opportunity to meet “heroes” or be in many different places around the world. I want to share my view of the world.
Q: What is your next big project? Do you have anything exciting in the pipeline?
I am waiting for an impulse, maybe some new political and economic situation, maybe a meeting of an interesting man, and maybe something else. I do not know. Something must move me if I want to talk about it.