Mikolaj Nowacki


Odra is the second largest river in Poland. Its waters joins three countries: Czech, where it starts, Poland and Germany. I grew up on the banks of this river in the communist era playing with my best friend on boats and on a landfill of anchors, observing barges that transported coal. I often dreamed of jumping on such a barge and going to the unknown. When I was a teenager I often walked many kilometers along the river searching for rare species of birds as an amateur ornithologist. At that time, Odra was just a beautiful sewage – a mixture of water, fecal and toxic, irritating chemical substances.
Now, after 22 years of post-communist transformation  Odra is slightly cleaner but barges became a rarer view.
This project is a continuation of my fascination in this river. Through these photographs I want to explore people’s connections with Odra and to explore its natural beauty. I want to share my impressions with viewers hoping that this story will somehow increase peoples need of protecting this beautiful river.




Born in Wroclaw, Poland in 1972. Graduated at the Faculty of Law, Administration and Economics at the University of Wroclaw. Received Master’s degree in Law in 1997. Finished post graduate studies; his doctoral thesis covered International Space Law. He renounced law and discontinued his doctorate for photography. Mikolaj is a freelancer cooperating e.g. with “National Geographic Poland” and “Newsweek Poland”. Since 2006 he participated in numerous workshops with National Geographic photographer Tomasz Tomaszewski. In 2010 he became a student of the co-founder of VII agency Antonin Kratochvil.


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Mikolaj Nowacki

26 thoughts on “Mikolaj Nowacki – Odra”

  1. What a beauty! Big pleasure to look at. Although I feel the clarity of no. 9 and 16 as disturbances – I’d prefer without.

  2. Gorgeous photographs, and the colors – oh, man!

    (I would like to see a whole series just on Capt. Szarek and his men.)

  3. MIKOLAJ: Great images! I like two of them, the one of the rowing group and the ice particles in the whirpool in the winter bay. Astonishing!
    The story is also interesting. I would add some old pictures of the Odra river in communist times (if you have them) Just to compare…

    Keep working

  4. I’m usually one to exaggerate but #9 might be the most beautiful shot I’ve ever seen. The blurry ones are a little too artsy/I don’t give a fuck/but 9! Fuck me! 9 is all that photography should be!! Your personal website is also fantastic (especially defending CHAD)…you sir are a hero to be recognized. Here’s to hoping you continue shooting photography.

  5. I like the better pictures in this sequence as well. Excellent use of filters and reflectors. By filters I don’t necessarily mean things you screw onto your lens. Glass, plastic, the moisture in the air — these are all used to excellent effect to both filter and reflect the light.

  6. I guess I am missing something here as these do not have anywhere the effect on me as they seem to on you guys (and girls). A couple of niceish shots in there (including the harvey-esque no.9), but nothing that makes me go WOW! The captions are killing me also…
    So, not my cup of tea at all, and I am failing to see why its getting people juiced up.

  7. John..

    I have not read the captions and not finished to read the statement.. over n. 9 I prefer much more 19, 3 and 1.. it’s a feeling, sense of place.. longing for a place.. perhaps has to do with memory, don’t know..

  8. Yes, zdb222222…

    You do exaggerate.

    Even so, some nice images here, including #9 and my favorite is #19, the frozen eddy. Number 5 reminded me just a bit of some boat pilots I’ve traveled with on the Yukon.

    Mikolaj has created a hazy dream and I can see why #’s nine and 16 throw Nana off, but then they strike me as being among the best images here. On number 16, I suppose you could dropped your shutter speed a few notches and then it would fit in better harmony with the others – yet, the sudden, hard, clear-cut reality of the dangerous side of the river comes through better this way.

    There are a few images that, once I have viewed the essay leave my mind and I cannot recall them at all. I would tell you what they are, but I forget. That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them, because that is how dream are. When you dream, you are fully engaged with the dream. After you wake and think about it, some moments in it stand clear, some are hazy and some you cannot recall, no matter how hard you try.


    interesting that you do not find this interesting…one of those things i guess you either get it in your gut or your do not…i simply see some very imaginative SEEING and FEELING here, PLUS with a real journalistic imperative…got it all for me….

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  11. Always a sucker for rivers and boat traffic of any kind, I would like this even if it weren’t such a well-maintained and executed personal style with an off-beat view. No one shot strikes me as a killer, but many are quite good and some are growing on me with repeated viewing, and the whole certainly works as a series to pull one through a range of the river’s intimate moods. The opening shot would make a lovely large painting.

  12. Mikolaj: this is beautiful.
    Moody, powerful images through which I feel your connection to the river.
    Love the mystery in some of your images – like memories.

  13. Hi all.. there is a good reason why Mikolaj has not answer yet. He still have to see our final edit because he is on the river.
    This is his message for you:


    thanks very much! I am a third week on the river Odra again continuing the reportage and I even didn’t see it on Burn yet. I’m very happy to know the material is well recieved by the Burnians:). As I’m on a ship I often don’t have an access to the internet. I’ll write more in a couple days when I’ll come home.

  14. Dear All,

    I’ve came home from another three-week Odra photographic adventure extremely weary but happy. It was 741 kilometers (~460 miles) by kayaks, motor boats and finally two weeks on a ship going down the river. I finally have time to look at the Burn edit which I like very much and to read your comments.
    Thank you for so many warm words. Very encouraging, indeed. In my wildest dreams I didn’t expect such enthusiasm.
    Thank you David and the Burn team for the possibility of publishing the material on my favorite Burn magazine. It’s another milestone in my artistic and journalistic development giving me a courage to photograph from my deepest bottom of my heart and soul.
    All the best to each of you

  15. Yep, feeling these.

    On the positive side, what I liked about these is that you`ve taken a subject that has personal meaning to you, and run with it. `A river in Poland` might not be the most obviously headline-grabbing subject, but you`ve shown us that it has meaning to you.

    Regarding picture choice, I liked the more odd, eccentric ones the most: 4, 13, 16. I was glad to see a bit of variety in there.. more exploration, less prettiness, I reckon.
    I also liked the more complex, layered ones – no.10 in particular.

    On a more critical note I would say I find the long captions slightly un-necessary. Why not allow the images to tell the story.

    All in all though, a pleasure for the eye mate. Keep it up!


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