It has been an unusual year, to say the least!
Today, as this challenging year comes to an end, please allow me to share some personal thoughts and offer some hope of a better 2021.
Few of you know that seventeen years ago, about this time of year, I spent six months fighting for my life. Against the doctors’ prognosis, I somehow survived, and my lovely wife Kasia rolled me in a wheelchair out of hospital.
The experience helped me to sort out my priorities and I made a decision that changed my life and led me to a much better place, where I am today. Despite constant dialysis and other medical challenges, I decided to indulge myself in building something new, working hard through the situation I found myself in. As long as I could think and control the pain, I knew I had to occupy my mind with achievable and workable ideas. Three years later I received a kidney transplant and life began again. That’s how olafphoto was born and all the ideas associated with it.
Jumping a few years ahead, a similar mindset kicked in when the COVID-19 changed our daily routine. I immediately saw this crisis as an opportunity to build and create. Most days for the last eleven months I have been working on my publishing vision and the Medium Format Magazine in particular. There was no Netflix or wasting time on politics. I have always believed that if you want to change something you start with yourself. You study hard, you work hard, you build something and help many other people along the way. So, every day I prepared a list of tasks, large and small, which would lead me to my weekly or monthly goals. Whether it was working on an issue of the magazine, writing emails or discussing ideas for the next article, my list was full and ready to be acted upon. Every day I met (mostly e-met) photographers, artists and, most importantly, builders, from Nick Brandt who works on massive projects to a 10-year-old who is writing his first books and publishing them!
Everyone faced challenges, many great photographers had to cancel their projects, trips or even their book releases but few of them stopped working. From reviewing their archival images, writing books or planning the next great project, it was a year of building and growing. Hearing people’s stories motived me to do even more.
In fact, it has been one of the most productive and amazing years in my life. Given the circumstances, I couldn’t be more thankful and appreciative. I’ve already mentioned the photographers I’ve had the privilege to work with. Whether it was Michael Kenna sending me his own photo playing a guitar, my conversations with Roman Loranc about life and photography, a great interview recording session with Edward Burtynsky or a highly moving exchange with Jimmy Nelson (coming soon) – these moments were precious and inspiring.
I wouldn’t be able to do it without you and the many amazing people in my life. I have to mention my beloved wife, Kasia, who has worked with me every day. Her sense of design and beauty, her advice and, most importantly, support means the world to me. Without her nothing would be possible. I love you, Kasia!
Among the many friends made this year I have to mention Steven Friedman, who took on the challenging role of chief strategist for the Medium Format Magazine and co-editor of the ELEMENTS Magazine (more about this later). His knowledge of the world of photography, incredible sense of elegance and class and priceless advice on a daily basis made our daily conversations a highlight of the day. I am thrilled we will be co-editing our new project – the ELEMENTS Magazine.
I also have to mention Tomasz of Fujilove and Frames. Our friendship spans many years and our conversations and exchanges are always motivating and so refreshing. It is great to be among people who act and implement their ideas in real life. Tomasz is one of the hardest working people I know and I have great respect for his dedication.
As someone who obsesses about design and language, it was another amazing year of working closely with Sally Jennings, our English editor. It is much more than just about language. Sally has become my therapist, social commentator, advisor and most importantly a great friend. And of course, she is always standing on guard to spot better solutions in the spoken and written word whether written by me or any of our contributors. It is such a joy working with you, Sally (yes, I still struggle with “the” and “a”).
I have to extend my thanks to Mac Sokulski and Tim Schaufele for being patient with my crazy and ever-changing designs for our websites and online tools. It has been so cool to work with you and learn about technology.
And of course, you, my photographic friends. Throughout this year and despite your personal challenges you found a way to visit this blog, support my endeavours and projects and even leave me a note or comment sometimes. I want you to know that I take great pleasure in our chats. I know that some of you remember my early days in photography or have attended one of my workshops. Then you accompanied me through the years and you are still here. Wow! This is where I find my inspiration and zest for creating and building. Thank you again.
Lastly, I want to look into 2021. I know it is going to be an amazing year. We have planted the seeds through hard work and many ideas in 2020 with the Medium Format Magazine and now the brand-new ELEMENTS Magazine is being born. This sister magazine will make its debut on March 1, 2021 and I am very excited to see it develop.
