The Lindy Hopping photographer volunteering for GSBTB

Photographer Olga Baczynska has been covering GSBTB events, large and small, for the past couple of years. When she’s not got her camera in hand, you’ll probably find her at Clärchens Ballhaus dancing the Balboa!

Lillie Harman talks with Olga to get a better idea of the woman behind the camera.

Can you tell us a few things about yourself?

I was born in Poland, Warsaw and came to Berlin via Prague. I spent about five years in the Czech Republic, I worked in photo agencies and also spent some time working for a women’s magazine. I moved to Berlin in 2009 and then decided to become a photographer. I didn’t study photography – I am self-taught.

And what’s your connection to Give Something Back to Berlin?

Whenever the organisation need to have something photographed, I take my camera and I do just that! I photograph events for them, whenever they need me to. I decided it would be a nice way of using my skills to support the cause.

One of Olga’s photos from when GSBTB Open Kitchen popped up at the Bite Club street food event.

How did you first become connected to GSBTB?

I think it was maybe two years ago, during the refugee crisis. I think a lot of people were looking for ways to help and I was looking for some kind of organisation that I could support. I think I e-mailed the organisation and simply said, “I’m a photographer, do you need help?” Yeah… I think that was the way it went down!

How did you come to be in Berlin?

One of the reasons for me really wanting to come to Berlin was music. Even when I was living in Warsaw, I used to come to Berlin for concerts and gigs. Later I moved to Prague and though the scene at the time was much bigger there [than in Warsaw], it wasn’t big enough to feed me! Berlin was the next step for me to bring myself closer to music.

How do you find life here in Berlin?

It’s a great life but not without its problems. As a photographer you have to be really devoted to the craft in order to be able to survive. It’s not easy getting jobs – but that’s only my experience. I’m really happy if other people have a different experience but in general it’s not easy. So it’s kind of a constant struggle but once you have set yourself up and you have established yourself in terms of clients, I think Berlin is one of the best cities to live in. I love the fact that you can work and live and it’s not that you have to work constantly like you might have to in New York, for example. It’s a nice balance.

What’s next for you?

Right now I’m working on a photography/anthropological project. I’m also a swing dancer and I wanted to delve deeper into the swing dancing community. I’ve taken a series of portraits of swing dancers and have also interviewed them. I hope that somehow it will give a clearer picture of what dancing is, or more specifically what Lindy Hop or Balboa dancing is to the people who dance it, what it means to them, what the scene is like and what motivates people to dance and so forth.

I think it is super important to create jobs and work for yourself in order to stay sane. Assuming you love what you do, you should be able to find a project you can focus on during the slower winter months. Volunteer work is also one way of getting out there, you know, so you’re not stuck in a rut waiting for a phone call. You never know who you might meet and what it will lead to…

You can see more of Olga’s work on her website, and in many of GSBTB’s magazine stories (like this one about our Christmas team up event, or this one from the Bite Club street food event).

Lillie Harman is a freelance writer, photographer and experimental film enthusiast.