i’d like to hear your thoughts!
this has just happened. my portrait of Ian McKellen is on today’s cover of The Times! i couldn’t be happier.
there is no credit to be seen though. the picture got printed twice - on the cover and page 17. what are your thoughts on that? how do other photographers feel about not being credited? it hurts me a little i must say, at the same time though i understand that it is all about Ian and the film. what do you think?!
send me your comments on twitter / facebook or email.
• 11 July 2014
this beautiful image is a portrait i took of Ian McKellen playing the 93-year-old Sherlock Holmes.
it’s the first image to be released for the motion picture ‘Mr Holmes' directed by Bill Condon, a film adaptation of 'A Slight Trick of the Mind' novel by Mitch Cullin.
i shot this portrait on 35mm film, as always. i guess i felt especially at home during the shoot since we worked in my old school building - CSM Holborn - which i have always loved the most. so great it is still being used in a creative way, i’d hate to see it turn into some bland luxury apartments (CSM has a new home at King’s Cross).
there was a magical moment by the end of the shoot which i’ll never forget. Sir Ian McKellen - thank you!
• 9 July 2014
i have an exhibition - private view in east london this thursday (june 26th), come along! you’ll be able to get a new newsprint too - created especially for this show.
Four Corners / 121 Roman Road / London E2 OQN / T. 020 8981 6111 / E. email@example.com / W. www.fourcornersfilm.co.uk
Private view: 6.30-8.30pm, Thursday 26 June 2014
Gallery opening times: 10.00-6.00pm, Monday-Saturday, or by appointment.
The exhibition runs from 27 June-25 July 2014
• 24 June 2014
last weekend (june 6th) i filmed the ARCADE FIRE
gig at Earl’s Court
for a project produced by Pulse Films
. it was quite a special night - 20 000 people came and this might have been the last concert to take place at Earl’s Court ever
. i shot on the Red Epic for the first time. i was amazed how very intuitive this camera was, especially since i come from the analogue still photography background. i’d highly recommend the Epic to anyone making a shift from still photography to moving image.
i was one of the 10 camera operators/DoPs on the night. the director wanted me to capture details and little beautiful moments in my usual way, as if i was taking stills. this was the most perfect brief. i was the free floating camera and a new technical term got coined for my role - ‘Agatha Cam’ - which came about very naturally and everyone ended up using it. DITs however called me the ‘Roaming Red’ which i thought was genius! i hope i’ll get to film on the Epic in that role again soon, i can’t remember being that excited in a long time.
now, the beauty of that evening lay for me in the relationship i had with my camera assistant, Marcus Reposar (LA based). i have never worked with an assistant before, i regularly get a lot of lovely emails from many talented young photographers, but when i shoot stills i really want to be as invisible as possible, and as low key as possible. i keep things very simple too and so far there was no need to be assisted really. while working with the moving image one definitely needs an assistant though. and i’m so glad that’s the case. it’s such a beautiful relationship, i can’t believe i was missing out on it altogether! ACs are definitely not getting enough credit. while squeezing through friday’s 20 000 mad crowd to film some interesting faces and holding on to Marcus shoulder i felt so safe and cared for nothing seemed to be a challenge. it’s really amazing how much assistants do for you. from the technical aspects, which they look after, to standing right behind you so that you don’t trip, or get hit by a crane, or slip on a thick layer of confetti. it’s amazing to have an extra pair of eyes and hands, and if you get along with the person who you work with, you develop this amazing creative connection too - it’s so beautiful and touching really. i loved the whole experience, but it’s Marcus who has made it this extra special for me. i’d love to give him the credit for all the beauty we’ve managed to capture on the night. here’s to camera assistants without whom nothing would be possible. thank you Marcus for being there for me, you’ll be missed!
more to follow.
