Please introduce yourself: What is your name, where are you from, what do you do?
Hey, my name is Darius and I'm based in Cologne. I was originally born in Poland and mostly grew up in Germany. I work as a software developer and have a weakness for contemporary photography.
What is your relationship with photography and how did you get into it?
I guess the roots can be found when I started to draw regularly as a kid. But I stopped that passion when I was a teenager.
To compensate the lack of creative output, I started to photograph with a DSLR back in 2008. Over the years, I slowly developed into a certain direction but overall I felt that something elementary was missing.
Things changed completely when I discovered film photography which I have become more interested to over the recent years. I started from scratch and incorporated my personal views and preferences while living in a restless and always changing urban environment.
Now photography has become my practice to capture places I feel somehow connected to. I feel the need to collect these gems for myself before they may disappear - and they will. This exploration helps me to get familiar with my surroundings in general. Beyond that, I gain insight into the development of places outside my usual scope.
What do you think triggers you to photograph in a certain moment? Is it planned or solely driven by intuition?
It is intuition most of the time. Often I have a rough idea where I want to go. But at the end of the day it depends on the subject, the kind of light and my guts if I press the shutter.
What is the story you want your pictures to tell?
The world is quite busy and is changing tremendously fast. I want to disconnect from all that restlessness outside and capture the pure space altered by man. These spots can tell about past changes and are often not consciously perceived. Maybe my pictures invite to stay and appreciate the diversity of uncommon and dated places that still exist. Of course, this does not apply to all my pictures but many of them.
What is your personal relationship to cities and how do you perceive them as places in general?
Personally I have been always fascinated by cities or areas that are shaped by industry. I would trace this down to my adventurous childhood in Poland. I feel quite comfortable walking through such districts and imagining the past.
These are ugly places but they have so much to tell and beauty can be found if observed carefully. It is a shame to see places that once were responsible for economic wealth, being completely demolished nowadays.
Regarding your project «Place Oddity»: What was your intention, and how did you come up with the idea?
«Place Oddity» is my ongoing project where I collect all sorts of interesting places I find while just walking around or travelling.
The idea is to make an ordinary or banal place look odd or unusual by choosing a specific subject, frame or light condition. The title is inspired by «Space Oddity» by David Bowie.
If you could travel back/forth in time, what advice would you give your younger / older self?
Learn and start to photograph earlier; continue to develop further and keep the commitment.
What do you prefer saying: «to take a photograph» or to «make a photograph», and why?
In my opinion it is a multi-step process: first, there is the mental part by imagining how I want the picture to be composed and to appear like. After that, I press the shutter and technically take the picture. And finally there is the processing/editing/printing. By looking at the process as a whole I would rather say I «make a photograph».
If it wasn’t for photography, what would you be interested in doing instead?
Making electronic music or playing an instrument. Not long ago I started to learn drums by myself but I was too lazy to practice the rudiments. I found photography to be a much easier way for me to express myself.
How would you describe one of your pictures to a blind person?
A down-to-earth view at urban places with ideally no signs of modern society that let the place with its traces speak for itself.
What are you currently working on, and — if there is — what is your next project or journey?
There is an old town that is currently being demolished. By now, it has been almost completely destroyed. It is quite disturbing to see that. I am working on a series about documenting the state.
Thank you Darius!
© Darius Urbanek