Woman Crush Wednesday: Katarzyna Derda

Woman Crush Wednesday: Katarzyna Derda

Katarzyna Derda's photo series, Paper Dreams, is a way for her to uniquely create moments of emotion and fantasy. She uses an alternative darkroom process to create LITH prints of her photos, giving them a uniquely gritty look that could not be achieved otherwise. Katarzyna's work was recently featured in a solo exhibition at SohoPhoto Gallery in New York, and will be featured in a group exhibition, in November, at the 2017 International Fine Art Photography Competition in Paris, France. Her work has also been featured in exhibitions like, 2017, Skyway Juried Art Exhibition at Prairie State College, Chicago, and many more. See more of her work here.

Someone Like Me  ©Katarzyna Derda

Someone Like Me ©Katarzyna Derda

By Kexin Sun

Why do you choose dolls as the subject of your storytelling?

K: I was taking a photography class and wasn’t sure whether I wanted to be a commercial photographer or if I wanted to take portraits, or landscapes. I found a tiny doll, and I decided to do my final on that. My professor said it wouldn't work because it seemed boring, but I insisted on doing it. I remember I just found this passion to work with the small dolls. Her expression remains the same so I tried to find a way to change it by posing her, or choosing surroundings. After that project, I photographed women, and other subjects, but I chose to return to dolls at the end. I didn’t feel the way that I felt with the dolls when I was shooting people. So I decided to search for a new doll, I found one, bought it, and shot it for a year. I created a new project with the new doll and felt completely happy when I created this story within a fantasy. I like to show my story in the doll’s story.

 How do you go about picking a doll to photograph?

K: My last doll is from Russia, she looks like a Barbie. Every doll is different, although people think they are similar. People have said I choose dolls that look like me, I don’t see it in that way, although this one does look like me, so I don’t know. This one is very expensive, I had to sell my camera to buy it. But this is my passion, so I would do anything.


Neversummer  ©Katarzyna Derda

Neversummer ©Katarzyna Derda

Where do you look for inspiration when creating your photographs?

K: I was inspired by the beauty of the doll, with the places I chose, the sunrise, the sunset, the wood, everything. When I place the doll and shoot, I find a tiny spot where I feel inspired, and think about how I’m going to post it, shoot it, place her, and dress her. My daughter inspires me, she is seven years old. It’s so funny, she doesn’t even have a doll. Everybody jokes that in our household, I’m the one playing with the doll. We are from Poland, and nobody here can help us. So she has no choice but to come with me to shoot in the woods. She is fascinated and passionate about it, she has helped me a lot. She is a creative creature, and she inspires me a lot. 

There seems to be an emphasis on the doll’s big eyes and thin legs, what is the significance behind that?

K: I think the big eyes are important, I’m drowned by the big eyes. I think it’s the face that drives me, not the body. I can show my emotions with the face. When I shoot, I have twelve images on my scene, I shoot one scene for example, and I move and shoot it in at slightly different angles to catch the moment. But a slightly different angle can really make you feel something. You look at her, and she doesn’t look like a doll anymore. You can feel the emotions that you are thinking about. Why is she crying? What the story is here? But sometimes it’s hard because they are just the dolls, I can’t change their expressions. 

 Can you explain your process of setting the background and manipulating the doll’s positioning?

K: Sometimes I plan ahead, I color my idea, sometimes I wake up in the night, and quickly put my ideas on paper. But most of the shoots, I try to find places by walking through the woods, and I’ll see something. It depends. Everything happens when the doll is in my hand. 

Paper Dreams  ©Katarzyna Derda

Paper Dreams ©Katarzyna Derda


 Describe your creative process in one word.

K: Passion

If you could teach one, one-hour class on anything what would it be?

K: I would take everyone out with a camera, tell them to let it go and not to try too hard. I think if you try too hard, it’s not very honest, it doesn’t show emotions. If you shoot, it should from your heart, it’s the most precious thing. 

 What is the last book you read or film you saw that inspired you?

K: My latest inspiring book - Good Omens  by Terry Pratchett

and a movie Pan’s Labyrinth

 What is the most played song in your music library?

K: God and roses.

 How do you take your coffee?

K: I love lattes, I love very strong double lattes. I’m dedicated with coffee, I start my day with coffee. After I open my eyes, the first thing I’m to get is coffee.

Photograph #2  ©Katarzyna Derda

Photograph #2 ©Katarzyna Derda

Photograph #7  ©Katarzyna Derda

Photograph #7 ©Katarzyna Derda

The Archives: Phillip Toledano

The Archives: Phillip Toledano

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Current Feature: Sara Cwynar