Please tell us about yourself as a person and as a photographer. Where did you grow up and what sparked your desire to photograph? Were you active with the photography department in high school? Where are you living now?
Hi! My name is Joanna Kapica, currently I live and work in Raleigh NC. Photography was always part of my creative, but I haven’t gotten involved more into it until about 5 years back, when I have started using simple digital camera and discovered how interesting it can be to capture reality around me, with instant preview and options for immediate editing. I have discovered I can easily share my vision, point the lens specifically to show something I find interesting and different. It became big part of my life since then, evolving from hobby to something more serious I do aside from my day job.
Can you describe the defining moment or image that made you want to become a photographer?
I don’t think about it as a moment. It was more of a process. From me getting into snapping random shots and realizing, that there is something more in it, until I got to create shots I am looking for, shots that I want to share. It took me around a year to get from complete beginner to someone who is trying to grow, learn techniques, and become more proficient in photography.
What was the first camera you ever owned and how did you come across it? Was it a hand-me-down, purchased at a garage sale, found on the side of the road?
The first camera I was using and could say was mine was very simple point and shoot 35mm Concord camera. The camera belonged at first to my parents, but since it wasn’t really good one (it jammed the film almost every other roll I loaded in it), they decided to share it with me.
My spark for photography didn’t come, though, until few years later, when I got ultra zoom HP camera. Overall- very simple piece of equipment, if offered 7x optical zoom, some overrides- I was still at that point just using it in auto mode 99% of the times. But from that camera everything started and eventually I had moved on to Nikon dSLRs.
What was your first paid photography job? Did you enjoy it? Were you scared? Did you make any mistakes?
The first job related to photography was assisting my friend photographer. It was stressful experience for few reasons. First- it was my first hands on experience with more advanced equipment than small external flash. So- I was setting up some strobes, got to use light meter, set up continuous lights, filters, etc, etc. Another part of that shoot, which was also a bit uneasy at first, was the fact, that it was nude fine art shoot. Well- I haven’t met with models before the shoot and not having experience with assisting before I thought it might be strange and uncomfortable to me or models. Well- everything worked out really great and the stress was definitely unnecessary.
How did you decide to make photography more than a hobby? If photography is your full time job, how did you make that decision? What was your backup plan if the photography career didn’t take off? Any regrets? If you are not a full time photographer, what is stopping you? What is your full time job? Any plans to become a full time photographer in the future?
Photography is for now still my side activity. Although- I do work in local shop with photographic equipment and offering printing services- so in this way it just worked out great for me.
What was the last straw, the final decision maker to make you go digital? What do you miss about film?
I have to say that I belong to the digital generation. My experience with film was very short and not very happy (poor point and shoot camera, that was giving me more problems than photos), so I really discovered photography starting with digital cameras. I still spent some time learning about film processing, mainly because I deal with it on daily basis, and I do find it very interesting.
Do you try to help others learn about photography? If so, please explain how.
Yes, most definitely. First of all- I work in local camera shop. I get to help people with wide range of photographic questions and help them get the most out of their equipment. I have also done some tutoring for friends- they claim they enjoyed it!
What and/or who inspires you in life and photography and why?
Nature is my biggest inspiration. I don’t need much to get into discovering some hidden treasures. I often take my camera and go for a walk and this has been the most inspirational part of my photographic journey.
There are a lot of great photographers that I find inspiring- through their work and way they present it. It’s hard for me to choose just one person or one piece. There is definitely one person, who not only inspires me, but I also consider my tutor, someone, who is showing me some direction and helping when questions are coming and on top of that he is my great friend: J.P. Corr III- fine art photographer from Raleigh NC.
Do you consider yourself an artist first before thinking about the job ahead of you?
I do. That’s my biggest part of photographic work. Majority of my photographs are fine art pieces, mainly inspired by nature and surrounding landscapes, but I also have collection of abstract industrial pieces, that have been popular part of my portfolio.
What is the best advice you would give a photographer just starting out?
