Pairing the spiritual with the surreal, Polish photographer Laura Makabresku captures enchanting photographs inspired by fairytales. In each dreamy depiction, Makabresku showcases both her technical skills and her fascination with fantasy, culminating in a captivating body of work “overflowing with mystic symbols.”
Though she was initially influenced by the tales of the Brothers Grimm, Makabresku now finds much of her inspiration in Catholicism. By putting a fantastical twist on traditional Biblical narratives, she is able to creatively explore and express her own spiritual beliefs. This approach materializes as captivating photographs that double as “visual spells created in order to divide beastliness from humanity and dreams from horror.”
Recently, we spoke to Makabresku about this fascinating approach and enthralling practice. In our enlightening interview below, we discuss her spiritual inspiration, stylistic evolution, and dreams for the future.
What inspired you to pursue photography?
The soul of a human being is naturally creative. The desire for creating is birthed from the intensity of experiencing the world and yourself. It is an attempt to face the afterthought that comes from these experiences.
Since I can remember I had this very strong desire. I started writing poems, then I decided to face photography. I think that this is not the end of my journey.
How would you describe your style? Has this changed over time?
My style developed over time. I started with very dark, gloomy images inspired mostly by the fairytales of Andersen and the Grimm Brothers. As years went by, when my personality evolved and my spirit was more open for silence, images became more soft and minimalistic.
Are there any other specific influences behind your photographs?
I am inspired by sacral paintings, especially orthodox icons. I am also under huge influence by hagiography and the Holy Bible.
In everyday life as an artist I am inspired by characters like Paul Delvaux, Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, Arnold Böcklin, Vilhelm Hammershøi, Hieronymus Bosch, Jerzy Nowosielski, Andrei Tarkovsky, Samuel Beckett, Arvo Part, and Saint Maria Faustyna Kowalska.
You describe your body of work as a kind of “photo-biography.” Can you elaborate on this idea?
Both the aesthetics and topic of my photos strongly correspond to my personal experiences. Boundary of a special kind runs through the years 2014-2015, when I experienced deep spiritual conversion. However, I think that one can look at every artist in this sense—because it is hard to detach the art from the artist itself. Each of these has a very strong influence on each other.
In addition to dreamy portraiture, do you dabble in any other type of photography?
The character of the images that are in my scope of interest forces me to cultivate creative photography (in contrast to documentary photography), therefore I am not trying to do anything else.
I think that nowadays I mostly explore areas that concern the sacred. I turn more to transcendental topics and leave behind personal emotions and portraits.
Do you have any upcoming projects or plans?
Yes, I am thinking strongly about preparing a movie. I would love to find needed courage and experienced people to work with. Also, this year there will be few exhibitions of my works—some of them will be presented in Poland, some in France and Belgium.
See more striking fairytale photography by Laura Makabresku below.