Adam Madrzyk is no stranger to The Creator Class. We’ve had the pleasure of working with Adam on several projects, but this time we’re getting a little more personal.
What camera did you shoot on?
For years I’ve shot my stills on the Canon 60d. I invested in it originally in grade 11. However, recently I’ve been shooting most of my stills on the Canon 5D MK IV. The first time I set my hands on the MK IV was on a trip earlier this year to Palm Springs and right then and there I fell in love with it. I was able to shoot at Joshua Tree National Park, which was a dream to begin with. The park offered extremely beautiful natural pastel tones. The colours were something I had never experienced before. I loved how well the camera registered all of the colours and how smoothly it handled the roll-off from the highlights. It’s not easy shooting in harsh desert light but the 5D handled it flawlessly. To this day, some of those photos are amongst some of my favourite stills I’ve ever taken.
Toronto has always felt like home to me. It’s a place that I grew up dreaming about and I always admired it from a distance. I feel so fortunate to live in this amazing city and to have built so many friendships over the past few years. However, my family’s roots stem from Europe – Poland specifically. I hold the city of Warsaw very close, since it was where my dad grew up. I was also lucky to spend many summers there as a kid.
I went back to Europe this past summer again and shot a variety of stills over the course of my travels. I wanted to mesh my love for Toronto and Warsaw in this project because both of these cities have inspired me to be the man I am today. Both Toronto and Warsaw have their own individual charm. I love celebrating the beauty of their different cultures, architectures and landscapes. These cities inspire me to evolve as a creative. I wanted this project to be a tribute to the places and cities that will continue to influence me for years to come.
My creativity has always stemmed from photography. From the moment I laid my hands on a camera, I was fascinated by the process of crafting a frame and observing images. I started out shooting stop motion videos as a young teen, where I digitally cut up individual frames from my tape camcorder. I then upgraded to a mini-DV camera while pursuing skate videography. I now focus on cinematography and continue to evolve my work as an image maker. Both photography and cinematography have changed my life forever. There is something very powerful about having the ability to shape the world around you in a very controlled and unique way. Spending hours crafting a look and researching/planning how to achieve it is definitely my favourite part of the process. Photography and cinematography are such similar mediums yet at the same time they are so different.
I think that in a way, my photography work is very different from my cinematography work. In terms of photography, I tend to shoot light tones, with bright highlights. In film, I tend to lean more towards a moodier, more contrasted tone with softer highlights. My inspirations in both mediums have been vastly different but I think that’s okay. When it comes to style, I think it’s important to be well-versed. I also make an effort to streamline my approach and taste. Over time my style might evolve and potentially both mediums will complement each other better but for now, I’m exploring both skills individually while I hone in on my goals as a creative.
As a cinematographer, my job is essentially the same but with moving frames. I’m fascinated with light specifically. I love how light reflects on people, objects, things, but even more so how it can be registered within the camera. I try to look at photographs every day from all sorts of styles and contexts. I often get caught up in how light is shaped, modified, diffused, filtered and reflected.
I think that opening yourself up to new images and stories everyday will make you a better image maker and creator. At the end of the day I’m not just a cinematographer but a filmmaker and a storyteller. Every aspect of the story matters and the pieces should all work in unison to achieve one goal. That goal being clear, concise, and compelling storytelling. That’s the feeling I want to create when making art.
Why did you choose photography over other creative mediums?
I’m not sure if I chose photography or if photography chose me. I know that sounds cheesy but I think in ways it’s true. It sort of all began in grade 6 when my uncle handed me his camera to take a family photo. He realized that I had an eye for framing and he encouraged me to experiment from there. He let me borrow one of his old cameras and since then I haven’t been able to put it down.
Besides artistic expression, what fascinates me about photography is that it allows you to pause time and space in a single frame. From the moment a photograph is captured, you will always live in the future of that specific moment and I think that has always fascinated me. I think photography allows to relive the past in an interesting way and can create a feeling of nostalgia for the moment that is gone forever.
I owe a lot of my filmmaking knowledge to still photography. Analog photography taught me the basics. It taught me about film stocks, cameras and the whole image making process. I still walk around with my 35mm point and shoot Canon sure-shot Joy and shoot 35mm once every few weeks.
There’s something about how candid and nostalgic some film photos turn out. Seeing those photos for the first time after getting developed will always be a pleasure of mine.
How does your gear help you be a better photographer?
I think that my gear helps me be a better photographer because of the types of images it allows me to shoot. I love the 5D MK IV in many aspects, especially in terms of resolution, light sensitivity, and colour science.
The 30.4MP Full Frame sensor and Digic 6+ processor allow for a wide range of versatility in post and in camera. The native and extended range of light sensitivity in ISO is extremely impressive in the 5D MK IV as it opens up doors when it comes to low light conditions. This is specifically important for shooting location scouts before a film shoot as you often have to work under tough conditions, which is typically just working with natural light. The Wi-Fi features are also key and allow me to upload photos directly to my phone to share with others. On projects that have little turnaround time, this can be helpful as I can immediately send stills off to department heads. It makes the entire process easier and more efficient. In terms of lenses, my two go to lenses for stills work are the Canon 16- 35mm 2.8 L Series and the Canon 70-200mm 2.8. What I love most about these lenses is the range in focal length, their image stabilization, and their fast aperture. I think both of these lenses offer unique focal lengths and clean character unlike most other photography zooms out there. I often pair these two lenses with a few primes (Canon 50mm 1.4 and the 85mm 1.4 L Series) in order to fill in the gaps in missing focal lengths; however, the efficiency and convenience of these two zooms are hard to match.
Aside from those things, I think it often boils down to what you are trying to convey and what works for you. I might have different gear preferences over another photographer; however, if I find something that works for me I’ll continue to use it and try to innovate from there.
If you could shoot any subject who would it be and why?
I love shooting subjects that have character or in places that speak to them in some way. I think naturally I’m most drawn to shooting landscape photography and portrait photography just based on available access, so those two worlds often tend to merge in my work. I do have a love for street photography and fashion in general. I would also love to develop more editorial photography in the future. I’m not sure who said it, but I recently came across the quote “the moment you stop learning, you stop evolving” and I hope to live by that. I hope to continue learning and recreating myself as a creative for the rest of my life. I also think it’s important to step outside of your comfort zone and try new things. Learning to be a constant observer is key and something that I personally want to do more of. If something isn’t aligned with my style, it often makes me even more fascinated because it creates a conversation. Determining why you like a piece of art or why you might not like it is important because it not only helps you reinforce your style, it also helps you grow and evolve and perhaps even innovate from there.
If you could go anywhere to shoot where would it be and why?
For a long time now, I’ve dreamed of visiting Iceland, China and India. Aside from all three being a filmmaker’s paradise, I think that these countries have specific qualities and cultures that I have never personally experienced before. Traveling to new places often teaches you more about yourself and what you have back home. I’ve been privileged to have traveled to a handful of places in Canada, Europe, the U.S and some of South America; however, I still feel a gap in my understanding of the world. I feel like Iceland, China and India not only allow for scenic, fascinating, beautiful imagery, but also for an opportunity to be thrown out of my comfort zone.
I think experiencing these places someday would allow me to grow and have an even better appreciation for the world we live in. Whether I am traveling or exploring my own city, there’s always something new to see or a new perspective for things you’ve already experienced before. With that said, I hope to cary on this mentality and continue to learn and discover as often as I can for the rest of my life.
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For more of Adam’s work: