Home can be many things, and it’ll mean something different to everyone. To me, home has never been just a building or a room. It’s always been about people. Two arms holding me tight. Heart to heart conversations. A warm smile. And a wagging tail.
It’s always been all about food. The house filled with the smell of Mum’s freshly baked apple pie. Having fun cooking together. A warm breakfast after a crisp morning walk. And a table set for family and friends to gather around. It’s always been about creating, because that’s what brings me joy and what gives my life meaning.
I grew up in a small and a very picturesque town situated in the southwest of Poland. The town is fringed with mountains and lush forests, and living so close to nature gave me a huge sense of how everything changes through the seasons and made me appreciate the food—where it comes from and how it grows—it’s always been a huge part of my family.
In Poland, everything happens around the table and around food. Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas—any occasion really—family and friends gather around the seasonal, homemade meals, to simply be together, laugh, and enjoy good food. Those are my fond childhood memories.
At the age of 20 I decided to move. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do with my life, who I wanted to be, so I gave up my job in a local bakery, packed a suitcase and bought a one-way ticket to England. Hoping I would find “home”—and when I say home here I mean the happiness with who I am—and to find my passion. People say to me I was brave. I wasn’t! You are brave when you do something that scares you. And I wasn’t scared. I was excited, eager to learn and ready for a new adventure. Surely, I was irresponsible too! (Mum, how could you ever let me do this!?)
Nothing, of course, happened overnight; my passion for photography, however, started around five years ago. When I moved to England, I remember getting up every single morning thinking “there must me something out there for you girl.” I spent years trying different things. Then, just as I got an acceptance letter to the University to study languages, I thought to myself this doesn’t feel right, I am doing it because I had an ambition to study, because I was always told by society that going to University is a wise thing to do if I want to achieve something in life. And that minute I was accepted I realized I didn’t feel happy. I quit. Although everyone was telling me I was making a mistake, I quit.
I can’t explain it except what I know for sure—it brought me heaps of joy! Till this day it does!
And just like that, using the savings that were going to go toward my degree, I bought a camera, purely to capture the moments we spent with our family and to keep memories from our travels alive. But it became so much more than that. Back then I didn’t even know that food photography was a thing. But with my camera always covered in flour, I could spend hours in the kitchen, photographing the dishes I prepared! It actually excites me now, more than ever. What started as an innocent hobby that I kept a secret for the first few months turned into a food blog and later into my own food photography business.
I’ve started photography just a few years ago but I have been creating since I remember! I always loved the process of creating something from nothing with my hands. As kids, my friends and I would make our own toys or games, then later at school, my favourite projects were always the ones that involved making something. Being creative has always been important to me—it’s like breathing—I need it to feel alive. It makes me happy. Makes me feel free.
I remember sitting on the floor of our living room with my husband Darek; we had just bought our house and had no furniture yet. I Googled “food photography” hoping to find some tips, as I only bought my camera couple of months back. The Pink Lay Food Photographer of the Year website came up. I said to my husband sitting across the room, “This is insane, there is even a competition for food photographers! And I didn’t even know food photography was a job! It’s judged by the most influential people in the industry! I know what I am going to do….I’ll enter….next year!” My husband looked at me, “Next year? Why not this year?”
The competition was closing the next day and I only had a handful of pictures. I had no idea about food photography, and the judges, they knew a lot about the subject! But next year…I could practice, I could maybe take some decent pictures. Next morning however, I woke up thinking I really had nothing to lose. I did enter. Two months later, my photo was exhibited in the Mall Galleries in London, next door to Buckingham Palace. I was not only a finalist, my photo came second in my category. This was a push—I started a blog and practiced! I approached food photographers and asked if I could shadow them at work. I photographed only when I could find time. Living in the world full of “free” knowledge, inspiration, ideas, I don’t want to say that I am a self-taught creative, because really I am not.
Food photography requires a lot of thought and good planning skills. It all starts way before switching the camera on. Sourcing good quality ingredients is essential—food has to be naturally beautiful—the camera has a great eye and picks up straight away if something doesn’t look fresh. Then comes brainstorming the theme; I often create a mood board for the feel of the photo, what angle will be best for the dish I am photographing, and choose the colours that will complement the dish and tell the story.
I love this process of noting things down, researching and brainstorming as it helps to discipline my thoughts. Then comes a careful preparation of the dish; everything I always make is 100% edible but it takes time to prepare a photo-worthy dish and to make sure styling is as natural as possible so it doesn’t look staged but it’s beautiful at the same time. Once the food is ready or almost ready, it’s shooting time!
My creative style is a reflection of who I am. Optimistic with a punch of joy. Sometimes calmer, sometimes crazy wild. Always changing with seasons. And always with a big smile! The love for “old” (films, movies, places) is reflected in my vintage props and often rustic surfaces. The homey feeling is reflected in food that doesn’t always look perfect, it’s a little bit messy with crumbs on the tablecloth, just like at home.
The truth is that I fall in love with someone or something new every day! Seriously. Inspiration is everywhere! Every single day I discover artists and art that make my heart beat faster, I hear or read the words of authors that inspire and motivate me, I meet someone who I can learn from. I really think that everyone has something special to offer, something to admire— whether it’s someone well known, a family member, a friend or a total stranger on the train. Every day I learn something new, and whether I win or fail, I feel it is accomplishment. I always considered myself a creative, an artist. I create from my heart, I put all my time and effort into what I create. I give it deep thought. I would like to inspire people to do what they love. To follow their heart. To be creative! And happy.