Of people and feelings: The Polish photographer’s contrast-rich and expressive analogue series is born from chance encounters, and the portraits reveal a whole range of emotions that the photographer himself has internalized.

What do people have that touches you?
I love people. We are one, and we can find similarities in ourselves, we can feel similar. We can think alike or we can be completely different from each other, but we all share a common denominator, and when I meet other people, I can also find myself in them. This is incredible.

How and where do you find your motives?
These are random encounters: I don’t know my protagonists at all. I’m attracted to something and then I start a conversation. This is the time when we can trust each other; then we get to know each other, no matter how long our meeting lasts. Very often these are just moments. We don’t literally get to know each other, but right now we pass on such huge layers of unity that magic happens.

The people you portray are somehow unusual, interesting, distinctive…
It’s probably just that I’m looking for similarities with myself. Most of us can feel emotions, and some of these emotions dominate us at a certain period of life. For example, fear, sadness, joy, shyness and others are in all of us. If you have ever experienced any of them, you can recognize them, and if you can feel them in yourself, you can feel them in others. This is what confirms that we are similar internally. I look for my emotions in people; I look for similarities; I am looking for meetings and to be together with a person I do not know.

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You focus entirely on the face in your series; the background seems to fade and not matter.
It is true that I like tight frames, I focus on the faces and often on the hands. I don’t think much about it, but I get very close to people, since I want to feel each of their emotions with my whole being. We are close to each other physically, but also spiritually. Each face is a piece of a story… and each one has their own, so when you show it to someone through your emotions, it is an act of the greatest trust for another person. I am very grateful for the fact that someone allows me to enter their world, their home for a moment.

As a photographer, what influence do you have on the staging of your protagonists?
At that time, I try to interfere as little as possible. I show some of my photos first and most of the people I meet are sorry. They know I seek intimacy, honesty, and mutual trust, and it’s better when that’s the case.

How exactly is your photographic process?
You know, this is a very good question; but in reality it is exactly as I described it above, because the photographic process begins at the moment of the meeting, and actually this is where the most important part takes place. I don’t like to talk about technicalities in photography, but believe me, I know everything and as a photographer, I also have to be able to choose these parameters. Later, when I manually develop the film, I pay attention to how to visually achieve what I like in photography; but, if we talk about photography a emotionally – and I can only talk about that: these are not important issues.

What do you look for in prints?
When it comes to developing and printing films, I do the whole process from start to finish. I love looking in black and white and try to choose everything to match my aesthetic. I use Kodak Tri-X400 analogue film and develop the film with Rodinal developer, which in particular allows me to get the contrast that suits me best in photographs. I print my work in A2 format, on Baryte paper, then I frame them in wooden and glass frames. Some of the people I have photographed received such a complete image of me.

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You used the Leica M6. What is your experience with the camera, especially for portrait photography?
When it comes to Leica cameras, I actually started my adventure with a digital camera: a Leica Monochrom Classic. Later, I discovered film cameras and I want to keep these for a longer time. I like this purist style in photography. If you shoot with these cameras, if you focus manually, you feel completely different in my opinion. There’s the fact that the camera doesn’t matter, but on the other hand, it’s important. If you have a camera that you like, the whole process is more natural and I like it that way. That’s why I like my Leica.

How did you get into photography yourself? And what does analog photography mean to you?
Initially, I treated photography as just another hobby. There was a lot of searching for myself. To be honest, I would like to see the world as a child all the time, to know and admire every seemingly trivial thing. I would like to be naive, not analytical, that’s why I prefer an analog camera. For me, less is more; however, that may be a cliché tagline for many people. I want to look calmly through the viewfinder and have as little choice as possible. I want to be as far away from the camera settings as possible and as close as possible to the human being. I want to talk to people, look them straight in the eye and feel them if I can, this is the most important thing to me.

Roland Kilimanjarowas born in 1976 in Puck, a small Polish town. He studied at the Jędrzej Śniadecki Sportakademie in Gdańsk. His interest in people is reflected in his intimate portraits, which always capture a small part of himself as well. As a purist with a weakness for natural style, he prefers to use analog photography. He has received several awards and one of his portraits was published, among others, in the bookPortrait of Humanityin 2020. Find out more about his photography in hiswebsiteandInstagram Page.

Number 8/2022 ofLFI Magazineis presenting an extensive Portfolio of Kilimanjaro’s work.

Leica M

The Leica. Yesterday. This day. Morning.

PostingSoulsfirst appeared inThe Leica Camera Blog.

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