Dragan seems to have lived many lives in just 35 years. He was already winning national and international awards in the 90s for the music he composed on Amiga computers under the nickname ‘Dreamer’.
But his passion turned out to lie in science, not art. He graduated from university a year early and received an award from the Polish Physics Society for his master’s thesis in 2011. His PhD in physics was recognised with a distinction. The list of scholarship programmes he participated in features Oxford, Amsterdam and Lisbon. In 2004, he won Polityka magazine’s Stay with us scholarship competition for young scientists. Today, he is a lecturer in physics at the University of Warsaw, expert in quantum optics and published author of Niezwykle szczególna teoria względności (Unusually Special Relativity). But photography is what really brought him fame.
In an interview for the online magazine swiatobrazu.pl, Dragan confessed that:
To me, ambitious action is scientific action because it retains a significance that’s independent from my existence as a human. It concerns things that are of a universal significance. And photography is just one way of killing time. A sophisticated form of entertainment.
He first laid his hands on a (digital) camera in 2003. Half a year after his first steps, he began to take portrait photographs of famous people (as he says himself, ‘It comes as no surprise to famous people that photographers want to take pictures of them’). Three years later, he was already featured in the Lurzer Archive’s selection of 200 Best Ad Photographers Worldwide 2006. In 2007, he was announced Photographer of the Year by the British Digital Camera Magazine. Dragan is frequently invited to assist in the production of advertising campaigns (which has led to further awards, as well as a nomination at the Cannes Festival).
Among the faces he photographed are those of David Lynch, Mads Mikkelsen, Jan Peszek, Jerzy Urban, Kuba Wojewódzki or Stanisław Manturzewski. His portraits emphasise all imperfections: scars, wrinkles, blemishes, protruding bones; moreover, he often depicts his models from exaggerated perspectives. Other photographers have labelled his unique way of editing images as the ‘dragan effect’. There are hundreds of tutorials on the web showing how to edit images to make them resemble Dragan’s own.
Towards the end of 2013, Dragan will reveal his latest role – that of a film-maker. Hierarchy Lost promises to be a debut that fuses the author’s scientific, as well as photographic interests. The film, set in the near future, tells the story of a man on the road to discovering the so-called theory of everything – the physicist’s utopian dream, a theory making it possible to describe and foresee all physical phenomena in a uniform, complex manner. The score was composed by Nine Inch Nails, while the photography is of course Dragan’s own work, as are the script and direction.
Hierarchy Lost will be imbued with the same dark mood that Dragan’s work has been acclaimed for so far. Piotr Kudelski will star in one of the main roles – one of Dragan’s favourite models, he can be seen on the Para (Couple) photograph covering his daughter’s eyes. The two met at the very outset of the photographer’s career when he was still taking pictures of passers-by. Hierarchy Lost was produced on Dragan’s own budget and will be published on popular video channels on the Internet. The premiere is set to take place at the end of 2013.
Dragan explains his creative thirst as driven by the desire to escape stereotypes. On andrzejdragan.com, he lists his achievements – all of which required a great deal of time and work – and concludes them with a brief, somewhat self-approving ‘Never tasted coffee.’
Author: Dariusz Bochenek, 15/11/2013
Translation by: Ewa Bianka Zubek