Born in 1977, Kacper Kowalski shoots aerial photographs of urban and natural environments. He is a graduate of the Technical University of Gdańsk, where he studied architecture. After having worked in architecture for four years, he devoted himself entirely to flying and photography. Both as a pilot and a photographer, he takes aerial pictures of natural and urban environments of his native Poland.
Kowalski shoots his images while flying in either a paraglider or open-hull gyrocopter. The photographer pilots these crafts himself, typically while flying at heights around 500 ft above the ground. By self-piloting and flying at heights lower than typically used in aerial photography, Kowalski enables himself to find images in the process of flying rather than conceiving of a shot and using flight to capture it.
His sense of visual perspective is informed by his training and professional experience as an architect. Inclined to explore how human activity spatially relates to the natural environment from a bird’s-eye view, Kowalski’s keen attunement to the structural lends itself to the poetically abstract in his aerial photography.
When I’m flying, I find the forms, features, shapes, symmetry, compositions, and drama—just as I would draw them in blueprints…I see the ground through the architect’s eyes. I see how humans plan, I see how nature reacts to our actions, I see order and oncoming chaos….I like the little moment when people don’t know exactly what’s in front of them. Sometimes the object in the frame may feel somewhat familiar but it’s not immediately recognizable as a bridge or a field or something they’ve actually seen a thousand times.
He has received numerous awards, including the World Press Photo award (2009, 2014, 2015), the Picture of the Year International POYi award (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), and many others. His work has been featured in the publications Conde Nast Traveler, Juxtapoz Magazine, New York Magazine, The New York Times, and many more. His first photography book, Side Effects, was published in early 2014. Photographs from this project are shown all over the world. He lives and works in Gdynia, Poland. His first exhibition at Photo12 Galerie will be held in November 2017.