“I think most of my inspiration comes from my day to day surroundings, the people I meet and the stories I’m told,” says London-based photographer Jan Klos. Originally from Krakow, Jan adeptly blends documentary photography with slick portraiture and fashion in a portfolio that records and comments on “the ever-changing canvas of culture”.
Attracted to work that highlights patterns in – and the complexities of – human behaviour, Jan’s work often features real people he’s encountered in his life. For his ongoing series Queens at Home, he focusses on the drag community which he was introduced to in the summer of 2017 when his partner entered into it. “I was always fascinated by the subject but hated how it’s depicted in the mainstream media,” he tells us. As a result, the series documents myriad performers away from the stage lights to the spaces they call home.
“I know that most of the performers are not keen on mixing their alter ego with their everyday selves, but that’s the project I want to do,” Jan insists. “I thought it would be interesting to see them in their homes – somewhere we never really see them, to get to know them on another level.”
The series, although documenting real people, holds Jan’s signature sheen; a glimpse of the more refined aesthetics associated with fashion and editorial work. Attempting to blur reality and fantasy, Jan explains: “My goal was to create a documentary series which looks very much like a polished editorial studio piece but with real people and real surroundings.” In turn, Queens at Home plays tribute to the art of drag, a world which constantly blurs the lines between the person on stage and the imagined fantasy they are projecting, one in which who is “real” and who isn’t doesn’t matter anyway.
Jan’s love of documenting those he finds “important or interesting” began while at university. Despite having been introduced to photography by his dad, around age six – “[he] used to set up a home darkroom” – it was during his studies that Jan encountered the work of photographers like Richard Avedon and Alec Soth and "fell in love with photography all over again, only this time I was more attracted by work which truly revealed the complexities of human behaviour rather than just a pretty image.”
Today, the latter motivates his work having completed series on the pubs of east London and the traditions and clubs of Great Britain producing a portfolio of “carefully composed portraiture with bold colours and trusting subjects”.
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