Piotr Zbierski – Love Has to Be Reinvented

Piotr Zbierski

Love Has to Be Reinvented

When Venasque told me about diaries of Cocteau, I came across this fragment, which deeply affected me:

“And then I realized that the world of my dreams is equally full of memories as my real life, so it is the real being and also richer, deeper, full of episodes, and more precise in many details. It was difficult to properly locate memories in one or the other world. They were extraordinary, complicated, and have become my second life, twice bigger, and twice longer than my own”.



Why? Because you have this gun with cold water when I’m turning into someone unlike.

With or without is trivial difference. Is it not the way to communicate with friends?

We are still here.

I know your deepest secret fear. And you know my deepest secret fear: egoism.




Piotr Zbierski (b. 1987) studied photography at National Film School.

Author of three individual exhibitions (White Elephants, Here, Childhood Dreams), participant in collective exhibitions and publications including Photokina and Lab East. He presented his works in many countries like Poland, Germany, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia. As well as magazines (Shots Magazine, Ninja Mag, Archivo Zine, Die Nacht, Gup Magazine).

In 2012 he won the prestigious prize for young photographer Leica Oscar Barnack Newcomer Award and has been shortlisted in many other prizes (Les Nuits Photographiques 2012, Terry O’Neill Award) for his series “Pass By Me”. His works has been shown at festival in Arles 2012 and are in collection of Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts. He lives and works in Lodz.


Related links

Piotr Zbierski


54 Responses to “Piotr Zbierski – Love Has to Be Reinvented”

  • A pity that this edit does such a disservice to Piotr’s work.

  • I love this essay. The mix of formats, techniques, etc. all add to a bit of a jumble, the way memories appear on the set of our own mind; in fragments, distorted slivers, vague scraps of songs, clothes on a hanger, the stairs to a bedroom, the back seat of a car, the smell of a leather jacket, the touch of sticky child´s hand. I love how he summons up a feeling of the past as it might flit by during a ride home taken the long way just for the purpose of letting time slide by and seeing what floats to the surface. Beautiful.


  • So far, a dream remains impossible to photograph (although in the future this may change), but this comes as close to photographing the essence of dreams as just about anything I have seen.

    I think Piotr is bound for fame.

  • Bill. Get yourself a Holga and some way way expired film, maybe smear a bit of jiz on the lens.Shut your eyes and squeeze the trigger. Shazaam! your a dream maker. (seriously. try it)
    Take your pick.

  • BTW. I Do quite like these. they do have some flair and edge. they do seem to resemble deliberate pastiches in some cases though.

  • When I tried the link to Piotr’s website, Google Chrome warned me that the site contains malware, anyone else get that warning?

    Still digesting this one. Are Holgas really as bad as all these light leaks would indicate? Even my old original 40 year old Diannas don’t leak light that badly. Incidently, it’s not the back seams that leak, it’s the frame counter window design. Put black tape over it and Bob’s yer uncle, unless like Piotr, you embrace the fog.

    Embrace the fog, great title for a Holga show.

  • John,

    I agree with your technique suggestions to FrostFrog but not everyone´s dreams are created equal. In fact not all dreams are worth the brain cells they´re printed on, jiz or no jiz. The funkier the technique the more difficult it is to pull off a credible concept in the face of all that distraction. Then to add different formats and color and b&w to the mix takes some very real huevos indeed. Except for one of the photos that i felt was a bit forced, and ok, maybe a few too many dogs, Piotr served up a dreamy treat.

    I remember when i started with digital photography. I was enamored of the etch-a-sketch quality of photoshop techniques. I showed a video guru friend my early efforts and he sniffed and said “I know how you did it”. Which unfortunately had the effect of sending me running from photoshop to film. Only later did i realize that when imagery is truly efffective it enables us to suspend the rational and believe in the magic.


  • Gordon; yup mine comes up “Blackhole Exploit Kit (type 2704)”

  • beautiful and rich and winged work.:)))

