It is precisely when Alexandra Drewniak is involved in her own creative work that she chooses the company of the SL2. In Australia, she spent time on tour with the musician, George Maple, at concerts, back stage, and during private photo shoots. For years now, the photographer has enjoyed a close friendship with the artist, whose 2017 debut album, Lover, reached second place on the Australian iTunes chart. In this interview, the photographer explains how she found her style, what is important to her when working with the camera, and what her plans for the future look like.
Please describe your general, visual approach to the topics photographed. Do you have a method or a certain way of developing your imagery from project to project?
As soon as I enter a space I look at the light. What is happening on an ambient level. What type of light globes are in the ceiling? Is there tungsten light coming in from somewhere? Or, quite commonly, when I’m shooting music: what have the lighting team set up, such as spot lights or LED panels, etc. Then I like to work out how to use the space. Are there mirrors and beautiful stylistic details in the space? Windows or ceilings? Next I choose my tools. What lens is appropriate? Do I need a soft box or an on-camera flash? I actually love mixing it up. Shooting moody with available light, and then something more punchy with a flash.
Is there a connection to other art forms, such as painting, and so on? If yes, which artist has impressed you most?
I love multimedia and video. One of my favourite artists is JR… [ed. pseudonym for a French photographer and street artist]. Having a background in street art, he has managed to make such an impact with his photography by creating large scale pieces.
How did you feel about working with the Leica SL2?
The SL2 experience so far has been amazing. Before, I felt creatively stifled. Photography was feeling like work, not pleasure. Shooting on this camera reminded me of why I love what I do, because it reminded me to look at light differently.
Which lenses did you use with the SL2? What did you like about them?
I’m a simple girl! I’m obsessed with the Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–90 f/2.8–4. So versatile. I don’t even have to change when I’m shooting, This compliments my work flow best.
In what ways do the images taken with the SL2 differ from others you’ve taken before?
Firstly, the SL2 is for creative jobs. The ones where I’m working one-on-one with an artist, or when there’s the potential for me to shoot with an artistic mindset, when I might want to print my images. When I started posting my work with the Leica SL2 other people immediately noticed the improvement in the quality of my work. The sharpness, the moody lighting – it’s significantly different.
Where and when did you shoot the concert images?
These images that I’ve selected were shot in Sydney, Australia, at a venue called Pamela’s. It’s a beautiful jazz bar, where my dear friend George Maple decided to perform an acoustic set. She usually performs sold-out shows and festivals around the world.
There is a special connection between you and the artist, which can even be seen in your images.
George and I have been working together for years. She’s such a talented and strong women. She’s incredibly intelligent, and on another level of creativity. She designs her own sets and costumes, and has a very strong visual idea as to how she wants to be perceived. I love working with her because we create amazing imagery. There is always drama and such a high level of production.
What is your motto in terms of dealing with drama and high levels of production?
Do everything with integrity and love. If you see a moment to shoot, don’t second guess yourself: take the shot. You’ll never come back to do it. It will never be the same. And, first of all, have a camera on you 24/7!
How did you come to dedicate your life to photography?
I’ve always been creative. I played piano my whole life, loved drawing, even making my own clothes. I came to photography when I was around 19, assisting a photographer on a job, just out of interest. I quickly found I had become obsessed with it; and now I live and breathe it. I hate mediocrity, so I just immersed myself in it. I read books, watched tutorials, learnt from my peers, asked a million questions. Over the years I’ve realized that I love story telling with my imagery.
Do you have a vision of how you intend to develop your imagery in the future?
I would like to exhibit my work, and share my travel stories. I just want to keep exploring new landscapes and keep being inspired by the everyday. I want to see things that people don’t often get to see.
Born in Adelaide, South Australia, in 1986, Alexandra Drewniak is mainly self taught, aside from a few courses at the Centre Of Creative Photography in Adelaide. “I have an amazing mentor in Melbourne called Lucas Dawson, a fashion and celebrity photographer who taught me a lot.” Drewniak works commercially for clients like Nike, Chambord, Paspaley Pearls, and has received assignment for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week and Vogue. Find out more about her photography on Instagram and her Website.