Story 18: Kovi Konowiecki

What is your backstory?

I was born in Long Beach, California, but lived a pretty nomadic life following soccer (or football as I should say) as far as it took me. I was fortunate enough to be pretty good and make a profession of it for a short while. I always loved art and photography though and it got to the point where I thought more about making photographs than going to train. I've always been pretty instinctual, so I decided to follow it. I've also always been attracted to people that are different, and I guess photography became a nice way to confront that.

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What camera gear/editing setup do you use?

I am not one to get attached to equipment or a particular camera. I negotiate between medium format film, my digital DSLR and my phone (and I occasionally shoot large format). I've been leaning a lot on my digital camera as of late, although my upcoming monograph is a mixture of numerous different formats. People always ask me what camera I use, and although I think the tool and intention in making photographs is extremely important, there are other elements that are far more important for me. Image making is a mixture of many things.

I pretty much exclusively shoot with natural light. Sometimes at night I use a hand held flash. It's just me, my camera and my tripod most of the time.

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How do you achieve the look of your photographs and could you take us through the process?

It really depends on the project or whether I'm shooting in black and white or color (or what I visualize the final outcome to be). Delivering Flowers to Grandpa Jack was shot in my hometown during a summer in 2016/17, almost exclusively during a 30 minute window every evening. My hometown has a very particular type of golden light, which is very prevalent in this body of work. The intention is for the photographs to maintain an aura of timelessness through their ethereal and golden light.

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What is ‘Delivering Flowers to Grandpa Jack’ and what is the story behind it?

Delivering Flowers to Grandpa Jack is a project about home. The photographs pay tribute to the elements of my home that many would find commonplace and un-extraordinary, highlighting the beauty of familiarity that transform the mundanity of my hometown into something very personal. Long Beach is by no measure a small town, but for me, it has always felt like one. Childhood friends always seem to gather on the same street corner; the same golden hue hits the rooftops every evening right before the sun goes down.

The photographs also endeavor to illustrate how the familiar sentiments attributed to one’s hometown are oftentimes undefined by the contours of time. Undefined by a specific era, the people depicted in the series exist in a setting created by my perception of home—a place that remains intimate and ageless—an embodiment of the feeling that no matter how many years pass, and no matter how many things change, there are certain things that never change.

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Could you tell us the backstory of some of your photographs?

Quite simply put, every photograph I make has a story. Some photos are made spontaneously while others are a bit more thought out. That's part of the magic. Many of the photographs featured in this project show places that no longer exist and people that are no longer around, so they take on an entirely different meaning. Time has a really funny way of creating and altering meaning, both for myself and for the viewers of my work.

It's hard for me to ignore the photograph that opened up my world to photography and this project in particular. My first memory of photography came from under my Grandmother's bed. I found a portrait of my Grandfather Jack and was completely enthralled. I never knew an image could have such an impact on me. I also never had the chance to meet my grandfather Jack, so my perception of him was constructed through stories and my imagination. But seeing this particular self-portrait he took in the 1960s made me so curious about him and how he made that photograph. The funny thing is that there is nothing really that spectacular about the image. He probably needed a headshot for insurance or something and took it in five minutes. And that is something that is so beautiful about photography. The most mundane and seemingly insignificant intentions can leave such a big impact or strike a certain chord.

This photograph actually ended up being the starting point for my project Delivering Flowers to Grandpa Jack. So in a sense, my first memory of photography (which was found at home), led to my first real project about home.

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What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?

I started making photographs because it made me happy. I always try and remind myself of that. We live in a world flooded by images, and it's easy to get lost and consumed. It's easy to buy into the mentality of constant self promotion and validation. But the intention and process of the work always has to be at the forefront. Otherwise there is no poetry.

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Kovi Konowiecki

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Story 19: Tadas Kazakevicius

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Story 17: Brian McSwain