The self-taught photographer of choice for today’s coolest stars bares his soul. Jan Masny is a name that you should look out for. He is slowly climbing the ranks of amazing and cool image makers in the photography world because of his unique and edgy pictures.
Originally from Poland, the 33-year-old now lives in London and was even homeless for a while living on the capital’s streets. Having worked with Jamelia and Simon Webbe and top brands like Toni&Guy and After Shock there’s no stopping him. Famous for his superb lighting techniques and captivating images, remember where you read about him first.
When did you decide to become a photographer?
When I was around 17 I started messing around with a camera. I began to start taking it more seriously from the age of 24.
What’s your favourite part of the whole process and why?
Before the digital era, I was spending ages in a darkroom trying to create unique effects and I was achieving pretty good results. Now the most interesting part for me is when I’m planning and creating images for a new project. Taking photos is a great feeling; I think I’m more myself with a camera in my hand.
Do you have a signature style? If you do, what are the hallmarks of your style?
I’m really all about trying to keep my photography as simple as possible without messing around with any digital effects. I’m old school. I adore Richard Avedon’s work. I love the way that he was able to capture amazing movements of models without resorting to using autofocus or automatic cameras in sparse lighting…
What is your favourite type of photography and why?
I like fashion, but I don’t especially feel like a fashion photographer. I’m not interested in brands. I like the artistic impact of clothes with unusual shapes and strong colours. I really enjoy taking portraits. Having contact with another personality and facing the challenge to achieve something amazing is a really exciting opportunity.
Tell me about the journey to your current position…
I think the toughest part was coming to London, and starting here from scratch. I’m not from a rich family and didn’t have any contacts in the industry, so you can imagine how tough it was and still is. I was lucky in that I managed meet a few really great people on my journey who showed me the way or gave me a helping hand when I most needed it. I remember there were a few days of living on the street here (in London). And you know what? It was a very significant experience – I understood how strong I was. Now, it’s a bit easier, I have certain amount of photographic work, a base of reliable commercial clients, plus creative friends to work with. Now it all depends on me. I’m very far from the place in the process I’d like to be, but I feel happy.
What or who are your photography/design influences?
Richard Avedon with his fashion and portraits. From the other side, I love Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton. I love the sense of humour of David Lachapelle and the creativity of Nick Knight.
Have there ever been any major obstacles in the way of your success? What would you say is your single biggest career achievement so far despite these?
I think money, money and money again is, by far, the biggest obstacle. You have to make a decent living and at the same time, you have to keep being creative. It’s an impossible situation.
Do you have any formal training regarding photography or fashion?
No, none at all. Photographic education in my country back in the early days of my career didn’t exist. But I was lucky to have a chance to get fantastic training in the darkroom (I’m still using those skills today in Photoshop). Later I was working assisting in a fantastic studio where I got to meet the best photographers from my country. The owner of the studio was an assistant of Irving Penn. So I think I was very lucky to have had the chance to deal with all those great personalities as well as to learn from them.
What’s the biggest obstacle you face as a photographer?
I think to say and decide: ‘I want be a professional photographer’ is a difficult step to take for many talented people. So I would have to say the biggest obstacle that you’ll face regarding growing as a photographer is suffering from a lack of determination.
For more information go to www.janmasny.com