33 minutes with nature’s naked muse
Life bursts from Magdalena Wosinska when she speaks, the rapid-fire pace of her words quickening when she discusses her passions: travel, music and photography. Especially photography. Wosinska, 32, started shooting at 14 as a way to hang out with her skateboarder friends. Today, she works in editorial and advertising – she spoke to us the day after a whirlwind trip to shoot in Ukraine for 12 hours for personal projects, books, and her popular Instagram feed, The Magdalena Experience, in which she documents her travels with her bare back to the camera. The Polish native, who lives in Los Angeles, is eager to document and share her beautiful life.
THE RED BULLETIN: A lot of your early work involved shooting subcultures that you were involved with: skateboarding and metal. Is it easier when you’re familiar with your subjects?
MAGDALENA WOSINKA: I’ve seen some really cool projects of people doing the sh-t that I do, and they don’t even know anybody; they’re just hard workers, and clever. They know how to get their foot in the door. Yes, there’s some trust, and you can get access to certain people because you are friends with them, but then again, if you’re a good enough photographer, people are going to be f–king stoked to have their photo taken by you.
That was also 10 or 15 years ago [when I was shooting those subcultures]. Nowadays, you walk down the street and see someone cool, and you could be f–king Mario Testino and they’ll still be like, “What is this for? How much am I going to get paid?” Are you f–king kidding me? You just asked Helmut Newton what blog it was for? It’s ridiculous.
Your Instagram feed is called The Magdalena Experience. Why?
I called it The Magdalena Experience because I thought it was pretty epic. It eventually turned into this idea where I’m showing people my experiences. I’m leading with my back to the camera so people can follow me into the adventure, the landscape, the place. I have an extreme hunger and desire for life and doing things all the time. I can’t sit still. I have crazy OCD and I really like travelling and being stimulated non-stop. I get bored really quickly, so I have to keep going.
Photography has a way of making those experiences last.
It’s about capturing those in-between moments in life. I’m addicted to it. When I played in a band, it was such an honourable feeling to have people headbanging to music that you wrote. It was amazing that I was able to have that experience. But now I have that experience without anyone else around, just by taking a picture. It’s so satisfying. Not only did I experience that sunset with my eyes, my head, my soul, my brain, but I also got to record it on a piece of film.
Do people get what you’re trying to do with this series, or do they just see a naked woman in a beautiful setting?
A lot of people don’t even know that I’m a photographer – they think I’m some model chick who takes off her clothes and runs around the globe naked. I’m taking these pictures of myself because there’s no one else who’s consistently around. I wanted a series that was consistent. I started the series six years ago before I even had Instagram. The series just keeps growing and growing and growing. If you’re in the nude, it’s timeless. If you’re not and you’re wearing certain clothes, you’re automatically classified as a certain social status. It automatically identifies you. Maybe I wanted it to be a little bit identity-less because I wanted it to be about something supernatural.
Was that the idea from the beginning, or did you come to it later?
Subconsciously, it was always the idea. I dressed in a very specific way when I played in a metal band. I wore armour, and I had a leather jacket with a silver eagle on the back, and ripped-up pants. I was tough. It wasn’t very feminine. I think I must have had a bit of a transformation. It’s a lot to reveal yourself in the nude.
Where did you get the idea to do the series in this way?
I used to skateboard when I was young, from the ages of, like, 12 to 20. I used to have so many bruises on my legs from trying to do a heel flip out of the bowl every day until I got it. It looked like I had f–king leprosy. I was embarrassed about wearing skirts and shorts. That was at a time when you start liking boys and flirting with them. I was a tomboy, and I was too scared to wear a swimsuit or shorts in front of people because of those bruises. It’s really nice to be able to expose yourself and no longer be scared about getting sh-t.
Why take photos?
There’s no making it in photography – you just work your ass off. A lot of people I know only shoot when they are on jobs and making money. For me, it’s like, “Are you serious? Did you f–king see the sunset?” Chase that. And chase the mountain. And chase the car. And chase the coyote. Take long exposures by the full moon. Tomorrow’s a full moon, so I’m going to go on a hike at midnight and get pictures. What else am I going to do? Watch TV? No thanks.