KOVI KONOWIECKI | LONG BEACH CA, USA
Kovi Konowiecki (b.1992) was born in Long Beach, California. He holds a BA in Media Communications from Wake Forest University and an MA in Photography from University of the Arts London. After playing professional soccer in Germany and Israel, he turned to photography as a way to document the things around him and shed light on different aspects of his identity. Kovi was shortlisted for the 2016 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, and was the first ever nominee to have two images shortlisted for the first place prize.
What is your work about?
Although the medley of photographs submitted are not all from the same series, they portray people and scenes that I have encountered on my travels throughout southern California, the desert in particular.
My work is very much an extension of my identity. Often focusing on portraiture, I take pictures of individuals, groups of people, and places that have had a large impact on my upbringing and my current state of mind. My subjects are often outcasts of contemporary society, existing in a liminal space of simultaneous belonging and disconnection.
Although much of my work exemplifies the seemingly commonplace and un-extraordinary, I intend to highlight the beauty of familiarity that can transform the mundane of my surroundings into something very personal in my photographs.
How does photographing on film (or using your material photographic process of predilection) inform your artistic practice?
Making pictures on film is a very special part of my practice. It allows me to slow down and be in the present moment. As someone who is obsessed with documenting, it is very important for me to enjoy the process of making an image just as much (if not more) than the outcome. I become very observant while shooting on film, trying to decide all of the details of a scene or moment that I want to include or leave out of a particular frame. There is also the aspect of uncertainty. It is a way for me to hold onto my memories.
Perhaps most importantly, shooting on film, often with a medium format camera and a tripod, creates a certain interaction between my subjects and myself. Focusing on portraiture, I try to bring out a sense of vulnerability amongst my subjects, and shooting on film helps create that atmosphere. It is a bit more raw and personal.
Not being able to see the final product right away has taught me to trust my ideas. The feeling of finally seeing your image and being satisfied with your vision in the moment the photograph was made is a special one.