Dan Gebski Chats To Wojtek Palka In Newry


Zero to Hero – by Dan Gebski: a conversation with Wojtek Palka, photographer.


He is young, talented photographer from Poland. His photography it is not only just basic photo shoots but is the story of his creative mind and passion of life which is developing every session. Let me show you what an amazing person and artist he is. Thank you Wojtek for agreeing to take  part in my project. I am grateful that you here with me today.

SNAP! Dan Gebski pictured with Newry photographer Wojek Palka.

DG: Could you tell me something about yourself what part of  Poland you are from and what you’ve been doing in Poland? Do you have a family? How long have you been you in Northern Ireland?
WP: Hi Dan. I come from a small town called Kolbark. It is located about 35 kilometers from Krakow. What did I do in Poland before I came here?

Not much. I studied. And after graduating from school, I came to Northern Ireland. I had a plan to stay here for only three months. But the plan was binned and now I am here over 13 years. Unfortunately, I do not have a family here. But my best friends are here.

DG: What exactly do you do for a living? How come you are doing what you are doing?

WP: I work in a company that produces seats for airplanes. Very very expensive seats and after work and on weekends, I do photography.

I was always curious about different things. I always wanted to try taking photos, but I was not able to buy an expensive camera. Everything changed when I arrived in Northern Ireland. I bought my first camera here. The first books ‘Bryan Peterson exhibition without secrets’’ made me realise how great fun it is to take pictures in manual mode on th ecamera. The more I studied it, the more I loved it. And my love brought me here where I am now.

DG: And such an inexperienced man like me, for example, could say that photography is a very simple profession. So I could say that everyone can buy a camera and laptop and work away with sessions. Can you tell me the pros and cons of your work?

WP: Photography is great and the fact is, everyone can do it. It does not matter who you are and how old you are, but it is not easy. because you’re still learning and will always be learning. You always learn how to work with light, new techniques in Photoshop, how to work with clients. It’s your job that the client you are working with gets comfortable in the session. It’s your job to get new creative ideas for the photos too. Each session needs planning. This profession is quite demanding. You have to keep up to speed with the latest techniques and I check different websites. And you also constantly get to know new people. The bad sides are when everyone is asleep well, you are working with photos on the computer

DG: Do you carry any message through your photos? Do you think that every session is different? Do you approach every client individually?

WP: Messages in pictures, or showing something through photos, some problems, important things. I think that touches on a higher level of this art. because it’s something that reveals you a little bit, it’s about your feelings and your client’s feelings and I’m still tuning into this as it is fundamenta, but slowly, in a way, I know I am getting the hang of this. .

Absolutely each session is different and each client needs an individual approach. People look different and have different wishes. I always try to show them from their good natural side.

DG: Who are your main clients? Are they Poles or the locals Northern Irish? And why?

WP: Because I never learned English at school. I was afraid to work for clients who do not speak Polish. So I worked only for Polish. That’s why most of my clients go to the Polish. But now I also work for people from different countries – from the South of Ireland, Czechs, Slovaks, and Lithuanians. Even from Japan. It’s great to meet people from different countries, from different cultures. Everyone is different and has different expectations.

DG: What was your biggest challenge while working full-time and switching your photography passion into business?

WP:The biggest challenge was to believe in yourself. Believe that my hobby, my passion can bring me a profit. I waited a long time before I decided that I could make money for it. I still thought I would not get profitable enough. But I don’t have all the other cameras and lenses that other photographers have but I’m getting there.

But now I’m laughing because I almost always use just one lens and one camera body. I have learned to work well with this arrangement.

And here I have advice for people who are starting to do something for themselves. Equipment may be important, but your skills, stubbornness and faith in your self are most of what you need to succeed.

DG: Have you ever stopped someone on the street and offered them photo sessions for free?
WP: Yes, I did it several times. I also create my own photo projects. I am doing it for my pleasure. In this situation, I choose models for photos. When I find an interesting person, I ask if he wants a free photo session.

DG: What do you like about your work as photographer the most?

WP: Mostly, I like meeting new people. Often my clients become good friends. This is certainly the best part of this job

DG: If you could give advice to young talent or people out there even in Poland who want to open up their own private businesses, what would you advise them was important? What tips could you give them at the start of their journey?

WP: Remember that everything is difficult before it becomes easy. You must always focus on positive sides, not on problems. Only positives will give you the power to continue on your journey and persevere. Only perseverance will get you to the top of what you want to achieve.

DG: Are you going to go back to Poland? Yes? no? Why?

WP: It’s a hard question. I had plans to return to Poland. Then I changed it, Now I’m wondering again. I do not know. We’ll see what the future will bring.

DG: Have you had any exhibitions so far? If yes when and where? Do you plan any future upcoming events?

WP:Yes, I already had one exhibition in January this year. The exhibition also concerned artistic children’s photography, but it was combined with other events. It was not as professional as this one. I have plans for the next exhibitions. I have two more projects in my head, but these are long-term projects so I will not talk about them so far, I’m sorry, you will have to wait and see.

DG: Thank you Wojtek and I wish you only the best of luck and more success in journey, good health to you.

WP: Thank you Dan.