PIOTR NIEPSUJ ‘A’ | BOOK LAUNCH IN MILAN
Milan-based photographer Piotr Niepsuj sees something the rest of us don’t.
Documenting everyday life, his eye works together with his photographic tools to capture the expected in unexpected ways.
Polish born, Niepsuj grew up in Lodz where he studied architecture and from there moved to Milan to continue his studies. His interest switched to the medium of photography and the rest is history. Now working freelance for magazines, companies and dabbling with bit of creative consulting on the side, Niepsuj has created a niche for his certain style of photography, which is a mix of his own personality, viewpoint and surroundings.
Niepsuj launched his first book ‘A’ last night at the RIVIERA bookstore in Milan, a hardback book in a limited edition run of 300 (all hand-numbered and hand-signed). Part of the movement of young creatives in Milan all working for themselves and therefore self-promoting, Niepsuj’s self-publishing venture is a celebration of the DIY spirit now made even more possible with the tools and opportunities at hand in our current age. ’A’ is a photo diary of a holiday spent with a special person, an album that collects the memories of a summer trip; through Poland to the photographer’s hometown, and then to the city of Berlin. Describing, “I’ve always wanted to make a ‘summer with a girlfriend’ kind of book and in a way it is very much like this. In the same time it’s nothing like this at all. It’s not happening in any remote or exotic location, there is not even a hint of nudity and it doesn’t even really seem like fun. But it’s still a very personal and honest visual of something we split for a little bit”. From here Niepsuj rediscovers familiar things and interprets them from new points of view.
Before his book launch, Niepsuj explained more about his publishing venture with us over email, telling us more about his photography, and his individual process of creation and execution.
Your first book is titled A, what is the motivation behind the name? ‘A’ seemed like a perfect title for the first book, doesn’t it? It’s a book with photos I shot (with iPhone) during last summer, that I spent with a special person. And ‘A’ is also for this girl.
Minimally designed, the format and cover of the book really allow the images to speak. What was your reasoning for this? To be honest, when I go to a bookstore and see a photo-book with no image on the cover I usually get annoyed so i don’t really how that happened, hahah (!). It got lost somewhere in a process I guess. I just didn’t want it to look ‘designed’. Black letters on white background is just perfect. No bullshit. And there is a photo on the back too, but you can see it only if you buy a book. I can’t not mention my friends from Dallas who helped me with it.
How did you create the book? For those also wanting to publish their work, what would you recommend? What type of research and execution did you do? When I came back home after the summer and looked through the images it felt like publishing another facebook album wouldn’t be enough. It’s then when I decided to make a book. It wasn’t planned or anything. My advice would be probably this: don’t publish anything you produce! Select, edit, choose carefully first. Don’t pollute world with even more images, we are drowning in the ocean of photos anyway. Be responsible. Be strict with yourself. Ask yourself why do want to show it to others. Don’t publish just for sake of publishing. Or if so keep it for yourself, give it some time (shit, I sound like an old man!) I’ve been shooting 8 years now and it’s my first book. It’s only now when it felt right.
When working with layout of the book, do you work with instinct in the positioning of images, or do you have a timeline you go by? I used to work as a photo-editor for a magazine and then in a photo-agency for 5 years or so and I really love it. Working on layout is for me equally important and fun as shooting. I decided to keep the photos in ‘A’ in chronological order which made the edit double tricky, but that’s the beauty.
How would you describe your photography? What are you most interested in capturing and communicating visually? There is nothing pre-set and rarely anything retouched in my photos. It is how I saw it. I’m an observer.
What tools do you usually use to shoot, and why did you use the iPhone for this particular project? These are my personal photos and what’s more personal then your phone? It’s something you have always with you, it’s on (unless your battery is drained) and ready to shoot. Easy. For me it’s kind of an equivalent of film point-and-shoot camera that I started my photography adventure with. And quality is good enough if somebody cared. Of course I also have a big DSLR for work, but surprisingly I’m starting to get iPhone assignments recently. I guess people are bored with perfect images. I am.
Milan-based, you’re originally Polish. How has your background influenced your interests and work? What was it like growing in Lodz, Poland, and why did you move to Milan? I moved to Milan 10 years ago to continue studying architecture that I started back in Poland. I even graduated at some point, but in the meantime go sucked in by a new reality and the whole photo thing kicked off.
Growing up in Poland was good, I can’t complain, but Lodz is gray, it’s a poor city and back than it was also pretty dangerous so moving to Milan was like 180 degrees change for me. Everything was completely different. Not sure though if that influenced me much. I’d say you might see some architecture background in my photos. And some rap music too.
What is the creative scene like in Milano right now? It seems there are quite a few DIY projects coming out of there. The rebirth of Milan that you’ve probably been reading about seems to be real. It’s buzzing right now. People are more active, doing their smaller or bigger projects, opening new spaces etc.
The only thing is that we don’t really get much of financial support from those who could help. Maybe that’s why it all seems DIY. But there are loads of big talents here. Trust me. We should make a big feature in Champ on them!
If we are in Milan for 24 hours, where would your recommend us to go? A Niepsuj Guide to Milan of sorts. What I’m telling everybody to do is to go to the rooftop of Duomo. It’s a really a touristy thing to do but I keep on coming back there. Especially on the day after the rain when the air is so limpid that you can see the alps. You can go to Fondazione Prada or Hangar Bicocca to see some contemporary art, you can go to check Villa Necchi-Campiglio (you have to book the visit first) you can go to Bar Basso if you’ve never tried Negroni Sbagliato or you can just walk around town and enjoy the sun.
You’re launching A at the bookstore RIVIERA, who is behind the store and why are you launching with them? RIVIERA is a project by my friends Dallas (Francesco Valtolina and Kevin Pedron) and Caterina Riva. It’s a temporary thing being set inside the Swiss Institute in Milan and they are organizing a series of events there. You should check their crazy page because the schedule is really really good. I’m really thankful that they agreed to host me there.
RIVIERA is a project by Istituto Svizzero, Caterina Riva, Dallas (Francesco Valtolina, Kevin Pedron)
Via Vecchio Politecnico 3 – 20121 Milano
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