15 Questions With… Krzysztof Jan

How are you at the moment?

I’m doing great. Just finished watching Princess Mononoke, and, wow. I’m always mesmerized by the imaginative and nuanced universes that Hayao Miyazaki creates.

What is your morning ritual? How does your day begin?

If I’m home, I get coffee from the best coffee shop, Yellow Warbler, which happens to be downstairs from where I live. In an ideal situation, I go upstairs, sit in my armchair, and drink it flipping through one of the photobooks from my collection. Usually, though, I end up replying to emails.

What, right now, can you see?

In front of me is a bowl of oatmeal with banana, strawberry, and peanut butter, accompanied by a cup of coffee. I can see my entire tiny London flat from where I’m sitting. The sun is out and it looks like it’s going to be a nice day.

What artist, project, book would you recommend we see/follow?

As of lately, I’m greatly inspired by Swedish photographer Lars Tunbjörk. The colours in his work, framing, and way of documenting reality speak to me. It’s the perfect blend of Friedlander and Eggleston. You should check out Lars Tunbjork: Retrospective. I also recently came across a short documentary where he talks about the invisibility that comes with shooting backstage at fashion shows and how it allows you to photograph their chaotic and unglamorous side, and now I kind of want to try that out.

Tell us about your process when starting a new project

I try to take pictures consistently and, as I do, I keep an eye out on what happens during this process. If something has caught my attention, I can usually find some kind of pattern from which to expand. In other words, the photos I shoot kind of reveal to me where my interests lie at that moment. In this sense, shooting on film gives me the right amount of buffer before I see the images I took and enough time to reflect before I take some more. This is how it normally happens, but now I’m also trying to develop projects where the subject matter is what has led me to take the pictures in the first place.

What has been your favourite collaboration?

I’d have to say working with my girlfriend on Tope, a photo book I released in March. We had just come back from Mexico when the lockdown started, so I had all this new material to work with and lots of time in my hands. She’s worked editing and translating art books and exhibit texts, and she is from Latin America, so she helped me with the concept and the layout. From taking the pictures to designing the book, visiting the printers, and checking out the colour profiles, the entire process was really fun.

What is your greatest achievement?

Getting my book, Tope, out. If the lockdown hadn’t happened, I’d probably still be thinking about it. I’d always thought I didn’t have enough in me to get a book out, so it feels great to have completed a project and for it to have been well received. I’m super appreciative of the places that have accepted to sell it or showcase it, because many of them are places I never thought were possible to get into.

What is your greatest regret?

Not taking the picture of a dog I saw yesterday at the bar. It’s gonna haunt me for a while.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t pay attention to your parents’ views on the world if you feel like they don’t resonate with you. It took me a while to get that.

What is your latest project about?

It’s about slowing down and being present during a trip to Mexico. I know it might seem like busy Mexico might be a difficult place to do that, but once you get past the surface noise, the ‘obstacles’ become opportunities to appreciate the ordinary events that unfold along the way. All of that chaos and those clashing elements come together in harmony under the striking Mexican golden sunlight and even the most irrelevant bit of visual information can become an object of beauty.

What are you researching at the moment?

I’m researching primary colours and how to photograph them.

What can you not work without?

Light. I struggle to take pictures in light I don’t like.

What challenges have you faced working in your industry?

Not comparing yourself to others. There’s such a vast sea of great artworks out there that it can sometimes get a bit overwhelming. It’s easy to feel discouraged when you only see the result and don’t know the backside of success stories. This is why I think it’s best to try and focus on yourself and your process, rather than on where other people are with their work.

What are you hoping for in 2021?

I’m hoping to shoot more personal work than in 2020 :)

Share a song with us, what are you listening to at the moment?

Anika – In the City

Krzysztof Jan is a London-based photographer from Wroclaw, Poland. Interested in expressions, shapes, colours, light, and imperfection, his work focuses on capturing the energy and identity of the people and the places he encounters. Whether through a busy street scene full of visual elements or an abstract depiction of a dog’s tail, he is in the constant pursuit of a feeling, of a mood, of small clues that could help communicate what it was like to be in that moment and enable the viewer to feel present while looking at the pictures.

TOPE is available from Jan’s website, as well as a number of international stockists.