• 11 June 2014
on my way to russia or ukraine i always stop in warsaw. whenever i take trains east i feel relieved when i arrive in berlin, that’s where the actual journey starts for me. i’m not a fan of efficient fast trains because i travel for the sake of it, i don’t want to get to the destination as soon as possible - berlin is where the journey gets slower. next stop is poland and warsaw has this wonderful main station where all my favourite slow night trains leave from. take your pick - prague, budapest, vilnius, minsk, kiev, lviv. and then further on to the real, raw and emotional places - st petersburg, moscow, odessa.
on my last trip a few months ago i’ve been introduced to Andrzej Georgiew (such a beautiful surname! of bulgarian descent). he lives and works in warsaw. what an incredible person. he’s known for his stunning b&w large format portraits which are then turned into theatre posters and book covers. from what i understand he works for the national theatre a lot, and photographs actors and directors, he’s had a few big exhibitions too.
Andrzej asked me to sit for him. i have never been photographed with a large format camera. it was such a beautiful experience. i don’t like standing in front of the camera, i feel lost and too exposed (that’s why i try to work gently and quietly with others). however, i loved sitting for Andrzej, with him it’s a magical process. i’m sure it’s mostly because of his personality and the way he works. he whispers to you and only talks in half sentences when he shoots. he almost ‘flies’ around his camera, like a butterfly. he does the most extraordinary things with his hands, you read all the gestures intuitively. i took two sneaky photos with my blackberry of him at work (the two above). i loved watching him work. it was like the most beautiful spectacle which only his sitters are allowed to experience.
no one can tell me now that what the photographer shoots with doesn’t make any difference for their subject. it makes all the difference! here’s my case again about shooting on film. it feels different! not just to the photographer but also to the photographed! the concentration is different, the connection created is so strong and unique, the whole process is different, the sound the camera makes is different. i could sit in front of Andzrej’s large format camera forever. looking into an empty lens for quite a long while made me feel very empty and suspended but in a beautiful way, i haven’t known a feeling like this before. for this, and the whole experience, i’m very grateful. thank you A!
• 26 May 2014
here’s another print i got this month. i worked with Lol Crawley, who shot films which i wish i had known about early enough to get to work on them too. wrong place, wrong time. i guess it happens sometimes. twice to be precise.
Lol shot HERE in Armenia where i’ve always wanted to go. i’ve heard of the film a year ago and i finally managed to borrow a dvd from him. he told me about a film roll from 6 years ago, which he had just processed. some of the photographs were taken in Armenia, the rest back in the UK. the prints looked amazing - not developing your film for 6 years takes shooting on 35mm to a whole new level. i think we should all have a few rolls of film which are kept in a drawer for a couple of years, half forgotten. i got very excited about the picture above and got to keep it. a deflated red air balloon on a wet green grass strikes me as quite an emotional image, i love it.
anyway, if you can get hold of HERE, watch it. especially if you are a romantic and love roadtrips (this film basically explains why i spend days on slow trains to remote locations). the poster is stunning. hats off to the person who took that photo:
the second film i wish i had been around to shoot the stills on is BALLAST (Winner of Best Film and Best Cinematography at the Sundance Film Festival 2008 - Lol’s first feature film, some people!). if story wise you think it’s not up your street that’s still fine, just watch the first scene, SO beautiful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l15-HBmcOwo for any photography enthusiasts this film is a must, the light work is incredible.
and this also happens to be the best film poster of all time:
• 25 May 2014
what a month. i can’t believe i’m actually writing this. i photographed Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, Olivia Colman, Tom Hardy. i got invited to do two talks about my work (scheduled for september, i’ll keep you posted) and i have an exhibition planned in a few weeks time. such an intense month, so much love. thank you!! may for me starts in switzerland. casual. my dog’s never impressed.
