Joanna Ornowska – 2010 SPA Finalist

    The Station Agent

    Living away from home, making home more precious, photography becomes about recording future memories. Not only mine but those of my subjects.

    I would like to build up on my previous project which as a result of series of efforts has received a lot of press coverage. It has been featured in several national papers along with the story about me as a photographer whose work was ‘too good to print’. I have created a book which was documenting my Hep C therapy and my work formed an exhibition at the hospital (

    The subject for this project will be the station agents who work at the protected grade crossings (in Polish: ‘dróżnicy’). They spend much of their time in the places on the edge of the built-up areas where they separate from the busy life, streets, cars, suits and men with briefcases. They live between the worlds. They somehow influence other people’s lives, but are not being noticed. Like people in Paul Fusco’s ‘RFK Funeral Train’ they appear on the way. I would like to go and meet them, talk to them, ask and listen.. and document the meeting. I always think of who are the people that I photograph. They are considered to be ordinary but when I make picture I realize they are not ordinary and find the extraordinary in them. I also realize that they deserve to be remembered. They occupy places we pass through always moving. I would like to stop with this project and look back through their eyes.

    I would like to photograph in Poland, because this is where I grew up. This is the place which I understand more than any other in the world. The photographs of places and landscapes will be an integral part of this project, an additional way to create the atmosphere. I will choose the most isolated places, in the villages, far away from the cities. The style will be magical and real, fairytale and true, exceptional and usual… very sensitive.

    I usually photograph my intimate world and this project I also treat personal. Even when I photograph strangers, I can see myself in them. This project is another attempt to cause a moment of personal reflection. I think that photography is a tool more primitive than literature, but capable to tell stories. The photographic images are words within a sentence, this project will be made from such sentences. My goal is to create my own sensitive and beautiful way of telling this story.