Keep following your dreams, keep the vision of what you want to share in your work fresh, and stay honest with yourself.
The key to creativity is…
…to be open to what’s around us.
What is your favorite camera that you have used or owned? What camera and lens combination do you use most of the time when photographing for a client? What about when photographing for yourself?
I have been using Nikon D300 for almost a year now and still love it. This camera allows me to be creative and get on the photograph what I really want to show.
There is really few lenses I do appreciate: Nikkor 50mm f/1.4, Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8, Nikkor 35mm f/1.8. I use them for both- professional and personal shoots.
What is your favorite time of day to shoot outdoors?
Morning in most cases.
How do you deal with rejection of your work, losing a job, not making a sale or a negative comment?
I try to deal with it, learn from it. It’s hard, but I cannot afford to give up.
Do you prefer RAW or JPG and why? If RAW, would you prefer a system that uses the DNG RAW format?
Raw most definitely. With level of editing I tend to do, especially when processing the fine art pieces, raw offers me much more flexibility and preserves the quality.
I don’t use DNG format on daily basis as I am not familiar enough with its advantages over other raw formats. This is subject I am planning to explore in near future.
How do you protect your camera when not in use? When traveling? When on the way to a job? What if it rains? Any specific brands you love more than others?
There is few bags I use and which one I am choosing depends of course from what I have planned to shoot. I often carry camera with me- and this is when I use the camera blanket by Tenba and just keep it in my carrying bag. For hiking or weather harsh situations I use Lowepro Slingshot AW200- it is compact enough, easy to carry and it offers all weather cover. My bigger backpack by Tamrac is being use in majority for storage and if I need to take more than 2 lenses and flash for the shoot.
Do you clean the CCD yourself or send it away somewhere? If you send it away, where to and how much does it cost?
I am the “do it yourself” girl.
What music sparks your creativity? Do you listen to that when shooting a job? Do you listen to music at all? Do you listen to what the client likes?
I love listen to music while working. And I am open to many different types and styles. While working- I like to have the client choose the music, I think this makes it more comfortable for them, relaxes them.
What is your favorite photograph you’ve ever taken?
“Magnolia’s Secret” is one of my personal favorites. It’s a close up shot of magnolia flower, taken with macro lens and in natural daylight. I applied some post processing to give it a little bit of vintage look and I always have it printed on metallic paper. I am really proud of this piece.
If you could take your art in any direction without fear of failure or rejection, where would it lead? What new thing would you try?
I would like to eventually try stock photography.
Do you find yourself always looking at the World wondering how it would look as a photograph?
If you could only shoot one thing over and over, what would it be?
Roses. Something about them makes me always attracted to them.
When you meet someone for the first time and they find out that you’re a photographer what kind of questions do you get from them relating to photography? What is the strangest question you’ve been asked from someone you just meet for the first time?
I usually get a statement: “You must have a nice camera”
Do you prefer big lighting, a strobist style lighting or mostly natural light?
Mostly natural. But since that not always works- than I try to go for strobist style.
What radio sync system do you prefer? (PocketWizard, Radiopopper, etc)
Well, I would love to use PocketWizard, but for now I am using inexpensive radio trigger.
What was the most challenging photography job you ever had?
Shooting first wedding- and this includes everything around it: before, during and after.
What do you do to challenge yourself?
I try different techniques, try to improve my skills. I don’t have schedule for it, but just do it one step at a time.
Any projects you are working on currently? Anything planned for the future?
My project 365 is my ongoing project for last a little bit over a year (http://365byjoanna.blogspot.com). I do want to concentrate on more creating a series of photographs, rather than just single ones.
Thank you for reading the interview. This interview was presented to the photographer with questions asked by me and submissions from other photographers. The photographer is asked to answer only what he/she is comfortable with. If you would like to contribute to future interviews, please submit your your questions to me on Twitter, Facebook or on the Interview intro blog post, What would you ask a photographer?. Thank you for reading and enjoy the interview.