Years ago, while I was still a citizen of communist Poland, still behind the Iron Curtain, I received a letter from faraway Primrose Hill in London. In response to my photographs, David Bailey had written to encourage me to study Bill Brandt, Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. Needless to say, I took his advice right away and for the next few months spent many hours gazing at deeply moving, beautiful, perfect images by those amazing photographers.
Five years later I arrived in a black taxi at Bill Brandt’s London apartment and was ushered into a large room with a dark floor and a view over Holland Park. I knew this space from his photographs of nudes and portraits, all those nuances of light and shadow, tall windows, furniture, and I could with the greatest of ease imagine the physical presence of the models who posed for Bill Brandt there.
After a short while Bill Brandt emerged from his darkroom and without much preamble examined my photographs, choosing those he liked. I asked him then if I could take portraits of him. He accepted, so I set up my Canon A1, put the camera in front of my face and realized that his deep, observant eyes were piercing into mine, while I was focusing on them through the lens.
Soon after I was looking at Bill Brandt again, but this time it was in my darkroom and the same eyes were emerging from a print still immersed in a developer.
A week later I visited Bill Brandt with those portraits. They were my homage to him.