    No real time to write one of my typical long comments, but i will say this. It does a slight disservice to focus on the use of Holga in considering the work. This work is NOT about using a holga (though that is one of the camera’s employed) or expired film. Thousands of photographers use holgas and lomos and pinholes and box and toy cameras and while yes, there is often a given look (surface look that is) which will result, Piotr work is richer than most and richer than just the qualification of the tools he’s employing. I’ve been using a Holga, Diana, box, pinhole and other toy camera’s for more than 10 years (a gift originally from a friend in HK before the lomo fad exploded) and my own work (while using the same tools often) is very different just as Piotr’s work is very different from other photographers who’ve produced substantial bodies of work with the same (Moon, Ackerman, Kuwayama, Pin-Fat, Anderson, Burnett, etc etc etc and an entire list of great HongKong=based photographers who’ve been working with the toys long long before it became part of the photographic nomenclature). It is never about the tools but about what lay within the use….he’s captured some extraordinary moments that are simply enhanced by the tools he’s chosen…if one simply looks at his work (especially shown on website and elsewhere), you’ll recognize easily that the choice of camera has less to do with the power of his stories than with allowing him to add an additional layer of meaning or feeling….

    just as all the cats using Leica M’s or Canon Mark etc’s do not produce the same ‘quality’ of story, moments…..

    it is true, that Ackerman’s influence seems a guiding light here (and Michael has had a huge influence upon younger e.european photographers, especially in Poland and Russia (where he spends much of his time teaching and shooting and living)) and that is undeniable but for me, it doesnt diminish the power and the beauty of both the images and the stories he’s chosen to tell!….

    and as a photographer who has used some of these very toys and have tried hard to work beyond that ‘holga/lomo/toy’ look that seems obvious, i can tell you that it does take skill and time and understanding to work those toys past the obvious things they produce (light leaks, silhouettes, burning of the silver, odd focus rings, etc) to work the cameras to your vision…i see that here…or rather, even more clearly on the stories on his website…

    I agree with Imants, that this particular series (powerful as many of the photographs are) doesnt fully harness the lyricism and power of his work….but god damn, there are some gorgeous moments in this essay…and as a short ‘essay’ it sticks to the gut, at least mine….

    spend some time on the website and you’ll see…

    and i hope that Piotr takes a look at Oli’s work, to learn how a photographer, whose work is steeped in holga, has learned to work past its basic grammar and vocabulary….

    congrats for being published and sharing…lyrical, haunting work…:))))

    though, i’d suggest that love does NOT have to be reinvented…..

    but that it reinvents us


  • Bob
    When someone works in such an obvious manner with the Holga, and the associated anomalies, when technique is so obviously a huge part of what is going on. It draws attention to inself. I agree, there are some lovely moments in this series, however, there are also too many moments that draw attention to the technique, certainly to a photographer audience. When I find myself analyzing the technique before the content, I have a problem. I have the same issue with “fine” prints, where the object itself is more important than the image.

    Having said that, there are several utterly spectacular images here, 1, 11, and 19 in particular.

  • Hi Gordon: :)

    I guess what I;m suggesting is that what makes the work strong (both in some of the individual pics and especially so in the longer series on the website) isnt so much the use of Holga as what is achieved by what camera produces in the service of specific moments. In other words, giving someone a holga (or any toy) camera will produce certain predictable results, but that wont necessary make the work compelling. This is true, too, in some of the pics in this series. For example, pic #16, with color, results in a very common pic with the light splay of the color with the holga but that’s not what makes the image strong, but that in contrast with the child in the door and the second child behind him…it is definitely true that the ‘imperfections’ which happen as well as the degradations to the film (and especially if using plastic lens instead of glass, some holgas now have glass lenses, which is hilarious to me) are part of the aesthetic and temperment he’s striving for, they themselves dont make the images strong…u can get the same kind of stuff now with Iphone apps and PS skins, etc…but its the moments and the way he sequences that speak to me,…a string of holga/lomo/toy/pin-hole pics are not enough to sing to me, but if extraordinary moments (the eye he has in many o fthe pics) are married to this, it can produce something that moves me :)))….i guess for me its whether or not its all about the technique/tools or if those tools are in the service (or are even called into question) of something else…that’s what i mean ;))

    ok, must run…past my bedtime :))

  • Gordon

    Why are you irked by the technique? Is the content effective but overwhelmed by special effects? Do you feel the concept has not been served by the technique? Do you think the technique is fine but the photos themselves are weak (or vice versa)? How did the project fail to inspire you to bypass your own body of photographic knowledge in the viewing process? Do you have a personal resistance to lo-fi imagery presented in a serious manner? If you could imagine the photos stripped of their effects and presented in a more straight-forward manner would they hold any water at all in your opinión?

    I´m asking these questions for my own edification. Some have valid (or not) prejudices against color photography (distracting they say). Some have problems with certain lenses (distracting, they say), now i read that fine prints can distract one from the content and lo-fi techniques do the same thing. I do not disagree, i am trying to understand why photographers can´t let this sh*t go but the “common” person can. Do you think it´s possible that your body of knowledge is simply too distracting to view most photographs?


