Anita Gryz

Lifestyle, Portrait | Last Updated: February 18, 2021

Hello! I’m Anita Gryz, a passionate portrait photographer and visual artist. I live in Münster, a small city of West Germany.

I put everything that touches my heart into my portrait photos: emotions, nature, art, dance, people from my immediate surroundings, my family, and even myself.

When I take pictures, I just enjoy the creative process. Some ideas are spontaneous and some haunt me for several days. My equipment is very minimalistic, my style very playful.

What I see, how I see, how I feel, and what I feel goes back to my childhood, many personal experiences, and many travels.

I grew up in the beautiful Bieszczady. If you like mountainous landscapes (highest peak Tarnica 1346) with easy hiking trails and a lot of pristine nature, this region in southeast Poland is perfect for you. This close connection to nature shapes my work.

My first artwork: At 7 years old, I painted a portrait of my teacher who I loved more than anything. That day I learned what it feels like to inspire someone with a picture. From there, I started painting more seriously. Sometimes I painted all night long.

First portrait photo session: When my femininity came to light, I made appointments with my friends to style each other and take pictures. We followed fashion magazines like ELLE and Vogue.

We arranged ourselves with flowers, in the cereal field, in the forest, or in the snow at -30 degrees Celsius. Totally crazy! The things we do for art. We almost ended up with frozen hands and feet but had lots of fun and great results.

I truly fell in love with this job, but it took more than 15 years before I started taking professional photos. Where would I be today if I hadn’t stayed with it?

New country, new language, new home: After final secondary-school examinations, I was rubbed by other instincts. I became curious about the world. I had a great appetite for foreign languages and for distant locations. I came to Germany at the age of 20 and started my independent life. It felt great.

Overseas trip and the first camera I bought

For my first long journeys, I proudly bought an entry-level SLR: The Nikon F65. An analog camera with two lenses: Nikon 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6 and Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3.

I didn’t have much of a budget, nor a lot of knowledge of photography, but I had a big vision. I wanted to document my trips to Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Dubai. It has remained that way until today.

I have a camera with me on every little trip I take. In this way, I learn to react creatively to unpredictable events and always have a bold look for a unique snapshot.

Love for painting: I love foreign languages, especially Italian, but studying Romance languages and linguistics was definitely not for me. After trying a lot, it was high time to fulfill my greatest wish: painting studies.

At the ArtEZ / AKI Academy of Fine Art in Enschede, I attended some photography courses and spent many hours in a dark room. Developing photos myself was a magical and fascinating process for me.

During my studies, however, I focused more on painting. My intention was to transfer photography artistically onto the canvas or to use it as a starting point for independent artwork. That’s why I always photographed a lot, to have a lot of interesting material.

The first photo orders and the ease: At the same time, more and more people from my area asked me if I could take pictures of them, and so I started to take my first photo jobs. The first portrait series, the first family session, and the first wedding reportage.

I had a great experience every time. It was very easy for me to guide the models with empathy, to put them in an interesting pose, to put them in beautiful light, to arrange them artistically in the surroundings.

Taking away the shame from standing in front of the camera, communicating with them, showing how beautiful and unique they are, I realized that I had tons of creative ideas ready. I felt enthusiasm for the moment and for the creative process as strong as in painting.

The advantage is that you get to the result much faster with photography than with painting. I had a lot of fun communicating with people during these sessions.

Disorientation after graduation

I was a little disoriented after my art studies finished: how should I earn my money now? I realized that I wanted to work as a photographer in addition to painting. Photography has been with me for a long time in every phase of my life.

I plunged into self-study and started with intensive research for role models, technical information, and professional cameras.

The Internet is a paradise for inspiration. I discovered great artists who still inspire me to this day. Like Elizabeth Messina, Jonas Peterson, Julia Forsman, Alain Laboile, and many others.

I read photo books like “The Luminous Portrait” by Elizabeth Messina with Jacqueline Tobin, a lot of art books, magazines, and visited exhibitions. I have millions of photos on my computer that are still waiting to be viewed and edited. Do you know this little problem?

My first digital SLR camera

Before I started my photography job, I had a cute Sony Alpha 380 camera that I got from my man as a gift. I shot my first photo sessions with this camera.

I balanced the technique that I was missing with my creativity and a good sense for beautiful light. The people were happy. But for my job as a professional photographer and artist, I chose a Canon 5D Mark III.

That was a big jump from about 450 euros for my first camera, to about 3000 for only the body without lenses.

In my first photography camera bag

Canon 5D Mark III: We had become good friends and were almost inseparable.

