10 Questions for Photographer Ed Morawski

Ange Maya photographed by Ed Morawski

When I wrote about new model Ange Maya recently, I was not only impressed with her fantastic body and astonishing hair, but I was also impressed with a lot of her costumes and the artistic quality of many of her photos. Well it turns out that many of her best photos were taken by Ed Morawski, who not only shares my interests in photography and beautiful women but also high end hi-fi as well (he shot Ange for his Olympic Audio ads). We’re also both fans of the music of Loreena McKennitt. So as he’s photographed several other Asian models as well (as you can see in his gallery), it only seemed natural that I should interview him for our “10 questions for” series.Asian-Sirens: What kind of photography do you like?

Ed Morawski: Although I enjoy glamour, I tend to favor artistic visions. Photography that is unique and unusual utilizing new concepts attracts me most. I like clean and uncluttered images – where the photographer’s vision stands out. That aside, I must admit though, in the realm of glamour photography I really admire the work in Maxim. They consistently produce some of the sexist photos out there. Look what they did for Grace Park! Here’s a cute, fresh Asian woman and Maxim made her look like a sex goddess! Of course, if you look closely at her eyes, I think she’s a bit out of her comfort zone, but still I would put those on my wall.

I love to experiment. You will rarely if ever, see any traditional glamour shots from me. I prefer to push the envelope to different lighting sources and techniques. One thing that I really enjoy is manipulating the images after I capture them. Photoshop is such a wonderful tool. I can save borderline photos that would otherwise be lost but even more importantly I can take the same photo and create dozens of different visions. Often I will go back to photos I shot years before and see it in a whole new way and find new inspiration.

Asian-Sirens: When did you decide to become a photographer?

Ed Morawski: I was in the Air Force in Vietnam and had never picked up a camera in my life. I bought one at the base PX, a Yashica 35mm (big name at the time) because we had a terrific photo lab we could use. A sergeant saw my work one day and assigned me to take photos for the base newspaper. You can see some of these in my gallery.

Over the ensuing years, I dabbled in photography but never really made a business of it until the last few years when I began doing product photos for web sites. I generally shoot models for fun but I do use them occasionally in ads.

Asian-Sirens: Which photographers do you admire and why?

Ed Morawski: I admire many photographers but two that really stand out in my mind are Israel Colon (you can get a better idea of his nude work here) and Dennis Galante.

Although both are based in New York, they are almost polar opposites. Israel Colon is gritty and urban and makes his models sexy in a dark way while Dennis Galante always has an extremely bright, clean look that is no less sexy.

Israel is known as a bit of a “bad boy” but his photos are instantly recognizable and he always does his model justice. A very good model friend of mine shot with him and I swear I didn’t even recognize her in the photos. One was shot in her hotel bathroom and it is a classic.

Asian-Sirens: What makes a good photo?

Ed Morawski: The photo must make a connection with the viewer. This is done either through the model who has the ability to connect with her eyes or body posture or through the photographer who leaves some of his passion and emotion in the image. If you’re lucky enough to get both then you really have a winner. If you get neither than you just end up with a flat image of a female.

I sometimes take hundreds of photos in one shoot and find only one or two, if I’m lucky, that satisfy me. The model is just so important. Everything you’re heard is true – the two of you must have some chemistry. I have shot some very beautiful women who I couldn’t connect with and the results were disappointing. On the flip side I have shot with friendly, open models and we got hundreds of good images. When I say chemistry – I simply mean good open communication and mutual respect.

Often, I am amused at the fact that the photo I planned the shoot around is not my favorite but instead the best ones are accidents or afterthoughts. I suppose that makes me a poor planner but that’s the way it happens. Perhaps it is my vision coming through subconsciously.

Asian-Sirens: What makes a good model?

Ed Morawski: I could distill it down to two words: personality and responsibility. The great models are on time, open and friendly. There are lot’s and lot’s of amateurs out there working for extra money who don’t belong in modeling. I don’t really mind as long as they are on time and willing to learn. The on time part is a big problem for a photographer. If a model is late it costs you money. I’ve had models cancel at the last minute after I rented a location and driven many miles to get there. I would also enjoy a little more collaboration from the model. I welcome suggestions and ideas but rarely get them. Models don’t seem to have much imagination for some reason. They are probably too busy thinking about themselves!

There are also the models do it part time and are very good but you can’t get them back because they’re working a regular job. I know of two in particular who could easily be professional models and make a career but they won’t take the plunge and leave their regular jobs. Some girls have a natural talent and some don’t, but if you’re one of the lucky ones – use it.

One facet of shooting models that has always amused me is their attitude towards nudity and sex. I’ll get many girls who don’t want to reveal anything – and it shows! I sometimes ask – “Why did you agree to pose nude if you’re not comfortable?” Sometimes you can coax them through it and make them comfortable and trusting but usually you don’t have that much time. More often than not – you’ll find Asian women this way. They do not feel comfortable posing nude and simply refuse.

