10 Questions: Tomasz Wagner
Tomasz Wagner is a photographer originally from Poland and now based in Vancouver, Canada, where he has settled after a childhood filled with travelling. He now travels worldwide photographing weddings, and finds inspiration from those childhood adventures. He also herds cats, roasts vegetables and climbs rocks!
1. What is life to you? What it should be?
Life for me is grand and mysterious. It’s made up of quiet moments and strong emotions. It’s exhausting, mundane, and thrilling like I’m constantly scaling a mountain. The top is within reach but that’s not the only place I need to visit; there are switchbacks, trails, and viewpoints where I get to stop and soak it all in. I always want to be searching and to stay curious and thankfully I’m still able to do both.
2. There are a lot of professions out there – why be a photographer?
I’m a curious person and a visual learner so photography seems to compliment these qualities especially when I’m faced with the challenges of trying to “perfect” my craft. It feels right to have a creative outlet that constantly encourages me to travel, to learn from and build unexpected friendships with some of the most interesting people, to break rules and create new ones, to try to make sense of things in this world as well as let life happen. So, for me, I guess it’s partly knowing who I am plus what provides the most meaningful work plus intuition.
3. How much is your family an influence on the way you view life, see things?
The fact I spent most of my childhood traveling is probably the most direct way my family has influenced my work and the way I see and observe things as a person. My parents wanted to build a better life for us outside of Poland and that took us from southern Poland to Athens to Winnipeg and finally Vancouver over the course of several years. I was too young to completely understand why we moved so often and I remember finding the experience confusing, exciting, and somewhat traumatizing. Bits of memory like the way the cool air hit my face in the Polish village where I grew up and how the light bent around corners in Athens have stuck with me since then, though I don’t think I realized this until recently.
4. What is your favourite non-photography past time?
I have a few: rock climbing, roasting vegetables, and herding cats.
5. What do you like to eat?
Anything roasted that my better half, Amy, can grow.
6. Is/Are there any project(s) you wish you could do – or might do?
There’s a project Amy and I started a while back which was (still is) a bit strange. We’ve stopped contributing to it as of late but feel we might revisit it in the near future. I had an idea the other night to start creating using just the Hasselblad XPAN since I’ve been experimenting more with it recently.
7. Is there a big difference between your personal work and commissioned work?
The largest difference would be the medium: whereas I exclusively shoot my personal work on 35mm or medium format film, my commissioned work is almost always digital. Despite this and because the subject matter tends to be different as well, I’m finding more and more overlap between my use of film and digital that I’m really happy about. Using both has affected how I approach shoots, observe moments, achieve the right colours, and create compositions. Basically everything.
8. Do you shoot with your left or right eye?
I use my left. It’s a whole other experience using my right. It’s very strange.
9. Are there any unseen experimental images in your attic you’d like to show us now?
These aren’t completely unseen but they’ve all been shot on film.
10. If you were to start all over again, is there anything you would do differently? Why?
I figure every moment that has happened, every person I’ve met, every decision I’ve followed through with, and every mistake I’ve made has brought me to this point in my life. I’m in a very good place now so it’s hard to imagine what I would do differently if I were to start all over. But, let’s just say I did or need a reminder of what to do: trust myself and my decisions because things will be fine in the end; go against the grain if it feels right; connection over approval or recognition; slow down.