• 27 April 2014
another nyc friend close to my heart is dusdin condren. i’ve always loved his take on portraiture. he also works with sharon van etten a lot, she’s brilliant and plays in london in june.
last time when i sat on dusdin’s studio sofa in brooklyn i asked to flick through his book of portraits. it was perfect. one image stood out for me the most, i got very excited, so dusdin said he’d give it to me and we decided to do a print swap. i posted him a nice handprint of a picture from my russian series which he picked and he has sent me my favourite image from the book.
here’s to print swaps. is anyone else in?
p.s. dusdin has the most beautiful blog, have a look: http://daily.dusdincondren.com/
• 19 April 2014
last september i went to nyc to see my friend Mara and shoot for her amazing zine HAUTE FOOD. do you remember the 'milk, eggs, water' issue with my portraits from St Petersburg which came with a cool eggshell poster?
this issue is all about MEATBALLS, ha, amazing. i had a good laugh and played around with my nyc photos and created these ludicrous collages. i love them. they make me smile.
flick through the issue here. buy at antennebooks & villagebookstore.
EAT YOUR VEGGIES!
• 14 April 2014
i’m selling prints!
most of the photographs on my website are for sale. either as 12”x 16”prints in a limited edition of 5 + 2 artist’s proofs, handprinted (first picture),
or there is a cheaper option too: unlimited postcard sized photographs + mounts, inkjet Giclees prints (second picture).
the russian series generates interest most often. landscapes from à la recherche de la jouissance perdue are rather good too. and some single images from love diaries, especially ‘single trees for single people’.
just send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask about the ones you like. i could also send you a separate link to the stills if it’s easier.
• 5 April 2014
one more outtake - Johnny Flynn.
a few years back i took pictures of Johnny in victoria park. the first one was published in a magazine, but i was looking at some outtakes the other day and loved the second one. it’s so natural. we were just having a laugh and he tried to look at me but couldn’t because the sun was shining right into his eyes. i miss looking straight into the sun and feeling the warmth of sun rays on my face, perhaps that’s why i picked that photo now - in the depths of this gloomy weather. anyway, since then Johnny has been working on some exciting projects acting-wise and he has also recorded another album. he’ll be touring with his band this spring, here are the dates, go see him, he’s great. that’s a nice tune from the new album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3feE_GCMcjc. (if i were to recommend one song though it’d have to be ‘amazon love' which he sings with his sister Lillie.)
• 3 March 2014
Stacy Martin, an outtake.
i haven’t worked with Lars von Trier yet but you might recognise Stacy who played young Joe in his latest film NYMPHOMANIAC. i was looking for a girl to do a shoot with and get a cover shot for Oh Comely magazine. when i met her no other girl stood a chance. it had to be Stacy, she’s that stunning, i asked to work with her right away. it was back in 2011 and i remember her telling me about her plans to give acting a go and apply to an acting school. i’m so happy her dream came true, in such a short time and in such a big way!
i really like this picture above - a fleeting, authentic moment of Stacy being her beautiful self, not particularly engaged with the camera - it’s so hard to steal moments like this with people who are photographed almost on a daily basis. there’s an air of clarity and lightness around this girl and i hope her acting journey takes her wherever she wants to be.
• 2 March 2014
my dearest Parisian friend Fanny who often joins me on my winter journeys to obscure places has just sent me this photo. she said she took it in her neighbourhood near Place de Clichy. great to see my work printed that big in a city i called home only three years ago. thank you F, miss you!
• 1 March 2014
thanks to a wonderful team at It’s Nice That and their lovely mention of my work two days ago: http://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/agatha-nitecka-2 i gained a few more followers and thought i’d treat you to a photo i took a few years ago which hasn’t been seen before. it’s a behind the scenes still from Andrea Arnold’s WUTHERING HEIGHTS. i know it looks like it could have been shot on any film set, i guess that’s why it hasn’t made it through to my final selection, but i do love this image for some reason, just like that, on its own.
+ an update: film critic Mark Kermode praised two of the films i worked on in The Culture Show: Forget the Oscars, Here are the Kermodes, worth watching if you liked THE SELFISH GIANT and FOR THOSE IN PERIL.