Then you have the models who undress the second they’re in the studio or in public!! I once got thrown out of a location because my model was walking around nude. These models are totally free and open about their bodies and they can produce some fantastic photos – Ange Maya certainly falls into this category. They are proud of their bodies and enjoy showing off.

Asian-Sirens: Is there an Asian model you really would like to work with?

Ed Morawski: I have to say two Asian women I find extremely beautiful are Grace Park and Shu Qi from Taiwan. I’m not sure they count as models per se but I would love to photograph them. I “discovered” Shu Qi (as I’m sure many of your readers did) in the film “The Transporter” and have since watched almost every film she ever did. I find her fresh, exciting and full of youth and energy. If you want an “eyeful” of her, check out “Sex and Zen” her very first film. It’s rather cheesy but her beauty more than shines through.

I’m a big fan of “Battlestar Galactica” so discovering Grace Park was part of that experience. I fell in love with her immediately. She too, has that fresh, innocent look. I almost always prefer “innocent” over “hardcore”. Asian women can sometimes appear very “hard” and I think that detracts from their photos. On the flip side they can be more innocent looking than any other race. I want to take their innocence make them look erotic which I think adds a lot more impact. To me, erotic and innocent are the biggest turn-ons.

One other Asian woman that fascinates me (I’m sure your readers will find this one odd) is of all people – Sandra Oh. She is currently on TV in “Grey’s Anatomy” but I first saw her on an old HBO cable show entitled “Arli$$”. I find her oddly erotic and I would love to see if I could bring that out in still photos. She has appeared – very nude – in a movie title “Dancing at the Blue Iguana” playing a stripper and wearing various wigs. Very hot!

Asian-Sirens: Did you ever screw up an assignment? (please do elaborate if so! ;-))

Ed Morawski: No, but I’ve come very, very close. Once I was hired to photograph a Baptism of all things. Not something you can repeat or do over! (I have great respect for wedding photographers, by the way). Somehow I accidentally put my camera in self-timer mode and couldn’t figure out how to put it back in regular shooting mode since I had never used the self timer. I was in a total panic. The priest was walking towards the Baptismal and my camera waited ten seconds to take a picture! At the very last second I figured it out and canceled the timer but I was only able to snap one shot because of all the wasted time.

Then there was the time I was shooting a model on location and unknowingly had my lens in manual focus mode. I took about 100 shots and the camera never refocused. I didn’t discover it until I processed the photos much later. To my amazement about half of them were okay because we were shooting at such a small F-stop. I can tell you it would really pay to have an assistant to help out in times like these!

Asian-Sirens: Did you ever get intimate with a model you worked with? (feel free to elaborate! ;-))

Ed Morawski: Like every professional, I have a hard and fast rule about not mixing business with pleasure. I don’t even like to touch models if I can help it. That’s not to say I haven’t been tempted! But I do have to admit to one indiscretion. I met a beautiful Japanese model here in Los Angeles a few years ago. She was 5′ 9″ and slender with long legs. If there’s one body type I love – it’s tall and slender – and well, with the fact that she was Asian thrown in, I had a weak moment. That “moment” lasted nearly a year and was such a catastrophic disaster I know it will never be repeated. I learned my lesson. At first it was wonderful. Some of the best sex I ever had, I must say. But then slowly over time it downgraded into creative differences and we ended up absolutely hating each other. We traveled to Europe together on an assignment and that was end of the road. It was so bad we split in France and flew back separately – without finishing the shoot. I have two photos of her on my web site. I won’t reveal which ones.

Asian-Sirens: What kind of camera and lighting equipment do you use?

Ed Morawski: I recently upgraded to the Canon 5D, which is phenomenal. I may stick with this one for a long, long time. As for lighting, I use all types – tungsten and mono strobes with softboxes, all kinds of flashes and even bare bulbs. I love experimenting with light and I am currently trying some fluorescent ring lights. These look very, very promising. They have a really smooth and even illumination. You’ll be seeing some results on my web site soon. Lighting is probably the most difficult aspect of photography. The camera itself is a minor tool compared to the lighting skill and the eye of the photographer.

Asian-Sirens: What are your future ambitions as a photographer?

Ed Morawski: I am still honing my skills both as a photographer and using Photoshop. Learning is never over, there is always something new. I would like to concentrate more on studio work for a while. I enjoy doing portraits and headshots but that is very specialized type of photography so it requires a lot of practice. Then too, I want to travel much more. I plan on going to Taiwan and Indonesia this fall and then hopefully Australia next year. My ideal future would find me living in Asia somewhere and be able to photograph beautiful women there full time!

Asian-Sirens: Thanks for your time Ed, and best of luck to you in your future photographic and audiophilic adventures!

Ange Maya photographed by Ed Morawski for Olympic Audio

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