EUROPEAN TOUR (WARSAW): Workshop with Adam Panczuk

It’s been a few weeks since we officially ended our European Tour and after a nice break for Thanksgiving and some time to recover from our two month jaunt, we’re proud to present our workshop with Sputnik photographer Adam Panczuk! We’ve admired his work for years and it’s such an honor to have had the opportunity to work with him in his home city of Warsaw, Poland. Adam’s workshop was a different format from the others we hosted during our time abroad, as it was a 5-day project course that included portfolio reviews, group critiques and the daily shooting of a new photo essay. We were thrilled to hold this last workshop in an amazing loft in one of the oldest remaining buildings in the center of Warsaw, located near the Three Crosses Square and within walking distance of some of Warsaw’s most historical sites. The first day of class on November 12th began at 10 am with introductions, tea, coffee and pastries. Afterwards, Adam gave an amazing presentation on his work from his time as a student until his most recent projects in Warsaw and Iceland. He shared his first images taken as an aspiring young journalist and generously illustrated the point in which his work began to shift towards a more folkloric and imaginative process. He shared wonderful stories about his experience in working long-term in a Polish farming village – as he went from documenter to friend, wedding limo driver, farmer and artist. Adam’s commitment to his process, as well as his openness to engaging with his story, was of great inspiration and we’re so grateful to have had the chance to hear about the making of Karczeby. After a break we began looking at the work of our talented students. Everybody brought an entirely different style, mood and set of experiences and it was wonderful to see such a wonderfully diverse group of people meeting to engage in photography in a new city. We were also happy to have a returning student, Luisa Hubner, of whom we were fortunate to work with in Jessica Backhaus’s editing workshop in Berlin; Luisa received a scholarship to attend Adam’s “Stories of the Landscape”. We viewed work on the projector, in print form and in precious hand-made books, which made for an engaging afternoon. Once the first day ended, we realized that it was getting dark incredibly early in Warsaw and that it would leave students with little time to shoot if we didn’t rearrange our schedule. The rest of the workshop was held in the remaining evenings, after the sun had gone down and students had a moment to decompress from a long day in the cold.

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The following four evenings we all met to review and critique the work each student had done that day, and offer advice for the progression of the essays. Adam shared the work of some talented Polish photographers and his wonderful skill for editing photos into a challenging sequence for presentation. After the classes ended, some students stayed behind each day for personal portfolio reviews from Adam. It was a tough 5 day class as students raced around in the cold and fog of Warsaw, battling language difficulties, unpredictable weather and the dark. Overall, we were extremely impressed with what they were able to come up with over such a short period of time and were amazed by the rapid advancement of certain sets of skills in each student. A returning student from Donald Weber’s workshop in the summer 2013 PWNY series challenged herself to make a project that combined landscapes with portraiture. Since her time in NYC, she has talked about her struggle with engaging strangers on the streets for portraits and we were incredibly proud to see her overcome this and spend the 5 days growing as a photographer. Often, we fall back on what we’re best at – we’re always thrilled to see students expanding themselves! Each student approached Warsaw in an entirely different way and we had projects that varied from street portraiture to a comparison of the old and new districts of the city, a daily personal diary of images that included tangential writing, an essay on people in the Praga district, a meditative and poetic work on bird formations above the city that combined experimental techniques with archival imagery and a work on the transient population of young students that travel to Warsaw during the week for school, then return to their comfortable lives in the countryside.

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The final day of the workshop concluded with us editing and looking at the completed works, coming up with strategies to continue projects or develop new ones and a final, shared dinner at a local Polish restaurant. It was such a wonderfully warm and talented workshop for us to end our tour on and we’re so grateful to have had the opportunity to watch our students blossom in such a short period of time.

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Stay tuned for a final update on our European Tour! All images taken with a Leica M, thanks to an incredible generous sponsorship from Leica Store Firenze!!