• 27 February 2014
i’ve spent orthodox christmas on the Maidan. when i arrived at the beginning of january 2014 my mind was full of dramatic images i had seen online taken in december 2013. upon my arrival i found Euromaidan to be peaceful and quiet. a community of people helping each other, cooking together, making tea, playing table tennis in the middle of the road and hockey with snow shovels and stones. there was no police in sight. instead there was a lot of singing and camaraderie. ‘Slava Ukraini! Heroyam Slava!’ i took the pictures above early in the morning when Maidan was still asleep. unfortunately it turned out to be the calm before the storm. what happened on thursday feb 19th is atrocious - snipers started killing unarmed protesters. 'When I walked out into the Maidan, clad in a helmet and a flak jacket, I saw bodies lying on the pavement. Ten in one place, another six a short walk away, five more farther away. The demonstrators were killed with precise shots to their heads or necks, the hallmarks of snipers. People were gathering around the dead, many of them weeping. Some covered the bodies with Ukrainian flags, others brought Orthodox icons. A priest conducted a remembrance service. I felt a bit sick. Many of the victims were only in their 30s and 40s, full of energy just a few hours ago. I kept asking myself: Why are they killing them? The protesters had no firearms that I could see, and snipers could have instead incapacitated them by shooting their feet or arms. If the government had hoped that the killings would intimidate protesters and force them to leave the Maidan, it was clearly a miscalculation.’ Veteran Associated Press conflict reporter Yuras Karmanau
back in London i feel confused. not that many people talk about what’s going on in Ukraine. i hear about Sochi. and various fashion weeks. and sure there has been a lot of media coverage in the past few days with live updates from the Independence Square. i’ve come across an article earlier about photo editors having too many ‘good’ pictures (= ‘smoke, steam, snow, soft light and fire’) from kiev to pick from. people are dying and they talk about taking great shots, it angered me. there are two things here: 1) i see that photographers’ role is important, they bravely document the conflict zones and bring our attention to many important issues which otherwise wouldn’t get the attention they deserve, however i have always felt that in a way the very same photographers are taking advantage of the crisis situations to create a body of work they’d be proud of, could get recognition for, or simply receive a cheque. 2) i also wonder if perhaps what gets picked by media is a bit sensational and too generic. only those bigger and more crowded conflict scenes are being published, i.e. anything with lots of fire and even more blood. and part of me feels that people who have no personal connection to Ukraine just look at all those images and think: ‘another conflict’. what shocked me when i arrived in Kiev last month was just the opposite of what is being published: the unspectacular, the peacefulness and in fact a certain emptiness of the Independence Square. it really hit me. that certainly was not what i had imagined i’d see - everything was moving too slowly, there weren’t as many crowds, tourists were walking around taking pictures of each other in front of the barricades. conflict photographers won’t take ‘boring’ pictures though, no one would publish them. yet i think it was this stillness and a certain lack of exaggeration that hit me most and i’ll never forget this feeling. and now again, what made the biggest impact on me in the awfully sad past two days is this unedited, rather quiet and still video, make sure you watch the entire clip: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1cwnox_sous-les-balles-des-snipers-a-kiev-jerome-sessini-agence-magnum_news (if you read french here’s the full story). i think it’s this slower, unedited, slightly more personal approach that could actually reach and touch more people. i don’t expect everyone to be as engaged in what’s going on in Ukraine as some of us are. however, spectacular pictures full of crowds, fire and blood in my opinion only distance the viewer from what’s actually going on (as in: ‘it’s sad what’s happening, but it’s their story). witnessing one man die quietly is bound to evoke a stronger feeling. i’m not sure what we can do from here to help, but i’d just like a few more people to think about all those in Ukraine who fight for their values, risking their lives. my thoughts are with Ukrainians.
p.s. here’s an insightful fb page to follow: https://www.facebook.com/eurolution?fref=ts
• 22 February 2014