Canon 50mm f/1.4: That was love from the first moment, I was just happy with the results. It has become my main lens today.

Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8: I tried it at the beginning, but we weren’t the best of friends. The feeling and the weight weren’t right for me.

Canon Speedlite 430EX II: Simple enough for small events and dance parties, but I am a big lover of natural light photography and hardly ever use it.

I thought if I had a professional camera, the work would be much easier, faster, and more professional. Ha, ha, ha! Yes!!!

Suddenly I had a lot of weight and a lot to learn. From camera operation to image editing. To date, I have never switched to automatic mode. I prefer to risk a broken photo and learn from it rather than become a slave to the comfort zone.

With a book about Canon 5D Mark III, and lots of educational videos, I discovered step by step what the camera can do.

It was similar with a radical change from JPG to RAW format. I developed the first RAWs completely independently without any preset templates. Yes! It also cost me hours and I was really frustrated with my work process.

Today, I really appreciate presets from other great photographers that I can further modify according to my taste.

Image Editing and Presets: I started with VSCO. I am currently working with DVLOP/Jonas Peterson for private and artistic projects and DVLOP/Kristen Marie Parker for stories and reports. I love Julia and Gil Presets for weddings and private stories. I use Adobe Lightroom for the development and I am very satisfied

Two years ago, my beloved Canon 5D Mark III was stolen together with my darling Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens. Sad but true. Today, I am the happy owner of yet another Canon, but now the Canon 5D Mark IV – because of love and trust.

I switched to Sigma lenses to try out other brands, but I’m not enough of a technology freak to describe the differences between Canon.

Sigma 50mm f/1.4: Just perfect for my style, for photos of a person with something of the environment.

Sigma 24mm f/1.4: Still needs getting used to, good to try new things and other perspectives.

Lowepro photo backpack: It is ok but not my dream yet.

I separated from my Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 because I would rather invest in more fixed focal lengths.

I still want to buy

A second camera, probably a  Canon 5D Mark IV.

I could imagine being happy with these lenses: 35mm and 85mm. I still don’t know if I should choose Canon or Sigma. Are there big differences here?

I would also love to have a tilt-shift lens – can anyone recommend something?

I am currently looking for a nice camera bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag and a strap for two cameras.

I want to switch from Windows to Apple and can’t wait for a new Mac Pro 16 to shine on my desk…

For my portrait photography, I mostly use my Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens and I am totally satisfied. I concentrate more on a creative arrangement with light, shadows, reflections, flowers … and look for a special expression rather than rely on the contents of my camera bag.

I will gradually add these new pieces. My challenge is to take pictures in different light conditions and in different weather conditions without using extra lighting. For this reason, I almost only use the flash on the dance floor for wedding reportage.

In portrait photography, it is very important to me to establish a familiar relationship and a nice atmosphere with my counterpart. For example, with a cup of good coffee or a nice walk. An intimate, sensual, and authentic portrait takes time, familiarity, and closeness.

I love to look at the human face as if it were a landscape full of secrets waiting to be discovered, the environment as if it were a fabulous theater setting, and the personality in front of my lens as if it were a star. Unique and special. I like to play with what is available.

I love to give the photos some cinematic character. I work with a fairly open aperture between 2 and 5.6.

With family photography, I sometimes switch to the observer position to get a few authentic moments. I wouldn’t call myself a wedding photographer, but when someone asks and the chemistry is right, I never say no!

On the contrary, I am very honored to be able to capture these special moments of two loving people. Weddings, in particular, offer me a lot of space for art and creativity.

The photography profession definitely involves a lot more work than I ever thought. I have been so busy developing my own visual language for the past few years that I have barely been able to show my work to the universe.

I want to be more active on social media: Instagram, Facebook, and co. I know it’s a bit exhausted but better late than never. In addition, self-marketing is like a second job for which I also have to learn a lot.

I devote most of my energy to the most beautiful job there is for me, being a mother. My 8-year-old son, Ben, is my muse for many photo projects.

With him, I can implement almost any spontaneous creative idea. He always participates so well. Thank you Ben for your patience and so much compassion. You are my most precious treasure!

At the beginning of my self-employment as a photographer, I had the feeling that I had to try everything, know everything, and have everything to be a successful photographer. But I do not have to!

A curious heart and a good dose of creativity are the best tools I have. The most valuable knowledge comes with practice. This is called self-confidence.

Being an artist is less about talent and good equipment, and more about the decision to become one when the inner voice calls for it. | @anitagryz_photography

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