'How I got bitten by the photo bug', Radek.
Radoslaw Janicki, popularly known as Radek, is the founder of Radek Art Photography. The widely-travelled Polish artist talks to Anjellah Owino about moving to Kenya three years ago and creating art from a camera lens.
Who is Radek?
He is an adventurous man, hungry for new experiences and challenges, whose passion for photography and adventure sent him to 70 countries across five continents on both hemispheres.
Seventy countries, you say?
Yes. In those trips, I was charmed by the beauty of the mountains. I felt the urge to record it somehow. Soon, I started to go on journeys so I take pictures. I quickly got photography virus and there is no antibiotic for it. I realised that I must have a bit of talent because my pictures were not bad. It was confirmed when I started to send them to the publishing houses and they were purchased and printed. I still did not treat it as a reliable source of income. I also used my pictures to illustrate articles I wrote for scientific or popular magazines.
At what point did photography pick up as be a profession?
Definitely when I started shooting weddings. That is what got me into people photography. I was a nature photographer with no interest in people or man-made objects. Then I realised it is actually just as good as shooting nature. There is a field to express your artistic soul. The photographs are arty and skillful, not just a pretty face.
You were once a professor and a researcher in Poland where you grew up...
In University of Marie Curie- Sklodowska. At first I was a technical assistant and researcher and later became a professor assistant and after completing my doctorate, an adjunct. I like teaching and interact with the youths. It is my little way of making a difference I guess. My subjects were related to regional geography, mostly outdoor classes at different locations.
Tell us about your family.
This is going to be boring for Kenyan readers. I don’t have much to tell. I was the only child, like most of my friends in Poland where I grew up before moving to Indonesia then Kenya. We don’t have big families like Africans. Unfortunately, I already lost my parents and grandma who was living with us, to cancer. I still have an uncle and some cousins in Poland, Germany and Australia.
When did you decide to move?
In 2012. I was happy doing photography in Jakarta, Indonesia and lecturing at a school there. For three years, I taught geography and history on weekdays, and shooting on weekends. Naturally, I lost some clients because of my teaching job, and also gained some photography jobs at the school. Combining the two professions was tiring but quite lucrative. I grew tired of the heat and a constant noise of a 20 million city.
What prompted the decision to start your company, Radek Art?
Bills that kept coming, as though they could not see that I had no salary any more (laughs). It was really just a natural transition. I didn’t think about it at all. The only difference was that I had to look harder for clients but I had everything that was needed to pursue a solo career. I also rely on assistant photographers so it really is not solo. Some events are just too big, so help is sometimes necessary. I call for help only when I really have to.
What are some of your biggest achievements in Kenya?
Working for Safaricom, stars like Victoria Kimani, Sauti Sol, H_Art the Band, interviews on Kenyan magazines and appearances on TV channels. There is also nothing more satisfying as being appreciated by strangers. When I came to Kenya, I knew absolutely nobody. Now many people recognize me. I am being approached by young photographers who ask for mentorship.