An Interview with Marcin Kowalski

Friday, March 8, 2019

Welcome to another of our up close and personal interviews, all written to give you an understanding of some of the amazing characters we like to call family within the world of skydiving. Today, we have an insightful interview with Marcin Kowalski.

Who are you and where are you from?

Hi, my name is Marcin and some of you knows me as a Martin. I’m from Warsaw, capital of Poland. Since 7 years I’m living in UK. The first 4 years were in London and rest in Hibaldstow, Lincolnshire.

How long have you been at Hib and what do you do here?

I’ve been at Hibaldstow for around 3 years now. Midweek I’m a professional chef in local big hotel and at weekends, I’m ground crew and doing photography in Skydive Hibaldstow. Ok, sometimes I’m helping in the kitchen as well (laughs).

How did your passion for skydiving come about?

Ughhmmm…lets go back to past. I’m a professional chef for almost 12years. When I came to London, I knew it would be a massive step forward in my chef’s carreer. I started really working hard. Big Londons restaurants expect a minimum of 250hrs per month in work, which doesn’t leave much time for any private life. To be honest, I really enjoy it (laughs)!. I get to meet all sorts of people from all over the world. From Venezuela and Columbia, North America, the whole of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. London kitchens are always full of international staff.

After around two years, I got a promotion to a senior position in fine dining restaurant in one of the most famous London skyscrapers. It meant, more money, more hours, more stress and of course less life. Something broke in me. I knew, I didn’t want to spend rest of my life in the kitchen. I was nearly in my 30s, so I wanted to change my life, but didn’t know how.

Emotionally I was washed. In my head only stress, negative emotions and work. My friends took me for my first tandem skydive and after landing, the first thing I asked my TI (Tandem Instructor) was “what I must do to become a skydiver?” The feelings of adrenaline and joy of freefall changed me. I discovered something very very positive. That jump was a moment of eureka about how I needed to change my life.

When did you first pick up a camera?

I started doing photography when I was 23 years old. Of course, I didn’t know anything about photography. Only automatic mode and shooting without any “photographic” sense. But I really enjoyed it (laughs). After three years of shooting I decided to leave Poland and I gave my camera to my sister. I forgot about photography for 3 years after that. Again I took the camera to my hands when I started work in Skydive Hibaldstow.

What inspired you to do so?

Hmm…for sure my Dad was an inspiration to start photography. Since I can remember, he was also doing photography. I remember lots of films, cameras, lenses and photographs from childhood. But the key moment to buy a camera was when I read about Warsaw Light Crew. When I was younger I was big, big fan of street art, graffiti and guys from WLC who showed me how to mix all into photography.

Who are some of your photography inspirations?

Heh, I will try to keep it short because the list is really loooong). I will split it for skydiving photography and ground photography.

Skydiving photography: Names like Norman Kent, Tom Sanders, Craig O’Brien, Gustavo Cabana or Bruno Brokken showed me how to do beautiful skydiving photography and all of them are “skydiving photography God-fathers” for me. But there is few more for sure. SNAFU, Czapla Photography, Konwent Photo, Roy Wimmer-Jaglom, James Stevenson, Ryan Patrick, Raymond Adams, Ewan Cowie, Juan Mayer and Max Haim. The list is long, but number one for me is Wolfgang Lienbacher. He is both amazing in the sky and on the ground – check his portfolio!

Ground photography: Every photographer from Gettyimages, Sports Illustrated, Associated Press & Reuters, National Geographic, Red Bull Photography, F1\MotoGP\Dakar Rally\WRC. These brands have the best photographers working for them.

The best skydiving ground photographer? Definitely Patrik Minar! His photos from Charkiv in 2018 showed how grounds shots should be taken properly. He’s simply an amazing photographer. His photo-skills are incredible, I love his shots.
I would be a sinner if I wouldn’t mention Rob Lloyd too. He’s a big name here in UK, everyone knows him, especially at the UK Nationals.

Wind tunnel: Marat Daminov for me is the best, worth to check his shots. Arturo Baldasano also has very nice shots. Tunnel photography isn’t the easiest thing but it is possible to take a great shot.

What are some things that you love to photograph?

Dropzone life for sure! I particularly love ground shots (smile). Of course, freefall photos are the most important in skydiving photography but for me, skydiving photography is “from plane loading to landing”. I want to show skydiving in every aspect – lifestyle, sport portrait, team portrait, training, swooping, packers, pilots, aircrafts, etc. The dropzone is a never-ending story for me, one big playground.

What have you learned from being on one side of the camera in our sport?

For sure how to express myself. I’m a natural introvert, so talking to people isn’t the easiest thing for me. At the end of the day, skydivers are always in the bar talking, laughing, sharing some knowledge and funny moments. I’m can generally be found standing and listening than talking. Photography has taught me how to show people, how to see and what I think about skydiving. Good photography has the power to make you laugh or be inspired to go on and do greater things in freefall.

It’s almost like photography can stop time for a moment. Photography is an international language for me. It can change peoples life, peoples world-view and their thinking. One frame can change the world. I found that rigs lying under a tree are just as amazing a subject to photograph as two skydivers hugging after landing from a fun jump. I discovered that even if I’m not talking to people, I can show them my thoughts. I’m talking to people through my photography.

What would you like to see yourself doing in our sport?

Of course, I want to be a cameraflyer!!! But I’m missing a few jumps to get my C-Licence, but i’m not in a rush. One of my primary ideas in photography goes around the saying “If you are good on the ground, you are going to be much better in the sky”. Im really in no rush at all.

Even if it will take the next half year or so to start camera flying, I know it will be worth the wait. I want to continue taking ground shots for sure and then push it to to the next level! Big events like Xmas boogie in Skydive Spain / Skydive Algarve, Vector Festival, Flanders Boogie, Burning Spring Festival – there’s a pure skydiving vibe is there!

Let’s show the world our community, let’s show the world our passion for this sport! I believe that good photography from the sky and ground can inspire someone to join us and feel the same incredible joy of skydiving. In the future , I definitely I want to start videography. Gustavo Cabana showed me how it should be done in the sky. Willem de Groot and his CutawayTV also showed me how it should be done as an event video-editor / producer.

Satori Factory are making great story-telling videos.

What is it you love about Skydive Hibaldstow?

It’s my home! This is the place where I started my journey with skydiving after my AFF course in Skydive Atmosfera in Spain. I love this place so much, I get to meet lots of amazing people there, the best instructors, examiners, people with plenty of knowledge and passion in this sport.

If you want to be proffesional skydiver you need time, you need patience and you need support. Skydive Hibaldstow and  the Swallow Group are providing all these ingredients! It’s really great to work at a professional dropzone where you learn how it’s run, their jump program, perfect customer service, how to be an instructors or an examiner, amazing LO’s, the coolest fun jumpers, UK 4way / 8way Nationals, Speed / Artistic Nationals and beating UK records. This place is incredible! Even if its raining, people still coming here to be together.

Any final thoughts for our readers?

Time is the essential ingredient for mastery.

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