Interview with Photographer Monika Kiernicka

“In order to make right decisions, you must have experience. And in order to have experience, you must make bad decisions.”

2016 May Vol II

To begin, can you give us a little intro as to who you are, when and how did you know that being a makeup artist was what you wanted to do? My name is Monika, and I come from Poland. I have been living with my family in Munich, Germany, for four years, and this is where I have my studio. Although I studied to be a therapist and pedagogue, I have wanted to be a make-up artist since I was a child. I loved painting, sewing, and playing with my appearance. Today I can say that the pedagogical studies were the choice of common sense, not my wish. Fortunately, I have realized that the most important thing in life is to do what you love, and this is why I have devoted the last few years to my passions—make-up and photography.
When did you first realize you were interested in photography? Do you remember the moment deciding to blend makeup artistry and photography into one? I have known that I want to practice photography from the very beginning. I started my first blog, and I really wanted pictures to be the most important part of it. This is when I began to assemble equipment and learn photography. The beginnings were hard, and not everything ended in success, but I was not discouraged- my belief that I was going in the right direction was even strengthened. My road was winding, but it allowed me to reach the place where I am now. However, I have not rested on my laurels- quite the reverse; I am still setting the bar higher and higher.
How was your very first shooting? Do you remember what did you shoot? I took my first pictures by putting the camera on the tripod. As I kept a blog, I was my own model, make-up artist, and photographer. Only after the quality of my pictures had reached a satisfactory level did I begin to think about establishing cooperation with models. The first photoshoot was that of my friend, who still has that photograph on her Facebook account. In retrospect, I can say that was a groundbreaking session for me, as it made me believe that I could take pictures of more than just myself. After moving to Germany, a new stage in my life began I engaged in artistic activity, established cooperation with models, did a number of photoshoots, participated in make-up competitions. I was often photographed, some photos with me as a model were published, which I am proud of. I have also to mention my husband, who has always supported me in my undertakings and, just as I am, he is also passionate about photography. It is him who often calms down my over-reactive character and judges the effects of my work in an objective way. Without his support it would be much more difficult for me to reach the point I am now in.

During your course of becoming a professional photographer, what is something you didn’t expect out of the journey? I approached the subject of photography with humbleness because I knew that it would be a long and arduous process, and that a good camera alone did not make me a professional photographer. Even today I still feel that first, I am a make-up artist, and only then can I call myself a photographer.

Can you tell us the most exciting moment in your career? There have been a number of such exciting moments, from winning the Polish Make-up Championships to getting into the finals of the “Artist of the Year 2015” contest by Make-up Trendy magazine in the Editorial category. Nevertheless, the most important episode in my career was my first publication in 2013. It was a groundbreaking moment that gave me wings, motivated me to continue working, and- of course- whetted my appetite for more.


Could you please take us through the typical planning process for your images? What usually goes through your mind when you are behind the camera? The photographing process is already in my head, I must only plan the makeup and the styling. When I’m behind the camera, I know precisely what effect I want to achieve. I focus not only on technical aspects, such as light and cropping, but also on the model herself. I take care of every detail, from the makeup to the protruding strands of hair. Being self-sufficient gives me a lot of satisfaction but it also makes it impossible to imagine myself participating in a photo shoot as nothing more than a tiny element of it.
Tell us a secret, what is the key to getting the best out of someone? It may sound weird but I try to turn each defeat into a success. My motto is: “In order to make right decisions, you must have experience. And in order to have experience, you must make bad decisions.”

What from your point of view makes the shoot successful? What counts the most is the intuition of the photographer and his ability to catch something extraordinary, something that will make the picture memorable.

You are also a stylist and fashion designer. Tell us more about your fashion creations. Fashion designer is definitely too big a word, I’ve never aspired to be a couturier. The fact that I’ve managed to create several dresses is partly due to my skills and my willingness to make photo shoots with a flourish. I like to surprise and draw attention. My favorite outfit is the baroque, mesh dress, decorated with numerous golden appliqués. When I was designing it, I had no idea what effect I would achieve. And it exceeded my greatest expectations. That was when I decided to participate in the photo shoot in Milan, I knew from the beginning that it would be the perfect place to present this dress.
How do you manage to embrace so many artistic fields alone? What keeps you motivated and your art fresh? I’ve never thought about it, I just try to make the most out of my skills. For me it’s something natural and obvious. As for the inspirations, I search them everywhere, actually. I observe fashion designers, the work of famous makeup artists, interesting shoots and stylizations. One of my huge sources of inspiration are fashion shows and advertising campaigns of big cosmetic companies.
You regularly work with some of the most beautiful women in the world. How does that shape your definition of beauty? There’s no one definition of beauty. Beauty means diversity.

