Interview: Magda Biernat

Katie Guth: Personally, I find myself drawn to your work mainly based on the content and the eye you have for what is captured within the frame. What is it that intrigued you to do some of your personal work and how did you come across the different subject manner, especially the work in ‘inhabited’ and ‘quietly forgotten’?

Magda Biernat: As an architectural photographer I am always drawn to interesting structures and buildings. I am always on a lookout for an interesting design. While traveling I usually research sites that might be of interest to me, but many things are also lucky encounters, things I run into by accident.

Red Shirt © Magda Biernat

Katie Guth: I noticed that you grew up in Poland and began your photographic studies there. What drew you to the United States? Since you’ve spent so much time in both countries, I’m curious to know the differences in photographic style, or teachings, if there is any?

Magda Biernat: Yes, I studied photography in Poland, but I also recently finished my MFA program in New Media, which was partly taught in Berlin and partly in New York. School in Poland gave me a pretty good base in photography – history, techniques, etc. But back then I was mostly doing black and white photography, spending many hours in the darkroom. I think teaching over here is a bit different, less traditional and more conceptual. Not focusing on theory so much but your own way of thinking and creating.

Salvation Army © Magda Biernat

Katie Guth: When studying photography, was working for magazines something that you saw yourself doing? Did working with the different magazines benefit or play off of your personal style or goals as a photographer?

Magda Biernat: I don’t think I ever thought of myself as an editorial photographer. While studying photography I wasn’t sure what I would end up doing. When I first moved to New York I worked at Magnum Photos and there I realized that black and white documentary photography was not for me, so I decided to change my path and turned towards architectural photography instead. I took a workshop with Norman McGrath and soon after started assisting him on numerous jobs. Almost at the same time I started working as a photo editor at Metropolis Magazine, which is all about architecture and design, which gave me yet another perspective on that field.

Untitled © Magda Biernat

Katie Guth: After I graduate in May, I have hopes and some plans to travel to different countries, which I know is something you took time away to do. Was this more of a career goal or personal goal for you? Also, what was one of your best career oriented experiences while traveling and do you have any recommendations?

Magda Biernat: It was mainly my personal goal. I always wanted to travel for an extended period of time and taking one year off was the best thing I have done. The body of work I came back with also helped me place my work in a New York gallery and show it in different countries. My career as a fine art photographer started with that body of work.

As for recommendations, just be open to things that happen to you.

Katie Guth: I’m currently in my senior year of my undergrad program; what would you suggest or advise to someone about to graduate in photography?

Magda Biernat: Be passionate about what you are doing. When you don’t love what you do, it is never going to “the best”.

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