The Power of Imagery by Sebastian Szyszka

The Power of Imagery

by Sebastian Szyszka

Hi Steve and Brandon,

Been enjoying your site for a while, especially the positivity it exudes. It’s a nice change of pace.

I started shooting sometime between the ages of 7 and 10 while I lived in Germany with my parents. We were Polish refugees waiting to come to America. One of my birthday presents during that time was a plastic 110 camera that I absolutely loved, which was quickly upgraded to a Polaroid. It was the Polaroid, decades before I ever read the words “decisive moment,” that taught me the power of photography. I didn’t gravitate towards posed stuff, I reveled in the moment. Real, unscripted, often ambushed. Those images were ones I was not used to seeing because most shots around me were “say cheese” kind of shots. Looking back at it, I still remember the first image that struck that chord with me. Can’t share it though, my poor mother would kill me…

The power of imagery has always stuck with me. Nowadays photography is a quick, immediate balance against the daily routine of being an advertising artist. The two go hand in hand, and both strengthen and compliment each other.

I’m including three images, one that I took of a friend of mine, and two of my street stuff that keeps me sane on my Chicago commutes.

The first shot is of my friend and coworker Jeff on his custom 1967 Shovelhead. What makes the image special to me is the fact that it was taken in his father’s gas station, which was built-in the 1920’s. A lot of heritage and vintage in one frame. My only regret was not getting Jeff’s father in the shot. Alas, he was not there that day. Taken with a Sony a6000 and Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5. Lit with some wirelessly triggered strobes layered on top of available light. Post work in LR.

Click it for larger and better version!

Jeff and his custom 1967 Shovelhead

The second shot is of a “poet for hire” near Bourbon St. in New Orleans. For a small fee and 30 minutes of waiting, they write a bespoke poem for you. Taken with a Sony a6000 and Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5. Post work in LR.

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The third shot of a man exiting a train is from one of my old commutes on the “L” Train in Chicago. Shot with a Sony NEX-5 and 16mm f/2.8 with fisheye attachment. Post work in Aperture with some Nik SilverEfex 2.


(I know, a lot of Sony, but my favorite camera by far is my X100T. I use both for their unique strengths.)

Thanks and keep doing what you’re doing,


Sebastian Szyszka


  1. A nice wide angle image and a really well lit environmental portrait.

    People here tend not to submit images using speedlites or lighting gear.Hope your images inspire.

    • I notice the same thing, and not just here. There has been an overall trend towards candid/street photography. I speculate Instagram/smartphones help with that. Lighting a shot is the polar opposite. It takes a ton of trial and error to learn, planning to execute well and vision to make it subtle and believable. People buy soft boxes expecting to be the next Annie Leibovitz and don’t understand why their flash still looks like a flash, just bigger and softer. I don’t blame them for not wanting to persevere, and at the same time I understand why available light so greatly outnumbers lit imagery. It also makes me appreciate a finely crafted, well-lit shot that much more. It takes a lot of effort to make artificial light look believable.

      Thanks for your comment. I, too, hope it inspires.

  2. The strength of these images, to me, is that you’ve captured a subject in context of an environment, without necessarily expressing what it is they are doing there. So the images are clear, have context, and also add a question mark. That’s what I see anyway.

    • Seeing and hearing how others interpret my work has got to be my favorite part of sharing my work. I love creating it, but seeing what it inspires in others is so much great. Thanks for sharing, Jeff.

  3. Wow, thank you everyone for the warm responses! I’m flattered. And thank you, Steve and Brandon, for featuring my images and rants, very kind of you.

    Here’s to a great 2016, everyone!

    • Of course you don’t! Thsoe who buy big money cameras do not do so for the IQ, they do so for the build, feel, controls and inspiration it can give. They also buy them for the capabilties in low light, full frame sensors for more shallow DOF possibilities and lower light sensitivity. BUT almost any camera made today, even an iPhone CAN take a great shot. Some cameras make it much easier but no one NEEDS anything more than what they need 😉 The A6000 is one of the best APS-C, if not the best, out there.

  4. The first shot is stunningly reminiscent of an old master’s painting. It immediately made me think of a Rembrandt painting or such. Great lighting, wonderfully rich yet muted colors.

    • I’m really happy you liked the colors. I spent a lot of time dialing that part in, it is critical to the shot, IMO. When I arrived and started setting up I was really disappointed that the neon tubes in the ceiling lights were daylight-balanced. When planning the shot I was expecting and hoping for that sickly neon green so that I could counteract it with a warm pool of light on my subject. In the end, I was able to hit that effect in post. Things rarely work out like you hope they will.

      Thanks again for the kind words, much appreciated.

    • Yep, totally agree mind blowing and stunning atmosphere in that garage, there is so much going on in there.


  5. Great images but the first one has incredible detail.
    I also checked out your work on
    Really love your work Sabastian.

  6. great images. I have the Sony A6000 and use the 15mm Voigt on it – my fav camera is also the Fuji X100T. I also have the Sony A7s and some Nikons. My least fav camera is the A6000 (it’s very very capable) but not great in the user experience – feels ‘cheep’ (which it is). In contrast the X100T is great to handle and has made me by far a better photographer. Thanks for posting.

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