Togs & Tales

Justyna Machnicka

Justyna Machnicka

Landscape Photographer

My name is Justyna Machnicka and I came from Poland to Ireland in 2006, settling in Limerick, which I have made my home ever since. I’m a mother of two kids, two cats, two guinea pigs and a hamster which means my house can be a bit like Jurassic Park sometimes!  

Currently, I’m self-employed and run my own small cleaning business, which takes a lot of time and effort, but I’m always delighted to get a photography job whenever possible.
I am constantly busy and always in a rush with tons of plans in my head and usually there are as many things left on the to-do list to match! As such, you might not find it hard to believe I can’t imagine my life without coffee! Apart from photography, cooking is my passion; both of which I find have much in common. Composing a dish is like composing an image; each of which requiring careful consideration and a sense of balance. These are my two ways to meditate.

What was your path to becoming a Landscape Photographer & What was your first camera?

I have always been drawn to nature and started appreciating a lot of it as a small child. My dad would bring my attention to its beauty: landscapes, forests, wildlife, and it seems that that has stayed with me. I bought my first camera with my entire first communion money -a simple, automatic film camera, and I was snapping my surroundings and family, however, this was restricted to times when I had cash for a new roll of film.
Unfortunately, the passion was fleeting and didn’t last for one reason or another and I completely forgot about it. I slowly started photographing when smartphones came to prominence and, in March 2019, I bought a Canon 2000D and decided to learn. I took advice from Instagram friends and read online tips. Soon I started meeting other people who loved photography and it slowly progressed. I wasn’t afraid of trying new things, which I feel is very important to both those starting out and those looking to expand their skills.
I truly love macro photography; there’s nothing like dew drops shining in the rising sun! I equally enjoy shooting wildlife, some product photography and, occasionally, even humans too! I love shooting from hand as I feel it’s much less restrictive and freeing than using a tripod although I’ll use one if I must. My passion for road trips combined with owning a camera is a dream come true. In July 2020 I upgraded to full frame.

What was your favourite Landscape Adventure Story since becoming a Photographer?

It would be very hard to choose just one. I remember so well how breathless from excitement I was seeing a raging storm in Kilkee! On another occasion, it felt unreal to meet a big crew of landscape photographers at sunrise in Kilfarassy Beach and see them all in action! It always makes me smile when I recall a dense fog morning in Two Mile Gate where I met Mark Fletcher and we decided to continue to Clare Glens -the conditions were unforgettable! I decided to go to Connemara all alone once, in lashing rain and blasting wind, I found a hotel when the sun had set and spontaneously explored this magical piece of Ireland despite the weather! My favourite landscape adventures are spontaneous road trips where nothing goes as planned

What was your worst in-the-field experience as a landscape Photographer?

Too many to list! I arrived at location without SD more than once, dead battery and no spare, no tripod mount attached to the camera, waves reaching my brand new telephoto, but I think the worst was when I went to Two Mile Gate to shoot sunset (which by the way didn’t happen.) It was January and freezing cold, I had just set up my tripod in the middle of the pier and was getting the gear ready, I reached down to my bag to get a lens and my phone slipped out of my pocket straight into Lough Derg. I jumped in after it and managed to get it only because the screen lit up when it hit the bottom. On the positive side, water was only up to my knees!

Sunrise or Sunset & Why?

I don’t do enough of either and shame on me for that! I must say sunrise, there is something magical about sunrises. The silence, stillness, lack of human existence, sunrises feel very special.

Where is your favourite Location in Ireland to Photograph & Why?

Very hard question! I love the Irish coast and I feel it calling if I stay away for too long, but then I feel similar when it comes to mountains! I love going back to Gap of Dunloe and I am always super excited seeing the “Welcome to Co. Kerry” and Clare Glens always makes my day. In recent months I was happily driving to Derry quite often and it stole my heart for various reasons, together with Sligo and Donegal on the way. I generally love travelling and photographing Ireland.

What is your favourite photograph, that you’ve taken to date, & Why?

It is definitely a black and white photo I took in 2019. I was driving back from Glenbarrow Waterfall and decided to go through Birr. In the town itself I noticed a vintage steam car running so, naturally, I stopped the car, grabbed the camera, and took the shot. I was overjoyed seeing it later! The whole street was covered in steam and helps to set the scene as though it’s from the past. The car operator and the cyclist who happened to be in the right place and at the right time! 

What equipment / Setup are you currently using?

Top Tip for anyone starting out?

Straighten up the horizon! Learn about composition, remember of leading lines, don’t be afraid to ask!

Best Advise you’ve personally been given?

The worst photo is the one you didn’t take!

Who is your favourite Irish photographer at the moment ?

Too many amazing, passionate photographers out there to choose. I always admired and was inspired by the work of Sean O’Riordan and Mark O’Brien.

Where can we find you?

© All images are copyrighted to Photographer Justyna Machnicka
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