- Interview with portrait photographer Dariusz Sankowski - February 14, 2020
Hi Dariusz! Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
It may be strange, but I am a smiling and happy Pole. I was born and live in the coolest city in Wroclaw and I am a computer graphic designer and photographer.
Besides photography and your creative activities, do you have any hobbies, something you like to do in your free time?
I like to go to the pool and the gym. I like to travel. However, most of all, I like people and spending time with them.
How did your interest in photography begin?
By accident. I made my first money and wanted to spend it on something I would have longer. I don’t know why, but I bought a camera, a Minolta DiMAGE 5 😉
When did you decide to become a professional photographer?
I’ve never made such a decision. I believe that these things happen by themselves. Of course, everything depends on our approach and commitment.
In your early days with a camera, what genres of photography you started to do before you specialized in Portraiture?
When I bought my first camera, I photographed everything. I was walking around the city and looking for interesting shots. Later I got to know studio photography. I made product and stock photographs. When I took up reportage photography, I realized that what gave me the most joy was recording emotions and contact with people. Since then, I have devoted most of my time to portrait photography.
Natural vs artificial light – What is your preference and in which situations you use one or the other?
Without light, there is no photography. But for me, it doesn’t matter if it’s natural or artificial. Whether we look for it or create it. It all depends on the idea for the photoshoot and whether there is sunlight. I often take pictures in the evening at the studio.
Speaking of the studio, what do you prefer, shooting on a studio or outdoor?
Everything has its pros and cons. Nothing will surprise me in the studio. I can prepare myself for everything. Open the wine, order food, sit down and talk and I know that nobody will bother me.
But outside the studio it’s different every time. You can do a lot of new, cool things without much effort. You can be positively surprised.
Could you share any tips for taking advantage of the natural light?
Natural light must be sought. To find them, it is best to focus on the shadows. When we find interesting shadows we can be sure that there is also good light and cool colors. It is obligatory to have a reflective screen and a diffusion surface with you.
What is your process for finding good spots for environmental portraits at outdoor locations?
First of all, the light. Then the colors and the whole environment. I never look for a place for one photo. I immediately plan a few different photos. I pay attention to colors. Closer and further plan. A very important issue is the number of people around.
What camera system you used when you started on Portrait photography?
I started with Minolta. In the beginning, I had the mentioned Minolta DiMAGE 5, but very quickly I bought the Minolta Dynax 7D. When I seriously started photographing people, I already had a Canon 5D and then the Nikon D3S.
Meanwhile, to this day, you have tried a number of cameras from different manufacturers. Nikon, Fuji and most recently Olympus. Was there a particular reason why you were looking for a tool that best suited your work?
Just because I was changing my cameras doesn’t mean I missed something. I did it because. Actually, I liked it. I have already healed myself. I never look to the negatives, I don’t pay attention to defects. It’s not even about the equipment anymore. My whole life is focused on positive things. I won’t change it to answer this question 🙂
What reasons led you to move from Fuji, including its medium format camera GFX 50S, to the smaller M43 system from Olympus. What did you lose and what did you gain with this switch?
I didn’t lose anything. I gained a lot. Nice camera, Olympus PEN-F. The indestructible Olympus OM-D E-M1 MkII. Super PRO lenses. But most of all, satisfaction from the fact that I take good pictures with theoretically worse equipment. Thanks to this I can prove that the pictures are more than just tests and hardware parameters. Prove it first of all to yourself.
What are the major challenges of making professional portrait photography with a M43 camera system?
The M43 system has no limits. We have limitations in our minds. Only if we get rid of it will we be able to move on. Among my pictures are pictures taken with my phone. I’m sure most of you won’t be able to tell which ones. Even if they were printed in A3 format. By the way, Olympus has great lenses for portrait photography. The 45mm f/1.2 PRO and 75mm f/1.8 are definitely at the forefront of all systems.
What strategies do you use to overcome the “problem” of the wider depth of field in your portraits because of the M43 system?
First of all, a good picture is not the same as a small depth of field. Secondly, who said Olympus couldn’t take a picture with a low depth of field? Lenses with f/1.2 aperture, HSS flash and an electronic shutter allow you to achieve satisfactory results in any situation. I also have other cameras, like Mamiya RZ67 🙂 It’s a perfect complement.
What lens do you use more often and why?
My favorite lens is 45mm f/1.2 because I can do both portrait and character with it. Fact, I have a pretty big photo studio 🙂 It’s also nice that Olympus has nice, neat equivalents to the PRO lenses. I use the 45mm f/1.8 for the PEN-F. It’s very small, cheap and yet it has a very good image quality.
What software do you use to process your images? Do you usually use some presets? Which ones?
Recently I have been processing my RAW files using only Capture ONE. I needed a lot of time to change my workflow to it, but it was worth it. Everything else I do in Adobe Photoshop. As for the settings, I don’t use any presets or additional plugins. However, I do not exaggerate the processing. Of course, apart from those that were supposed to be photomaniac.
Thank you Dariusz, for your time and availability for this interview! To conclude, would you like to share some final thoughts, an evaluation of your experience with the Olympus camera system and the features you would like Olympus to include in a future generation of cameras?
I’ve been thinking a lot about buying a full-frame lately. I was testing Sony and Canon. Canon was pretty cool. Additionally, I had it with premium lenses including the Canon RF 85mm f/1.2. The tests were successful but I’m a happy Olympus user and don’t need a new camera to continue to grow.