A series celebrating the talent of our friends over in the the Londonist Flickr pool. Here, they introduce themselves and showcase their favourite London shots. Today, Tom Kondrat shares his photographs.
What got you interested in photography?
My parents worked as freelance photographers so I have it in my blood. I travelled with them every weekend observing how they photograph local tourist attractions, mainly churches, palaces and manor houses but also landscapes and events. At that time I found it very boring. Until one day they gave me a camera – Praktica B200. My dad just told me to make sure I shoot at 1/60s, not below and showed me how to focus. We were photographing some swamps on that day. I remember climbing on a tree for a better view, stepping on a snake and one particular frame with a birch almost falling into the water with a beautifully reflected light. I got that picture published in a tourist magazine and I even got paid for that. I was 12. More than 10 years later I picked up photography again, out of boredom. I was studying financial computing at Brunel University in Uxbridge and instead of attending the lectures and studying for the exams, I was exploring the area on my bike together with a compact camera. I soon developed an unreasonable passion for photography, upgraded my gear to a dslr, dropped uni, moved to East London and started a photography course.
Have you always been a Londoner? Tell us about your patch of London and why you like it....
I was born in Warsaw, Poland. After 19 years there and two in Krakow (crazy university life!), I moved to London following my girlfriend who came here for an Erasmus exchange. Of course we split up soon but at least I can say I am here because of love :).
After six years living in London, I still feel I didn't find my home here but every time I go away, I miss this bloody city. There is definitely something magical in London, I'm sure it has something to do with the weather.
What's good about London for photographers? What are your favourite themes/places?
London is such a big city, you can find almost everything here – from busy tourist and business areas to wild nature, quiet neighbourhoods and industrial places. Variety! That's what good about it!
I've always enjoyed photographing City, specially during the night or weekends when it looks like from '28 days later'. Since I moved to Shoreditch, I fell in love with Hackney. These two are my most photographed and favourite areas in London.
Themes? I like street photography, sometimes close and funny but most of the time emotional, subtle, poetic and boring. I do documentary and reportage as I am a nosy bugger and I love exploring. Apart from that I shoot contemporary landscapes and portraits. I guess you could put everything in a 'contemporary fine art' drawer which of course doesn't mean anything.
What equipment do you use?
For a long time I used Canon 40D DSLR, together with Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 lens but guys from Westminster College opened my eyes to film and I sold everything with a digital sensor inside. Nowadays I photograph street with Olympus 35 sp, Olympus mju II and disposable cameras depending on a project. For arty stuff, portraits and landscapes, I use Pentacon Six - medium format camera from East Germany.
Any tips for anyone just getting into photography?
Start with a project in your head and just shoot, you will learn while you go along. I found that various photography courses can be really helpful, although you usually learn most of the stuff by yourself. Also watch what others do – you might get inspired.