It is impossible to imagine his life without photography. The photographer, who was born in Poland, raised in the USA, and is equally at home in his adopted country of Iceland, has assembled a notable body of work in recent years. His analogue, often absurdly funny motifs from Iceland, in particular, have won him numerous fans in the LFI gallery and on Instagram. This time he was on a road trip in the USA with a Leica M10.
How was your trip planned? Did you have an idea beforehand?
No, I never plan anything ahead when it comes to travelling. Last year I was on the road for two months, travelling through California and Arizona.
Your biography shows you’re a regular visitor to the USA?
Yes, I’m a regular visitor and an American citizen as well. I went there when I was 14 years old, to my father who lived in New York. I came from Poland and lived in New York for a couple of years attending junior high school in Brooklyn. Later my family moved to California.
But you wanted to stand on your own two feet quite soon?
Yes, I moved out and started to live on my own very early in my life, too early, maybe. I quit school and started to work as a construction worker; but my dream was to become a jeweller. By chance I met a master jeweller from Mexico, and he taught me some tricks while working together in his shop. After a couple of years, I moved back to New York and worked in the diamond district for one of the jeweller’s there.
But New York City also offered you other options?
Yes, I was also in the hip-hop scene. I met some Wu-Tang Clan members in the city and became good friends with them, I even lived a couple of months with Ol’ Dirty Bastard. (Russel Tyrone Jones, he died in 2004, was an American Rapper, better known by his stage name Ol’ Dirty Bastard.)
However, your life remained rather restless and turbulent until you moved back to Poland. Did photography already play a role in your life during that time?
Yes, since my teenage years with a regular digital pocket camera. I discovered how easy it is to use the everyday objects around us, and just constantly played with the objects and light. Later I saved up for a Leica M6 and started doing what I really like – posing myself in front of the camera.
You still have strong connections to the USA. What inspires you most about the country and your travels?
The US is still a part of my life. I visit the country once a year. What fascinates me about the USA is the freedom; in a way this is the truth of what they say. You can dress as crazy as you like and nobody will point fingers at you; or if your thing is building motorbikes or cars, you just go ahead and do that. Travelling in the USA is an unforgettable thing. Driving for hours through the desert in California and Arizona. Staying overnight in scary, dirty and probably dangerous motels can somehow be fun – especially for photographers.
From a European perspective, what do you miss the most?
I miss the real culture of camping in the USA, eating lunch in the parks, Mexican culture which I love, and I miss my Mexican friends. I miss house parties, the ones with kegs filled with watered-down beer, loud music and all kinds of people. I miss just going to the beach and spending hours watching surfers. I miss watching sports with my friends on TV, commenting how much I don’t like sports. I miss how men behave with each other: one minute you are “busting balls” with someone and then you tell each other, “I love you, bro”; it’s Clint Eastwood style.
The difference I see is the work style. Americans are extremely hard-working people, who get things done fast. In Europe you tend to see a couple of guys with their chins on the handle of a shovel while one is digging – never in the USA. For me Iceland is a little similar to the States when it comes to huge trucks and open spaces.
Let’s finally talk about the images that were taken in the USA last year…
Sure, the photographs were taken in California and Arizona. My mother lives just at the gates to Yosemite Park in a small town named Oakhurst.
What was special about the national park you visited?
In a weird way I feel like I can control nature in the photographs: it can be happy and colourful when you want or dark and gloomy. The only thing you can’t control is the Yosemite Park sequoia trees. These godlike, majestic trees are too smart for the camera. I’ve never seen a good photo of a sequoia. Touching those old giants was a life-changing experience.
And you also visited a rodeo show during your trip.
Yes, I visited the rodeo venue in Coarsegold, a town nearby, which is keeping the cowboy legacy alive. It’s an event you must see. Very skilled cowboys and cowgirls are bareback, bronco riding and calf roping, which is extremely dangerous as you can imagine.
There are always a lot of self-portraits in your picture series, normally – often very funny. Why so few this time?
To be honest, I didn’t have time for posing in front of the camera in the USA; plus I had the Leica M10 to use and American people love posing for a camera, which was great.
Did you find working with the Leica M10 successful?
Absolutely. A very special experience for me with the Leica M10 was the speed; how fast I can start the camera and the battery’s long running time.
But you will continue to shoot with the M6 in parallel, won’t you?
Yes. I’ll always shoot with the M6, but only those special moments. For everyday use I will change it to M10 R, which I’m saving up for right now. Unfortunately, the M6 is a little bit limiting because of the price of film; and I always want to shoot much more.
Przemyslaw Mioduszewski was born on March 10, 1982, in Łapy, a small town in the east of Poland. Mioduszewski moved to the USA when he was 14 years old. He lives with his wife Ewa in Warsaw, Poland and in Vopnafjörður in the north-east of Iceland. Find out more about his photography on his website and Instagram channel.
In issue 3/2022, the LFI magazine presents a portfolio of motifs created in Iceland.