What do you love most about doing makeup? When you’re a makeup artist, the most beautiful moments occur when an apparently tiny change in the makeup makes the woman feel spectacular, and possibly becomes a driver for further changes – that’s fantastic.

Why is having a makeup artist essential to a photographer? What can you provide to help a photographer’s images stand out? Doing makeup for a photo shoot is not an easy task, mostly because it has to fit with the character of the shoot, styling, hairstyle and the general vision of the photographer. The makeup is a part of a certain story that has to be told by the photographer to attract the audience’s attention. Imagination, courage and disregard for the rules are the key qualities which every makeup artist should have. In my case, it’s way easier for me when I’m both doing the makeup and making the photographs. Then I know what I want to convey and how do to it. When I’m doing makeup for a photo shoot I never set any constraints and I think that it’s a key to success.
Are there any makeup products you couldn’t live without and why? These would be a foundation and mascara. A perfect skin without any blemishes is just like the canvas of a painting – this is a starting point for creating a magnificent work. Beautiful, highlighted eyelashes, in turn, open the eye wider and add depth to the look.
What are some of your favorite makeup looks/trends for spring/summer season? My favorite trend is coloring lips in vibrant shades of red, ranging from juicy orange and pink hues to intense scarlet tones. I’m also fond of the graphic eyeliner which appeared on the catwalks of Fendi and Celine.

Do you have a piece of work/project you feel is your favorite or the best you’ve done? I’m usually very critical of my own work, I think that I could have done it better, differently, more creatively, more daringly. Still, I very much like my own baroque editorial, to which I devoted all my heart. When I looked at these photos for the first time I had a feeling that they came out really well.
How do you feel about digital manipulations/post-editing at present day? In your opinion what are advantages and disadvantages of using it? Post-editing is very important in photography, it’s like giving the picture a new life. In professional editing the goal is to retain the best quality and all the work is focused on the details. This is a very meticulous process, but it also requires a great deal of intuition, sensitivity and style. It is very easy to destroy a picture and the key to success in this profession is not only to see what should be edited and how to do it, but also, more importantly, to be able to find the borderline between what is “good” and “bad”.
Do you think you have experienced anything differently, artistically or business, because you are a woman? I don’t think it matters that much.

What role does social media play in your makeup and photography business? Do you feel social media has helped your career? Social media play an important role in my job – thanks to Facebook or Pinterest my work has the opportunity to be noticed and become popular. These media can definitely help in one’s career.

Where can we see more of your work and get connected? You contact me here:

Website: www.monikakiernicka.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/MoniccaMakeUpArtist

Instagram: www.instagram.com/kiernicka_mua_photographer

What do you love most about your job? I absolutely love my job, without any exceptions. Being a makeup artist, working with models, making photographs, I have this great feeling about being able to combine my several life passions into a single business.
When you are not working, what can people expect to find you doing? Apart from the professional life, I’m a wife and a mother of an adorable 8 year old girl. Just like any other housewife, I cook, clean the house, do the shopping and so on. I’m simply living an ordinary, happy life.

Any final words of wisdom you would like to share? As I’ve said earlier, I’m not afraid of failure and in this attitude I follow the motto: “To make good decisions you have to be experienced. In order to gain experience you have to make bad decisions”. Besides, I also try to be brave. You shouldn’t be afraid of being judged by the others. Instead, you should have fun, experiment, play with your skills and remember to always put your whole heart into the work you’re doing.

Tell one fact about you that readers may find quite surprising. I love dancing. I took ballroom dance classes for several years, then I gave it up and turned to the sensual salsa. I hope that I will return to this passions in the future, I would really love to do that.

Thank you, Monika.

Published in 2016 May Volume II: BUY NOW

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