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Photographer Aleksandra Modrzejewska captures the beauty of her subjects in such a way as to both invite and challenge the viewer’s gaze; expressing a quiet complexity within a confident rendition of feminine strength and form. Her portraits are strikingly raw, yet they also present a surreality of ethereal beauty almost mystic in quality. In this fleeting interview we talk about vision, sadness, strength and womanhood.
How were you drawn to photography? What inspires you?
I was initially drawn to photography because it's a faster way to capture a portrait than drawing. And everything inspires me! Places, movies, people on the street, light, music – even fragrances.
What about womanhood? Is it an important source of inspiration for you?
I have always thought that women are majestically beautiful. There is something metaphysical about the experience of capturing them within an image.
I am struck by how beautifully you handle colour in your work – can you tell me more about this?
For me, if I'm using colour at all, then there has to be a reason to use it. Sometimes I’ll use a specific colour because of the tone of someone’s eyes – it’s just a feeling I get while taking pictures. If there is no reason, I just shoot black and white. I always tend to focus far more on content than on form.

“Beauty is like aesthetic adrenaline, something unexplainable that makes your heart race.”
What is beauty to you? 
It's not just a pretty face; it's something more. It's like aesthetic adrenaline, something unexplainable that makes your heart race. Sometimes, there is a kind of sadness to beauty. In my mind it’s a very complex and abstract thing.
And what do you wish your photos to convey? 
Sometimes truth: a little piece of someone's soul. And sometimes I want to show a piece of my own soul through the creation of a story or character.
There is a gentle fragility combined with strength in your portraits – how do you find a balance between breaking down emotional walls and making your subject feel empowered?
Thank you, that's a big compliment for me! I focus a lot on getting to know the subject and creating a comfortable space to work within. I ask them to play their favourite song during the shoot, which can say a lot about their personality as well as changing the mood. I can also ask a lot of questions or remain in total silence, again depending on mood.


Words
Emily Fulton

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