An interview with the photographer, Kasia Skrzypek, recounting how a childhood fascination with historical tailoring took her across Europe and behind the lens.
We met up with Berlin-based, Kasia, at Holborn Studios in London to share cappuccinos and chat about how she began her extraordinary life photographing living history and historical set photography.
Which came first, history or photography?
In school, I sucked at history, but I was obsessed with the drama of the past. My mother taught me how to sew clothes for my dolls and it wasn’t long before I made my own garments inspired by medieval queens. When I met my history buff husband I was introduced to the world of historical re-enactment, which he was involved with. Before I knew it I was immersed in a huge society of like-minded people with the same fascination for times gone by.
That’s how I got started with photography. Photographing my husband in outfits I’d created by hand, I could step back in time through the lens and photograph the clothes in ways they wouldn’t have been seen before. I found myself documenting the action taking place at each event we went to. There was an abundance of epic, historically authentic subject matter and lighting conditions that would normally only be found on film sets.
How did the popularity of shows such as Game of Thrones and Vikings affect your style?
Others saw my photography as stills versions of shows like that and at the time I hadn’t seen of them. I’m all caught up now though! Holding the camera helped me to connect as more than just a spectator. It also helped advertise my skills at creating historical costumes and through that, I funded my first DSLR camera. The camera helped me to define who I am today. I wasn’t just a wife – I was at the heart of the action and able to experiment with my own style.
How has your photography developed since then?
My next opportunity came about through working with a company who specialising in historical film consultancy in Berlin. They knew I wanted to try set photography as my pictures look so much like film stills and after asking for any opportunity to get involved, I got on the set of a docu-drama centred around the lives of Western Slavs in Germany as the set photographer.
It was a really intense 7 days of non-stop shooting. As a set photographer, you’re the last person anyone thinks of. It’s like being a ghost, you have to get the shot without affecting the filming happening. The most amazing part was when, in a break, I told the cinematographer I wished I could have had another go at capturing an epic scene that had many details and they gave me my own take to shoot it with. It was a magical moment and made me realise I can ask for what I want, and get it!
That sounds like a perfect pairing! What’s next for you, Kasia?
My journeys across Europe and through history have taught me to love, learn and always listen to myself. Next year I’m going to explore more of my passions. I’m hoping to travel to Ireland and the Scottish Highlands to cover 18th Century reenactments. That period is my sweet spot at the moment! I even started making outfits seriously again because I don’t have anything from that period. All roads seem to be leading me there, so I’m going to go with it. Let’s see where it goes.
Discover more of Kasia’s work on Instagram.
Interview by Drew Whittam. Photos of Kasia by Frances Draskau.