This is the fourth in a series of articles celebrating the photographic talent of the North Mayo region. This week we look at the mesmerising work of Janusz Sowa. What follows is a short interview with Janusz about his relationship with photography:
1. How did you get into photography?
When I was two my father emigrated from Poland to the US where he spent four years. Due to political turmoil in Poland he was unable to visit during that time. I knew him only from stories which my mother was telling me and pictures which Dad was sending from the other side of the Atlantic. At the time I tried to imagine what he was doing just before and after each picture was taken and what he was thinking of when he took those pictures. When he came back he brought a camera with him (Kodak Ektra 350) which became my first camera. In my youth I carried that camera with me almost all the time. I took pictures of my family, friends, dogs and ducks – however, it was very hard to get film for that particular camera in Poland in the 90’s.
When I grew older I shelved the camera, stopped thinking about past and future (like most teenagers) and got on to experiencing the present. It was however, during long hikes in the mountains that I learned how to appreciate and enjoy nature. I wanted to captures these moments and missed my camera but as DeGriff said: “There will be times when you will be in the field without a camera. And, you will see the most glorious sunset or the most beautiful scene that you have ever witnessed. Don’t be bitter because you can’t record it. Sit down, drink it in, and enjoy it for what it is!“. And I did exactly that.
With my first earned money I gave in and bought a Fujifilm S9600 digital camera (no more problems with getting film) which was quite an advanced bridge camera. Fortunately, a close friend of mine, photographer Krzysztof Werema got me started by showing me the basics. While being a photographer is not all about technical knowledge (knowing how to share emotions and experiences is very important), knowing basics about exposure triangle or composition will do no harm.
2. What do you love about photography?
I always felt an immense internal desire to freeze a moment in time, to remember everything that happened yesterday and the day before. Unfortunately, our memories are unreliable – all these moments are fading and morphing in to our own version of reality, in to our own version of the past. That’s what I love about photography – the ability to hold on to these moments, to share these moments and to bring them back, years and years later, with all their glory, beauty and imperfections. It’s all about sharing these emotions and experiences with others.
3. What is your favourite place in the North Mayo area to take photographs and why?
I’ve been living in Mayo for the last eight years. I’ve travelled around it a lot and I like to think that I know it quite well – but what I love about this place is that it keeps surprising me. There are so many hidden gems worth seeing. There is always something new to discover, and always something new to take your breath away. It’s very hard to choose a favorite place. One of the places which I’m very fond of and to which I return most often is Broadhaven Bay and the Sruwaddacon Bay area with all it’s beautiful spots located off-the-beaten track. Due to my work schedule I’ve spent a number of early mornings and evening there and I’ve witnessed some breathtaking scenes.