Photographing with Maciej Dakowicz

After two weeks of photographing with Maciej Dakowicz and I came back completely exhausted and energised at the same time. I loved my time on this very intensive workshop. Maciej is a great photographer and teacher. He has incredible amounts of passion for photography and is very knowledgeable. I really enjoyed going back to a more basic style of travelling as well. He was also a great travel guide.

It was fascinating to watch Maciej at work. He has an insane amount of peripheral vision. Looking through his viewfinder with one eye and at the same time not losing sight of anything happening around his camera frame and always ready to change and get the best picture for a particular situation. I lost count how many times he asked me why I didn’t include something in the picture (instead of cutting it in half..) and it was always the same answer: I simply did not see it. He has a great eye for detail and is always aware of his surroundings.

I learnt that I lack precision and patience. I was afraid that after a couple of shots of people, they get bored and annoyed with me and I missed out on some great photo opportunities because of that. Maciej was trying to teach me to take my time. He told me repeatedly not to stop after taking one photo of the subject but several. I started seeing that people which I spent sometime with were happy to be photographed. I tried to follow Maciej’s advice and be calm and patient.
Maciej DakowiczMaciej Dakowicz

Each day we repeatedly heard: Look for the light. Shoot more! Don’t hesitate. Never take just one shot. Get closer. Stay with the subject and work around the subject. Critique sessions were great experiences as Maciej is not afraid to give out harsh, spot on critiques. During the first few critique sessions we all heard the same thing over and over again: don’t mix light and if you do then expose for the highlights. Shoot with the light and then one day there was no more mentioning the light as we started to pay attention to it.

One of the best parts of the day was looking at each other’s pictures and seeing what the other person saw. And I don’t mean the critique sessions with the few selected photos of the day, but during or after a meal just looking through the contents of each other’s cameras. Often I got another dose of motivation and inspiration. Looking at Maciej photos and seeing how many shots he took of a single subject was a reminder that I needed to spend more time and not run away after one shot.

The workshop was hard work. Very hard work. I must admit that in the last couple of days I barely took any photos because I was so tired and just walked around enjoying being among Burmese people while watching Maciej work. After long days, when I even lacked the energy to lift up my camera, I was amazed to see that Maciej was still as energised as on the first day. His enthusiasm is contagious.

Cardiff After Dark
Maciej’s book

I am most definitively not on the same wavelength as Maciej. I only understand/see the most obvious and famous examples of street photography. Sometimes I had to ask what I was looking at and what was I suppose to see. To be honest some of the great street photography photos would be on my delete (straight away) list. I ordered several (some of them huge) albums recommended by Maciej and started studying them. I must admit that more often than not I am baffled by some of the pictures. He likes quirky, witty photos with a twist which are an enigma to me.

I felt embarrassed that I don’t shoot more in HK. Maciej’s description of HK for street photography: ‘paradise’. I need to get out more with my camera and just go out to shoot and not only take opportunistic shots whilst on my way to meet people or running errands. Since coming back to HK, I haven’t ventured out with my camera but while being out I do look around and try to find potential shots as Maciej taught me.

I think I learnt a lot but also I found out how much more there is to learn and that it is something that I want to do. I came back knowing one thing for sure: I want to learn more from Maciej. So it won’t come as a surprise that a couple of days after coming back from Myanmar I signed up for another 10 days of travel and street photography in Kolkata and Varanasi in April 2014. Another workshop with a small group of participants and lots of time with Maciej as teacher.

Photography BooksFirst set of books bought.

Encouraged by Maciej I set up a Flickr account with some photos from the Myanmar workshop.

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