At the age of 25, Lincoln-born photographer Max Miechowski quit his job to go travelling around south-east Asia with a group of friends. It was there that he began photographing en masse: “being in new and beautiful places, and experiencing different cultures, it felt really natural for me to photograph everything around me,” he recalls. Finding himself travelling to places specifically to photograph them, getting up early to capture the best light and take peoples’ portraits, he cut his trip short and returned to England, using the money he had left to buy a better camera.
This introduction to the medium he now calls a career, three years on, clearly affected Max’s practice which is heavily rooted in traditional portraiture and a product of his constant wondering. “I’ve spent a lot of time exploring on foot and making images of the people and places I find,” Max tells It’s Nice That. “I try not to go out looking for anything particular, but allow the work to come naturally over time.” Having moved to London last year after studying photography in Leeds, it was the images captured in his new home which really caught our eye.
Although taken in various locations, there is a tone that connects Max’s imagery. Often centring a subject in the scene, Max uses adept observations of light to draw focus to these subjects, light which provides contrast and warmth at the same time.
It’s when you inquire about the stories behind each image, or pair of images that Max’s work really comes to life, however. Take his diptych of portraits taken by the harbour in Falmouth, for example. “I went there to visit my cousin, who had just finished his degree, and on one of the evenings I took a walk around the pier and the beach to get portraits of swimmers,” he explains. “The two guys were pretty wasted, jumping off the pier into the freezing water and scrambling out for a few gulps of special brew before diving back in. They were having an absolute blast, and I loved chatting with them and taking their portraits. The young girl was the stark opposite – she was prepared, sensible and sober. I love how the images sit together.”
In another photograph, a man peers off into the distance, blossom floating around him, a strand of his long hair perfectly suspended in mid-air by the wind. “The image of Dyke in falling blossom was taken in Peckham, on the hottest day of the year,” Max describes. “It was roasting and I’d been walking around all day. He was sat outside the shops drinking beer and joking with the shopkeeper. I sat with him and chatted for a while, he told me some crazy stories and then I took his portrait as the wind picked up, blowing the blossom off of the tree next to us.”
Whether roaming the streets of London, Cornwall or another continent altogether, it’s clear Max has an aptitude for drawing personality from his sitters. By spending time with them, and by developing a relationship before taking out his camera, Max captures honest and intimate moments.
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