  • John – According to what they taught at church when I was young, if I employ your technique, I will go crazy. Oh, hell. I guess I’m crazy already. I’m too lazy and I’ve got too much to do already to experiment with this one.

    Lazy as I am, I did click the link and I did browse a few images. Maybe not enough. I didn’t find a single image that in any way employed a vision similar to Piotr’s, nor did the images I looked at seem all that dreamlike – just technically flawed, for the most part.

  • Ross sent me this link on facebook. Brilliant stuff.

  • Wow Kathleen, a lot of questions.
    Yes sometimes we are overwhelmed by effects, wether they be Holgaisms or HDR. There is certainly an argument for reducing image detail to get to the nitty-gritty of an image, wether from camera shake, deliberate out of focus, subject movement etc. Less information to deal with, more left to the viewer’s imagination. We’ve seen a bunch of that here. It’s an often succesful technique, useful to suggest a message, rather than explain in detail, with detail.
    I love lo-fi. Lots of great images past and present are lo-fi. I like many these images in fact. I don’t like the faded polaroid, (or faux polaroid if that is what it is), don’t much care for any of the colour images actually. But overall, I love what Piotr is doing, and what this work feels like. Do check out the vimeo, very powerful stuff.
    Great to see you back here and stirring the pot Kathleen.

  • I still get a malware warning if I click on Piotr’s site link.

  • Re Malware alert: me too. ADMIN going to take a look see???

    Gordon. As its a 6×6 format you can bolt a polaroid back on it. Same plastic lens light leak funkiness.
    (so its not really a ‘fake'(a la instagram) polaroid, just a ‘differently normal’ polaroid).

    Bill. Crazy aint so bad…… once you learn to ignore the Ants :)

    Kathleen. Good points.

  • I feel the “holga/toy technique being overused” is way overated. It’s no worse than manipulating a pic using tele shallow depth of field, wide-angle deep depth of field etc etc. All these “techniques” are overused. And of course the biggest “technique overuse” is to shoot in BW! ;-)Yet nobody says this about BW but it’s probably the biggest technique manipulation available; but these traditional processes don’t get the same criticism…

  • The so called essay is more like a series of photos, This essay format on burn is sort of dark ages stuff, there should be room for singles or doubles, triples etc

    If this was a series of 3 or 5 photos it would have heck of a lot more impact than what it has now. Most essays here have too many holes in them too much pocket billiards stuff

  • And of course the biggest “technique overuse” is to shoot in BW! ………you are only stating that because colour TV only came to NZ February last in 2013

  • A few weeks ago I saw a memorable and utterly surreal dream that took place in the gardens of “Last Year in Marienbad”. It was in b&w (as is the film) and it was crazy and captivating, a bit disillusioning (as is the film). But it was sharp, no halos, distortions or anything. I guess that’s me.

    I agree with Imants above, this is a series of disjointed images with a more or less common aesthetic. But I don’t see a dream or story or much else in them. The only images that stood with me after the first viewing are Nos 10 and 21. That’s just me again.

    Congrats to Piotr and thanks for the discussion above.

    (The link is blocked for me as well and a Google search failed too. Shame, I wanted to see more.)

  • You’ve got to be careful with these Holgas, the first one I purchased was faulty straight out of the box. Took it straight back to the shop. You should of seen how sharp and bright that lens was and no damn light leaks!!

  • “No real time to write one of my typical long comments…”

    Given that what follows is one of your typical long comments, how do you write something like the above with a straight face?

    As for Holgas, I bought one, did one roll of film, and then threw the Holga and the film away. If I want to take crappy pictures I have perfectly nice Canons that don’t piss light all over the negatives I can take them with.

  • AKAKY ;)))

    who writes anything here with a straight face? ;))…and if you think that was a long comment, then you are getting old Dad! ;))))…..as for holga:

    “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” beckett

    ok, that’s shorter ;)


    Piotre did the edit…his choice all the way


    let me be more clear..i agree with all that you said…i let Piotre, whose work i love love, do what i let you and others do…choose his work and present as he wants…i honestly think i could have made Piotre look better than Piotre did….not sure what you mean exactly on the tech side, but i will look into it and fix whatever needs to be fixed….

    cheers, david

  • Piotre did the edit…his choice all the way………. That’s surprising it really looks like another persons misinformed interpretation of his work. My apologies to burn editors with this essay
    This all probably reinforces one of my points there are a lot of essays here that can easily be reduced to a 3 to five images. All of this may be a legacy of the digital age shoot first edit later which leads to oh ” I forgot what I was on about”

  • On the tech side is just that slide format is all that is on offer though a non interactive video also can be displayed.

