STREET AND TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY

Marcin Konkel

"I'm not always humble!" - an interview with Michał Huniewicz (part 1)

NORTH KOREA / Inhabitants of Pyongyang commuting. Copyright (C) by Michał Huniewicz.

Michał Huniewicz is one of those Guys who don't go for mediocracy. He also does not settle for what lies on the surface but digs deeper, goes further. Having seen quite a bit of the world and shared hundreds of stories with his photographs either on his blog, exhibitions or media he certainly had a number of occasions to learn, fail and develop his craft and opinions. He is also one of the few people I met with a great talent to freeze the moment in the right time and in a compelling way that conveys emotions and makes you think. Michal is making it to the headline news all over the world as we speak with his North Korean photographs showing a different reality to this presented by the government in Pyongyang.

I decided to interview Michał from a bit different angle than is presented in the media. I was curious about his experiences, developing craft and the story behind his passion. One might see that as the story which led him to North Korea or as the way he looks and experiences things. Under the selected photographs from Michał's archive you may find some additional background in terms of the circumstances where the photograph was taken or the history behind the shot.

Where did he visit the red zone? Who does he find being the harshest critic? Where from does he take his inspirations? Where is "the Island" located? These, and many more, questions you will find answered in our interview. Note that this is the first part of a two part series. Without any further ado, let's start.

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A never-ending horizon

WARSAW | Palace of Culture and Science as seen from the 42nd floor of Cosmopolitan Twarda 4 in early evening.

There are these places that let you experience the world from hight above in the sky as if from a birds perspective. Although I've seen a few such places (most awe-inspiring being The Shard) they keep on mesmerising me with their endless horizon and illuminating city lights. The world seems so small and you atop of it all. For some it may inflate their ego and for others it may show the wonder of human thought, engineering and how we, as human beings, transform what's around us. Sometimes altering forever what we found in the first place.

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of visiting the 42nd floor of a skyscraper Cosmopolitan Twarda 4 constructed in recent years (2014 to be exact) in Warsaw. The weather was just perfect and I couldn't imagine a better opportunity for the photo session I was to hold. Warm, sunny, blue sky with some clouds here and there. The building, for the time being, is the second highest construction in the capital and third in Poland (according to Wikipedia) being 160 meters high with 44 storeys. As the name suggests it's based on Twarda street. What it offers to it's inhabitants can be found on Tacit Investment website. Kudos to Ms Agnieszka for having me! 

Below you can see how the capital city of Poland looks like from over 150 meters above the ground.

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Short: Details

Often we see them for a blink of an eye thus not noticing the exact shape, feel, look of the intricacies. Always on the run or with a distracted focus we try to delve for details but if done too quickly they tend to not show up. It takes time and attention to discover the small things, yet the most interesting ones, that are in an object that we have seen dozens of times but didn't bother to stop and look, listen, touch. On one opener exhibition in Warsaw by Robert Kuśmirowski titled "graduation tower" (pl. tężnia) I've done such an experiment and you can see the outcome below.

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Spine of the South

The Overland Collective consists of six people. They call themselves adventurers first—photographers, filmmakers, and journalists exploring the world. Eric Hanson is one of them. He's done a beautiful video from his solo journey through Andean spine of South America starting from Ecuador to Patagonia in 2015. He used public transport and trekked taking few hundred thousand photos. The effects of his work you can admire below.

Mexico City

In 2010 Mexico City has done a video (by Mexico City Tourism Promotion Fund) that has it's premiere at the Mexican pavilion at Shanghai Expo. It shows the city during a 24 hours reminiscence enclosed in a close to 5 minutes video. It's an interesting glimpse of the street vibe and the architecture that the city is most proud of. See for yourself. 

Chilly Sweden and warm fika

A train ride, a cab ride, another cab ride, two flights and a train. Finally, I'm in. That's how it sometimes is with those airline fares. Travelling from Poznan, through Warsaw, to Stockholm is half the price as from Warsaw directly. I'm in a city encompassing fourteen islands that, as such, resembles Polish Wroclaw. Not much more similarities came to my mind at first. On the other hand, I was not looking for them and focusing my attention on embracing what I see so "Hello Stockholm! So nice to meet you!". In this brief journey there were couple of things to do and see. What is fika? Why is 3,5% the strongest beer you can buy? What are the Swedes most proud of? Find out the answers as you read.

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From Stockholm with love

Pierre Oberkampf is a multi-talented artist. Apart from being a composer and a photographer, he is also a video producer. Picture & original music for the below movie about Stockholm are created by Pierre. The production does not shock with spectacular landscapes or vivid colours. It surprises the viewer with a rather melancholic features of Sweden's capital city. Yet, together with a well composed soundtrack, it reveals a more mundane, so to say, view on Stockholm. See for yourself.

A journey for a smile

It's when I started fulfilling my dream of travelling giving the foundations for #projects. It's like a bug that's incurable once you get going. It gives you freedom and you have to give back with expanding your comfort zone. You meet dozens of people which help but it's you that make the decisions if you'll use their help. I'm talking about hitchhiking of course but let's begin from the start..

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The plan - Камчатка 2016

Planning is something needed at times especially if you want to know your budget that you'll need to have. Same goes for saving up some money in order to find the best price-quality ratio. It's quite easy to spend money to complete your dreams and desires. It's harder (or easier?) to make it as cheap as possible and still have a blast. The constraints have something fun in them because they urge you to think and be creative. That's why the more money you have doesn't necessarily mean that that you're gonna have more fun. When things come too easy to us we tend not to value them enough.

Volcano Koryaksky (Kamchatka) at Sunrise. Copyright (C) by kuhnmi (flickr.com/photos/31176607@N05/). Used under CC BY 2.0 licence.

Few of the above thoughts were accompanying us when designing the plan for our Kamchatka 2016 expedition. We have passed on going to Japan (flights too expensive) and pondered a bit on North Korea (still do) as an extension of our trip from Vladivostok. For the time being though we have what we need - an agreed plan and we're waiting for the promo's to come and to do our first bookings. Read more to find out what have we planned.

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More than one life

"Everything you can learn, and everything that defines you is just a relative version of reality. Your version of the truth." - says Krzysztof Gonciarz (a Polish vloger) in his movie about Hong Kong. A city that, as New York, also does not sleep much but is located in the other part of the world. It is so densely populated (7 million inhabitants) and has the largest number of skyscrapers in the world that you'll be amazed how many new faces you can see with a single walk on the street.

"You can spend a lifetime learning about Hong Kong and still only scratch the surface".

The most interesting fact about the movie that Krzysztof made is how he made it and how's he telling the story. This is how travel movies should look like.