for those about to rock
JAMIE WDZIEKONSKI. for those about to rock
There’s no shortage of epochal cover artwork hailing from Australia. Think Leif Podhajsky. Think John Taylor or Jonathan Zawada, to name just a few. Now, it’s safe to state that the latest addition to this illustrious circle goes by the name of Jamie Wdziekonski.
The Melbourne-based photographer divides his time between documenting the hottest bands this planet’s indie circuit has to offer and capturing protest culture on the streets of Down Under - and he does so with a striking (predominantly) black and white signature style that feels intimate and iconic at the very same time. This May, his impressive work will finally be on display at Melbourne’s NGBE Gallery through his very first solo show, aptly titled "For the Record - A Decade of Photographs".
It’s no coincidence that Wdziekonski’s studio is located at 253 Lygon Street, East Brunswick - an address that has proven itself to be essential fertile ground for Australia’s music scene as it gave home to King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s rehearsal and recording space and was home to Melbourne-based Flightless Records. Unfortunately, these almost sacred walls will be pulled down later this year to make room for an apartment block.
Jamie was so nice to take a break from putting the finishing touches to particular exhibition for a quick chit-chat with Lodown.
“I knew I wanted to do something that involved photography from around 15 years of age - which started in high school in a b/w film developing class and later reinforced the idea on a family trip to Poland. I actually started out in the advertising industry… although that was more of a producer role than being behind a camera. But through that job, I met a bunch of fashion clients in Melbourne and started working for a couple of them, eventually running my own fashion blog and documenting things like Fashion Week in Sydney. At the height of my stint in fashion, I was contributing to Olivier Zahm’s ‘Purple Diary’, which I was pretty stoked on.
I had always loved music, but I never thought to photograph it until about 2012, when I started watching music documentaries and looking at stills from the 60s and 70s. It was clear from the get-go that I would document bands that I like. I was inspired by Ondi Timoner’s ‘Dig’... I couldn’t comprehend back then how she could pick two bands and follow them for seven years, not knowing what would unfold. That sense for the unknown excites me, especially when you’re in your 5th or 10th year of documenting the same band, and you sort of see your intuition or gut feeling about them being validated when you watch the world catch on and fall in love with the music the same way you did.
ARETHA BROWN, MELBOURNE
I was always heavily into black and white photography. It’s always been like this, even when I was working in fashion. There’s no definitive answer to why I prefer it, but I guess in a way it’s easier to focus on what’s going on in the photograph without the distraction that color can sometimes bring.
AMYL AND THE SNIFFERS, GUIDED BY ANGEL BTS
Regarding capturing protest culture, well, I wouldn’t necessarily say it was an easy transition. What got me to go outside and start listening in at protests was music documentaries - archival footage of protests in Australia and the United States. A lot of these documentaries that I was watching would cut to protests that were happening at that time - so this made me pay attention to what was going on in my own backyard, I’d say.
Right now, I’m working on my first exhibition. I figured after a decade of photographing music, I should probably have one. It’s called ‘For The Record’ and it features photographs that have been used in album artwork, you know, front and back covers, inner sleeves, inserts, and so on. Besides that, I would recommend keeping an eye on Australian bands Zelkova and Cloud Ice 9. These are the two new bands that I want to start documenting.“