  • Yeah. The sooner someone develops a three dimensional fully immersive and interactive, non-linear web space JUST so that some photo geeks can pixel fondle easier, the better, I say.. :))

    Trouble is; ALL formats on the web are limited for displaying photography*. Even the Multimedia video is essentially a hack to try and vary the flow and shoe-horn more information(and therefore interest) into the experience. The slideshow replicates the linear structure of books (badly) which are already an antiquated format. The fully interactive ipad ‘app’ type approach seems to work best, but at the moment is a tech out of the grasp, not to mention budget, of most.

    *Ironically single Images have never looked better online due to massive leaps in compression and display tech.

  • “…books…which are already an antiquated format.”

    I don’t know, to me it looks like there’s some life in the old geezer yet. As far as I can tell, there’s not much interest in the (based on a true story) app and a lot of interest in the book and magazine. Print will be with us for a while, I think.

  • “As far as I can tell, there’s not much interest in the (based on a true story) app.”

    Well, seeing as it doesnt exist there probably wont be.

  • Imants,

    I don’t know….you have a vantage point….you work directly with this young generation and that might be the case… I understand your point but thinking is not a necessity for taking pictures, photographing, shooting….whatever you want to call it.

    Anders Petersen certainly does not think when he is shooting. I have heard him say it in interviews that the only time he puts on a thinking hat is at the time of editing.

    I can also see how beneficial it can be having the discipline to stick to “one” thing, idea, theme and whatnot but I can also see how it could turn to not being open to fresh ideas. I think that is more detrimental than shooting like crazy.

  • that’s one way to avoid the chill finger of obsolescence, John

  • Carlo it is not about one thing idea it is about working with in a broad framework. People like Peterson, Harvey, Ballen, Parr, Frank, Klee, Duchamp, Rauchenberg are/were conceptually strong and that runs a vein through their work. David’s Rio is not a single idea it goes well beyond that, but he does not lose sight of what he is doing.
    Peterson still shoots with intent it is not a willy willy stroll down the street, he has a backbone of ideas, working patterns etc in his head.
    Have another look at David’s blog images and you will see that it is not just a bunch of cobbled photos put together, there is an intent and conceptual strength there that accommodates fresh ideas etc. It is not just about liking or disliking good strong consistent work goes well beyond that.
    As I stated most here are capable of stringing a few images together but few can go further, it is a bit like a movie that works in parts but overall is sort of lost or a exhibition of a few good works with the rest asking the question why they were hung on the walls.

  • ps some ideas have to be reworked over and over again until they work this doesn’t mean that they are devoid of change and stale


    we are in the process of making (based on a true story) an ebook…

  • Some interesting conversation here. Imants makes an excellent point about conceptual frameworks and how successful artists work mostly within them.

    Of course I find the nature of photo essays fascinating. And I agree that most essays I see show little conceptual sense of narrative. I’ve nothing against non-linear storytelling, but it is typically not well-recieved by the general public. That makes sense. We are linear creatures for at least two thirds of our lives. The non-linear third of our lives are very personal. Practically no one outside of traditional psychoanalysts wants to hear other people’s dreams, and they are paid for it. Historically, Photography in any kind of essay format was used mostly as an illustration of a narrative. But I think non-linear narrative works in photography better than other arts, notably literature and film. “Based on a True Story” may be the best example of that. Certainly a very good one.

    Coincidentally, my latest project is non-linear. I doubt many will like it. In addition to the non-linear narrative structure it’s much brainier than my usual fare. Kind of a think piece about how adults in small town America prepare the youth for the challenges they’ll face as adults. Pretty deep, huh? I should have submitted it for the EPF, but was a day late and $25 short. So wtf, I’ll just give it away. Here.

  • I think this essay is hugely personal and psychological. There are those who will have difficulty with such a body of work. Who will choose not to delve and ponder the reason for the choice of this or that photo. Who will not care to decipherd the visual representations of the photographer´s mute message. An essay like this is an unfunny comic book in a foreign language, unfamiliar to us because it is so deeply woven into the heart and mind of the artist.

    Some here, and many elsewhere prefer to be hit over the head with the shocking, scinitillatingly hideous worst of human behavior. Anders Peterson, Antoine DÁgata, Richard Billingham, Boris Mikhailov..all are examples of work that is difficult to look at but touch us in raw and primal ways. That keep us turning the pages, gaping, gawking and examining in minute detail lives often wholly unlike our own (or maybe even secretly much like our own).

