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Notes from infinity – 2 (The beginning, perhaps the middle)

Centrum, Warszawa © Monika Sosnowski, 2013

Finally she travels back a year and half later.  The timing isn’t ideal but it’s all that’s left.  If not now she’ll have to wait at least seven months and that pains her.  But the moment the online transaction goes through she panics. Not the reaction she was expecting.  She thought she’d be excited but she’s not.  She questions her decision.  Maybe she should have waited till spring…

No.  It has to be now or otherwise opportunities might be lost, someone might die, the unforeseen may occur obliterating the work she began.  She needs to finish her project.  Just a few images are missing (they’re not).

She had a year and a half to get ready.  There’s three and a half weeks left till take-off.  She’s already convinced that somehow she’ll be late to the airport.

[to be continued]


About the image:  I kept ending up around that spot without meaning or wanting to.  It was always in passing and in a rush to get somewhere else fast.  I knew each and every time that I need to slow down, return, stay a while.  It did not happen with the exception of a few quick takes on the go, on the sly, almost in spite of it all.  If you live in Warsaw you might recognize the place right away.  Maybe not.  After all it is such a passing thru..  I wanted to talk to the peddlers selling the prettiest small bouquets of  wild flowers.  I wanted to photograph them or the girl handing out flyers.  I kept promising myself to come back.  I will.



Notes from infinity

Tramwaj © Monika Sosnowski, 2013

And so a bit of a self-portrait.  Taken on the very last day while I searched, in vain, for a place selling coffee.  It must have been too early in the morning.  The New Yorker in me was indignant and honestly I wanted to go back home.  But it was painfully obvious that the moment I’ll get on the plane I’ll wish for more time.



The problem of exile.


The exile from fatherland, from faith, from the right to criticize,

to regret, to rebel, to feel bitter.

Exile from yourself.

Homelessness of the heart.

Anna Kamieńska, extract from The Notebook 1965 – 1972


Plot point


The films of Krzysztof Kieślowski continue to have a profound impact on me.  The Decalogue and The Double Life of Véronique are especially close to my heart.  I’d go as far as to say that I literally identify my sensibility, as a person as well as an artist, with the themes portrayed  in them and the general tone that permeates throughout.

Writing about The Decalogue, Nancy Ramsey wrote in Kieślowski’s Reasons for Living: “Themes of chance, fate, honesty, the possibility of a divine presence, and social and personal responsibility are all broached through10 stories of individuals who Kieślowski said, “suddenly realize that they’re going round and round in circles, that they’re not achieving what they want.”  What governs our lives? Is is chance? Or is there some controlling presence behind the visible reality?” (from Video, 2000)

Kieślowski stated that the main theme of The Double Life of Véronique is to pay attention to one’s life and to know that one’s actions have an impact on people we know and don’t know.


In less then two weeks I’ll be back in Warsaw.  Back in Poland.  Back to continue the work – the project started in 2011.  The ‘Tenderness of Things” grew from its inception, evolved, paused and staggered.  Continued to declare itself.  Over the past year the book form of it emerged with a welcomed clarity, which led to a revision of the title.  Thus “the tenderness.”

Above, yet another take, another consideration. Krzysio, above, my childhood friend, has a framing shop below the apartment I lived in once.


Once Upon A Time

Bedroom © Monika Sosnowski

“Poems flooded me.  Fell on me like wild bees.”  – Anna Kamienska

Another image from “Once Upon a Time.”

The stuff that fills the spaces we occupy.  All the things we bought, received, found, forgot, outgrew. What we leave behind.. the stuff nobody really wants – not even the trespassers who ransack fervently looking for what might have been missed.  Or who knows what.

The mattress alone holds a thousand and one stories.  The ties. The pants.. the ones worn last.  Hasty departure? Unforeseen circumstances? Perhaps.  Or perhaps also.  The reality is something else – not insignificant, but in this instance maybe irrelevant.


Preliminary musings.  Very preliminary.

On another note… the making of an image.  What becomes a photograph. What is a photograph? What is the above photograph about?

Document? Fiction? Portrait? Landscape? Nude?

Like wild bees..






Purpose driven wander

Untitled (Rob) © Monika Sosnowski

My favorite wanderer.
Rob went along with me last fall on a exploration of an abandoned and haunting place I was drawn to and had to photograph.  That project is finally starting to evolve – working title, “Once Upon a Time.”

Thank you for accompanying me in the discovery of an unlikely beauty.

Untitled (from Once Upon a Time) © Monika Sosnowski


Upcoming Weekend Workshop October 5th & 6th

Untitled (from Once Upon a Time) © Monika Sosnowski

I’m happily looking forward to teaching TURNING TOWARDS FALL: A PHOTOGRAPHIC EXPLORATION –  my new weekend workshop offered through IS 183 Art School of the Berkshires. It will run Saturday, October 5th & Sunday, October 6th.

