People of (Western) Poland

by Luther Photographer October. 06, 2019 360 views

After touring Eastern Europe by train in the summer of 2017 and visiting four countries on this tour, my plans for the summer of 2019 were limited to one country, Poland. The focus this time was on visiting a few cities only, but staying longer in each. Eventually, I visited three cities in western Poland: Poznan, Gdansk and Wroclaw.

Andrzej is preparing very tasty coffee in his café "Bardzo" in Poznan. This is a highly recommended place. Located close to the medieval market square, they offer a variety of very nice brews and even have a very cool back yard to sit in.

Andrzej is preparing very tasty coffee in his café "Bardzo" in Poznan. This is a highly recommended place. Located close to the medieval market square, they offer a variety of very nice brews and even have a very cool back yard to sit in.

Of course, photography was a main part of the trip. Usually, this involves the field of travel photography, which in my case is a mix of street, architecture and landscape. My above mentioned summer trip of 2017 was the first that included portrait/model photography, which was also a part of this trip.

Ola works at "Dark Restaurant" in Poznan. It was a wonderful experience to dine in total darkness. The picture was taken at the reception table where everything is explained before you are guided to your table.

Ola works at "Dark Restaurant" in Poznan. It was a wonderful experience to dine in total darkness. The picture was taken at the reception table where everything is explained before you are guided to your table.

However, I have been thinking about adding more fields of photography into the trip. I have been interested in the genre of reportage/editorial, which to me simply means talking to (interesting) people and taking their portrait. To me, the poplular genre of street photography where it is all about taking people's pictures without them noticing and/or their consent is not appealing.

The staff in "Stragan Kawiarnia" in Poznan is willing to discuss coffee brewing methods with their customers. It is located directly opposite the university library.

The staff in "Stragan Kawiarnia" in Poznan is willing to discuss coffee brewing methods with their customers. It is located directly opposite the university library.

You can read and watch a lot online about how to get a stranger's portrait, which I did to some extent. I came to the conclusion that for me, the best approach is to talk to the people and simply ask them if you could take a picture of them. Show them that you've got nothing to hide, let them have a look at the picture (if you shoot digital) and offer to email it to them.

Yet another café, this one is called "drukarnia CAFÉ", located in the most beautiful street of Gdansk, Mariacka.

Yet another café, this one is called "drukarnia CAFÉ", located in the most beautiful street of Gdansk, Mariacka.

I had positive experiences with this method. All the pictures (except for the last one) in this post were taken with people's consent. Not all of the pictures here might look like it, but some people preferred to continue working while being photograped. Only twice I was denied, the first time was due to an empty battery the moment I wanted to take the shot. The second time was by an elderly lady who stood outside her flower shop, located in a very nice building in Gdansk.

Marcin not only gave us an excellent city tour in Gdansk, he also is an Ironman triathlete.

Marcin not only gave us an excellent city tour in Gdansk, he also is an Ironman triathlete.

I did not embark on the trip with the intention to take as many pictures of people as possible, which would have put me under a lot of pressure, which is not a good plan for your holidays. Mostly, I was predominantly interested in talking to the people. As I realised, this is the better approach because it is easier for you to ask for a photo during or at the end of the conversation on the one hand, and harder for them to reject on the other.

Wiktoria (left) and her friend work in a bakery/café at Sopot train station. The sign caught my attention. They explained to me that they collected tip to buy a concert ticket for Polish folk music legend Krzysztof Krawczyk.

Wiktoria (left) and her friend work in a bakery/café at Sopot train station. The sign caught my attention. They explained to me that they collected tip to buy a concert ticket for Polish folk music legend Krzysztof Krawczyk.

I guess you have realised by now that all the people in the pictures so far are employees of the service sector, who you get into talking to you (almost) automatically. However, I figured this as an easy way to start this enterprise and it also does not make these people and the pictures less interesting in my opinion.

Ola works for a coffee company in Wroclaw, but I met her in Gdansk, where she went for a weekend escape.

Ola works for a coffee company in Wroclaw, but I met her in Gdansk, where she went for a weekend escape.

Eventually, I met a fellow tourist when I returned to Gdansk from my day trip to Sopot. I chose to visit "drukarnia CAFÉ" again (see above) and started a conversation with Ola. Initially, I had not in mind to do this for a picture, I only cared for some company. It turned out the way I described earlier, but even in a more interesting way: at some point, I asked if I could take her picture, which she refused. Nevertheless, we kept on talking. Finally, she agreed to have her picture taken without me asking again.

Taken in Park Juliusza Słowackiego in Wroclaw.

Taken in Park Juliusza Słowackiego in Wroclaw.

I hope no one takes offence in my last picture. I think it is lovely. If you recognize yourself and want it removed, simply send me a message.
I enjoyed this new genre of photography as it comes natural to the way I travel. So it will be on my itinerary for future trips. Let's see what happens.

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