The ELEMENTS Magazine closes an important visual cycle for me. Many of you know me from my street photography but I actually started as a landscape photographer. Today I enjoy shooting some landscape work but not always in a traditional sense. So, the latest project means I am returning to my roots. Of course, personally I will be shooting street, portrait, landscape, travel and everything in between. Blurring lines between genres has always been my visual inclination and I don’t expect it to change but this change is something I enjoy.
In 2021, I will be working with an incredible group of people on the Medium Format and ELEMENTS magazines. As the publishing world gives me slightly more personal and artistic freedom, I decided I would make the blog even more personal. On this new journey, I am going to share with you everything I learn and experience through my work. I will also share my personal visual experiments and imagery. I hope you find it interesting.
I am looking forward to 2021, which no doubt will bring new challenges, but I strongly believe that with your support and dedication to the craft of photography, it is going to be a year in which we can create and build.
Once again, thank you for being with me. I wish you a wonderful, restful and peaceful holiday and a healthy, prosperous New Year!
Let me leave you with some of my favourite images taken in 2020.
2020 © OLI Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.
9 thoughts on “END OF YEAR MESSAGE”
All the best for a safe and healthy new year, Olaf.
It is always wonderful to hear from you my friend. I would like to wish you a wonderful holiday and healthy and successful 2021.
Hi Olaf, It’s Susie Naye in Seattle. I was blown away by your description of how disciplined you have been in 2020, and as a result how productive and creative. I look forward to seeing Elements in March. I have managed to stay healthy and productive in my OWN way: cooking, baking, reading, studying Italian, (some Netflix!), and also photography. About a year ago, I made the decision to sell my X100t and get the Xt30 and enjoyed using it for about a year. All the time, I was fondly remembering my first Fuji and thinking about the x100V when I saw it had been introduced. I finally gave in to my dreaming and sold the xt30 and bought the x100V. WELL, it was the BEST decision I made this past year. I just LOVE this camera, Olaf, and somehow feel at home with it. I had a small learning curve and worked for a couple of hours with Liz Gray since I follow her photography and feel a kinship with her style. It proved to be a few dollars well-spent. I saw that there was a Fuji sort of challenge a few months ago, #myfujifilmlegacy, so I decided to start a 365-day project, doing my best to take photographs every single day, no matter how few, just to keep my thumb in the pie. It has been a delightful challenge for me and got me back in the game, so to speak. I had realized that COVID had taken away my street photography interaction with people, so had become a bit stale in my vision. This project has expanded my eye and enabled me to feel GOOD once again about my photography. So…it is so nice to read your blog and know that you and Kasia are doing well. All the best for 2021 and we will stay in touch! …..Susie
It is so wonderful to hear from you and to know that you are doing well. I am so excited that you are “in the game” and feeling good about your photography. You have a very special gift and I cannot wait to see you again. Kasia and I have always loved your smile and zest for life. We send you our warmest wishes and hope to see you soon.
.Hello Susi, so nice to read something from you. I am in love with the X100V. But i am happy with my x100f. No neet for a new one. I wish you a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year. Christof
Thank you for reminding us that challenges are there to challenge us – not everyone wins their battle and some can’t find the where with all to grip their challenge. We can’t judge but we can be inspired and both your ranges of shots in your portfolios do that.
For me it’s been nearly a year without shooting owing to family health issues, sometimes it feels selfish to indulge your pleasures when others are in need. That’s my new (ex display) Leica M262 and my XE3 gathering dust.
But 2021 heralds chance so thank you for reminding me about this and you use a word that distinguishes much of your combined catalogue (and I think Jonas Rask) “design” which is a theme going back to the analysts of HCB when they talked about geometry – your design includes design with colour.
I really enjoy the way both yours and Kasia’s eyes see and record and thank you for reminding me that challenges don’t only hit you – you can define your own too!
Thank you so much for your thoughtful and personal comment. It means a lot. Wishing you Happy Holidays!
Street, portraits, travel, landscape – no matter what, your images are always great.
Best wishes to you and Kasia for 2021 and your new project(s)
Heinz Kollmann (Paris 2018)
Thank you so much Heinz. You are always very kind and gracious. Wishing you Happy Holidays and amazing 2021!