Magdalena Lutek

Tell us about yourself.
My name is Magdalena Lutek, my artistic pseudonym is Nishe. I’m from Poland. I’d describe my photography as personal, melancholic, feminine. I remember being five or even younger and playing with a an old camera upstairs, I was pretending to be photographing butterflies at a nearby meadow. I could see them in front of me. This magical box – I thought – would allow me record my daydreaming. I still wish there was a way to record dreams. When I was fifteen I found my father’s old camera in the attic and I immediately knew it was what I wanted to do. I never stopped photographing since then.

What is beauty to you and how do you define beauty?
Beauty is ephemeral. It’s all around me. I could name instances of beauty that come to mind immediately: Susanna’s handwriting and words, driving with Kamila and Filip at night, Joanna’s stories and her smile, birds singing outside at this very moment, old wooden desk, sunlight on my bed, a moment of revelation while reading a book, my childhood memories.

What’s the story behind your first camera?
It was a Zenit I found in the attic. It is very precious to me.

What role does color play in your work?
Colour to me is another level of emotions. It doesn’t mean that I think black and white is inferior, they are two different worlds to me. Years ago I only worked with black and white film but it changed when I discovered digital photography and the tools to control colours in my photographs.

Tell us about the pseudonym “Nishe”.
I came up with it years ago when I didn’t want to use my real name and preferred to remain anonymous. I liked the way it sounded and quickly identified with it.

How do your environments in Poland influence your photography? Where are some of your favorite places to shoot?
Polish countryside is very lush during warmer months. All seasons and places have something beautiful about them. At the moment I’m not too fond of winter because it lasted for too long this year and I’m eagerly waiting for summer. Anywhere I go I find beauty. Some places are more striking than other but I can work anywhere.

Digital or film? Why?
Film and instant film because it’s much softer. Tonality of film is much better too.

You tend to shoot women as your models more than males. Why?
My works are very personal and have introspective elements in them. The heroine in my photographs is a girl of a very specific sensitivity. She lives in an indefinite past, she incarnates in those who kindly accept my invitation to inhabit this dream-world with me. She doesn’t know how to be an adult, in her dreams she keeps going back to her childhood. She is Alice in Wonderland and Sophy Gray in Millais’s painting.

I’ve read that when you do a commissioned shoot, you prefer not to work with a stylist or a make-up artist. Why?
In all my commissioned shoots I had complete freedom to do what I wanted. That included styling, make-up and the story. For most photoshoots I prefer little to no make-up at all. Too much make-up conceals what’s important, it distracts attention from other things that happen in the photograph unless make-up is the most important part of photograph for instance in artistic or commercial close-up photos of make-up, theatrical avant-garde styling or in documentary photography where make-up could be an important part of someone’s life of job. I don’t need it in my style of photography. Conventional make-up is simply too much of a distraction for me. I do like odd and theatrical make-up but only if it’s not too perfect or precise, when it’s art rather than a conventional way to make a woman look more “attractive”. I’d say I consider a perfectly applied full face of strong make-up rather fake and uninspiring. As for styling, I prefer clothes that are delicate, otherworldly or from the past. I’d love to work with a stylist and make-up artist who share my taste. For the photoshoots I had so far it wasn’t necessary. I’d also love to work with a set designer.

Who and what inspire you?
Nature, childhood dreams, the person that I’m photographing, painting, light. I love Tim Walker, Paolo Roversi and Sally Mann.

Tell us about the inspiration behind “Szerelmes”. What does it mean and what was the inspiration?
Szerelmes is an artistic pseudonym of Joanna Sobesto. All photographs from that series happened during our first meeting in May 2012. She is one of the most precious and kind people I’ve ever met. Joanna has worked with hundreds of photographers in Poland and she’s only 18.

Summer Rain” is one of my favorite series. What was the story you tried to capture through these images?
It was a story about a girl wandering through a botanical garden on a rainy summer day with her camera, photographing flowers and trees, something I’ve done many times myself. It was a commissioned shoot – a fashion editorial. I mostly used instant film and it was so lovely to sit down with Joanna and watch the print develop. We talked about how digital photography differs from instant film photography. With digital most photographers run around and take hundreds of photos while with instant film you only shoot a few frames and most of the turn out beautiful. And in the meantime you can sit and marvel at the nature around you.

What songs are on your personal playlist?}
Arms (While The Fire Dies Down Version) / Seabear
Postcards from Far Away / Coldplay
Attractive Nuisance / Distrails
Opus #17 / Dustin O’Halloran
Gymnopédie No.1 / Eric Satie
Heavy Water / I’d Rather Be Sleeping / Grouper
Searching / Hanne Hukkelberg
Homeward, These Shoes / Iron & Wine
Promise / Ben Howard
Also Sigór Ros’s albums Takk… and Ágætis byrjun, and Jónsi & Alex’s Riceboy Sleeps album.

What are three things most people don’t know about you?
1. I’m very shy.
2. I love reading non-fiction books, especially works concerning the universe, physics. (I also love reading fiction.)
3. I collect leaves, bird nests, stones, feathers and other things that nature doesn’t currently need.


For more of Nishe’s work, check out her website.