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Mary & Magdalene by Marcin & Natalia Kontraktewicz

It all started when I was 14, Marcin was 19. I found my dad’s Zenit camera and said ‘I always wanted to take photos!’. Marcin replied: ‘Me too!’. So we photographed everything - our family, plants, architecture, pets, friends at school.” That’s how it all started for the Polish photography duo Marcin and Natalia Kontraktewicz. “I was into self portraits, took thousands of those while being home alone. I styled myself, made makeups and did house makeovers to create interesting shots. I always wanted to be connected with fashion, although Marcin didn’t share this interest,” Natalia explains, before Marcin adds: “- We chose to develop in this direction and with Natalie’s creativity and passion for fashion we have made a strong, varied portfolio combining our skills. I am more into light, equipment, she’s more into feelings and style.

Today they are making their debut on Ben Trovato with a colorful fashion editorial full of symbolic contrasts: “The goal is to present our personal point of view. Here we’re laughing at religion which especially here in Poland is a very delicate subject and also became a popular theme in fashion. Our message is kind of grotesque, but also serious in a way. It could make you wonder how do you feel about God, is your faith real or is it just conformity. Still… we like our photographs to be open for any interpretation. Let them speak for themselves,” Natalia says.

The duo says they’re inspired movies, music and at times video games. “I am especially inspired by women, I adore them for everything,” Natalia says, and continues “-Then come subjects like emotions, tragedies, taboos or religion like in this case. I also like contrasts - here we’ve got a girl loving God and the antitype, you could say she’s Satan’s girlfriend. Sometimes I just can’t sleep because my mind automatically creates images, this is how my concepts are born.

The duo was joined by makeup artist Anna Wiśniewska and set designer Zuzanna Słomińska in order to realize their concept. And the duo describes a great day at the set: “- We had the pleasure to work with a great set designer, Zuza. We did two editorials in two days and we can both admit, that without her help it would be a lot more difficult and sometimes impossible to create these images. Ania is a professional make-up artist - creative and precise,” Marcin says, before Natalia makes sure to praise Kate from WonderModels: “- I picked my favorite, most inspiring model and I could not imagine photographing anyone else. Kate is just indescribably wonderful - shy and cute, but confident and sexy when needed. Her eyes, her lips, hair, body are something to fall in love with!

Natalia styled the story herself with the help of set designer Zuzanna Słomińska, and almost all the fashion in the story are created by Polish young talents, most of them were taking part in Fashion Week Poland SS12. “The idea of two contrasting girls couldn’t be trite. We picked dark and bright clothes but mixed them modern and traditional accessories,” Natalia says.

Mary and Magdalene was shot using a Canon 5D mark II with 50 1.2 and 135 2.0. lenses.

Photography - Marcin & Natalia Kontraktewicz
Makeup artist - Anna Wiśniewska
Styling - Natalia Kontraktewicz
Set design - Zuzanna Słomińska
Models - Kate @ WonderModels, Robert Ryzek
Assistants - Marta Kozarzewska, Olga Wyszyńska