Jul 12, 2015

Mobile Photographer of the Year Michał Koralewski

Drum roll...the winner of the IPPA (iPhone Photography Awards) for Photographer of the Year First Place Award goes to Michał Koralewski! (Congrats also to David Craik and Yvonne Lu the runners up).

Michał has been supportive of Art of Mob since the beginning and I thought surely I had interviewed him by now. He was included in so many showcases that I assumed he had already been a featured iPhone photographer. I'm correcting that oversight today! I'm PROUD to present this interview with the Mobile Photographer of the Year Michał Koralewski.

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© Michał Koralewski
What is your name and where do you live?

MK:  My name is Michał Koralewski, I live in Poland in a small village of Kozieglowy, very close to the beautiful city of Poznan.  


How did you get started in mobile photography? What device do you use?

MK:  Well, I think it was somewhere between 2009 and 2010. I was amazed how easily it became to take and edit my photos with my new iPhone 3G. I started to experiment with filters, textures and collages. It was something totally different from what I have done before. Two years later I bought an iPhone 4s and my passion for mobile photography grew even more and it’s still growing! Now I take photos with the iPhone 5s equipped with COVR Photo lens case. It's a wonderful set for street photography, allowing me to take photos discreetly without interfering with what I’m trying to capture.

© Michał Koralewski


Do you have a traditional photography or art background?

MK:  No, I'm a sociologist by education. There's not much in common with photography, maybe except the fact that both tell stories about people. I'm a self-taught photographer.

© Michał Koralewski

© Michał Koralewski

Who or what inspires you?

MK:  I try to pick up inspiration everywhere: I like to watch people on the streets, try to understand their emotions and feelings. And when I feel I start to lose inspiration I open Instagram and I browse the galleries of such great street photographers like Greg Schmigel, Giulio Giacconi or Thomas Kakareko. I also adore the photography of more classical artists like Fan Ho and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

© Michał Koralewski

© Michał Koralewski

The majority of your imagery is in black and white. Do you shoot in color and convert afterwards, or do you use a black and white camera app for your captures?

MK:  Well, it depends. Mostly I take color photos with the native camera app or PureShot and then convert images to black and white in apps like Ansel or Snapseed, but from time to time I hit the streets with Lenka - a very nice and small black & white camera app. 


Your photos also have a recurring theme of showcasing smaller humans against the larger backdrop of life around them. Is there a particular meaning in this recurring theme?

MK: Well, I'm not a street portraitist. People in my photos are usually a complement to the whole frame and the large background highlights how small we are to the world that surrounds us.


Do you select a particular setting or backdrop and wait for a subject to arrive?

MK:  It depends. It's usually an impulse, a special moment. Sometimes I see a person I want to shoot, so I follow him step by step to take a photo in the best moment. But sometimes, it's completely different - I have a frame and I only wait for the subject to arrive. I don't plan it first. It's an impulse that makes me press the shutter.


© Michał Koralewski

© Michał Koralewski

What apps do you use for editing your photos? Do you have a standard workflow?

MK:  Besides these camera apps I mentioned earlier I use only a few other apps: Snapseed for some basic corrections, VSCO Cam for subtle filters, MexturesTouch Retouch and Image Blender for more advanced editing (textures, collages, double exposure). On editing I try not to spend more than 5 - 10 minutes per photo. 

© Michał Koralewski

© Michał Koralewski

Congratulations on being named Photographer of the Year in this year's iPhone Photography Awards (IPPA). How did you decide on what images to enter into the competition?

MK:  Thank you very much! I still can't believe I won this contest. It's really a big thing for me and a great honor to be on the podium between such great photographers like David Craik and Yvonne Lu. When it comes to choosing photos for any contest, I usually pick 3 to 5 images that I'm really proud of. These are the photos with a hidden background story or a "decisive moment”.

© Michał Koralewski

© Michał Koralewski

You are the founder of Grupa Mobilni, what is that?

MK:  Grupa „Mobilni” is a group of mobile photographers from across Poland. Although we are separated by hundreds of kilometers, different sensitivity and styles, common passion connects us . We learn from each other, share inspiration, develop our passion and promote mobile photography in Poland and abroad. We organize joint photographic projects, workshops, competitions and exhibitions and support local photography initiatives. 

© Michał Koralewski

© Michał Koralewski

Have you ever sold or exhibited your work? If not, any plans for the future?

MK:  Grupa Mobilni organized the first Polish mobile photography exhibition in 2013. For now we have 9 or 10 exhibitions behind us. As a member of this group, I had a chance to show my photos in the biggest Polish cities, like Wrocław, Poznań, Gdynia, Kraków etc. but also abroad – in Holesov (Czech Republic). Being a laureate of some big photo contests I could exhibit my images also in New York, Toronto, San Francisco, Paris and London. I have never sold any of my photographs (not counting the auction for Polish Humanitarian Action in 2013). 

© Michał Koralewski

© Michał Koralewski

What is the best advice you ever received regarding photography?

MK:  It’s very simple: less focus on editing, more on composition and framing. I heard it from Thomas Kakareko, one of the best Instagram street photographers. The more I shoot on the street  the more I try to go back to the roots and keep the editing level as low as possible, spending more time on better composition instead.

© Michał Koralewski

© Michał Koralewski

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

MK:  Well, yes. Photography is not math. There are no universal formulas telling how to take and edit photos. There are no bad photographs, poor photographers or bad equipment. Photography is fun and as long as you get enjoyment out of it, you have a chance to succeed.


© Michał Koralewski

Find Michał Koralewski: Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / Website

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