Photography degree students from the University of Arts London (UAL) London College of Communication (LCC) took part in a creative project to showcase the essence of Elephant & Castle. We spoke to one of the photographers, Marcin Nowak, about his images and inspiration.
Please tell us a little about yourself
My name is Marcin Nowak and I am a Polish photographer, born in 1990 in Pabianice. After graduating from The Culinary College of Łòdź as a chef in 2009, I moved to London in 2011. Here, I completed a BA (Hons) in photojournalism and documentary photography (PDP) at the LCC, University of the Arts London.
What do you do now, and what are you hoping to do in the future?
My portraiture and documentary work deal with environmental, social and political issues facing society today. Often, the different themes of investigation I look at can be combined, such as my ongoing body of work focusing on the government-driven deforestation projects in Europe and the activists who resist the progress of them.
Currently, I am exploring the representation of stereotypes among certain groups of people in London. I work as a crewman at a photographic lighting and digital equipment company. I am in my element when I’m working on photojournalistic assignments because this is what want to do professionally in the future.
How did your degree help develop your career and what do you plan to do after LCC?
I was able to find out what really interests me as a photographer. My degree also helped me to change my previous career path as a chef and gave me the confidence to work in the photographic environment.
What did you enjoy about LCC?
I enjoyed processing and scanning film in a darkroom, finding extraordinary books in the library and attending guest lectures and contextual studies. I was also able to meet legendary photographers such as Jocelyn Bain Hogg and Roger Hutchings and learn of their experience and thoughts about the real world of photography.
What do you enjoy about the Elephant and Castle area?
I feel a strong sense of belonging and friendliness within Elephant and Castle. An example of this can be seen when I was working on a photography project that required the community’s support. I found a Facebook page “Elephant & Castle residents” to post my idea and requirements and was contacted by a resident of 11 years. He allowed me to take pictures from his balcony on the 24th floor and helped me complete my project.
What good photo opportunities are there in the area?
The area is very dynamic . The continuous energy with the backdrop of a historical point on the map of London gives endless photo opportunities.
Preference: film or digital?
When I was a student I preferred film photography. I have experimented with many different cameras and formats that have led me to my preferred tool – a mirrorless, full-frame rangefinder camera.
Since graduating from LCC, I no longer have access to the darkroom. This means I’ve had to switch exclusively to digital but I do keep shooting on my favourite system. Digital is better with for my workflow and I can see effects on the same day. I definitely prefer digital, however, I still have my film camera as a backup.
What makes Elephant and Castle stand out compared with other areas in London?
All roads lead to Elephant and Castle.
First memory of the area?
Elephant and Castle was the very first destination I visited when a friend invited me to London in 2008. I was amazed by the sense of community that exists in Elephant and Castle; in less than a year my friend had become a local. He knew all the shopping assistants and neighbours by name.
Favourite hangout at Elephant and Castle?
My favourite places are St Mary’s Churchyard, London College of Communication, Tai Tip Mein.
In three words describe Elephant and Castle
Green. Historical. Truthful.
Do you prefer portrait or landscape? People or places?
Portrait and landscape are equally important as people and places in my photography.
What is your dream photo shoot location?
I really want to experience the view from the top of a crane.