Art of Drive: Photographer Magdalena Wosinska Talks About Work, Life And Her 1969 Chevelle

Our Art of Drive series interviews artists, designers and photographers to find out what inspires them.

Magdalena captures a youthful energy, spontaneity and authentic sense of fun. She shoots all the time, carrying a camera on her shoulder and preferring to be part of the moment, placing her lens in the middle of it all.

Her early personal work, in which Magdelena documented the lives of her friends emerging from the skate and metal music scene, reveals her willingness to challenge accepted norms for a female photographer. Her maturing style transfers this edge and vibrancy to her commercial and editorial work.

Magdalena’s tough yet sunny California aesthetic encapsulates a mood of endless summers. She uses ambient light and an uncluttered approach, creating images that retain the truth and rawness of impulsive snapshots.

Magdalena’s first publication, Bite It You Scum, was launched in 2010 at the opening of ‘Exposed’, an exhibition that she curated for the Los Angeles Gallery. The Grass is Electric, her second book, was launched at Goodform Salon in March 2012.

Magdalena Wosinska was born in Katowice, near Krakow in Poland, in 1983. She arrived in the USA in 1991 and lived in Arizona before settling in Los Angeles in 2004.

For how long have you been taking photos, and how did it all start for you?

I started shooting photos of all my friends who I used to skate with when I was about 14. Skateboarding was my motive to start shooting. That was 16 years ago now.

Who and what do you cite as influences and motivations for your work?

My biggest influence is travel and my friends, my surroundings are my inspirations and favorite things to shoot.

Take us through the process of planning and working through a shoot.

Well it all depends, it’s always different. You need to be good at problem solving and directing so in any shoot situation you are in control. I like to make my talent feel comfortable with me right off the bat and we go from there. I shoot very impulsively and loosely so we kind of always shoot for the moment.

What equipment do you work with, and why does it suit you best?

I mostly shoot film with a small point and shoot and for client work I shoot with a mark III Canon. The smaller the camera the faster I react to true moments that I aim to capture.

How do you feel your photographic style has changed and evolved over your career so far?

As I get older my goals change as does my environment. I think the work evolves with me and the subject matter maybe is a bit more calm but still energetic.

When planning a new project, what do you look for in a subject, and how does the project take shape?

Again, its all depending on situation but I like to map out my shooting locations first then get to know my subject, their comfort zone and strong points, how they want to be viewed and how I view them.

Tell us about some of your favourite projects that you have worked on.

In almost every shoot I love my subjects but the ones that stand out to me most are musicians that I really respect like Trent Reznor, or artists like John Baldessari.

You work with a project called Camera Bag TV. What's that all about?

It was an interview that my friend Rylan Perry does with photographers whom he thinks are cool. Mine was one of the first ones and that was five years ago in 2009, maybe 2010. It’s funny to see what I said back then because I’m now doing the exact things that I talked about, just on a bigger scale. I stuck to what I believed was my style and it paid off enough that now it's my livelihood.

How do you see your methods and style changing and developing in the future?

As I said before, I think it will all evolve with me as I mature and have different goals. Methods will change with new technical equipment that's made to help push the possibilities of capturing images. I’d love to just have a pair of camera contact lenses with which I can take photos of what I see the ways my eyes view it. That would be a cool future for me, shit I should invent that!

What projects are you looking forward to working on next?

A solo show and maybe a small new book project. This will be my third published book, but I need a good publisher to back me and that's not easy to find.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in photography?

Always have your camera with you and keep taking pictures until you find a style of your own At that point you will never want to put down your camera.

So, tell us about this new purchase of yours? What is it?

Its a ‘69 Chevelle.

Have you been looking for one for a while? Why the Chevelle in particular?

I’ve wanted a Chevelle since I was 22 and now I'm 30! I couldn’t afford a really fixed up one and this one was still pricy but I figured when I’m 60 and I can afford that damn thing, I’ll not want it at that age. I wanted a Chevelle all through my ‘20s so now I’ll enjoy it in my ‘30s!

Give us a few specs and some history of the car.

When I bought it I saved it from a guy that didn’t know shit about cars and I tried to restore it back to being as stock and original as possible. I took out his ghetto stereo too that was causing all sorts of problems and installed new dash pads in the front and one for the back because the old one have holes for a stereo in it.

It used to be a beautiful gold color originally with a green interior. It was then painted green and some jack ass put the SS stripes on it crooked, but I love that green machine! His name is Bruce by the way. It’s a 350, drives well, guzzles gas and does what all old cars do; blow peoples minds, gives guys boners and puts a hole in your bank account. Welcome to the money pit.

What do you find intriguing about American car culture?

It’s sexy as hell! And when it's done right by the right people it really looks good.

Do you have plans to modify the Chevelle, or just just drive it?

I’d love to find another one with a middle console and bucket seats and an SS, that I would put more money into. I wanted to take this one back to the original gold color, but I think for now I’ll just drive it and give it the love that it needs. I had a great guy work on it right after so it’s running smooth, and the engine was scrubbed down with a toothbrush. All cords are intact so Bruce’s already had a good spa treatment. My next step is to learn how to do some of this shit myself!

This article first appeared in Fuel Magazine issue 15.

Follow Magdalena: @themagdalenaexperience.