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Iness Rychlik is a Polish-born photographer and filmmaker with a particular interest in historical drama. Despite her severe myopia, she has been dedicated to visual storytelling for over a decade.
Iness graduated with First Class Honours in Film from Screen Academy Scotland. Set in Victorian London, her final-year film “The Dark Box“ follows an unhappily married woman, who pursues photography to escape from her oppressive relationship. ‘The Dark Box’ premiered at Camerimage, where Iness received a Golden Tadpole nomination for her cinematography. Most recently, she shot and directed two mini-documentaries about art for the BBC Scotland.
Rychlik’s still images are published on book covers worldwide. In the past year, her focus has expanded from portraiture to dark feminine erotica. Iness is fascinated by the idea of conveying sexuality and cruelty in a subtle evocative way. Her disturbing self-portraits provoke the viewer’s imagination, rather than satisfy it. Iness is based out of London and Edinburgh.
Interview with Iness Rychlik Photographer:
FG: If you should tell someone the story of your life, where would you start?
Iness Rychlik: I would begin with the early artistic pursuits my sister, Roksana. Even as little girls, we would spend hours playing with our grandfather’s old video camera. When I discovered photography in my early teens, she became my most devoted model; posing on the snow in a flimsy old-fashioned nightgown, or getting up at 3AM to capture the sunrise light. What we lacked in resources, we made up for in creativity – a second-hand canopy was turned into a romantic dress, and a stack of books served well as a tripod. Growing up in Poland was very hard and we found solace in constructing imaginary worlds.
FG: Your images are often sensual, uncomfortable or unconventional. What kind of messages or emotions are you trying to evoke with your photographs?
Iness Rychlik: One of the most prominent themes in my work is the female suffering and madness. In my self-portraits, I use genuine antique garments or props to depict the parallels between my experiences as a young woman and the inferior female position in Victorian Britain. Sexual harassment is an everyday reality. Despite living in a modern society where education and professional development are widely accessible, we are often reduced to the role of a mere exhibit; a still doll. Many of my photographs illustrate the frustration of being forced into a submissive and ornamental position.
FG: Where do you draw inspiration for your photography from?
Iness Rychlik: Watching other photographers on Instagram can be great, but it’s not healthy to rely on it completely. Of course all art is organic and we depend on culture to create, but I notice too many trends being mindlessly repeated over and over again. I actively look for inspiration in films, TV series, novels and paintings. The one show that has had a profound effect on me is NBC’s “Hannibal”. Although it portrays the vilest aspects of humanity, the crime scenes display astonishing elegance and grace. What you see is savage, revolting, and yet so beautiful at the same time. You may want to look away, but you don’t. This is the effect I hope to, on a smaller scale, achieve in my work.
FG: What is the best advice you got as a photographer?
Iness Rychlik: The brilliant cinematographer Rob Hardy (“Mission Impossible – Fallout”, “Annihilation”, “Ex Machina”) once told me that “a great imagemaker should be prepared to be flexible”. Many photographs require meticulous pre-planning, but I’m not afraid to deviate from the original idea when I’m shooting. Experimentation is a huge part of my creative process. I hardly ever end up with a picture that looks exactly like I imagined it in my mind, and that’s fine. At the end of the day, all I care about is creating a powerful image.
FG: What is the most courageous action you made as a photographer?
Iness Rychlik: I believe that expressing your darkest thoughts and allowing others to see your vulnerability is an act of courage. This is much more challenging and intimate than revealing one’s physical nudity. On a practical level, I will do a lot for art. I have done many reckless things, which includes trespassing, setting my dress on fire or piercing my thighs with dressmaking pins. When I’m lost in passion, I tend to have little regard for the consequences. I know it’s dangerous, but I can’t help it.
FG: You are a brilliant and strongly talented film director and photographer. Do your film directing and photography interact? In what way?
Iness Rychlik: Thank you very much. You never forget your first love. “The Dark Box”, the first short film I wrote and directed in my final year at university, follows a repressed female photographer in the 1860s London. Researching nineteenth-century photography techniques was both painstaking and fascinating. To see your image appear on a wet plate – no pixels, only chemistry and light – is a truly magical experience. With a lot of determination (and many nervous breakdowns to come), I want to develop “The Dark Box” into a feature film. The 90-page script draft is now complete.
FG: What do you need to feel happy?
Iness Rychlik: My camera.
Courtesy pics Iness Rychlik Photographer
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