Years before I worked for Vogue and took portraits of Claes Oldenburg, Lucy Burge, Paloma Picasso, John Peel, Anthony Caro, Simon Callow, I received a letter from David Bailey from a far away Primrose Hill. At that point of my life I was a citizen of communist Poland, still behind the Iron Curtain, which divided Europe until the end of 20th Century. In response to my photographs David Bailey encouraged me to study Bill Brandt, Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. Needless to say I started straight away and for the next few months I spent many hours gazing at deeply moving, beautiful, perfect images by those amazing photographers.

 

Five years later I arrived in a black taxi to Bill Brandt's apartment at Campden Hill, London and was soon 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 greatest ease imagine physical presence of models who posed for him there.

 

After a short time Bill Brandt emerged from his darkroom and without much introduction examined my photographs, choosing those he liked and then I asked if I could take portraits of him. He accepted, so I set up my Canon A1, put a camera in front of my face and saw 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.