It’s a joy to welcome Dublin-based documentary photographer Tomasz Laskowski to the blog in an interview for my #Dadboss series. His photos span normal regular family days where no one is posing, or looking at the camera, as well as professionals at work. Bike Mechanics, public speakers, golfer, barbers. He is also a father of two, photographing his son and daughter the most.
How did you pursue and achieve your current creative job?
I bought my first camera when my wife was pregnant with our daughter eight years ago. I thought it could take some pictures of my daughter, plus as was doing some graphic design at the time, I would be able to take pictures and use them there. Over the time, I found I was losing interest in graphic design and becoming more passionate about photography so I’ve concentrated on the latter.
My work grew organically, too. I have a camera that I use whilst spending time with my kids, which I take out with me daily. It’s the love for my kids which has gotten me to where I am today. They showed me that the most significant days of our lives are disguised in routine and monotony, that there is magic in the mundane and beauty in the chaos if we are just willing to stop and recognise it. They are a handful, but sooner than we expect they will have driver’s licenses and will be filling out college applications..freckles will fade, and there will be no more smudged fingerprints on the windows. My photos are a way to revisit those times and will transport me back to those moments. I try and capture that magic for my own clients too.
What are the advantages to working in photography, today?
Knowledge is everywhere. Without leaving the house and spending a single cent we have access to all sorts of classes, tutorials, lectures, and lessons. Nothing like that, was ever possible before. Plus, the possibility of connecting with other people thanks to the internet is a gift. You can discover people you admire or want to work with or simply ask a question to, within minutes now.
What are the biggest challenges you face as a photographer?
There are different challenges both from a business and creative perspective. As a business owner, I am facing exactly the same challenges as any other small business: marketing, cash flow and so on.
As a creative, you can doubt the quality of your own work or have times where you struggle to create something new.
The nature of the work, is that you never know what you will create. All my work is documentary-based whether it’s for a client or for fun so no one poses and I never set up lights. As a result, I don’t have full control over the scene and I have to approach it like a puzzle. And there is always a concern, that maybe this time I can’t solve that particular puzzle.
How do you deal with the inevitable ups and downs of leading a creative life, constantly pushing your art out into the world?
I try to remember failure is not the end. Look at kids when they learn to walk. Image what would happen if the first couple of times they tried and failed, we would say, “Oh well, you have tried, you did your best, maybe walking is not for you”.
Kids continue until they succeed. It’s an important lesson. When you fail, you get back up again and strive to thrive.
Can you share any tips for building confidence?
I find that if you accept failure as a regular part of the journey, the trip feels easier. It liberates you.
Plus, people are usually nice, you know? Even when they say “no”, it’s very rarely a horrible “no” that is designed to hurt you.
You need to practice. Things get easier with time. Taking pictures, dealing with people, you name it,you learn by doing and then confidence comes.
What are your career highlights to date?
Around a year ago, my daily photo series was picked up and featured by Huffington Post, then by other people and sites online. It was a completely new experience for me but so rewarding to find other were appreciating my work. That exposure has lead to new contacts and opened up doors for me. Plus, it was some sort of validation that what I do, doesn’t just have value for myself.
I have now worked with the National Irish Cricket team, photographed events at Dublin Google HQ, met some photography gallery curators and I’m working at a documentary family photography workshop.
Who inspires you?
I try to photograph from a street photography perspective. I love the photo-journalistic style and documentary approach to photography but whilst that type of imagery usually depicts war, death, poverty, and sadness, I look the other way and feature happiness, joy and passion visible in ‘the every day’. There is a lot of photographers whom inspire me for different reasons: Alain Laboile, Izabela Urbaniak, Kirsten Lewis to name a few.
What’s the greatest advice you’ve been given?
We become what we think about.
What are your hopes and aspirations for the future?
I want to keep photographing my family. That’s my first priority. I want to keep taking pictures of my kids growing up.. eating pancakes for breakfast and jumping in puddles on the way to school..those typical ordinary days that we usually take for granted. I want to save and saviour them all. I want to be able to remember them exactly as they were. Imperfect and messy yet amazing. I believe it may get harder as they become older but I will try to keep capturing them.
I want to grow as a photographer. I want to continue photographing other families and let them savour those memories too. I also want to keep photographing passionate people be it a car mechanic in a small shop, people working at a whiskey distillery or a landscaper creating a new garden. I like to photograph normal, regular people who love what they do.
Success is different for everyone in both scale and quality. When you believe yourself to be successful in one area, you naturally look for the next challenge. Success is the journey and the realisation of an idea. Creating what you imagined.