Name: Magdalena Wosinska
Current City: Los Angeles
Hometown: Katowice, Poland
Poland born and raised photographer, Magdalena Wosinska moved to Phoenix, Arizona at the age of 9 where she grew up skateboarding. "At 19 I moved to LA to pursue being a skate photographer, then at 21 started playing metal in a band for almost 9 years," adds Wosinska.
As for photos, she picked up her first camera at 14, it was an instant love that would blossom into a career over the next twenty years.
"My favorite thing to do in my pastime is ceramics as my skateboard no longer agrees with my body," says Wosinska with a laugh. "Neither does headbanging!"
Read on to discover her journey with photography, life and restoring an adobe in Pioneertown.
What initially attracted you to the world of photography, and what's the inspiration behind The Magdalena Experience?
When I started skating as a young kid, I was also really into drawing and paint. So, I guess I was always into the arts. There was a photography class offered at my school so I took it – the main inspiration was from my best friend's older sister who would take photos and I was so amused by them. I started taking photos of all my friend I would skate with.
For me, the early days of "learning" how to take photos were more task oriented. Take photos of shadows, buildings or people. So my goal was to take photos of skateboarders as those were my surroundings.
A lot of the guys were really good and when we would street skate, the tricks they did were beyond my ability to so do. I wanted to have a reason to be included and to be there, so I would tag along on these missions and shoot photos of all the guys that were skating.
At the time, in the 90s, there was only one of girt in my hometown that skated so we just blended in with the guys. It was VERY uncommon for girls to skate where I came from, so most guys thought you were a weird tomboy and would laugh at you.
I remember I was too embarrassed to wear a pair of shorts til I was maybe 22 because I had so many bruises on my legs from trying to learn how to kickflip in my driveway.
The inspiration of the Magdalena Experience came around that same time when I was 14. I had to take photos of people for a class assignment. Skaters were easy as they were my friends but everyone else I was scared to approach as they were someone I was to shy to photograph. So to practice shooting people, I just started taking self-portraits as well.
I remember the first time I took a nude photo of myself I was 14 and it had NOTHING to do with being sexual.
Photography started showing me different avenues of what kind of photographer you could be. At that time, all the photos I saw were in magazines so I thought to take a good photo, it would have to be of someone or myself in really nice, fashionable clothes like the magazines showed me.
Well, my family and I didn't have extra spending for nice clothes or even most clothes, to be honest. I didn't want to photograph myself in the scraps I had to be judged in the photos.
I realized nudity is timeless. You can tell the year based on clothing style, what music someone is into or their social class whether you are rich or poor. In nudity, you can be anyone and everyone in timelessness.
As I started shooting more and more and started working for clients, I started traveling more. I would be in some of the most amazing places ALONE or with my assistant. There were endless landscapes, beautiful light and I wanted to photograph them, but not just for the landscape. I wanted to include the human form into it. And I wanted to be consistent with the same person in the images in different landscapes. So since I was always with myself, why not continue this self-portrait experience. Then Instagram came along so I used that as an outlet to display this series in 2011 and have been adding to the collection ever since:)
How would you describe your style of photography for your personal projects?
I think its raw. And real. I try to capture reality for what it really is.
What are the challenges you face as a photographer/creative, and how do you overcome them?
Well, the main challenge as of a few years ago was standing out. As we all know, anyone with a phone camera considers themselves a photographer now, as well that the market is really over saturated. It was so nice to be able to document something special and come back with prints to share.
Now, we can all take the same photo. Yes, it's a different skill and types of tools you use, but it can become unspecial if everyone does the same thing.
So, now I work harder than I ever have before to stay focused and constantly put out new work, but it feels good to do that!
Outside of photography, you're currently restoring an adobe in Pioneertown. Will you tell us a little bit about the property, your vision, and the restoration journey thus far?
Ugh let's just say its taken 3 years longer and 5 times more $$$
But it has been an amazing process. I've made a lot of mistakes and really started to master patience with this house.
I was looking to buy something for years in that area as I've been going there since the early 2000’s.
When this property came up, I knew it had great bones. I loved that it was a true original adobe but I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself into. The place was left abandoned for 10 years after an elderly couple passed away there. Their kids came, took what they wanted and then left everything else.
When I saw the house for the first time, it was completely trashed. Cans of old food, couches, records, dead rats, birds, mice and old beds were left to rot. I had to clean all of that out totally solo in 120-degree weather a few summers back, not the funnest day of my life haha.
I wanted to add a bedroom but was told the addition to the adobe was not permitted and moving the wall will cause this place to crumble. So, I decided to take it most of it apart safely, save the original adobe walls and build around it. It would have been much more cost effective for me to just tear the whole thing down and build my dream house for half the expense BUT there was NO WAY I could tear down even a few walls of a 1935 adobe.
So I kept it, built my proper addition onto it, made the new part look old and maybe next year I'll finally have a place to sleep. It's VERY exciting!!!!
Do you have any other projects or collaborations on the books you'd like the readers to know about?
I'm working on my fourth book at the moment called "Leftovers of Love". The book opening is Oct 26th, 2018 at Merchant Modern Gallery In Venice CA. Its a body of work on relationships/drugs/alcohol abuse in and around my life during 2004-2017
I'm also working on a few film projects and some other books but that's all still in the works!
How does creating art help you find peace in life?
Ceramics is my peace. Sitting in silence with clay in the hands is my favorite thing:) It's grounding and lets me let go emotionally of any burdens.
If you could give one piece of advice to young individuals around the globe, what would it be and why?
Find your truth and passion and follow it. Everything is possible if you really believe it is so don't let fear be your decision maker.
Who are some of your greatest influences?
My mom. She is the coolest
What/who are you grateful for?
Family, friends, health, the sun, having passion.
What does empowerment mean to you?