Conceptual photographer wins coveted award

Photography Studies College (PSC) student, Agata Mayes uses surreal images to explore intricate human emotions.

Her aim is use her art to delve into the human mind and what makes us who we are.

Raised in a post-communist Poland and with mathematicians as parents, Ms Mayes never considered a profession in the arts. It seemed inevitable that she would follow their path.

“I never considered it a profession. Everyone would always tell me you’re not the creative type, you’re the best at maths,” Ms Mayes said.

She completed her studies in informatics in Italy and on completion moved to England. However, having worked for an airline for six years, she knew she needed to change her direction. More importantly, she needed to follow her passion.

It was in 2010 that Ms Mayes decided to start her studies in photography where the focus was on portraits. Upon moving to Australia, she made practical use of these skills and became a professional portrait and newborn photographer. However, after some time, the work lost its spark and, as Ms Mayes explains, it just wasn’t creative enough.

Deciding to take a year off, Ms Mayes immersed herself in the study of psychology and became more in tune with her feelings and emotions.

“I started to read psychology and look deeper into my feelings and emotions. I just needed to express it – all the fears and feelings,” she said.

Wanting to explore the influence of psychology in art, Ms Mayes decided to enrol in the Advanced Diploma of Photography at PSC to further develop her creative style.

When describing her style, Ms Mayes depicts it as being conceptual art, which looks to evoke emotions from the viewer. It is the use of symbols and various elements in her work to delve into the subconscious emotions of her viewer. All of this comes as a result of intricate planning which is the most vital point of her process.

“To start with, I spend a lot of time on a concept before I even start shooting, You have to have a clear idea of what you want in the end,” she says.

Looking to musical, psychological and philosophical influences, Ms Mayes draws on symbolic references that will essentially influence the image’s surroundings, colour and texture. She particularly looks to draw on her own anxieties and emotions, as her art became a way of understanding them.

It is through these explorations that Ms Mayes created two photographic series, Inside the Mind and Sleeping Humanity. Inside the Mind depicts various fears evoked through the combining elements of space, lighting and form. Sleeping Humanity emulates a hypnotic state and the series looks to explore some kind of awakening.

Whilst photography has helped Ms Mayes understand herself better, developing her style has come as a result of the guidance of the teachers at PSC. Encouraged by the school, Ms Mayes entered her images in the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) Victorian Professional Photography Awards where she won the coveted 2018 Emerging Photographer of the Year award. Incredibly humble by her achievements, Ms Mayes says she was overwhelmed and didn’t expect it.

“I am grateful for the school as the process was very rewarding, and definitely its great to know that my process, which a lot of it I cam up with myself, is actually recognised by professionals,” says Ms Mayes.

Looking ahead, Ms Mayes hopes to achieve her vision of selling her work worldwide and working with galleries that want to represent her. She also is looking to do an interdisciplinary project, which will include motion images in her work.

For more information on Ms Mayes’ work head to

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