Interview with Damian Milczarek about making his decisive moment shot of the "Girl with Candy Floss".
Making Of “Girl with Candy Floss” Interview with Damian Milczarek
“Girl with Candy Floss” by Damian Milczarek

About Damian Milczarek

Damian is a street photographer from Poland who works as telecommunications IT specialist. His decisive moment shot of a girl licking candy floss made it into the finals of several major street photography festivals and won the Chromatic Photography Awards in 2018. We interviewed Damian to learn how and where his shot came to life.

Making Of “Girl with Candy Floss”

Where and when did you make the photo, was it a familiar or new location to you?

The photo was taken in May 2017 in Oslo. I was there the second time after several years from my first visit; also everything was new to me – I was walking the streets that I did not know. The whole trip was spontaneous and I must admit that I was lucky and that I was in the right place at the right time.

What was happening in the situation and what inspired you to start photographing it?

On May 17, the celebration of the Constitution Day in Norway takes place every year. This is one of the few days when the streets of Oslo are very crowded. People come from neighbouring towns and villages to participate in a great colorful parade. A great event from the photographer’s point of view.

I spent the whole day spinning around the parade and, as usual with this type of event, the most interesting is not what is the main attraction but everything that happens around it. Each year there is a tremendous amount of people curiously watching the parade full of children playing in various school orchestras.

It’s an amazing thing to be able to walk among this crowd and catch those small gestures and emotions.

Did you prepare or was it spontaneous?

To be completely honest the situation was absolutely spontaneous. It was the end of a long, difficult day, and this picture was one of the last 2-3 that I made that day. Together with friends, I returned to our car parked nearby. During a conversation with a friend, from the corner of my eye I saw that in my direction walked a girl who was holding a huge, pink cotton candy. Immediately I turned around and took only one picture. The situation was very dynamic – everything happened in seconds.

What were your thoughts and actions up until you pressed the shutter?

I was tired of walking around the center of Oslo for those few hours and squeezing through the river of people but I took some very good photos so I came back happy. I did not have the concept that 100 meters before getting to the car, I will take such a good picture.

It was just seconds. A flash in the head and a quick turn around to take a picture. Intuition – but luck also helped me.

Were you happy with the image, did it come out as you imagined?

I took only one picture and the whole situation played very quickly. My first thought was whether I came in with any sharpness. I quickly looked at the picture on the tiny screen of the camera and … ufff, looked good!

A few moments later I made a large preview of the photo sitting comfortably in the car, then I was sure that the photo technically is OK and the photo itself came out sensational. Already, at that time, I had the feeling that I had taken a picture that would change me as a photographer.

Why is it a successful street photograph in your opinion?

It is a very vivid, graphic, color photo and you cannot pass by indifferently. It literally yells at the viewer – imposes its presence. It also draws attention to the girl’s unusual beauty, her strange clothing and incredible expression. How much anger is there!

What camera, lens, and settings did you choose?

At that time, I had an old Canon 5D Mark II with me and a quite accidentally mounted 17-40 mm lens. I do not use zooms on a daily basis, I prefer prime lenses. I remember that the zoom was my new purchase and I wanted to try it during that day.

I cannot sharpen manually, just as I am not amused setting any, even the smallest, parameter to take a picture. As a rule, I work on semi-automatic settings. Almost always with the F4.0 aperture I only calibrate the ISO, leave the rest of the parameters to the camera. I assume that technology is supposed to help me and that as long as it works according to my expectations, I use it.

The parameters of this photo are: F4.0, ISO 640, time 1/1000.

What did you take away from making this picture?

For me, this picture is a breakthrough. So far, I have been taking pictures mainly for the drawer; I did not believe in my skills and suddenly there was a boom. Opening to new experiences, new people, then won competitions, publications in books and magazine covers. From that moment I read a lot about photography and develop my skills in practice. Because there is always something that can be improved.

Links to Damian Milczarek

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