Rafal Wegiel talks about the complex process needed to create an image that shows the unique personality of each photo subject

Rafal Wegiel is the owner of Rafal Wegiel Photography in Calgary.

Rafal Wegiel
Rafal Wegiel

Tell me about what you do and the services you offer?

Wegiel: I’m a commercial and portrait photographer based in Calgary. I specialize in high-end headshots for individuals as well for companies and brands. Also a few years ago I became an educator and public speaker sharing my knowledge and experience with other professionals.

My company offers a variety of services from professional portrait sessions to high-end image retouching. I work with a team of professionals from makeup artists, fashion stylists and art directors, preparing each person for a photoshoot to make sure we can bring the best out of each individual.

How did you get into the field of photography?

Wegiel: Originally I’m from Poland and that’s where my journey of photography began. I got into photography from a very young age and I started exploring it with my dad, who was a photographer as well.

I’m from the old school of photography. I started with film and I was lucky to have a darkroom back in those days, which at that time was a very expensive endeavour. Over the years, I have built very strong foundation of photography.

The interesting part was that photography went through a quiet drastic transformation, going from film to digital, although for me it was quite an easy switch. The medium has changed but the foundation of photography stays the same. In 2001 when I moved to Canada, I opened my business and became a professional photographer and the rest is history.

How important has the visual element become for businesses?

Wegiel: Visual element has been always important but over the last couple of decades it’s become an inevitable part of any business. We are living in an era where visuals are more important than ever. Most people don’t even bother to read text until they see some interesting image which gives us some context.

The same applies to portrait and headshots. I found that having a professional headshot is extremely important, especially since our social interaction and businesses are mostly online. If someone approaches us online and doesn’t have a profile picture, we don’t take these people seriously.

Having a professional picture is one thing but having a headshot that showcases our personality it’s another story and that’s where my company can step in and take this to another level.

What’s your favourite type of photo to take?

Wegiel: I love shooting headshots. It’s been always my passion and I think I will be taking them until I die. There’s something very special about them and it’s like a drug to me. Each session is different story and every person I have worked with has something special and mysterious about them.

There’s a quote that says: “Eyes are a reflection of your spirit,” which is exactly what I’m going after during each photo session.

I know that most of my clients want to look good but the story doesn’t end there. I’m working with their facial expressions, body language, different colour pallets to create an image that shows their unique personality. It’s quite a complex process for me and the individual but at the end of the day it comes down to the experience where the client can learn lots about themselves.

What makes a good photo?

Wegiel: I think that there’s no such a thing as a good photo. Every photo has different meaning to each person. Everyone sees photos their own way and what’s for me a good photo, someone else might have a completely different interpretation of.

I deeply believe that each photo has a story and in order to understand the story we need to have more information and some kind of context to it. Unfortunately, we got to the point where we’re going through thousands and thousands of images on a daily basis from social media platforms to advertising, etc., and it’s harder to stop for a second and really enjoy images.

That’s why it’s so important to us photographers to create something very unique and impactful. As Joan Miro says, “You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.”

Interviewed by Mario Toneguzzi, a Troy Media business reporter based in Calgary.

© Calgary’s Business

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