Interview with Jasiek Zoll “drone artist”
Beata Bruggeman-Sękowska. Your drone photos are pure art. A minimalist style with a delicately hidden story.
I’m very glad to hear that! I never thought that my photos would be perceived in this (accurate) way. And it turns out that’s exactly what is happening. I have always liked minimalism and at the beginning of my adventure with the drone minimalism was very special to me. In fact, in each photo you can smuggle a story and everyone can interpret photos in their own way. When people write to me and describe what they see in a given photo, and sometimes it is something different than what I see it is a signal for me that I took a good photo!
What do you like most about minimalism?
I really like simple forms and “orderly” frames. It’s completely different in my house where I’m the messy one living in the chaos and my wife just keeps on cleaning up after me, ha-ha.
I had never had anything to do with photography before in my life until I started taking photos myself. And somehow it came naturally to me. I was looking for something else in the pictures, something that I would like and would be unique. I wanted my works to be consistent, arranged in a composition and simple but at the same time not obvious. And here minimalism met my expectations. Over time, it has developed and gone further, but that’s another story.
Tell us more about your professional experience.
I started working as a young boy and I was really into everything looking for my professional path. From the warehouseman, through the seller of supplements at the gym. The turning point was definitely working in a small private TV station, later as a publisher, producer and production manager. I liked this form of work and this world very much and I was doing it for a good 10 years. As fate would have it, while waiting for the next production orders, my colleague invited me to work at the Pompidou creative agency. I met there one of the bosses (Sebastian Weldycz) who had his first drone. I caught the bug right away and bought my first drone (Dni Phantom 3pro). At first it was a hobby, but when I published my photos, it turned out that people like what I do and how I do it. They contacted me to talk about my photos and ask if I also offer printouts of my photographs. Well, that’s how it started.
After nearly 2 years from the purchase of the first drone, I decided to drop everything and devote myself to my passion and try to make a living from it. And I am making a living from it:)
I was also born in Warsaw just like you and it’s no wonder that I love this city. It has so many faces and dimensions. Can you show us your 5 favourite photos of Warsaw and tell us what makes them special and what your message is?
Warsaw is a beautiful city that has been through a lot. From actually a total destruction, rebuilding and architectural diversity. It will be hard for me to choose only 5 favourite photos but I will try 🙂
1. Globus and Warsaw – I took this photo in the last days of 2022. I have already liked it very much. Warsaw is a place which is open to the world and people, that’s how I see it.
2. Podzamcze area and a view of Warsaw. As everyone knows, our capital was practically completely destroyed during the World War II, but we managed to rebuild it and preserve the old town. Our culture and modernity can be seen beautifully in one picture. This is how diverse Warsaw is.
3. This is the spire at PGE Narodowy (National Football Stadium) with the Polish flag. Here I leave everyone the possibility of their own interpretation, for me nowadays it is very meaningful.
4. This photo you may have seen somewhere. It won the award for the best photo of 2022 according to the “Nowa Warszawa” portal and appeared in a Polish newspaper Gazeta Prawna. I took it right after the war broke out in Ukraine, our neighbours, when the Palace of Culture and Science was illuminated in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. I think the symbolism of this photo speaks for itself. Something that was supposed to be a symbol of Russian greatness: The Palace of Culture and Science was used against them and I am showing the strength of Ukraine, all in the capital of Poland.
5. Pure minimalism is visible here. A top down photo of a famous ‘rotunda’ in Warsaw. For me, it is a symbol of progress, it is an old building in which the central panel has been adapted to the modern technology of solar panels.
How do you decide which places you want to show/photograph? What are your criteria?
The criteria are different, but it is often a spontaneous trip with a drone to the city. I usually make decisions based on places I found on the map, newly built buildings in the city or I’m just passing by a car and I notice something that could look good in the drone’s lens. Here you look a little differently than in normal photography with a classic camera. Sometimes you have to imagine what something might look like from the air and then I make a decision about a possible flight. Sometimes it is a mistake concerning a given frame, and often a bull’s-eye. Of course, once I choose a place, I have to check the legal aspects concerning using a drone in a given place, restrictions related to the zone, weather, light, etc. If everything fits together well, let’s fly!
Do you have a favourite place to take photos?
As I mentioned earlier, I always try to be unique and look for new places and new frames. Once I take a photo in a given location, I can consider it ticked off and I’m looking for something new. Of course, it’s not that simple and you can’t just do new things, but thanks to atmospheric variability, the same frame can be shown in different scenes, whether it’s the season or even the day. I really like Podzamcze area and the multimedia fountains in Warsaw. Here, looking at the centre from the air, the old historic capital is mixed with modern buildings.
Your second home is located in one of the most beautiful parts of Poland, in the lake district: Mazury known for its nature, peace, so different from the bustling Warsaw. Why?
There have always been two or three houses in my life. The first is in Warsaw, the second in Mazury, and the third in Zakopane.
Since childhood, we have had a family house in Mazury, which was built by my Dad and his family. I was lucky as a child living in the 90’s that I could spend my whole vacation in this place. It has become so deeply rooted in me that now when I have to go somewhere, Mazury is my priority. I love peace, quiet and lack of people as much as their presence and noise. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s probably a kind of life balance. Mazury is a unique place in many ways. First of all, it’s just beautiful here! Lakes, forests, hills, animals, people, farming, folklore are just some of the components that make this place one of the most beautiful in Poland for me. And why this location? You have to ask my parents, but I know they chose it perfectly 🙂
Can you show us some photos taken in Mazury and explain what makes them special?
1. here the sunsets are one of the most beautiful in Poland! The colors of nature and the glow of the sun are like a fairy tale.
2. Lakes and their green shores with a mirror surface of water in which the sky is reflected is something that I can look at for hours.
3/4. Harvest and Mazury is something that beautifully combines with this scenery. Many of us remember this holiday time from our teenage years and it is unchanged and delightful.
But your portfolio is much more versatile than just Warsaw and Mazury ? What else do you photograph?
I try to photograph everything that I find interesting. I spend most of my time in Warsaw, which is why it is mainly in my photos. I also like to photograph various sports, cars, snowboarding, people and occasional events. I really like visiting mountains because of my passion for winter sports (snowboarding), whether in Poland or abroad, and I always take my drone and take pictures. The same is true of coastal climates. As a matter of fact, the drone accompanies me everywhere I go because you never know what may catch my eye.
What drones do you use?
I use DJI drones. Currently, I have a DJI Mavic 3 and DJI air2s on board. But I can boast that I just bought another drone – BETA fpv. It is a drone for shooting dynamic video shots, because in addition to photography, I also shoot videos from the drone. This is so-called natural development.
What’s your favorite frame?
I like top down very much. This is a very interesting way of photographing because you can show buildings, roundabouts, streets and various other things in a form in which the human eye rarely looks and can see, i.e. perpendicularly down.
What are the biggest challenges for a drone photographer.
I think the biggest challenges are the weather conditions and the places where you have to take pictures. Often the weather is not our ally. I remember when in 2021 I was taking photo and video materials for the City of Warsaw on the occasion of New Year’s Eve, it was very cold and there was no time to take the photos on another day. When you operate a drone you cannot cover your fingers (at least 3 in each hand), in the cold, your fingers go numb, and since you don’t move, you get cold all over and sometimes you just shake. Then it’s hard to focus on the right frame. This is exactly what happened but in the end we managed to make a great material that later could be seen on various social networks of the City of Warsaw. Night shots are also a big challenge because usually the cameras in our drones are not SLR cameras in which you can shoot very high ISO values, so we have to mainly rely on the exposure time. And here you have to spend a lot of time for the drone to stabilize, not move and expose the frame for example 3-4 seconds, and as we know we are in the air. Any movement of the drone while taking such a photo ends up blurring the photo. However, immodestly I will say that I just mastered the night photos and I can deal with them 🙂
Drone photography is…?
Drone photography offers a beautiful perspective of showing the world , it is something new that is developing and gives more opportunities in perceiving the world. This brings us closer to the stars. I recommend everyone watching this type of photos and following my activities since I’m just getting started.