The human body has been practically redefined by tattoo artists as canvas. Tattoos have come a long way as far as complexity in the recent years, which penetrates the synchronization of artistic forms. European photographer, Kamila Burzymowska, contributes to the urge to further embellish our skin through curating collections of tattooed models and tattoo photography while traveling nearly the whole of Europe with a keen eye and unique vision. I caught up with the lady behind the camera to discuss her current projects, the method behind rendering the everyday luminous and more.
Photo by Michal Szwerc
What inspired your passion for tattoo photography and who has been there supporting you from the beginning?
Since I can remember, I was always taking pictures. I started with my family and friends. Once upon a time, I was with my friend in a tattoo studio, which is where I met my former boyfriend. That day, he started his backpiece tattoo. After few weeks, we started dating and he became a tattoo studio manager. He took me to my first tattoo convention. It was like four years ago. When I saw all these tattooed people walking around, I knew what I wanted to do in my life. My parents and my boyfriend have always been supportive of my career choice. My boyfriend and I have been together for four years and now he is my manager. He once said to me that I should start showing my pictures and create a Facebook fanpage. Now I’m interviewing for one of the biggest tattoo sites in the world! I never saw it coming and didn’t believe that I could accomplish all of this.
When you began your career as a photographer, was creating your style an organic, mellow process or did it involve angst in the growing pains?
When I was a teenager, I started listening to hardcore music and going to concerts. I was thinking that was it – but it wasn’t, because I always like to do colorful pictures. Concerts aren’t colorful. They are taken in the dark and you have only three songs to take some pictures under the stage. There is no time and place for colorful pictures in a row from under the stage. When I saw a lot of tattooed people at my first tattoo convention, I wanted to show them to the world. Then I decided this was the way that I wanted to go. This is something different and colorful. I think everything in terms of my style has been created in a natural way. I always want a lot of color and contrast.
Photo by Michal Szwerc
Let’s say that you have your choice of location, an unlimited budget for wardrobe/props/gear etc. What does your dream shoot look like?
This is a very hard question. I haven’t thought about this yet. On one hand, I’m a reportive photographer, so I think I would like to go to the biggest tattoo convention in the world; but on the other hand, I’m also a portrait photographer – so I don’t know. There would be a lot of different, mismatched stuff – very colorful, shiny, high-contrast and crazy! 🙂
What is your greatest indulgence?
I’m a woman, so it probably doesn’t shock anyone when I say that my greatest indulgence is shopping. Not just for clothing and accessories, but for photgraphic accessories and equipment. You know that saying, something like: “teach your child the love of photography and they will never have money for drugs.” Sometimes in life, there is a moment when you know that if you want to do more, you must have better gear. You have reached a certain level and if you want to go higher you must spend more money. In a moment like this, I know I need to buy a new camera or new lens and I don’t think about the fact that I will have to pay via installment. It doesn’t matter – I have to buy it. Period.
What project are you working on right now?
I need to praise myself on two things. One of them is my first cover ever for Skin Deep Tattoo Magazine! Secondly, I’m working on my first photographic book. I graduate Academy of Photography in Warsaw and this is will be my final assignment. This book will summarize my creativity and progress by featuring the work I have done in the last few years. I’m very excited about it. I want to publish this in the beginning of October.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I’m a big fan of penguins! I love to watch them walk and swim. I would like to have my own penguin and walk with him. They are so cute. I can’t say why I love these animals so much. I have a collection of a dozen penguin mascots! My favorite is done by my friend and it’s “metalhead” penguin!
Photo by Michal Szwerc
Tell us about the tattoos that you have of your own.
I only have three tattoos but I’m sure that there will be more. It is very hard to choose a tattoo artist when you are always meeting someone new. There’s only so much space on my skin and a multitude of tattoo artists to choose from! I do know one thing – that I can’t go to an artist that I don’t know personally. It is very important to me to know that person – I need to like the tattoo artist and we need to have some type of connection. A tattoo takes a few hours and is an intense experience. I feel like I have to trust this person and feel comfortable in his/her company. My favorite tattoo was done by Marcin Surowiec (and of course it is related to photography).
Photo by Pawel Biegun
When you are shooting, how much of it is instinctual versus planned?
I always need a plan, but am also good at improvising. I’m not only a photo session photographer, I’m also (or maybe even primarily) a reportive photographer. So, if you want your pictures to stand out from other photographers who are at the same event that you are, you must to do something different – something they never even thought about doing. It is very sad when I’m planning a photo session with someone, for example, at a tattoo convention, and I’ve been in contact with them for weeks to plan out all the details, but before you know it, someone is stealing my work. Because of this, I need to be creative in order to do something different enough that makes my work stand out on its own.
Who is another photographer in your creative field that you particularly admire?
The one and only David LaChapelle. I love his pictures. They are awesome! The colors, the details, the lights!
Photo by Michal Szwerc
Last but certainly not least, what do you want your viewers to take away from your work?
I don’t see tattoos. I see people full of passion and art. In our country, people still think that if you have tattoos, you must be prisoner. This is changing, of course, and tattoo art is way more popular than it was a few years back. We have few great, big tattoo conventions every year. I want to show everyone that people with tattoos aren’t bad. They are beautiful. Everyone is different. There is something specific, something good to be found in the tattooed community. People are very friendly, they are laughing, they are helpful even if they don’t “look” like they are. I mean that you can have a tattooed face and people can be afraid of you on the street, but I’ve never met someone like that who acted unpleasant towards me. I want to show that behind all those tattoos, there is something beautiful inside.
Banner Photo by Michal Szwerc