Soaring in the sky, enjoying a bird's eye view of the world is something many of us only fantasize about, but Polish photographer Kacper Kowalski transformed his love of flight into a successful career as an acclaimed photographer. Kowalski trained as an architect and was enjoying a flourishing career in that field, when his passion for aviation took over. Attracted to the freedom and adventure of paragliding, Kowalski began photographing his journeys as a means to kickstart a new career that would allow him to spend endless hours in the sky.
Since 2006 Kowalski has been making a name for himself, winning the World Press Photo award three times. There are no drones involved here, just Kowalski piloting himself along, searching for new viewpoints of the Polish countryside. His work moves with the seasons, capturing brilliant pops of colorful fall foliage and embracing the stark, white Polish winters. His award winning series Side Effects, commissioned by Panos Pictures, explores the links between man and nature. It's a complex relationship—which is more impressive, the wild landscape or the shapes formed by man's attempt to tame it?
Kowalski almost exclusively shoots in Poland, an anomaly in this age of jet-setting travel photographers. This was a difficult, yet rewarding, choice for the photographer. In an interview with The New York Times, he explained, “Up there, at 500 feet, everything becomes new, although it is all well known. Aerial photographers tend to fly to distant and exotic locations, capturing the Pyramids or other great structures from the air. What I do is a bit more difficult, more challenging and more subtle. Flying in my backyard and finding amazing, stunning, memorable beauty in the everyday is the thing I follow.”
Kowalski's work is currently on exhibit at The Curator Gallery in New York until December 17. Curated by former LIFE magazine editor-in-chief Bill Shapiro, Fade to White is the photographer's second solo show in the United States. The exhibition is the debut of the series Over—images that were captured during the winter's coldest days and display his characteristic abstraction of the ordinary.
All images via Kacper Kowalski.