    This essay is more suggestive than hard-hitting. It asks us to please accept each photo as an object of desire, longing, apprehension, loss, piquant tenderness, etc. It could be comprised of five or forty-five images but it would essentially add up to the same thing. An invitation into the silent, moldy, shadowy memory bank of the artist. Some of the photos are more eloquent than others. The one that threatened to shatter the magic (for me) was #11.

    Not all will have the patience or interest for such a prolonged visit into the mind and heart of another. I found it grand. But I have a deep capacity to perceive and appreciate the subtle messages of pain, madness, grief, joy. An excursión into the world of the thoroughly dysfunctional is often like an unbearably rich dessert. Feels great on the tongue but can leave me feeling uncomfortably full.


  • Michael, I fried my brain years ago….your essay is over my head.

  • Michael, i LOVE it! haha, i won´t give it away..it´s a must see..

  • Ummm, sorry. I thought this was a different thread. Wouldn’t have posted that link under someone else’s essay on purpose.

  • Michael, you’re not thinking clearly.

  • Whoa, Kathleen, good stuff.
    Actually, I don’t mind being hit over the head.


    nice thoughtful review…thanks

  • Imants,

    But that’s after you have found your “voice”
    Until you do that which is a monumental thing it’s all fair game.
    The way I understand what you are saying is in terms of style and authorship as DAH always mentions.
    I recently read an interview with Alec Soth that speaks about what I am talking about.
    He mentions:

    “I was shooting 8×10 but I wasn’t able to afford large prints, so to finally see large prints, I thought, “Wow, OK, on the wall, this work is good.” Conceptually, though, there was something wrong with the project. I re-jiggered it so that it was along the Mississippi, which is kind of obvious and dumb but it made the work hold together in a different way. And then I did a trip along the Mississippi, and things were working, I knew the work was on another level. I’m not saying it’s perfect, there are many things wrong with it. But I just felt, “OK, I’ve broken through to something else.”

    The rest is history…


    I am not an expert on Soth ;-) or anything for that matter….

  • MW,

    Profound work no doubt. I will need to think hard about that one….don’t know where to begin….

  • No the youth are quite capable of producing conceptually strong and completed work in particular when they produce work that relates to their world experiences.

    The voice of youth that is so different to that of an adult, raw fresh no doubt somewhat confusing to adults but profound and visually rich.

  • Anyone is capable of creating a conceptually strong and completed work as long as they express something that’s absolutely personal. Nothing whatsoever to do with age. Sounds so easy! The ony thing is children and drunks are the only ones who consistently tell the truth.

  • BTW I’ve really enjoyed this essay. I’ve always loved this kind of dreamy and cryptic style imagery. Although I have doubts these images were conceived in essay form, I see more of a single shot style and later weaving a tale and finding an apt and stimulating statement. To create a visual chimera as enticing as this work you’ve really got to let go…

  • Imants abolutely the toughest part in my experience is pinning down the concept. One thing is being pretty good at getting eyeball kicks and another is going out with an intent. controlling your inspiration keeping somehow to a basic visual narrative without being distracted by something else with nothing whatsoever to do with your initial idea and still find powerful images.

  • And one cannot begin to comprehend how utterly frustrating and distressing it can be to visually create a concept.

  • Mike – Truly brainy work for the true egg head. So smart and witty it left laughing in a most intelligent way.

    Why didn’t you contact me? I would have organized a nationwide fundraiser and we could have pulled in that $25.00! Now, whoever does win the EPF is going to be left feeling inadequate and very unsure of him/herself, wondering if s/he really deserves the award all, knowing how differently it might all have turned out if you had but made the time and come up with the $25.00.


    Getting hit over the head with dysfunction has been a guilty pleasure of mine for years. That’s why i am practically on intimate terms with the photographers i mentioned and others besides, like Larry Clark and the inimitable Arbus. But lately i want to do more of the work. Be seduced by the photo as opposed to having my eyeballs raped. Different kind of photography but i am crushing on Henry Wessell these days. Subtle-ty.

    Ross, Civilian..hola to the night shift..Gracie too wherever she might be..and the perpetual lurkers Imants and Gladdy. And shape-shifting Panos fire-bombing us with videos and streaking back out like a rebel fighter..and DAH, our man in Jamaica..that Miriam portrait’s a killer.



  • Beautifully dark and dream like.

Comments are currently closed.