Grażyna Makara (b. 1972) is a portrait photographer, photojournalist and an author of photographic series.
Photographer and photo editor
Makara perceives reality as an image, which is supposed to serve as a medium allowing communication with later generations – one that will endure the passage of time and allow the creator to convey the spirit of the photographed reality. The photographer is not interested in providing further a theoretical framework for her work. She treats photography as one a language. ‘I communicate with the world through my photographs’, the artists says briefly.
Makara has been creating her photo ‘journal’ for years now. These are still lifes composed of the fruit and vegetables from her garden, self-portraits, faces of her friends, her beloved Malamute dog, or ‘postcards’ from her travels around the world. The project she has been working on for a long time dates back to her childhood. As a little girl she would open one of the drawers to see photographs that were kept in blue envelopes. They didn’t depict older siblings, cousins, grandparents, or uncles; Grażyna was looking at faces unknown to her. She recognized only one of them – her mother, Zofia Makara’s, who worked as the head of a registry office in Sobkowo municipality, Poland, from 1969 to 2003. During these years, she officiated over two thousand weddings. 150 photographs remain from these ceremonies. They show newly-weds (relaxed or nervous, serious or cheerful) and the changing fashions in the span of three decades – sideburns, moustaches, gigantic flat ties, men wearing jumpers instead of suits. The first pictures are black and white, in the 80s colour appeared. Makara went back to these photographs in 2009, when she was already a professional photographer. They became a pretext to build a bridge between the past and the present – in other words, deal with the essence of her profession. She met some of the couples in order to photograph them after all these years. She asked them a simple question: how has your life as a couple gone? The answers were surprising: most of them feel fulfilled. Wszystkie śluby mojej mamy (
editor’s translation: The Weddings of My Mother) present Makara’s artistic abilities in their entirety. They’re her photographic credo. The work honestly shows the photographer’s appreciation of the world’s beauty.
polish contemporary photography
Makara does not seek to shock viewers by dazzling with sadness, poverty, or neglect. She is interested in searching for the positive both in her surroundings and in other people. Natural light, which she mostly uses, serves as a tool to create soft, serene imagery. Her stories ‘come’ to her on their own. They often emerge thanks to the influence of the people the photographer meets. Monika Drożyńska and Maja Kuczmińska, Makara’s friends, who are also photographers, ran a second-hand store in Kraków. They would alter the clothes and pair them with contrasting accessories. Makara made a highly original fashion show happen. The waitresses and female bartenders working in Stylowa (a very old-fashioned restaurant, a relict of Communist Poland) in the district of Nowa Huta took part in it. Makara dressed them in the modern clothes and used props she found at the diner: a palm, a plastic banana, a couch, and an old scale. During the photoshoot spontaneous fun started – the women working in Stylowa showed that not only are they feminine, but also have a huge sense of humour – including the ability to make fun of themselves. Stylowa was awarded the first prize in BZWBK Press Foto 2007 competition in the category Portraits-reportage.
After seven years of working as a photojournalist in Gazeta Wyborcza, Makara got employed in Tygodnik Powszechny, where she is a photo editor. This is what she says about her work:
When I make a decision about the way a certain topic should be illustrated, I already have a rhythm of the entire newspaper drawn in my head. I am thinking of narration – the reader has to feel that it’s dynamic. I have to take into account that Tygodnik Powszechny often writes about metaphysical matters – this is a huge challenge, but also a chance to publish photographs which don’t simply depict current events. Having so many constantly mixing images in my head, I am more educated as a photographer and I demand more of myself. My crucial rule is that I don’t repeat something I have already seen – I am looking for other solutions. I do know that in a way I am an eye for the viewer. The image should be universal, comprehensible nearly without words. Photo editing is an excellent school for a photographer.
Source: press materials, June 2016