How Eryk Fitkau started

How do photographers get their start? The late Eryk Fitkau was one of this country’s most successful advertising & fashion photographers. He told a story about how he and his partner Tomyk Sikora got their break, after migrating from Poland. It’s a lesson to us all …

“One day we got a call to come into the agency. I knew that meant we had our first job. The art director asked us to give him a quote. Now, thinking about how much money I was getting in construction (as a labourer) and adding money we would need for film and developing, I estimated we should quote $150.

When we were about to give this quote to the art director, I had a feeling we should not tell him what we thought. I said to him that we are new to this country and we do not know how much is the going rate here, so could he please give us some idea of a budget.

He replied that it was a small budget of about $1600. I kept a poker face and told him that this price would be acceptable to us.”

Fitkau’s life story is told in his own words on the website: www.erykfitkau.com. It is an archive of his dynamic, raunchy and technically brilliant photography.

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Eryk Fitkau

Eryk Fitkau died earlier this year, aged only in his late fifties. He was one of the leading commercial photographers in this country and you would recognize some of his work from billboards and magazines. I always thought he was one of the few commercial photographers who had a distinctive style. He was doing arty handcoloured black & white photographs for big league clients when the norm was slick, glossy colour. He stood out.

The wonderful picture above is from a campaign for Jeans West Urban Sprawl although he is better known for his hard-edged fashion and beauty work which has a tough, Eastern European quality, unknown in Australia before him. See his site here.

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