I’m also excited that this class will take place in Williamstown, MA at the Little Red School House – thus a chance to explore a new place and scene!

What does the shift in seasons look like from our personal perspective? How do outward elements like changes in the landscape and light affect our personal realm?  The goal of this workshop is to fine-tune our photographic skills by learning to see in a poetic way.  We will focus on ways of picturing mood and emotion as a response to our surroundings – be it a landscape or our own kitchen.   We will work through exercises to explore how light, space, composition and even subtle change of perspective can convey an emotional, personal tone.

For inspiration and analysis of techniques, we will look at the work of photographers such as William Eggleston, Rebecca Norris Webb, Stephen Shore, Raymond Meeks, Palmer Davis, and Jitka Hanzlova among others who capture simple, often seemingly banal visual moments in a exceptionally personal and intimate way.

Students can expect to go outdoors during the workshop and create at least 10 images to form a mini-portfolio.

To register please contact IS 183 Art School of the Berkshires or contact me directly with any questions.  Please hurry and register by the end of this week to ensure placement!

Untitled (from Once Upon a Time) © Monika Sosnowski

Insightful Portrait workshop this weekend

Untitled (Vasundhra and Red Elderberry)

Last chance to register for my Insightful Portrait workshop this weekend at IS 183 Art School of the Berkshires.

“When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them.  Anyone I know I photograph. ” – Annie Leibovitz

The quote above by Annie Leibovitz goes to the heart of what we’ll be after in this workshop: to photograph someone in a meaningful and true way.  The portrait reveals just as much about the subject matter as it does about the photographer.  Furthermore what comes into play is the viewer’s response to the portrait.  A complex interplay of connections indeed. 

In this intensive one-weekend workshop we will focus on the elements of what makes an insightful portrait. We will consider both the technical aspects such as lenses, f-stops and lighting as well as the artistic ones such as composition and capturing the mood of the moment. Posed versus candid portraiture will be regarded as well as the challenges of photographing people we know or strangers.

We will look for inspiration to contemporary and historical photographers, both fine-art and commercial:  Susan Paulsen, Jessica Backhaus, Diane Arbus, Susan Paulsen, Annie Leibovitz, Matt Mahurin, Deana Lawson and Alec Soth, among others.

To register please click on the link here IS 183 .

Upcoming Photography Workshops in the Berkshires: The Magic Woods – Sunday, July 28th

Last chance to register for this Sunday’s workshop!
Starting out at 3,491 ft above sea level atop Mount Greylock, in the heart of the wonder-filled Berkshires, we will have an awesome, inspiring and productive day hiking, looking, exploring and photographing nature’s magic.

The Magic Woods – photographic one-day workshop with Monika Sosnowski:
Mountains and forests abound in rich symbolism which can represent emotional, spiritual or mental states. Nature’s summits and woods, powerful in their permanence and immovability, have often been associated with personal quests, overcoming obstacles, seeking inner knowledge. Artists and writers have been inspired by the majesty of mountains and the mystery of forests in a variety of ways. Herman Melville imagined Mt. Greylock as a massive great white whale and that vision fueled him to write one of the best American stories, “Moby Dick.“
“The Magic Woods” is a one-day photographic workshop in which we will learn ways of transforming the physical splendor and awesomeness of Mt. Greylock and its surrounding forest, by creating images which suggest a narrative beyond the subject matter’s natural attributes. How something is perceived makes all the difference creatively. We can find our own versions of Melville’s whale.
In this fun, adventurous workshop, we will explore the terrain of the Mt. Greylock’s summit and a few of the nearby trails looking for magical places that evoke within us some common thoughts and feelings, i.e: hope, fear, loneliness, or togetherness. By using simple techniques we will learn how to photograph a scene as if to suggest a dream or fantasy, as well as practical ideas such as abundance vs austerity. We will utilize and understand the creative impacts of the natural elements: light, shadow, wind, and time of day with the technical aspects of our cameras: lenses, f-stops, exposure. Throughout the workshop we will learn and discuss ways of training ourselves to notice both the obvious and the hidden aspects of what we encounter (which in addition to the flora and fauna can also include people hiking, signs, debris etc).
All levels of photographic skill are welcome.

$75 (includes beverages and pastries at the beginning of the workshop, and one bottle of water per person)

Please contact me asap at monikasosnowski@gmail for registration details.

Upcoming workshops at IS 183:

Intro to Digital Photography: Saturday and Sunday, August 3rd & 4th

The Insightful Portrait: Saturday and Sunday, August 10th & 11th