ANTONINA

GUGAƁA

PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIOS

orig. Fotograf Warszawski

Photography Studios explores different aspects of Warsaw high street photographers’ professional activity. In this project I examine traces of presence of general photography within Poland’s capital city’s landscape. The visual material serves as a departure point for a thorough analysis of social functions held by these photographers and further studies of the language used by them in communication with their environment.

As part of the project, I documented window displays of over eighty photography studios currently operating in Warsaw. In this way I wanted to preserve the memory of places commonly associated with general photography. The work highlights the presence of photography studios in the urban landscape, drawing attention to the visual language used by high street photographers in order to attract passers-by.

Another element of the series is a collection of “diploma photos” made by local photographers. I had my picture taken in every studio documented in the previous chapter of this work. A crucial factor of this experiment was to completely shift the responsibility for the final shape of the images to the high street photographers. A collection of portraits gathered in such a way allows viewers to explore the social and cultural codes of general photography.

Terence Wright’s concept about three different ways of perceiving photography: looking through, at and beyond an image, constitutes the theoretical framework for this work. The third approach being particularly inspiring, since it encourages the viewer to treat photography as an indicator of defined cultural patterns which determine what kind of behaviour is considered to be normative. The entire collection allows the viewer to independently analyse the role of general, or high street photography in the development of everyday aesthetics, and also in shaping the image of the photographer profession.

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City of Warsaw Art Scholarship, 2016

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